The Best of Andy Rooney

These are the days when I enjoy my summer vacation the most. My month off hasn't begin just yet but looking forward to it is the best part. Already I'm trying to figure out a way I can sneak off early.

Once my vacation begins, I can't keep myself from counting the days until it ends, and that ruins it. It always seems to go so fast. The sun starts coming up later and there's a depressing, dwindling sense about the afternoon shadows. The end of my vacation hangs over my head in July like the income tax deadline in April, or a dental appointment in January. It's depressing as the days dwindle down, and I realize that what I've been looking forward to for so long is almost over.

During a vacation, it's best if you don't have any dates when you have to do something or go somewhere. They make a vacation seem shorter. If your vacation is interrupted by someone's wedding in another city or by a business appointment you can't avoid, it divides your days off into little compartments. My idea of a great vacation is one during which nothing happens so eventful that I can remember it when people back at work ask me, "What did you do on your vacation?"

We start going to our summer house on weekends in May and keep on going weekends right through September, but for all of July and a few days I steal on each end of the month, I'm there seven days a week, and I love it. We have an extra bedroom so we can accommodate guests, but I don't like having guests during my vacation. I like to have that room free and clear, so if we do have friends come to visit us it's usually on weekends before we're there full time. I like having them, mind you, but not during my vacation.

When we do have weekend guests, I like the ones who get up when they feel like it without worrying about what time we have breakfast. I like guests who don't want to do what I want to do but feel free to wander off on their own. When people are visiting, I don't want to be a tour director. The best guests do what they feel like doing.

After breakfast, they may volunteer to drive over and get the newspapers 12 miles away, then not show up until hours later for lunch. I'm very fond of guests who enjoy a nap after lunch while I'm up in my shop on some woodworking project. If they want to play tennis toward mid-afternoon, I'll join them.

Book-readers make good guests. They don't want you to bother them with suggestions like, "Would you like to hike up the falls?" or "There are some good antiques places in Schuylerville." They're engrossed in their book. A guy who won't move from in front of the television set while there's a ballgame on makes a satisfactory weekend visitor.

I'm hoping no one we invite up to the house is going to read this, but I don't like guests who stand around asking whether there's anything they can do. If someone asks whether there's anything he or she can do, there almost never is because the people who ask that question aren't the kind of people who can help do anything. At the end of the visit, the sensible ones ask Margie, "What shall I do with the sheets?" She tells them.

There shouldn't be many decisions to make on vacation. It's best when the biggest question you have to answer during the day is, "What do you want for dinner?"

This vacation, I'm going to make things out of the walnut, maple and cherry I have stored away. I'm going to read, nap and I'm going to take several boxes of letters and miscellaneous pieces of paper from my office and go through them leisurely so that, when I come back in August, my life will be organized and in order.

I won't have any pictures to prove it, but I'll have a good time.

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