The last time I went to the dentist she cleaned my teeth, and then with a disappointed and horrified look on her face she handed me a gum massager: “You need to use this twice a day. Everyone should.”
I replied “To be honest, I’m brushing three times a day. I’m flossing. I’m not sure how much more dental-related activities I can fit into my daily schedule.”
She nodded, thought for a moment, and came up with this great solution: “Keep the gum massager in your car and massage your gums as you drive.”
Later on that day, as the police officer was writing me a traffic ticket for gum massaging without a hands-free device, I realized it wasn’t my dentist’s fault. She’s a dentist. I’m sure she massages her gums 5 times a day. Matter of fact, she probably takes them out for a girl’s day at the spa: massage, hot stone treatment, a jacuzzi, then a pedicure.
And that’s how all professionals, specialist and experts spend their days: telling their customers and patients what we all need to be doing and how we’re failing to do so. The plumber thinks the only thing we should think about all day is proper pipe maintenance. Your barber thinks you should be giving your hair special hot oil treatments 6 times a week. Your mechanic wonders why you don’t bring your car in for a tune-up every 13 miles.
But I never remember any of this stuff. So I decided make a simple list of everything I need to do:
Brush your teeth. Floss. Massage your gums (either in car or sans car) Exercise 4-5 times a week, 40 minutes a day. Look for unusual moles and growths on your body. Check yourself for testicular cancer once a week (optional for women). Check all your car’s fluids. Run a test check of your sprinklers every week: look for clogs, leaks, drippage. Speaking of water, drink 83 glasses of it each day. Check your dogs weekly for bumps, cuts, missing patches of hair. Give them their flea and tick medication once a month. And heartworm meds once a month. Express their anal gland monthly. Check their poop for worms. Change your guitar strings every three months. Run a firewall on all your computers. And anti-virus programs. Update your computer software weekly. Clean your cache (the computer equivalent of expressing your dog’s anal gland, I guess?) Compress your hard disk. But don’t compress your lower back. Sit up straight. Repair disk permissions (wha? huh?). Pay your bills. Check your balance. Your bank balance. Not your body balance. But don’t fall over. You’ll skin your knee. Keep all receipts for tax purposes, track all mileage, make quarterly payments, put money in the bank, but not too much, put it in the stock market, whoops — your money is gone, put your remaining $3 in CDs instead. Change your air filters. Change your toothbrush. Change your smoke detector batteries. Test the carbon monoxide detector. Get your sewer scoped once a year. Get your chimney reamed once a year. If you’re over 45, do the same for your anus. Get a checkup. Pee in this cup. Prepare an earthquake kit. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Check for termites. Defrost your freezer. Rotate your tires. Rotate your mattress. Clean the lint trap. Trim your trees. Join a book club. Read the newspaper every day. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Watch Mad Men, ‘cuz I hear it’s really good. Listen to Public radio. Support live theater. Support the troops. Only buy free range chicken. And free range coffee. Vote. No, American Idol doesn’t count. Read food labels. Eat according to the food pyramid. Fat is okay, but not too much trans fat. Find out what trans fat is. Buy local. Buy organic. Wait, what about your dog’s teeth??? Brush them daily! My dog too? Geez! Yes, smart-ass, your dog too! And check them for testicular cancer. Wait — they’re neutered. Scratch that. Well, not “scratch” scratch, you know what I — Never mind. Oh, and a yearly eye exam. Not your dog, you, dummy! Wait, did I check the fluids? Mine or the car’s?! I can’t remember!!! Has everyone’s anus been covered???
See? That’s not so daunting, is it?