DeVos: A quiet, comfortable cave |

DeVos: A quiet, comfortable cave

Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

Archeologists used to think that prehistoric society began as hunters and gatherers. They figured the men got up before dawn, sharpened their spears and spent a tough day poking woolly mammoths.

Cavewomen, they figured, got up a bit later, dusted the stalactites and spent a few hours raising kids while gathering wild wheat, barley and hops for the evening stew.

Recent evidence indicates it wasn’t quite so. Apparently cavemen were lazy slugs who just lay about the cave all day dreaming up ways to invent beer. It seems cavewomen did it all, including a lot of mammoth-poking. Plus, to the shame and chagrin of cavemen everywhere, it turns out they probably invented beer, too.

To this day, women have more to do than is good for them. Take my wife, for instance. She’s very busy. She’s so busy that she makes lists of all the things she needs to do to make sure she stays busy. This is so alien to my way of thinking that I sometimes look behind things to see if they’re cardboard cutouts, proving I’m on some weird David Lynch movie stage.

It gets worse. If she’s too lively in her list-making, packing it impossibly full, she gets all nervous about things undone. At least that may be what’s going on. It’s hard to tell from the comfort of my recliner. Anxiety spreads like Ebola and sure enough, soon she was trying to infect me too.

She claimed I would see great benefit in making lists. I explained I kept losing them before getting to the bottom, but that did not discourage her, nor even slow her down in her hopeless, quixotic effort to organize my life. Eventually, however, she wore me down and I agreed to start making lists. The first night, right in front of her so she could judge my compliance for herself, I started with “woke up” and made a thorough list of everything I had done during the day. When I got to the bottom of the list, I went back to the top and ponderously drew a line through every item.

She stared, slowly shaking her head, “You’re mocking me. I’m trying to help you and you’re mocking me.”

“I’m not,” I said, “We just see things so differently.”

For my candor she rewarded me with a list of my own. It had things undone since the dawn of man. Over the years, it’s aged, becoming an albatross around my freedom, like the haunt of a bad credit score. It was a glimpse into her vision of my sadly unfinished world.

Once I handed her a list of the things I’d like to see done around the house. I learned a lot about angry gatherers that day. More than I ever wanted to know.

Her lists endure like clay tablets, cataloging my botches, letdowns, and flops. She cherishes them like heirlooms. She brings them out when her friends come by. They quiet down and their eyes follow me as I walk through the room.

I’ve learned it’s hopeless. She starts hovering when I’m getting close to the bottom of the list. Just as I’m rounding third and diving for the sofa, a strong right arm snakes out of left field and adds, “Paint the bathroom.” Things appear on the list when I’m not looking. My life is one of those weird Tibetan riddles; how does a man finish a list with no end?

I’d have made a great caveman.

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