“What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk?” – Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

Based on the calendar and the fact that you’re only scraping your windshield once or twice a week lately instead of 7 or 8, it’s probably time to think Spring. For many people, this is the signal to undertake Spring cleaning, and these people are, of course, profoundly disturbed. Because there you are, a poor shivering, starving chipmunk, peering cautiously out of your hibernation lair, sniffing the air and trying to remember where you stored the butt end of that hoagie you were gnawing on during the Super Bowl and here is some fiend shoving a jug of Windex at you and telling you to get to work. This is the moment when, as a two-fisted, red-blooded, All-American idler, you have to find a way to weasel out of this predicament. It may test your powers of trickeration but hey, nobody said this would be easy. Here are a few time-tested strategies you can use to dodge the bullet and the bucket. And the broom and the sponge.

The Yard Needs Attention – First you go out and pretend to examine blades of grass, then you announce that you need to go to Sears for mower parts. This gets you out to the mall where you can hit the food court. Is there still a Cinnabon out there? Pick up a sparkplug and some trimmer string just to make it look good. Oh, and Ruby Tuesday’s is gone. It’s been gone a long time. You just have to get over it.

ShadeTreeMechanic

Critical Automotive Issues – For this ruse you’re going to need one of those mechanic’s creepers they use to slide under cars. Make sure it’s well padded and see if you can smuggle a pillow along with it. If you’re going to take a six pack you might need a straw, depending on ground clearance. First you want to announce pretty authoritatively that it’s urgent that you switch from Winter weight motor oil to Summer weight. Use terms like “synthetic” and “paraffin based”. Make sure you’ve parked close enough to the house to pick up your wifi. Slide under there and catch a game on your tablet or a nap or both. You can stop by Jiffy-lube later in the week. Oh yeah, you want to brandish the biggest wrench you have, even if it’s a pipe wrench. Two caveats: make sure you’re under the part of the car where the engine is, and be careful about snoring.

A Friend in Need – On any given weekend there should be at least one neighbor whose wife and kids are out of town. This man will desperately need the help of every able-bodied guy in the neighborhood to inspect the rafters in his basement gameroom. Have the beer & snacks delivered by Thursday so as not to attract prying eyes. Overnights could arouse some suspicion unless you’re prepared to streak your face and clothing with soot. You’ll have to mumble something like, “I think we saved Steve’s house from the sinkhole, at least for now.”

Of course, each idler’s situation is unique, and what works for you may not work for someone else. Medical issues like dust or detergent allergies are often effective in the short term, but faking a sucking chest wound can be tricky and you don’t want to be watching a final four game on one of those tiny emergency room sets. “Playing dead” should be used only in desperate situations where you’re willing to risk waking up in the morgue with a tag on your toe. Good luck!

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