Monday, December 19, 2011

My Highest Level of Amusement

This weekend, or at least this shabbos, I took off.  Recreation on Saturday, mostly chores on Sunday though only the ones that evoke a measure of personal accomplishment.  The raw tally:  got my cell phone replaced and the new one accepts a charge, headed toward Lancaster at the suggestion of the Pennsylvania Wine Trail, starting with Twin Brook and ending with Kreutz Creek, which tasted mostly like medicine.  In between I had lunch in Strasburg and made the rounds at the Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market.  Picked my son up at the Airport.  By then it was past sundown.  I tried to get a few office gifts at The Christmas Tree Shop and TJ Maxx but came home empty handed.  Concluded the day by gathering my laundry scattered around multiple rooms and transporting everything to one place so I could do the wash in its entirety on Sunday, which I ended up not doing.  For Sunday I bought and wrapped the office gifts and made some real headway with the kitchen, even washing one third of the floor and the entire Formica counter.  Seeing that the surfaces need replacement, I went to Lowe's where I looked at what it would take to cosmetically transform my kitchen.  I want to upgrade my office, so I looked at area rugs, eventually driving to Air Base Carpet Mart where I bought one.  Made progress on upcoming Torah and Haftarah readings.

How much of this is really the Highest Level of Amusement that I had intended?  I definitely like visiting wineries, rejecting out of hand the Rabbinic concept that American winemakers are idolaters who will draw me to evil other than skipping services on Saturday morning.  A number of my personal pleasures center around tasting:  coffee, microbrews, making dinner.  I've never taken great delight in eating out, though.  I do not particularly like people serving me, much preferring to take what I want from among what I am willing to eat at a buffet.  It has been ages since I've been to a good Sunday Brunch, something that I used to attend commonly when Rozzy was an infant.

I like shopping, or really looking at things more than buying things.  There is cookware that I do not need, clever implementation of ideas in the Seen in TV section, regional specialties when I travel, tchotchkes of any type from cheap pens with imprinted with names that I'd never saddle a kid with for his whole life, coffee mugs of endless design, funny greeting cards.  I do not find myself attracted to pretense.  Fifth Avenue and the like holds no allure for me at all.  I see places like that as repositories for unfortunate individuals whose self-esteem equates with what they are able to purchase that somebody else cannot.

There are few bodily pleasures that stand out.  Warm water, whether from a shower or Jacuzzi.  I like to exfoliate my forehead with facial scrub, then add a tingle from some type of atomic balm.  Irene once got me a massage certificate as part of a United Way silent auction.  Over the years, I've found myself waiting in line for mini chair massages that the Endocrine Society or similar medical organizations provide for those who attend the convention.  These are definitely relaxing at the end of a second or third day of conference.  But the real massage, which took a half hour and was of hand to skin format was not something I would seek out again.  I found it something of an invasion of my space.

My real quest best reaches fulfillment when I travel to a place I've not been before.  I love puttering around, not necessarily to the advertised attraction, but to some of the out of the way places that make the place I am visiting different from my home turf.  Museums are fine but I much prefer to drive through neighborhoods, walk on the sidewalks, maybe visit the local synagogue and chat with the people who live there.

I'm always a little uneasy getting pampered.  Because of my position people often seem more deferential to me than I think I merit, which may be part of the reason I like to escape to places where nobody knows me.  When they ask what I do professionally I tell them that I sign things.  Like many doctors, a sense of personal achievement comes mostly through what you do for yourself, for the effort that is put in starting with the every third night on call that has gone the way of the history book.  That is not to say do not delegate things but the need to pull one's weight and to reject offers of others to do what you should be doing yourself eventually becomes an ingrained part of personality.  A waitress does not have to bring me food that I can go to the buffet and get for myself..  A masseuse does not have to apply the soothing hands when my shower head has a setting that pulses hot water that I can direct where I want.  Having a waiter who spends more on his tie than I do, which is probably most waiters and for sure most medical residents, leaves me a little uneasy.

A predictable break from labor has been mandated for thousands of years.  Having somebody else convey to me a sense of self-importance that I really have not earned in the form of creature comfort or pampering is really not part of the divine directive.

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