I like the idea of convertibles. Wind in your hair, sun on your face, the feeling of freedom. But the few times I’ve driven one I was not so enamored. Some cause uncomfortable buffeting around my head, like being smacked repeatedly with pillows. The wind noise really aggravates my tinnitus, so my ears ring loudly for hours afterward. My face is already paying the price of too much sun exposure in my youth, so that’s not such a good thing. And once you put the top up, the road noise is really bad. True, you can buy a high end ragtop and avoid many of these problem. A nice BMW 6 Series cabriolet, for instance. But that, sadly, will probably always be beyond my financial grasp.

I like the idea of Scotch. A nice single malt aged in port barrels with that perfect golden brown color always looks so inviting. Pour some over ice, admire the color, read about the history of the distillation (maybe 12 years in the making), and then take a sip. ACK!!! COUGH!!! GASP!!! What the…..?!?!  I guess I’ll always be a Scotch admirer from a distance.

I like the idea of running every morning. Just like in the Army. Get up and out early, fresh morning air, a mist rising off the fields, jogging at a nice pace, breathing comfortably, maybe work up a nice sweat. Then I remember the times I’ve tried to take up running again; the burning lungs, the agonizing shin splints, the strained Achilles tendon, running out of steam 2 miles from home, the looks people driving by give you (“Look at the old fart trying to get in shape”), and I shelve the idea once again and promise myself I’ll take up walking again when the weather gets warmer.

I like the idea of skiing. Standing at the top of a run with new snow and freshly waxed skis, gorgeous winter scenery stretching out for miles in every direction, a nip in the air and brilliant sunshine reflecting off the snow. Push off and head down the slope. Then suddenly the wind rushing past your ears reminds you that you really aren’t very good at this and you still don’t know how to turn gracefully. So you lurch and twist and look like you’re trying to ski wearing a body cast and right as you think you might make it down safely, some punk on a snowboard blasts by and showers you with snow, sending you sprawling and sliding downhill on your back while your skis wait patiently upslope for you to plod back up and retrieve them. Then later your dream of hanging out by the fire and having a few drinks lasts only long enough for you to finish one drink before your tired old body falls asleep.

I like the idea of landscaping. I’m actually pretty good at it and have had really nice looking lawns and gardens in my past. But since moving to Illinois I seem to have lost the will to spend so many hours on my hands and knees digging up weeds and chasing down moles. I have a lawn company fertilize and de-grub, and I still mow, but that’s the extent of my efforts. Still, my lawn looks better than any other in the neighborhood. And maybe that’s another part of it. In Massachusetts I lived on a cul-de-sac and all my neighbors had beautiful lawns, so there was a sense of keeping up with the Joneses. Not so out here.

I like the idea of a spotlessly clean car. When I was a kid and had my first car, I would spend hours and hours washing and waxing until it was as shiny as it could be. My friends and I had a running competition to see who could get their windows the cleanest. We’d inspect each other’s windshields for the slightest smudge. And there’s nothing like the looks of a highly polished black car. But it will only look that way until you drive it once. Out here in corn country, the bugs are so thick that I’ve had to stop at a rest area to clean them off my windshield so I could see. When I wash my car, I know it will be covered in bugs and road tar and dust by the time I get to work the next day. I’ve taken to buying silver cars because they show dirt the least.

I like the idea of cooking. I love good food and I’m always fascinated by folks who can effortlessly create delicious meals. It always looks so easy and clean on TV. Then I try to whip up something special and end up with a kitchen resembling the back end of a trash truck. I usually burn one item while waiting for the other to be done. Timing is everything in cooking. Then I cut my finger or spill something or realize I’m missing a key ingredient. And finally, when I’ve finished laboring for hours and we sit down to eat, it’s over and done with in less time than it took to tape the recipe to the fridge. So much easier to go out to a nice restaurant and have someone else do the work.