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Neatness Discounted
My Uncle Everett didn’t make much of a dent on my life. Maybe, if I had spent more time around him, his sardonic persona might have a bigger effect on my attitudes, but as it is my memory of our relationship is mostly two-dimensional. There was one small episode with him, however, that has stuck with me, though not in the way he intended.

My cousin, his son, was an avid reader of DC comics, and when we visited their house, I always took the chance to go through his extensive collection of Superman, Superboy, and Aquaman comic books. On one such occasion, I had finished reading and left the comics scattered across the bedroom floor. Uncle Everett collared me as I left the room.

“Aren’t you going to pick those up and put them away?” he asked.

“Why?” I responded. “I’m going to look at them again after lunch.”

A sarcastic half-smile crossed his face. “Yeah, and why make your bed? You’re just going to sleep in it again anyway.”

I picked up the comics and put them away, because generally speaking I was an obedient child. But I was puzzled by the sarcasm. I knew that it was meant to illustrate the silliness of my excuse, but it still didn’t make sense. “Why make your bed?” seemed like a perfectly legitimate question to me. It still does.

Not that I’m a slob. Like most kids, I was messy, but I’ve come a long way since then, and I have learned the value of keeping things tidy. Moreover, I did not serve in the U.S. Army as Uncle Everett had. I am quite sure that they don’t use gentle sarcasm to enforce their rules concerning tidiness, which is probably why the lesson stuck so well for him. I was never subject to that level of expectation, however. The need for a neat bed was never properly instilled in me.

I do, however, honor the need for order in other home venues. If you’re in the kitchen, it makes sense to keep the work spaces clear, the food stored, and everything in its assigned place. In the regular living areas it’s better to keep things in order so you don’t have to function amid the clutter. I even accept the wisdom of keeping a clean desktop (in theory at least). It’s more efficient, less frustrating, and just plain more pleasant to be in such a space (or so I have been told).

But what’s so bad about an unmade bed? Like the man said, you’re just going to sleep in it again anyway…that night and every night. Why not just leave it that way? When it’s time to hit the hay, you won’t even have to pull back the covers — much less deal with extra pillows and other bed decorations. Just flop down and get to it. And when you get up the next morning, it’s just one less thing to do.

I am happy to keep everything else shipshape. All dirty clothes go in the hamper, the top of the dresser clean and neat, and there are no piles on the nightstand. But the bed? — as long as the sheets are laundered regularly and kept tucked in at the bottom, as long as the blankets are distributed in a rough approximation of equality between the two sides, why not just leave it be?

Without knowing it, Uncle Everett gave me the courage to stand up to the madness. He did not know it at the time, but his words have freed me from the tyranny of mindless neatness. Why make your bed indeed! Strike a blow for reason, I say, and just leave it that way.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon