Rendered Fat Content


Abraham Raimbach: Cut Finger (19th century)

" … gone before they began."

In days past, people grieved by wearing a black armband, a universally recognized indicator that the wearer might not be up for normal activities of daily living. Chit-chat could wait. So could further trouble. People understood to give the mourner adequate space to feel crazy for a while in the interests of maintaining some tolerable level of sanity in society. Now, we've grown so damned casual that we no longer observe such rituals, so the typical mourner hasn't a clue what to do. Of course, the black armband wearer never had a clue what to do, either. That might have been the whole point of observing the ritual. The guidebook said, "When someone dies and leaves you without a clue what to do, wear a black armband until your head clears." It also insisted, "When encountering someone wearing a black armband, express no more than your heartfelt condolences. Avoid chatter." These days, one experiences an OffDay instead.

An OffDay seems different than a day off.
Days off are earned, planned, and owned by someone. OffDays seem unearned in comparison, never planned for ahead, and never really owned by anyone. They visit but never by invitation. They seem like a decent replacement for the old black armband. However, few ever encounter another experiencing a genuine OffDay, for OffDays are usually spent in isolation—one augurs in and huddles under, engaging in somewhat sublime procrastination. Work will not be completed. Assignments ignored. However bored one might feel on an OffDay, one will generally not even attempt to engage in anything productive. OffDays are recognitions that one no longer has a clue what to do and a tacit acknowledgment that it's probably better, under the circumstances, not to attempt much of anything.

An OffDay is definitely not a day of rest. It might be filled with the most challenging work nobody ever recognizes. Accomplishing nothing seems more complicated than accomplishing almost anything else. One must be careful lest they fall in with productive people, ones still focusing upon achieving anything. Most should spend this day in relative isolation, maybe finding a book to read, then losing the urge to crack it. One meal might be managed, but rarely more. An OffDay will remain a hole in the calendar, a day without memories, fond or otherwise, an idle period hardly experienced, a measure of rest in the score, a nevermore.

I do not end an OffDay rested or refreshed. They end much as they started, off balance, odd. These days will forever remain off the official record because nothing will have happened. In that sense, if in no other, OffDays seem sacred. They remain inviolate, permanently empty, and hollow. They will always be the missing minutes on the White House tape, inadvertently made. Blame anyone but never find any truly guilty party. Some days come and go without anyone noticing. Leave them be. They require no scrutiny, just the most passive acceptance. Let's just say that they slip away unnoticed. They were gone before they began. They ended without leaving footprints.

(Here's a link to Another OffDay Story from my Homemaking Series, posted on September 5, 2021. I post this link to demonstrate that they come along now and then.)

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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