What to write when there’s nothing left to write about
Burt's Eye View
I rocked my easy chair up a smidge so that I could brush Pop-Tart crumbs off my belly. I didn’t want the strawberry filling to stain my favorite T-shirt, the one that proclaims: “Please don’t interrupt me while I’m ignoring you.”
I cued another hand of spider solitaire on the laptop resting on my knees. “I don’t know what to write for my column this week,” I called out to my wife, Terry, who was ironing in the dining room.
The steam iron hissed. Or maybe it was Terry. “How about a piece on what it’s going to be like when you finally go back to the office where you belong?”
I slid a red seven on a black eight. “Nah. I’m tired of writing about the coronavirus pandemic. People are tired of reading about employees working from home.”
“Trust me, I know.” She sighed. “Why am I bothering to iron your dress shirts? Have you given any thought to what you’re going to wear the first day you go back?”
I toggled over to my email. “Janet from the office sent a message about that the other day. Here it is: ‘Do you wonder what the post-coronavirus workplace will look like? Any chance offices will have recliners and pajama pants will be acceptable on casual Friday?'”
Terry slammed the iron on the board. “You are not wearing your Underdog pajama bottoms to the office. How long have you had those things? Since college.”
“But think how it would boost my co-workers’ morale if I sat in my office easy chair wearing the words, ‘There’s no need to fear…'”
“It certainly wouldn’t be because Underdog is here,” Terry said.
“You gotta admit, the coronavirus sounds like something that Underdog’s archnemesis Simon Bar Sinister and his henchman, Cad, would cook up to try to take over the world.”
“I thought that was Pinky and the Brain.”
“Maybe we’ve run out of classic cartoons to watch being home so much.” I scratched my cheek. “I wonder if I could expense a La-Z-Boy for work? For medical reasons. I don’t think my body can go back to an office chair.”
“Good luck with that.” Terry buttoned a shirt onto a hanger. I remembered wearing a button-down shirt another lifetime ago.
She pulled another semi-familiar shirt from the not-so-urgent ironing pile. “Oh, did I tell you that my sister called today? You’ll never guess what happened.”
I rolled my eyes. “I heard. You had it on speaker phone. I could barely concentrate on my job.”
“Sorry. I forget that you believe the entire living room and half the kitchen is your office.”
I clicked the screen. Lost again. I dealt another hand of solitaire and tipped back the recliner. “Hey, how would you like to fry me some eggs? I’d do it myself but, you know, working.”
“Finish your eggs from yesterday. They’re still in your beard,” she said. “Shaving is still a permissible activity.”
“I can wait until I get called back to the office. It’s only been two months.”
“Two months? ONLY two months.” I’d never heard my sweet wife laugh like that — sort of a mix between a cackle and a scream.
“Have faith,” I said. “Like I have faith that I’ll think of a column right after my afternoon nap. Working from home is great.”
“And have hope,” she said. “That’s why I set the razor and shaving cream on the sink.”
— Commiserate with Cole’s wife at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.