One day last week I told Ariel I was going to the post office to mail a package. Her eyes got big. “You’re going out?” she asked, in a tone that would have made perfect sense if I’d had two broken legs and yellow fever, but I didn’t. I was perfectly healthy and I have a valid driver’s license, so going to the post office didn’t seem like an unrealistic goal. Then I understood. You see I work from home, and sometimes I actually don’t leave the house for days at a time. Ariel was startled just to see me heading out the door at all.
Ariel herself goes out a lot, because she has small grandchildren and social skills and other features that I lack. And she does the grocery shopping, which I’m not allowed to do because of my belief in the all-sufficient nature of frozen pizza. When I go out it’s to the hardware store, or to practice with my band, or maybe to have lunch with somebody, but these aren’t daily occurrences. I haven’t actually seen an absolute need to leave the house since Amazon went online in 1995.
It happened again yesterday. Ariel had been away on some errands and when she came home she noticed that my car was parked in a different place than it had been earlier. I’d only taken it to the mechanic for its annual inspection, but Ariel was looking at it suspiciously, as if she thought some neighborhood kids might have been pushing it around the yard for fun.
“Did you go somewhere in your car?” she asked when she came in the house.
I tried to look dignified. “Is it surprising that I should go somewhere in my car?”
“Yes,” she said without hesitation.
I decided to try a different tack. “Did you know that peasants in the middle ages often lived their entire lives without venturing more than a few miles from their own village?”
“Didn’t they also have a life expectancy of about thirty years?”
Oh well. I swear if we had any real public transportation around here I’d be riding around town like a maniac, every day, for no reason at all. But this is Texas, where people drive their cars to go get the newspaper out of the driveway. And I don’t like to drive, and I’m not burdened with the belief that you can’t be a fully realized human being without sitting in traffic for an hour a day. So here I sit, biding my time. I need to go to the post office again, but it’s nothing urgent, and I like to keep people guessing.