Perhaps she doesn't understand the meaning of the word ''vacation.'' The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vacation as ''a time of respite'' and ''a period of exemption from work.''
But according to my newlywed bride, Terry, vacation means ''time apart from work in which to tackle all the work at home.''
In short, her honey-do list beat me to my easy chair.
''What's this,'' I asked, trying to sweep the packet from my perch. It was the heaviest lifting I intended to do for a week.
''Oh, just a couple ways to amuse yourself while you're home this week,'' she smiled sweetly.
''Already, taken care of,'' I said. ''Here's my pillow. I've got the remote control. The espionage novel is there and my Oreos, plus a spare bag, are stashed in the rack. I'm amused.''
''I'm not,'' she said. ''Shall we go over your honey-do list?''
I wanted to offer some well-reasoned and insightful objections, but I only had a week. The sooner I checked off her list, the sooner I could glue myself into the La-Z-Boy and get back to mine.
How hard could it be?
''Item 1 - We have a new dining room suite coming. So you need to empty all your stuff out of the dining room, including the 47 tin signs you nailed on the walls.''
I spent nine years cluttering - I mean, decorating - my dining room in Modern Bachelor. Maybe I could move it out in 20 minutes or less.
Three days of packing, pulling, vacuuming and heavy lifting later, I still had most of the week left for relaxation.
''Item 2 - Fix the front door. We haven't been able to open it since February.''
''But I'm on vacation.''
''You've been telling me since February that you'd change the broken lock when you had some time off. Well?''
''Right. Item 2.''
Fortunately, it was the day brother-in-law Mark, a bona fide handyman, delivered table, chairs and buffet for the empty dining room.
''You know, Mark,'' I yelled through the jammed front door. ''It would be best to carry that stuff in through the front door. But there's a slight problem. Come in through the back door - uh, with your tools - and I'll tell you all about it.''
A trip to the hardware store and a sore back later, I was ready to resume vacation.
''Item 3 - Hang the towel bar.''
''I thought I did that already.''
''No, you've been saying 'tomorrow' for the last six weeks. 'Tomorrow' is today.''
Item 3 was a trick. I had to clean the garage first to find my tools. It was Item 3A. With them, I also found Items 3B to Item 3QQ.
Finally, with only 11 hours of vacation left, I crawled toward my chair.
''Item 4,'' the dreaded voice behind me cooed. ''Box up the books, files and toys stacked all over the floor of your home office. Then I can clean it so we can put in real bookshelves. It will make you feel so much happier.''
''You're still punishing me for not letting you hang curtains in my garage, aren't you?''
''Let's discuss that when we get to Item 5,'' she said. ''Or was it Item 6?''
Fortunately, the clock ran out on my week of relaxation as I closed the last box. I ran a washcloth over my face and sprinted for the car. I needed to get to work so I could relax.
''Glad to see you back,'' the boss said. ''A few projects came up while you were gone. Item 1 ...''
----- Cole is whimpering under his desk. Send him tasks at email@example.com.