Off the Wall

Life in the fast lane puts on too much mileage

Life in the fast lane puts on too much mileage

Back in the good old days, multitasking meant talking on the phone while shaving your legs in the tub. Nowadays, it means closing a million-dollar deal while you're getting your tubes tied.

Sweetie and I are propped up in front of the bathroom mirror brushing our teeth. It's the first thing we do every morning and the last thing we do every night.

It wasn't always this way. You can tell the age of a relationship by the emphasis put on dental hygiene.

"Whee-tie," I say, then spit, "are we getting up or going to bed?"

Staring at each other, we turn to the window to see if the sun is rising or setting.

When it's cloudy we have to turn on the television to figure out if it's dusk or dawn. During Hurricane Floyd we went three days without sleep before we figured out Diane Sawyer is now doing the morning show.

When Sweetie and I first met, time stood still. Or maybe it just seems that way when you're parked. Regardless, now we're stuck in the fast lane without an off-ramp.

"OK," Sweetie calls out as he showers, shaves and shampoos, "tell me again what day it is."

"Thursday," I say, handing him a towel with one hand while I brush my hair with the other.

"Are you sure?"

Throwing my wrist in the air, I check my Casio, which not only gives the time, date and day of the week, but a readout of my pulse. I figure, at the rate I'm going, my heart will stop long before the rest of me skids to a halt.

"Where did the week go?" Sweetie sighs as he grinds coffee with one hand and pours a bowl of LIFE cereal with the other.

"I have no idea," I say as I toss fish food into the cat dish and scoop Friskies into the fish bowl, "but I sure wish it had taken us with it."

And in the midst of all this, the phone starts ringing, the fax starts faxing, and I get a message on my computer that says, "You've got mail."

"You're driving yourself to the grave!" Dad declares, in his ever-upbeat way.

This from the man who worked a 72-hour week while I was growing up. Other than the conception, he pretty much missed the first 30 years of my life.

"Dad, can I put you on hold?" I ask, holding the phone with my ear so I can dust the desk while I check my e-mail. "I have another call."

"If you don't cool it," Dad steams, when I put him back on line, "you're going to overheat and crack your block."

Dad worked for Ford Motor Co. for 30 years. For him, life is a Fairlane.

"Oh, Daddy," I say with a roll of the eyes, "other than the fact that this morning I put shaving cream on my toothbrush and flossed my toe jam, I'm doing just fine."

"Just remember," Dad warns, "when it comes to resale value, it's not the model it's the mileage."

"What are you doing?" Sweetie asks as I lift the coffee cup out of his hand and place it on the counter.

You have to be very careful in a relationship, or one day you'll wake up and find it's running on empty.

"Sweetie," I say as I loosen his tie, "I'm turning back my speedometer." (Copyright 1999 P.S. Wall. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.)

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