I constantly come across similarities between my father and myself. Obviously, some of these similarities were simply absorbed because I lived with him, but I suspect that some of them may genetic, as well, because they seem to arise spontaneously, with no rational explanation. Things like always taking the second thing on the shelf, rather than the first, are obviously learned, but that mocking smile we both use when we’re making fun of someone without them realizing it is the same, and that’s probably genetic.
I was thinking about this today because my father and I are theoretically doing something this weekend, only we don’t know what, and precisely when. Both of us hate phones with a passion, and both of us are totally incapable of organizing something, especially when it involves any sort of coordination by phone.
My ideal phone conversation goes like this:
“Hey, we’re going to the beach, would you like to come?”
I don’t like chatting, I don’t like dithering about, and I certainly don’t like being asked about my plans for next Thursday. I won’t know what I’m doing next Thursday until the day arrives, and my father is the same way. Both of us tend to sound slightly desperate and trapped on the phone, as though we’re being forced to converse with a terrorist while wearing an FBI wire. We can certainly be decisive in the moment, but in terms of planning a few days, or even a few hours, ahead, we’re hopeless.
Therefore, it’s essentially impossible for us to plan anything. Yet we somehow manage to muddle something together at the last minute, almost by accident. In the case of this weekend, we are basically planning to spontaneously do something at some point in the next two days, and that something will presumably involve food of some sort. We won’t know what food until it happens.
I think that many of our acquaintances find this trait maddening, doubly so when they plan something which both of us will attend, because we will each pass all responsibility onto the other. Yet, our lack of planning abilities works to our benefit, because we are both extremely flexible at the last minute. Someone could stop by in 10 minutes and say “let’s go to Thailand,” and I would say “sure, let me grab my shoes.” I know that people with no plans are supposed to seem hopelessly square and boring because we don’t lead exciting lives, but we do lead exciting lives. In fact, our lives are more exciting, because we don’t have any idea of what’s going to happen on any given day. None of this making ourselves hard to get nonsense.
There’s also something immensely liberating about never having obligations. I never have to check my calendar to see if I’m missing anything, for example, and I get quite irritable when I do have rare appointments. The whole day of the appointment feels frozen and static to me. This probably explains why I hate both school and real jobs, because both of these things require to show up on a specific schedule, which is simply too awful for me to bear.
Besides, planning is just dull. What’s the point of getting up in the morning if you already know what’s going to happen?