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The joy of doing nothing

By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 29, 2002

I have actually taken real vacations.

I have actually taken real vacations.

But there is something to be said for doing little or nothing.

A recap of the past two weeks:

DAY 1: My friend and I see Eminem's movie, 8 Mile, at WestShore Plaza and realize in horror that we like the music. Later, observers see two middle-aged white women searching sheepishly through the rap aisle of a record store. The Office of Homeland Security is called.

DAY 2: In the privacy of a Pathfinder, CD spinning, I pay closer attention to Eminem's lyrics. Witty? Sarcastic? Yes. Vulgar? It occurs to me that Eminem could never beat me at Scrabble because there are too few U's, C's or K's in the game. He expresses himself like a night city editor on deadline.

DAY 3: I arrive in Texas for five days of sisterly Scrabble matches and visits with the toddler nephew. Perhaps he will one day turn sullen and bleach his hair blond like Eminem. For now he is content to throw green beans and to depose me as the center of my sister's universe.

DAY 5: In a Japanese restaurant, young Nicolas graduates to tofu tossing, pitching a no-hitter. I spill soy sauce, and he glares at me as if I am stepping on his turf.

DAY 6: I master the art of catching a baby at the bottom of a playground slide after first taking his photograph, but only after near misses on both counts.

DAY 7: My sister, a budding pacifist, puts me on an airplane back to Tampa with a copy of a book titled Terrorism and War. I hide it in a carry-on bag, deciding I should probably not read it openly.

Naturally, I am singled out for a gateside search. I take off my shoes. I lift my arms. Metal detectors wail, and fellow passengers stare. If terrorists wore underwire bras, we would all be safer.

DAY 9: Vowing to conquer clutter, I write classified ads at the speed of light and then ponder what new junk I will buy with the money.

DAY 11: My ads run. Every adult in Valrico calls about the Oreck vacuum. None can find Palma Ceia on a map.

DAY 12: A Zephyrhills retiree makes the 1,000-mile trek to Tampa. I am touched. He brings his minister for advice. They don't attempt to bargain. I fear for my soul. Did I say $75? I meant $60.

DAY 13: I find a new home for my Mac computer. The buyer has a graphics business. No longer will little Mac sit idle. I wonder if I am selling Black Beauty into a life of pulling carriages. I confide this to the Dell, which tells me not to worry.

DAY 14: A Latino male calls about the scanner ad. "Oh, you speak Spanish?" he coos. Deja vu. Hastily, I search for my mother's wedding ring to slip on before he arrives. No luck. The doorbell rings. In less than 15 minutes, he is telling me that even birds must live in pairs. I knock off five bucks. He takes the scanner and leaves his phone number.

That night, I go to the Bruce Springsteen concert. A friend has box seats, so we arrive early to watch the Bucs game while awaiting Bruce.

Coffee on the Champs Elysees was never this good.

* * *

WORDS OF WISDOM, gathered in two weeks.

Springsteen: "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."

Eminem: "You better lose yourself in the music, the moment."

The nephew: "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands."

- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or

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