Yesterday was that rare day -- sun shining, cool breeze off the Gulf to keep the† sun from beaming down too generously; the same breeze moving the trees in a lazy hula sway; grass deepening to the vibrant green of spring, but not yet long enough to mow. Step outside your air-conditioned office on a day like yesterday and you know that humanity was meant to live in open spaces, that cubicles may very well be the most insidious if unrecognized environmental disaster since the Hummer.
Ah, but on a day like yesterday, you realize the world was meant to be embraced. On a day like yesterday, the world whispers to you, spend your lunch hour in the park. Sneak off to drive out to Shary Road, and through one of the few orange groves left in the Valley. Come out here, and the soft, seductive scent† of orange blossoms is likely to take you back to your first slow dance, to that moment when you stepped close to her and your whole being was engulfed by the fragrant scent of strawberry lipstick.†
Yesterday was a magic day, youíre magic day, and mine, if we only knew it. If we drove out there to enjoy this most rare of days in the Valley, when the weather seems determined to convince us to pull out that old scout tent and sleep in the backyard that night. If, on the other hand, we drove out there with the AC running full blast, KTEX or KLUV full blast on the radio, while talking on our cell phone, we actually took our cubicle with us.
No, yesterday was a day for taking chances, a day for risk, a day to live. Yesterday was a convertible day. And so, yesterday was a day of regret, of lost opportunity, or what might have beens for me. Yesterday was a convertible day. But I donít own a convertible. Are you like me? So, practical, so mature, a believer in common sense, someone immune to the adventurous call of a day off from the cubicle? Sensible people, we are. The salt of the Earth. We drive mini-vans if we have kids to take to school, or a Smart Car if thereís only two of us, since, well, gas will undoubtedly cost half our weekly budget by the summer so we might as well get one now.†
Days like yesterday, convertible days, come all too seldom, and weíre caught unprepared for their promise. The day before was too cold, not Michigan blizzard cold, but enough to make us shiver between the parking lot and the office door. The Winter Texans would snigger at us if we complained about being cold, or wore that parka we keep in the back of the closet. Still, thereís an edge to the wind that tells us itís coming down from Canada, not off the gulf. And we tell ourselves the humidity is what matters, not the number on the thermometer. And tomorrow? Tomorrow will be an August day. The sun will feel like itís inches above our head. The Winter Texans will pack up and leave, the cowards.
Today? Well, we all have too much to do today. Errands to run, people to meet, calls that have to be made. If we knew a day like yesterday might come again, might be just around the corner, we might look a little closer at that ad in the paper for a convertible. But convertibles just arenít sensible, or practical for running errands. And that convertible top that looks so nice in the showroom slowly bakes in the office parking lot until it cracks and invites the winter rain and the summer sun in. Just not worth the trouble when a day perfect enough only comes around once, maybe twice a year.
A Harley? Thatís a little too far away from the cubicle, isnít it? Driving down 281 picking gnats out of our teeth is probably too big a step for most of us. Letís take baby steps first. Havenít even talk ourselves into a convertible yet.††
The trick with days like yesterday, is being ready for them. What a paradoxical idea: the key to spontaneity is being well prepared. Not, perhaps, by keeping a convertible garaged for that next perfect day. Instead, by being ready to take a walk around the neighborhood instead of getting close to nature by watching Survivor. By taking our lunch to the park. Maybe even by not waiting for the perfect day to go for that walk.†
Dilbert might be a warning for all of us. Itís possible that those cartoonish characters are actually drawn from real life. The deformities, of body and soul, in that strip are a result of cubicle poisoning, something akin to radiation poisoning.††
The memory of that perfect day is telling us something. It may not be to buy a convertible. But it may be, do not go meekly into that good cubicle.