It’s tough to really appreciate spring when you haven’t suffered through a real winter. I mean a real Midwestern winter with snow and ice on the roads and temps flirting with, if not actually breaking through, the 0 degree barrier. Folks who live in climes where moderate/balmy weather prevails might not agree, but I have always maintained that to truly enjoy all that spring has to offer one must have experienced at least a few of the following: windburn, frostbite, hypothermia, and/or a fully ice-encased vehicle (the kind that allows one entry only after vigorous attack by multiple ice scrapers). In fact, the spring I appreciated the most arrived after a winter when I had to regularly defrost my car’s door lock by breathing on it through a cardboard tube that once held a roll of paper towels. A couple of times, when the temperature dipped to -20 F., even that didn’t work, so I needed to work on it with my wife’s hair dryer which I attached to a 100-foot extension cord that was plugged into the outlet in my living room. When that finally succeeded, I was able to enter the vehicle through the hatchback and break open the driver side door from the inside. Ah, such winter adventures are the things of which legends are made!
But this column is about spring – season that announces itself with the brilliant yellow of forsythia blooms, and the stunning violet of the Dutch crocus pushing its way up through the softening soil. These early indications of spring’s full flowering are enough to cause in many of us a severe case of spring fever. We care not to attend to our daily routines. We ignore pressing responsibilities. We want only to lay back, relax, and enjoy the season of rebirth. We are reminded of the carefree days of summer yet to come, warm days and mild evenings meant for pure enjoyment. How can anyone think of mundane drudgery when the buzzards are returning to Hinckley, Ohio? Impossible! Spring is in the air! But wait. Have we forgotten something? Something that supersedes even the buzzards? I’m afraid so. There is one deadline that cares not an inkling about the season, its colorful foliage, nor its returning wildlife. Tax day is April 15.
Taxes, you say? Not a problem! You are expecting your refund any day. You may have already received and spent it. Good for you. What about the rest of us - those who are not receiving a refund. The ones who must pay even more than we have already. We have not filed our return, because we are in no hurry to fork over more money to the IRS. What should we do? We could request an extension which is routinely granted, but that would only put off the day of reckoning for a few more weeks or months. And that would only mean that next year’s tax season would be upon us right after we had just finished paying for this one. Some are tempted to file something, anything just to get it over with. OK, we’ll pay. Maybe we don’t need to pay it all, just some of it. After all, we are just small fry, insignificant in the larger scheme of things. Hell, Trump is probably conning the government big time, maybe even colluding with Russian oligarchs in some gigantic, treasonous plot that will sell us all down the river. And they’re going to worry about my piddling tax return? No way!
And then it comes. The letter in the mail. You are being audited. All of a sudden, a sense of déjà vu. You’ve seen this before. Yes, it was that classic episode of The Honeymooners. Ralph Kramden was the victim. Now you know how Jackie Gleason felt. Ralph: “Don’t you realize how serious this is? They’re INVESTIGATING me!” Alice: “Ralph, being investigated is not the worst thing in the world. You’re not the first person to be investigated.” Norton: “You’re darn right. The jails are full of them.”
You can see how easily paranoia can sneak up on you. Better forget about trying to cheat your way out of it. Bite the bullet and pay what you owe. It’ll be history and you can rest easy. Sit back and enjoy the season. Spring fever, meant for relaxation. Don’t even think about cutting grass for another month. It’s good to be lazy once in a while. Too bad we can’t get paid for loafing. Wouldn’t that be something? Wait, you can. That Abbott and Costello bit about Bud getting a job in a bakery. Lou: “You got a job in a bakery?” Bud: “Yes.” “What are you doing?’ “Loafing.” “Well, that’s what I was doing here.” “No, not that kind of loafing. You’re just a lazy bum. I get paid when I loaf.” “You get paid for loafing?” “A dollar and a half an hour, I’m a union man.” “There’s a union for loafers?” “Of course. You don’t know this, but I come from a family of loafers. My father was a bigger loafer than I am.” “I think you’re a bigger loafer than your father.” “Now. because he taught me everything he knew.” “I don’t understand this.” “Look it’s simple. You get some dough. You knead the dough to loaf.” “That’s my problem. I got no dough.”
All right, enough. Now I realize the problem. It isn’t because winter wasn’t cold enough, or because I haven’t filed my taxes yet. I can’t enjoy spring, because I think too much – too many neurons or synapses or something. Everything reminds me of something else, and it may not even be anything all that relevant. Furthermore, the one man who might have a solution to this problem has left us. I refer to the late, great Professor Irwin Corey, may he rest in peace. He passed on since my last column at the age of 102. Yes, “The World’s Foremost Authority” would have had something prescient to say on this matter. And it would have begun with the interjection, “However!”