Unnecessary (Silly!) Things

I was raised in a serious household. We worked hard, got things done, met our goals via the quickest route possible. There was no stopping to smell the roses, shooting the breeze with neighbors or getting in the car with no destination in mind. Something was wrong with a day if you had nothing to show for it.

I do not take issue with people being industrious and productive. Money doesn’t grow on trees, as they say, and generally you get money when you work. Then, not only do you get the things you need (and a few things that you just plain want), you develop a sense of accomplishment, of contributing to the world around you in a positive way, of earning your keep. Walking downtown the other day, I heard some people hanging out in the park (same people who hang out in the park every day), complaining, yelling, insulting one another. I hurried on, thinking they have nothing to do! If only they had something valuable or interesting or important to do!

A classical statue depicting Diligence, the (one of seven) heavenly virtue that represents the “drive to steadfastly move forward with one’s means,” shows a woman holding a whip and spurs. (The fact that a woman is holding them, not a man, is an interesting point all by itself, but outside my scope for today. We might come back to that…) I am all for people showing up for work, keeping the lights on and the wheels of community turning.

But anything taken to an extreme is no good. I even heard (though bear in mind that this could be one of those things you hear that has zero validity) that you can even take the “Drink lots of water” advice too far, that you can kill yourself drinking too much water. Fact check required here, but point here being, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Isn’t that how it goes?

I don’t remember laughter at the dinner table when I was a kid. Or anywhere at home for that matter. There was a time when I remember thinking I had never seen my father’s teeth – as in he didn’t smile or laugh enough for us to see his teeth! If something funny happened, his expression moved in the direction of chuckling, no doubt about that, but actual, audible laughing-out-loud, no. I don’t mean this as a criticism of my father – he was ultra-industrious, as was his prerogative, and surely laughed sometimes. I just didn’t see it.

But laughter, silliness, childishness – these thongs (oops, things!) came along later for me, and I am so glad they did! They came along for my mom too, who could hardly do anything more out of character than pretending to be a lobster while wearing a plastic bib in (this is the kicker) a dining room filled with lots of people!

mom whiskers1.jpg

Can’t you just hear some old marm saying Barbara, that’s unnecessary! Stop being so silly! I’m sure she heard those words in her head, but silliness won the day! Granted, she had a good model. Jerry did not need any encouragement, in fact he started the whole thing.

Jerry whiskers4 (2).jpg

On the heels of this, my tennis buddy Scott did a most unnecessary thing on his paddleboard on Labor Day – a headstand!

Scott Newman headstand (2).jpeg

None of us needs to do a headstand on a paddleboard (!) or insert lobster antennae in our mouths like whiskers,

or be tomato-heads


or go face-to-face with ridiculous chickens!

Samuel with chicken (2).jpeg

But we should! We should do all kinds of silly stuff!

My mom with lobster whiskers! My mom laughing so hard she can hardly stand it! Not in my wildest dreams did I envision this moment. I am still giggling just to think of it.  But little makes me happier than seeing that smile on her face 😊

mom whiskers3.jpg

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