The lawn mower needs the blades changed regularly; you have to turn
the mattresses every six months; prune your trees in the fall; and
be aware of the proper pressure for the tires on your car. Who has
time to remember all of these rules?
I have owned perhaps five or
six refrigerators in my life, and not once did I remember to change
the filter. I want you to know that nothing catastrophic ever
happened to my refrigerator because of a clogged filter. We did have
a lightning strike that caused considerable damage, and there was a
power surge caused by a hungry squirrel eating the aluminum casing
off our ground wire, but never a filter malfunction.
One rule I do adhere to is changing the oil in my car every 3,000
miles. I'm over 3,000 miles right now and that's why I haven't had a
good night's sleep in 250 miles. I am imaging all that "bad" oil
eating my car from the inside out. Every small sound it makes, I put
down to "bad" oil. I know my car must hate me. It's like forgetting
to feed your parrot. It starts talking trash to you.
For some reason, I'm much more casual about changing the filters
in my car. When I go in for an oil change, the mechanic will pull
filters out of places I didn't know I had filters and show me how
bad they are. But filters are expensive.
I think, "Oh, they'll be fine for another few months. I'll just
ask my husband to do a once-over with the cat brush and hose them
Another rule I've heard is that you have to pump out your septic
tank every so often. My septic tank happens to be under my bulb
garden, so that'll have to wait until the situation becomes
critical. Somehow, intentionally making my tulips mingle with my
gladioluses and lilies seems much worse than the mere possibility of
a damp, smelly spot in my back yard. I just can't do it.
I can hear all those septic tank guys now: "You'll be sorry!"
Yeah, well, that's coming from a guy who drives a truck named
"The Turdinator" and advertises that "We're No. 1 in the No. 2
They're probably right, but it's hard to take those guys
[to top of second column]
The "rules" say you have to rotate your tires, nip the buds off
your roses and clean under your burner pans.
Every year, I'm supposed to spray for termites, get my teeth
cleaned and get a mammogram. I know there could be serious
consequences if I don't do these things. I do. But somehow the
business of actually living my life interferes with the "important
The things I do remember to do are the ones that slap me in the
face. When I see gray roots, I color my hair. The motivating factor
here is vanity. If your doctor says you're at risk for colon cancer,
which means, in the best-case scenario, you'd be wearing a poop bag
for the rest of your life, you schedule that colonoscopy.
I read once that mothers and fathers who really care about their
kids should bathe their toys once a week in bleach water to prevent
colds. Do I love my children? Absolutely! Did I ever bathe their
toys? I was lucky if I found time to bathe my kids. The colds came,
I wiped noses, shoveled cough syrup and rubbed VapoRub on their
chest. Then they got better.
Life is like that.
Even if you follow all the rules, your kids will still get sick,
your car will still break down, your teeth will still need root
canals, and, like it or not, you're still going to die.
I'm sure I'll be hearing from every well-meaning termite
exterminator, septic tank pumper, pediatrician, furnace and
refrigerator repairman, and Susan Komen for the Cure.
These people are experts in their fields and see the worst-case
scenarios for their fields every day. They feel that not following
their rules would result in the worst thing that could happen in
To some of us, the worst thing that could happen would be
forgetting to live your life while you tend to all the rules.
[By LAURA SNYDER]
You can reach the writer at
Or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more columns and info about her books.