Stuck in a rut

And that’s the way I like it

My wife was silhouetted in the doorway, late afternoon sunlight streaming from behind, arms on hips, head cocked slightly to the right, voice smooth as silk, looking on as I sat in a recliner, feet up and head back, angling the remote control toward the television.

“Honey,” she purred, “we have to get you out of your rut.”

I nodded, because statements like that call for agreement, if not always action. Besides, any time she uses the word “honey” in a sentence referring to me, she doesn’t mean “honey” in its sweetest sense.

Anyway, I knew what she was talking about. Our lives are changing, and now our weekdays are filled with work, dinner and TV, and our weekends are filled with other work, dinner and TV. You could call it repetitive, but to identify it as a “rut” seemed harsh.

But I did what any good husband would do. I promised to do better, beginning in the morning, because now it was time for the Rangers on TV.

So the following morning, I started out simply. My morning routine is typically exercise, shower, brush teeth and go to work. It didn’t seem prudent to eliminate exercising or showering, but what if I shook things up by starting my brushing regimen on the lower right instead of the upper left? That would be a significant step in de-ruttifying my life.

So I started brushing on the lower right, and I sawed the brush back and forth and up and down for what seemed like the normal period of time, and then I switched to the lower left. But as I slid the toothbrush back and forth, I had this nagging feeling something was wrong.

I stopped brushing and concentrated my mental energy on what to do next: Was I done on the lower left, or did I still have brushing left to do there? Or should I be working on the upper left, or had I already done that? (I know all of this sounds implausible, but try it before you condemn me.)

Toothpaste leaked from my mouth as I pondered the alternatives. By deviating from my regular routine, whatever that routine was since now I was having trouble recreating it, I’d pulled myself from a rut, but I’d created an entirely new problem. With my newly enhanced lifestyle, I couldn’t even figure out how to end my tooth-brushing session.

So I just quit brushing and headed out the door, my wife having left long before, unaware of the turmoil her request had caused.

My conclusion: Ruts may not be exciting, but some of them serve the purpose of conserving mental energy while helping slide through the day.

That night, just about the time the Rangers’ game was scheduled to start, my wife was there again in the doorway, sunlight streaming from behind her, arms on hips, head cocked slightly to the right, voice smooth as silk.

“So did you do anything differently?” she asked.

I noticed that her voice sounded the same as before, and her positioning in the doorway was identical. Even the exact time of day, following on the heels of finishing her standard dinner and her nightly glance at People magazine, was identical.

In fact, one could argue that her own actions indicated perhaps she was in a rut.

I chose not to bring up that point. though: That is one rut I’ll just keep to myself.


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