It’s the middle of the month of the new year, and you haven’t reduced your screen time, learned French, lost weight, organized the drawers or anything else you resolved to do. January sits on your chest like a fat, dead possum.
But you know what they say about possums: They only play dead. So embrace the good news — you have a live, nasty possum on your chest.
Let me rework that metaphor. You have plenty of chances to start something new, and it’s just a two-step process. Step 1, slowly roll over, so the possum slides off. Two, look at that glossy community education catalog that arrived in the mail. It’s full of interesting classes. It’s like college, without the crippling debt and early-20s sense of existential despair.
Paging through the catalog, I was annoyed by the practicality and usefulness of the courses. You could combine them all into one class:
Take charge of your life with Aromatherapy Book Club Yoga, now with Wine Tasting! Break out of your winter blahs by smelling old books whose spines have been cracked open, then do some yoga and try not to make the same sound as the book. Finally, enjoy a crisp chardonnay while our instructor teaches you how to memorize necessary wine descriptors, like “fruity top note,” “jammy middle” and “Drano finish.”
Then everyone has another glass and forgets to discuss the book they were supposed to have read. Meets every Tuesday. Wine, books and yoga mat not provided.
For more ambitious learners, there’s Advanced Aromatherapy Book Club Yoga Wine Tasting. You’ll learn more terms, like “mossy bouquet” and “twist-cap junky jug juice, but I like it” while doing difficult yoga postures, such as “The Possum, Sprawled” and “Shameful Goat.” The books no one actually gets around to reading are difficult Russian novels.
Here’s a few others I’d like to see.
How to Be a Good Conversationalist. Have you ever stood in the corner in a party like a burned-out lamp, unable to muster more than a few words of chat? Do people ever fake getting a phone call to extricate themselves from talking to you, and you nod, burning with shame, because they don’t even have a phone but are pretending to talk to their thumb and pinkie finger?
Learn how to be a good conversationalist with this one simple rule: Just smile a lot and say, “No, this is fascinating” while your instructor goes on and on about her divorce and how she turned the kids against her ex. Length: three hours, M-F. The instructor will pay you the $40 fee. Please sign up. Everyone else is sick of hearing about it.
How to Write a Facebook Post That Goes Viral. The key element in this class is the reminder that it’s not important if anyone reads what you post, only that they “like” it and pass it along. Note: By taking this class, you agree that all photos, words and memories you possess are the property of Facebook and can be used for marketing purposes to sell you this incredible microfiber floor polisher that picks up pet hair while it sanitizes and freshens. Bring a laptop and recent DNA swabs of you and your children
How to Get a Good Workout Without Doing Anything. In our busy lives, it’s hard to get to the gym. In this class, you’ll learn some shortcuts, like taking your fitness tracker, wrapping it in a towel and putting in the dryer so it thinks you’re doing the elliptical.
Perhaps I should volunteer my own expertise. Here are a few classes I could teach:
How to Train Your Dog. Ever wonder why your dog doesn’t come when you call or drop that odorous mouse carcass when you shout “Leave it”? It’s because it’s a dog, for one thing, not a “fur child.” Quit thinking of it that way. No one gets a dog at the shelter and thinks they should start putting money away for Fur College.
Just shake a box of Milk Bones and the dog will forget whatever it’s doing, even if what it’s doing is chewing on a Milk Bone. Works every time. In this 6-minute class, you’ll learn how to snap a Milk Bone in half while your hand’s in the box, which saves money. It’s not like the dog will ever figure that one out.
How to Make Microwave Popcorn. In this seven-week class, you will learn how to detect the difference between rapid popping, popping that has slightly de-accelerated and spaced-interval popping that indicates you’re about to burn the contents of the bag. Be a pro! Hit that stop button with 7 seconds left on the display, like it’s a tense scene in a movie and you’re the bomb defuser!
Public Ketchup Management. Can you be sure that using the plastic bottle in a restaurant won’t result in the sound of rippling flatulence? You will learn strategies for deploying all tomato-based condiments, including palpating the bottle to outgas the trapped air, discreet spanking, and other tricks. You must supply your own ketchup.
Finally, the class that will make me a revered philosophical figure:
Indelible Life Lessons. There are certain truths we must all recognize as we move forward in the new year. Someone shakes the Milk-Bone box. Be alert during rapid popping. You must supply your own ketchup. There is a possum to be dealt with. And you have a mossy bottom, or you wouldn’t be reading this catalog.