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home : columnists : columnists August 21, 2017

Sitting pretty

By Dick Wolfsie
Funny Bone

What has happened to the art of sitting? People nowadays don't just sit; they have to be involved in some activity like emailing, blogging, tweeting, reading, or watching TV.

When I was a kid, people in my neighborhood sat on their front porch. Since this was New York, they were mostly protecting their valuables or waiting for the police to arrive. They were sitting, nonetheless. You see people sitting in a doctor's office-but these people are waiting. Big difference.

In some of those old English manors, there were sitting rooms. But if you ever saw a movie or read a book about life in those days, you'd know that people also did a lot of yakking to each other while they were sitting. They would converse about the murder that just occurred in the sewing room or speculate about why the downstairs maid was spending so much time upstairs. In reality, these were talking rooms, not sitting rooms.

When you are sitting, you are not wasting time. That is why we need to applaud the historical significance of this leisurely activity. For it is in this repose that the truly lazy people of the world have made their impact. Do you think it was hard-working folks who came up with the idea for the backhoe, the chainsaw and the snow blower? Heavens no. It was the sluggish and the indolent solving the world's problems while completely at rest.

Cracker Barrel Restaurant has tried to bring back sitting as an art form. They have this nifty front porch lined with sturdy rocking chairs. But rarely is someone sitting in one of them. Instead, people are looking at the price tags on the arm or complaining about the 30-minute wait for the meatloaf special. Cracker Barrel customers are the perfect people for sitting. Many of them sport suspenders and dangle toothpicks from their mouths. This is sit waiting to happen.

Fewer and fewer people have front porches, the traditional place for this non-activity. Sitting alone inside your house is actually a little weird. You see, part of the charm of sitting is that you are publicly displaying that you have the time and the inclination to just park your rear end in a chair. Not a bill to pay, a chore to do, or a place to go. You can't flaunt this in private. If word got out you were in your spare bedroom staring at the walls, the neighbors would call for some form of crisis intervention. But sit on your front step and gaze into space with a slight smirk, and there is immediate neighborhood speculation about an unexpected inheritance, or about you and the new UPS driver.

Sometimes to relax I just sit in my driveway in an old beach chair and wait for my wife to get home from work. When my neighbor Charlie sees me he always grabs a stool from his garage and plants himself next to me. Then he wants to chat endlessly about politics or religion, but lately I've mustered up the nerve to tell Charlie I'd rather be alone.

Some people just don't sit well with me.

Dick Wolfsie has written 12 books and has been a television personality for 30 years. His humor column appears weekly in The Times.

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