I Try So Hard To Goof Off, But I Can’t

by Kevin Burton

   Today is National Goof Off Day, but I don’t feel up to it. 

   The National Day Calendar is amusing for all of us. It will have four to six thing of the day offerings each and every day.  It’s a salvation for a blogger some days when ideas for content are running low.

   But this one, I just can’t hack.  For this one, I’m not called upon to taste test pizzas, adopt a cat, clean the garage, write a book, read a book, alphabetize my books. 

   Goof off day calls for nothing.  I can’t do nothing.

  I’ll give you an example: I hear that it is Goof Off Day and immediately I begin defining what it means to goof off.  The calendar’s example seems to point to avoiding one’s grown-up responsibilities for the day and doing exactly what you feel like doing, no more no less. That’s not goofing off to me.  That’s pursuing a different priority.

   You’re doing your fun work, not your drudgery work. But you’re still working. You’re not goofing off.

   We’re at risk here of falling into the trap they had in Bible times of figuring out what was work and what wasn’t on a Sunday, the sabbath. 

   Chief Justice Potter Stewart once said of obscenity “I know it when I see it.”  So it is with goofing off.  It’s maybe not so much what you accomplish, but your intent, or lack of intent in this case.

   For instance, John Sebastian who I just wrote about (“Spoonful’s John Sebastian Turns 79,” March 17), wrote “Daydream.”  In it, he seems to be wandering around doing very little, but on his mind is his “bundle of joy.” So is he really planning the future of his relationship?  Is he goofing off or not? Only he would know.

   I say Sebastian makes the grade. That song comes off as a believable goof off song.  Me, I can’t do it.

   I looked on the March 23 National Day page to see if there was a “Work Twice As Hard Because You Slacked Off Yesterday Day.” No such thing.  So the Day Calendar has its limits in the real world.

   So I’m the serious type. My wife jokes that I was born with a briefcase in my hand, comparing notes with the doctor who delivered me, criticizing his technique. 

   This of course is a common writer’s device called hyperbole, an obvious exaggeration that proves a greater point.  Of course at birth  I wouldn’t have had room for anything more than a child-size notebook, not a whole briefcase. 

   Most of the time when I appear to be goofing off, I’m not, because my mind is working.

   Do you know I actually asked my father the glass half full or half empty question without any prompting from anybody. I hadn’t been exposed to the philosophical cliché, I was just thinking, stumbled across something I couldn’t figure out and needed to know. 

   People who know me well may have never heard that story, but they believe it. “Yeah, that sounds like you, man.”

   By the way, that glass is partially filled.  For all useful intent, it’s not half full or half empty.  Because in real time there is no reason why you would know it is 50 percent filled rather than 47 percent or 52. Also, the optimum usable capacity of the glass is somewhat less than 100 percent because, especially if you have to move the glass even slightly, you’re likely to spill some water if it is at 100 percent capacity. 

   So are you measuring half of 100 percent, which you don’t even want, or some lesser amount?

   There again, some people fill up a series of glasses to various levels, then hit the glasses with a spoon to create certain music notes.  They can play a song that way.

   Have you ever seen that? Isn’t that cool?

   But I don’t see them on the You Tube videos telling people to make sure the glasses have a certain percentage of water.

   Speaking of music, if I sat downstairs on the couch in the music room, determined to goof off, my older cat would come over and want to sit in my lap. Now I’m not goofing off, I’m entertaining the cat.  This is hopeless.

   Hats off to you if you can truly goof off today, I can’t manage it. I’ll probably go buy a briefcase.  

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