Absence makes the grass grow longer

Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Well, here I am, back in town, fresh from a three-week pilgrimage not only down South, but back East and not only back East, but deep into Red Sox country. That whole swath of seaboard from Maine through Rhode Island is hell for a Yankees fan. I kept thinking someone was going to take a swing at me.

Don't get me wrong. I had my measure of fun - got a sunburn, sat in traffic, egregiously mocked the New England accent, ate some "wicked good lobsta," visited the birthplace of Mike Dukakis. But honestly, I spent a majority of my vacation counting the days until my return trip home.

That's kind of the point of travel, actually, especially if you're going somewhere that's not exactly a dream destination. Like, say, Massachusetts, for instance. Did you know state law prohibits the sale of alcohol on Memorial Day?

All things considered, I'd say I prefer coming back to leaving. True, these days I'm coming back to one of the most beautiful places on earth (that uses U.S. currency). Still, people burn out on paradise, and getting away (even to Boston) can be curiously refreshing. Sort of like an Altoid.

I guess that's what they mean by absence making the heart grow fonder. But, I have to say, that barely scratches the surface of all that absence does.

First and foremost, absence makes the mail pile up.

Pursuant to that, absence makes magazines seem like a real waste. Contemplating my most recent stack of back issues, I can't help but feel that I've literally paid to have garbage delivered to my house.

Absence makes the grass grow longer. Seriously. My yard looks like a History Channel portrayal of earth after human civilization crumbles. And I live in an especially meticulous part of town, too; I swear I've seen one neighbor literally touching up his diamond-pattern mow job with scissors.

Quick tangent: I recently came across a news item from the Chicago Tribune describing an incident in which one guy from the suburbs shot and killed another guy from the suburbs after his Yorkshire Terrier dropped a deuce on the first guy's prize-winning lawn. Proof, yet again, that guns don't kill people - dog poop kills people.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Absence jams my DVR with programs I'm never going to watch, yet can't quite bring myself to delete, either. These invariably consist of "Nova" episodes and whatever weekend-long marathon A&E happened show while I was gone. By the way, since when does a reality TV show about the domestic life of the aging bassist from KISS start constituting either "Art" or "Entertainment"? Better still: why did I set a series recording for "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" in the first place?

But there's more:

Absence brings the seemingly sudden appearance of some new wacky business enterprise. For instance, what's the deal with that jet-ski rental by the downtown harbors?

Absence makes the garbage disposal break. Come to think of it, presence makes the garbage disposal break, too. That's a garbage disposal's charm, I guess, constantly breaking. What else is there to love?

Absence liquefies produce. It also makes homemade penicillin start growing on that leftover salmon I swore I'd put into an omelet but never did.

Absence makes me wonder where that smell is coming from. Fearing that's how my house always smells, absence then makes me dig through old boxes in search of my incense burner from college.

Absence makes me wish I hadn't forgotten to set up something vis-a-vis the feeding of my fish. Although, a small part of me is glad to flush them, because they were kind of a pain to take care of and never fought each other, no matter how hard I pounded on the side of the tank.

Absence also makes me wish I'd put my newspaper subscription on hold. Oh, well. At least now we won't need to buy wrapping paper for a while.

Last, but not least, absence makes my 2 1/2-year-old daughter flush towels down the toilet, thus necessitating a several hundred dollar visit from the plumber.

Interestingly enough, absence simultaneously makes her forget how to deposit any of the material that's supposed to go down the toilet. Oh, how I'm going to relish it 50 years from now when I'm the one who's soiling myself and she's the one who has to clean it.

That'll be sweet.

• Geoff Kirsch is a writer in Juneau. His column publishes every other week, with the next one running July 7. Visit his website at www.geoffkirsch.com.

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