My Rather Disturbing Dilemma

My name is Emerson, and I have a problem. I’m not too proud to admit it.

It became apparent to me the other day when I was shaving. We all have routines. Right? And sometimes they become so repetitive that we go into “auto pilot” mode and don’t even need to think about it anymore. We just keep doing whatever it is, not even realizing we’re still doing it. Like “zoning out” while driving. You know what I mean? You get into the car and then you arrive at your destination, but you don’t remember anything about the route.

It’s a form of multi-tasking—something akin to having several tabs open on the computer at the same time, each one processing while you mentally skip off to some other topic for a few seconds. The open tabs just keep right on humming along, waiting for your return. Years ago, at work, we called it time slicing, and I’m afraid to say that I may be shaving things a little too close these days.

Here’s what happened Friday morning at 7:45 am. I was standing in the bathroom, gazing into the mirror. Then routinely, I began to apply my schiuma da barba, shaving cream as I do every morning. At 7:48, my face was covered with about 1/2″ of white foam on all of the appropriate areas, nicely done, and ready for the blade. (I do usually admire my even-handed application of the foam. But typically I don’t take a picture. C’mon, that would be ridiculous! It’s a re-enactment for the story.)

At 7:49 I heard a buzzing sound somewhere in the bedroom/bathroom area, but couldn’t detect exactly where it was coming from. Within seconds, I cleverly connected the sound to the pesky wasps that had been trying to build mud huts anywhere and everywhere they could find a dark, hidden space. Their tell-tale buzzing gives them away every time. What nuisances they are, but up until that point, I had been successful at foiling their insidious plans. My reputation was at stake.

Pesky wasp

At about 7:50 I stepped from the bathroom, to investigate the whereabouts of the insect intruders. They were not in the closet as I had first suspected, nor were they behind the cabinet on the wall where I had discovered them once before. Where could they be if they were not in their “usual places?” I was puzzled (which does happen on rare occasions), but I was also determined not to let the little buzzers get the better of me. It was just a simple matter of patience and persistence, of which I had plenty that morning.

The suspicious sliding door

At about 7:51 I moved closer to the sliding door into the bathroom and held my breath for just a moment in order to more clearly hear the pernicious buzzing. Sensing that I was getting closer to their disgusting little hovel, I leaned in toward the wall to determine if the sound would get louder. It did. Suddenly, images of TV heroes filled my head. Old West trackers put an ear to the ground to gauge how far away the enemy was, and how fast they were moving. I felt like that—a hero from a western movie, hearing my approaching foes. Years of experience brought me to this point and I was about to claim my just desserts—enthusiastic congratulations from Cheryl for the quick, and painless demise of the scoundrel enemies! At 7:52 am, I pressed my right ear firmly against the door trim. At 7:53 I had a brief moment of foolish pride, buoyed with smug satisfaction when I realized that I had, in fact, located their latest subdivision of mud huts.

Disturbing evidence

Then, I heard the sickening sound of wet suction, as though someone was pulling their shoe out of a foot-deep mud bog. I pulled my face a couple of inches from the door frame, to find a rather disturbing smear of shaving cream in the shape of my face on the wood. Obviously, in my intense problem-solving mode I had completely forgotten that I was preparing to shave only moments before.

With a sense of sadness and potential embarrassment, I wiped the shaving cream from the door trim with 4 sections of toilet paper, then slowly looked around to make sure that no one had witnessed my little faux pas. Even though I’d wished Cheryl had been there for my sleuthy-ness, I was glad she wasn’t around to see this. My multi-tasking/mental capabilities came rushing into question. Then, more thoughtfully, and somewhat somber, I returned to my morning routine.

A moment of reflection: It’s interesting how close we can be to the edge of disturbing discovery or disheartening new realization, before we become painfully and suddenly aware of it. This personal disclosure is similar to my admission from an earlier post called “Forget It,” where I confessed another strange memory faux-pas. So I’m left with this burning question: do I possess admirable abilities to multi-task and then focus intently, or . . . is it “the beginning of the end,” when the on-board computer begins losing important data?  (Asked with a worrisome warble in the voice.)

For sure, it was yet another one of those close shaves with the harsher realities of life.


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