Mary Ellen and I have a standing argument — literally, a standing argument. She claims that the first thing I do when I enter a room is sit down.
“That makes you seem old,” she said, “and I know you are concerned about not portraying that image.”
I always thought my wrinkly skin and balding pate led to that assessment.
“When we went to Bob and Cathy’s for Thanksgiving, you sat down as soon as we walked in the house, while everyone else was chatting in the front hall.”
“I wasn’t feeling well, and I don’t think it’s fair to count the bathroom.”
Recently, we were shopping in a boutique on Mass Avenue in Indy. As soon as we walked in, I sat down. After we left, Mary Ellen said, “When I saw you do that, I thought, oh, dear, frail and 100 years old.”
“Well, that’s pretty mean, Mary Ellen.”
“No, not you. The chair was a hundred years old. We were in an antique store.”
What’s ironic is that sometimes I stand when I should sit. I never sit to eat lunch; I stand over the kitchen sink and snarf down a sandwich. Who has time to walk over to the table? Sometimes, I just nibble from the shelves in the fridge, but only when Mary Ellen is away from home. When she returns, it’s hard to explain mustard and ketchup droppings in the vegetable bin.
I became very obsessive about this standing/sitting thing. I didn’t want Mary Ellen to see me as the “older” man she married, so I checked with her everywhere we went.
“Can I sit here?” I asked one evening.
“Yes, Dick, you can sit there. We’re in a restaurant.”
That weekend I was still on alert.
“Are you going to stand all evening?” Mary Ellen asked me.
“I don’t want you to think I look elderly if I sit down too soon.”
“Dick, no one will recognize you. It’s dark in this movie theater.”
To make me even more paranoid, I was constantly reminded that my Apple Watch tracks my movements. The dial intermittently lights up to report how much time I’ve spent standing versus sitting. Apparently, to pass Apple standards, you need to “stand and move at least one minute, 12 different hours in the day for a week.” I had to read that directive several times to understand it.
I found all kinds of advice online about how to cheat the watch. One guy admitted flapping his arms like a bird before he went to bed to fool the watch, so it registered a higher standing time. I tried that one night so I could show Mary Ellen on my watch that I had made some improvement. She caught me flapping.
.Now, she no longer tells me not to sit. She tells me not to roost.