Suburban Dad: Spring Forward and Shirk Back

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Spring is upon us, which for men around the house means only one thing: report for duty. There are endless chores to tackle.  But there are two types of men who do chores. There are the earnest and effective, those stalwarts who stand as pillars of responsibility. And then there are the rest of us.  

You know “us”--the pitiful ones who, instead of mowing the lawn, would rather lay on a day bed with a cold compress pressed to our foreheads. Well, if you want to join our number in repose, here's advice. But be forewarned: you deviate from this advice at your own peril. (And it’s been proven effective by some of the least effective men in Westchester and Fairfield counties.) 

  • Feign injury. It’s an old standard, but harder than it sounds to pull off. Gravitate to vague untreatable injuries, but avoid the usual body locations, such as backs (that could arouse suspicion that we’re faking it, and suspicion is the unseen enemy of our collective effort to take a load off). Envision a less traveled portion of the body, like necks -- or a faddish diagnosis, though avoid restless leg syndrome, which sounds like just the sort of antic activity we are doing our best to shirk. 
  • Make your kids do it, but it’s not that simple. Passing the buck in a self-evident and contrived fashion (“Do this so I can sit on a vinyl lawn chair”) is fated to backfire. It’s transparent and, trust me, will be seen as such. But selling the passing of chores as a social engineering project, a way to raise children who exercise more than their video game thumb, works. Fobbing work off on the under-aged?  Unseemly and ineffective. But working toward the greater societal good is a can’t-miss. 
  • Dial down your effort at any turn. This is easier said than done. We’re a self-consumed society, forever obsessed with our aptitudes and accomplishments. But listen up, buddy: if you want to avoid a springtime spent digging holes for daffodils, you’ve got to drop that world-beater pose.   Remember: a body in motion is asked to stay in motion, but a body at rest—well, who wants to wake the dead? 

Please take what I say seriously. From The New York Times to this website, I’ve written extensively on this timeless topic of shirking housework.

It’s simply long been an area of interest and exploration.  Everyone has his life’s work.  Mine seems to be avoiding it.   

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