There is something about the simple life of the past that has always appealed to me, particularly as I never really experienced it. Still, it seems that I would enjoy no scurrying around, no dashing here and there, and no staying up late watching TV shows about how to buy real estate with no money down or messing with the computer. Better to sit quietly at home working on a jigsaw puzzle depicting “Twilight over the Jute Mill in Skowhegan, Michigan,” before toddling off to bed with a copy of The Young Person’s History of the War of Jenkin’s Ear.
Toddling off to bed was an important part of the simple life, as one usually got up before dawn to start a fire and haul water from the crick for the morning latte. Bed is also important for filling the otherwise endless space between dusk and dawn when nothing much is going on anyway, and you couldn’t see it if it was, what with burning brands not giving off all that much illumination.
On weekends, as an entertainment bonus, one could wind up the old Victrola and listen to scratchy renditions of Sousa marches, while leafing through the family album and viewing pictures of Aunt Minnie’s trip to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, for the National Crochet Convention.
Staying up late, it might be 8:30 p.m. before one’s head hit the pillow, was acceptable, as on the weekend one was allowed to sleep in, often not throwing back the covers until 5 a.m.
Of course the simple life could be extended to other aspects of daily existence, just as well. Our hearty forefathers and foremothers often had simple repasts of beans and pone for weeks on end, and they did all right. They had more pressing things to do, such as warding off wild beasts and marauders and building forts, than to spend time fretting over what to have for supper. In fact, the “if” of supper was more important to them than the what. Aim a little high and miss the buffalo, and it was back to the bean pot one more time.
Going places was not a big time-consumer of the simple life either. Hitching up ol’ Arbuthnot and heading out across the prairie for a two-day trip into town to pick up the dry cleaning did not enter into the equation very often. Neither did a vacation to visit the relatives in, say California. Unless you were already in the Golden State, the turnaround time, via Cape Horn, was about six months. By the time you got back, the younger children would have forgotten your name and might take down the shotgun over the fireplace when you came knocking at the cabin door.
On occasions, I have been deprived of my usual means of transportation for a few days, and I have had the pleasure of experiencing a taste of the simple life. If I want to go anywhere, I walk, so I don’t, go anywhere that is. Of course I don’t have anywhere to go in the first place, but none the less, it is very irritating not to be able to, even if you don’t want to, if you get my drift.
No transportation, save shank’s mare, also means I have to go home each night and have supper from whatever is on hand. Whatever is on hand would make the aforementioned forefathers and foremothers green with envy, as the simple life never contemplated six different kinds of beans in a can or sweet and sour pork TV dinners. Still, not having the option to dash down to the mega burger barn for a quick snack soon creates a feeling of deprivation.
The same may be said for having no way to get to the movie-rental store. Of course I haven’t rented a movie in months and can’t think of any I particularly want to see, but I might, if I could. Of course, if I were living the simple life, I suppose I could amuse myself by casting hand profiles of American presidents on the wall.
Ah, the simple life, no hassle, no rush, no choices. I’ll pass, thank you.