“How about never? Is never good for you?”


‘Managing one’s schedule in these Corona Calendar Days’

I’m featuring a photo of Wombat here because my “date” with her is the only event on my calendar since March 14 that’s taken me further west than the town dump. Or taken me out of the house, for that matter.

Calendars may be empty, but the roads out here sure aren’t

Yes, I had to get in the car, yowling cat carrier in hand, and drive to the vet clinic in Bridgehampton. I called from the parking lot; gloved and masked vet came out, gloved and masked me handed over the cat. This transaction felt even more like a drug deal than when The Dude and I scored that Mexican meal back in late March.

While I was waiting for poor little Wom to be poked and prodded, I got to thinking about how different my calendars look for this Spring and last.

“Dr. Katz” (Yes, my vet’s name is Dr. Katz) on May 30 is the only calendar entry that’s taken place offsite (“site” being within my own four walls) since mid-March. Now let’s take a look at the same calendar “page” for May/June 2019, shall we?

A calendar so chockablock, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And, dear reader, I’m sure I’m not the only one with huge calendrical contrasts. Why, last year I had bridge classes and museum tours and lunches with girlfriends and the French Open to watch. This year the event that occurs most frequently is “Call Mom.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Last year I had “Call Mom” on my calendar too. But I also got to see her–and my sister–which, trust me, is waaaay better

Last year, I climbed the Vessel, prowled the Kipp’s Bay Showhouse, flounced around the Frick Garden Party in the requisite floral attire, and took in the Met Museum’s “Camp” show — twice.

The Vessel gets filled by me and my galpal

I even graced a couple of fancy events and special occasions with my presence. Like a Stuyvesant High School gala where The Child received a Golden Pegleg Award. (I am not pulling your — ahem — leg; the school’s sports teams are called the “Peglegs” because Peter Stuyvesant, the school’s namesake, had a peg leg. Let’s hear it: Go, Peglegs!)

The Child, clutching her parents and her Golden Pegleg Award

There were also three birthday parties, two of which we smooshed together. The Dude and his Cousin Charlie being two natal days apart, we rustled up a Carvel Cake and had a (big, for us) party. (The traditional Carvel Cake was on hand for Dude Man’s birthday this year, too. I managed to pick one up on the way back from her vet adventure. But no, Wommie didn’t get a piece.)

Which brings me to the theme of this, er, piece. Last year, with its densely populated calendar, it was fairly easy to dodge the kind of invitation you’d rather lie in the street in the path of a bus than accept. “Would you like to go with me to my granddaughter’s piano recital?” could simply–and graciously–be met with “Darn (not so honest), I have a conflict (totally honest).”

I so did not have a conflict for this swanky Frick benefit, where you see Dude Man and Rembrandt hanging out

This year, when a person could drive that same bus through the big empty holes in her calendar, what to do? (Ironically, scheduling my sibs’ weekly FaceTime call with our mother was tricky. The time suggested was the only time–during the entire week--that I was actually booked. We figured it out. But what a waste of a perfectly good conflict!)

I did not pass on a chance to see the “Camp” show with The Child — even though I’d already seen it

So what does one do when one wants to dodge an event these days? The Oh-I-Have-A-Conflict Thing is hard to (credibly) pull off. So, do you own up to the fact that you’d rather swallow ground glass than join that poetry reading webinar? Do you actually confess that, no, you really don’t think that hosting a Monday morning Zoom coffee would be “great fun?”

One option, of course, is to not even try to explain, but to follow the lead of the great cartoonist Bob Mankoff, who said, in what I believe is the Funniest Cartoon Ever (which you can see by clicking here), “No, Thursday’s out. How about never? Is never good for you?”

Till next week. Or “never,” whichever works best for you.

Amagansett, New York. June 2020


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11 thoughts on ““How about never? Is never good for you?”

  1. Wombat is so cute!
    I’m terrible at saying no, and even more so now I have basically my whole life free. I like that quote though, I’m going with that.

    • Ah yes! At least I didn’t buy an actual physical calendar! Remember Filofaxes? I own three of those things. Used to buy new pages for them every year. *sigh*

  2. Ruth Meisenheimer

    Peglegs? What about Centralia Orphans and Freeburg midgets.
    Always enjoyed you writing and pictures! XO

    • Omigosh! I’d forgotten all about the Centralia Orphans! And I never even knew about the Freeburg Midgets! Thank you for the laugh, Ruth. And “Go Orphans!”

  3. So, I heard a thing on NPR–about manners during “this time.” And the Miss Manners-ish sort of lady said even though we have fewer commitments (some of us) than usual right now doesn’t mean we have to get roped into engagements we don’t want to get roped into–whether over phone, Zoom, or socially-distanced walk, talk, or happy hour. The NPR host asked how to get off the phone now, when you can’t say, I’ve got to head out the door…The manners lady said, tell the truth, just say you have to go, or that you’d better go–no excuses needed. That takes bravery and a little brashness I’m working up to. Good luck–and I hope on some level you’re enjoying the less-full calendar!

    • Wow! Hey thanks, Becca. Even though I am the inventor and all-time champeen of the Lutheran Lie (where you never actually “lie”, as in saying “I have a conflict” when asked to engage in an activity in which you have zero interest, the “conflict” being anything from a real appointment to, say, washing your hair) I must say that’s it’s somewhat refreshing to just admit you don’t want to do Whatever It Is. Kindly, of course. And it’s great to know that this is not only okay, but that NPR did a Thing on it! Oh, yes. I am indeed enjoying the less-full calendar. In fact, even when it’s possible to go back to a packed one, I don’t think I will!

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