2007-03-29 / Sam Bari

The springtime reality check

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

The real signs of spring are finally making themselves evident. 'Tis that time of year when little buds start forming on bushes, grass turns green and begins to grow, and crocuses pop out of the ground bearing their pretty purple, yellow and white flowers. Women start seeds in little indoor pots so the sprouts will be ready for the garden when temperatures rise. Men spend more time at the boatyard and in the garage as they prepare vessels and fishing gear for the big spring launch. Sounds traditional, happy, and filled with promise, wouldn't you say? Don't be too hasty to agree.

Spring has another side, a much darker side, a side that none of us care to acknowledge, but must address it whether we like it or not. This wonderful, blossoming season is the time when we are destined to come to grips with many realities.

For instance, we must look at the reality of the results of our New Year's resolutions. Those of us who resolved to go to the gym to lose fifteen pounds so we would look fabulous in new bikinis and swimming trunks have to deal with the fact that we actually gained five because all that exercise made us hungry. As difficult as it is to face, it is sadly true.

Men cannot deny that planting a well-planned garden will give the family healthier, fresher food, and reduce the grocery bill by several hundred dollars. They will also have to explain to their wives why it makes so much sense to maintain a boat, buy fuel, spend money on fishing gear, and several thousand dollars to store and dock the vessel. In other words, they must convince their wives that spending upwards of ten to twenty grand a year justifies catching $200 worth of tuna, a necessary nutrient. It's a hard sell.

I might suggest tilling the garden while attempting to give a rational explanation for having a boat. It makes the presentation more palatable, if you catch my drift. If that doesn't placate the little woman, diving into the job jar and helping with spring cleaning, planting flower beds, painting the porch and all those little chores and projects that you've been promising to do for years will surely help. This is her opportunity to dangle the bait. You will soon know what it feels like to be a fish.

On the other side of the coin, many ladies must justify all the money they spent for a new wardrobe of skinny clothes that they still cannot wear because they lost the war in the battle of the bulge. That is also not an easy sale. A little compromise in the boat department could ease the raised eyebrow when the credit card bills arrive.

Even the younger set does not escape spring unscathed. They must make the big decision come spring break, and ask themselves the annual question: Do we party hardy and have some fun, or, do we study hard so we can make good grades when we take finals after spring vacation?

It just doesn't seem fair that report cards can be a direct reflection of the good times that can be had when partying around the clock with impunity with several hundred of their closest friends at a distant resort during their hard-earned, well-deserved holiday. Teenage logic is an amazing thought process. When they are sitting in class at summer school, it finally dawns on them that their thinking might have been slightly askew.

Do not be discouraged. We all go through this every year. At different stages of our lives, we are presented with different challenges. Spring will soon be behind us and we will survive. The garden will be planted, the boat will be in the water, and school will be over so we can do it all again next year while we live in a system we can't quite understand.

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