Jon de Vos: The stuff of legends
Today, I have a lot of stuff to talk about. Important stuff.
If I knew for sure what “Stuff” was, I think it would help me in awkward conversations.
Last Friday, for instance, and totally unprovoked I might add, my wife turned, looked me directly in the eye and said, “We’ve got a lot of stuff to do this weekend.”
“Wow,” I echoed with faux enthusiasm after several strained moments, “a lot of stuff, indeed.” A strained silence ensued as we each pondered private thoughts. My “stuff” included a couple of Woody Allen movies and a triumphant amount of couch time. I considered the odds of her “stuff” coinciding with my “stuff,” finally concluding it was a long shot.
“Uh, like what?” I asked, breaking her stare and looking off into a different dimension where husbands go; where there wasn’t stuff like this going on. Lemme take a break here and talk about some other stuff.
Bag ladies have stuff. Movie stars have stuff. Everyone has stuff to do, stuff to buy, stuff to start, stuff to quit, stuff we regret and stuff we enjoy but that still doesn’t get to what “stuff” is.
When I graduated college, every bit of stuff I owned fit loosely behind the seat of a 1956 MGA. Fast forward eight or nine dogs, and today it would take the wife and I twelve moving vans abreast to make a dent on the stuff in the garage. They’d be stuffed. Like the garage is now.
Admittedly, we have a lot of stuff. Stuff clings to us like refrigerator magnets on R2D2, but even so, we’re always after more. My wife says, “Stop at the store on your way home, I’ve got a list of stuff I want you to pick up.”
“What kind of stuff?” I ask.
“Just a bunch of stuff, the stuff I’ll need to stuff a turkey,” she says.
“Really?” I ask, “What are you going to stuff it with?”
She looks at me oddly, “With stuffing. What else do you stuff a turkey with?”
I can’t stop myself from asking, “What’s that brown stuff in the stuffing?” She mutters some stuff under her breath and sends me off to straighten up stuff in the garage. I’m starting to think that nobody knows what stuff is. Maybe stuff is some kind of mystery element that they didn’t tell you about in chemistry class.
“Good Lord, what IS that stuff in the back of the fridge behind all the stuff in front?”
“Leftover stuffing I stuffed back there last week.”
I thought I had it pinned down the other day. My wife came in and said, “If you’ll unload the stuff from the car, I’ll put it away.” I ran out to the garage eagerly. Finally I was going to learn what stuff is. But there wasn’t any stuff in the car. There wasn’t room for any stuff because the car was stuffed with food and perishables. I went back to my couch and an Italian Vampire movie. Eventually she glared at me. “Aren’t you going to get the stuff out of the car?”
I glared right back.
“You can’t fool me,” I said. “The car is full of groceries.” She must have needed the groceries or something, because she scowled at me and stomped off in stony silence punctuated by several emphatic door slams. Suddenly, the temperature dropped a few degrees and an ominous shadow crossed the TV.
I looked up and confronted the glare, hers, not the one off the TV. Her eyes narrowed and she said coldly, “Do I have to do all the stuff around here?”
I held her gaze, “I don’t think you understand what stuff is any more than the next guy.” We stared across the wide gulf that separated us. She rolled her eyes and finally quit speaking to me.
The day wasn’t a total loss.
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