Free stuff: it’s the least I can do

And the least I can do is what I usually aim for…

Back when New Yorker cartoonist Charles Barsotti was still alive we had an argument that went like this:

Charlie argued that in the grand scheme of things cartoonists were pretty damn important to society; I countered by asking him if he were on a deserted island whether he’d want his companion to be a cartoonist or a carpenter.

Face it: if we’re out hiking and you fall and suffer a compound fracture, the best I can do is offer to draw a funny picture of your accident.

Cartoonists are not the most useful people to have around in an emergency.

Your family is not all it’s cracked up to be

Moving on to Point 2:

I can’t help but notice that a whole bunch of ballplayers retire and say they want to spend more time with their family and then a year or two later are back in uniform as a coach or take a job in the broadcast booth. 

Which makes me suspect their families were not all they were cracked up to be and about three weeks into being home every single day and dealing with school pick-ups, rides to soccer practice and making lunches, a lot of ballplayers said, “Jesus, I have got to get out of the house."

On the other hand, I’m guessing the families were just as tired of having dad around 24/7.

Everybody develops their own routines and habits and having an adult male with a short attention span poking his nose into whatever activity you’re engaged in would get pretty tiresome.

And here’s another drawback to family time: after you live with someone for a few years they’ve heard all your jokes and stories. I believe this is one of the leading causes of divorce; a need for a new audience. Getting a new family may be easier than developing new material.

This explains why Johnny Carson was married four times.

So if you’ve been told to work from home I’m guessing before long you and your family might drive each other crazy.

Home alone

Point 3:

Now let’s say you’ve been asked to work from home and during the day you’re all alone.

I have a good friend who claims to be an introvert, so you’d think being alone all day would be right up her alley. Turns out she misses being around the people she doesn’t speak to.

But – and this is the point – she could speak to them if she wanted to.

She used to come home from work and her husband might have to give her time and space to decompress from the stress of dealing with other people. Now she says he walks in the door and she can’t wait tell him the 19 things she thought about that day and had nobody around to not tell them to.

Now he’s the one that needs time and space to decompress before she turns on the fire hydrant of information that she needs to spew after a day alone.

So being with your family isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and being alone can make you crazy; how else can you handle the social distancing that’s being forced upon us?

What’s on TV?
Point 4:

I’m only now realizing just how much my television viewing was sports related. I somehow managed to completely miss hit TV shows like Breaking Bad or The Big Bang Theory, but I will watch North Dakota play Wyoming – two football teams I don’t care about – if that’s the game on TV that night.

Back before we knew Woody Allen was a screwed up human being and stopped thinking he was funny, he said something that stuck with me.

I’m going to say it was Annie Hall and leave it at that because I don’t want to look it up, but in this scene he was at a party of blowhards and wound up in a back bedroom watching a Knicks game on TV.

When someone asked why he found it so fascinating he said because it was real. It wasn’t scripted or imagined or something someone just talked about and it was actually happening right at that moment.

One night I was at a Kansas City Royals game when outfielder Jeff Francoeur made an incredible throw and I later told someone plays like that are why you watch sports. At the time Frenchy let go of the ball I had no idea if he would throw the runner out.

If I told you about it the next day, you could look it up and find a video of the play, but you would already know it was a great play.

When watching sports live you don’t.

You don’t know if Carlton Fisk’s home run is going to stay fair, you don’t know if Doug Flutie’s pass will be complete and you don’t know if Michael Jordan’s last-second shot will go in.

Nobody knows for sure and that’s the beauty of sports.

So if you watch TV for sports and you watch sports to see something unscripted, the MLB network replaying old baseball games – which is what they’re currently doing – doesn’t cut it.

I do my part, however reluctantly

If we’re all stuck in our houses for the foreseeable future we’re all going to need to find ways to entertain ourselves and maybe for a few minutes a day I can help.

I started writing because I was stuck inside one winter day and had always intended to write some of my family stories down while I could still remember them. My kids encouraged me to put them on a platform that allowed subscriptions and some of you have been nice enough to give me $5 a month to see cartoons and read what I hope are funny stories and I appreciate that.

But whenever I get ready to post something I can choose to send it to everyone on my mailing list or subscribers only. Lately, I’ve been choosing to send it to everyone.

If you want to keep sending me $5 a month I’ll be happy to take it, but at least for now, while we’re at home and looking for ways to entertain ourselves I’m going to make everything free.

I’m still less important than a good carpenter, but since we’re all under house arrest if I can entertain you for a brief part of your day, it’s the least I can do.

If I figure out a way to do even less, I’ll let you know.