'To quote Christopher Morley," said the Professor, '"The lazy man does not pass the buck. He lets the buck pass him."'
By Dominick's way of looking at it, he was holding court from the sycamore-held hammock in the yard.
Not everyone shared Dominick's perspective, though.
"It's like we was having a rehearsal for his wake," Lefty opined cheerfully. "And he's all laid out."
"In his best coconut-island shirt," observed Calvin, "but shouldn't ya button the buttons?"
"Which one ain't?" snapped Dominick.
"The one at the bottom," the Professor replied. "Under your stomach. You can't see it."
And here's how ye shalt know them: Dominick. His brain still works good and his kidneys OK. Beyond that, not much on him works. Only brains and kidneys, or to quote the Professor, "the ingredients essential to English haute cuisine." Professor. Teacher of literature in a religious school, but a constant implier that he once taught at a very prestigious Eastern school that rhymes with "Harvard." The place whose alumni association masterminded our Vietnam strategy. Calvin. Classic second banana for the Professor and fond of pointing out the frugality of others (e.g. "He'll trade a ball of yarn for a Persian rug any day."). Lefty. A carpenter with one arm missing. It is his left arm, but since people are not usually nicknamed "Righty," he is called by his missing limb. When people annoy him, his war cry is "I'd like to half-strangle him."
"Gawd, Dominick," said Lefty, "you think you could get any lazier? It's barely July."
"Why, he wouldn't leave that hammock to see Hillary Clinton slow dance with Monica Lewinsky," declared Calvin. "He's turning lumpy. He's starting to make the Pillsbury Doughboy look like Antonio Banderas."
"All this from a man who had a taxi meter installed in his Ford Focus after his mama asked him to start driving her to 8 o'clock mass at St. James da Major." Dominick murmured sweetly. "You clowns just pick on lazy people 'cuz they ain't got the energy to fight back."
"Dominick once worked, and so has acquired philosophic laziness, which is the best kind," the Professor said. "As the noted essayist Christopher Morley described it: 'The kind of laziness that is based upon a carefully reasoned analysis of experience. Acquired laziness. We have no respect for those who were born lazy; it is like being born a millionaire: they cannot appreciate their bliss.' Dominick appreciates his."
"And you bums should appreciate it, too!" Dominick exclaimed vigorously. "Lazy people ain't out there, stressing out over their jobs. Shooting coworkers in the ear drum, jumping off the Huey P. No road rage, either. And they seldom abuse the kids because they don't wanta hafta get off the sofa to catch 'em. Plus if they ain't workin', they help to hold down the number of industrial accidents. Lazy people are good for America."
"The thing that bugs me about lazy people is that they're so slow," Lefty said.
"To quote Mr. Morley again," said the Professor, "'The lazy man does not stand in the way of progress. When he sees progress roaring down upon him he steps nimbly out of the way. The lazy man does not pass the buck. He lets the buck pass him.'"
"I lent him 50 bucks for his birthday," remembered Calvin. "I might as well have tucked the money in the finger holes of a bowling ball and dropped it into Lake Maurepas."
"That was wrong," Lefty said solemnly.
"Let's not split hairs," Dominick declared. "The fact is, I been fighting this laziness thing and fighting it some more. Frankly, I am tiring out."
"Well, I'm sorry to have to say that I saw a newspaper article last week and it said that researchers have now coined a name for death by laziness," piped up the Professor. "Now it will be called 'SeDS,' which stands for 'sedentary death syndrome.' And they extrapolate that a quarter-million Americans dies of SeDS annually."
"That's just to give it a name so that these researchers can apply for government grants to study the thing," sputtered Dominick, trying to sit up in the hammock. "Now Lord knows the government ain't shy about flushing your tax dollars down some research toilet, but the thing's at least gotta have a name. SeDS!"
"One advocacy group said that government agencies should take some of the ease out of modern living, so that physical activity improves as an option," the Professor noted.
"Soon the damn government's gonna be checking the amount of thread wear on the bottom of your tennis shoes to see if you been too lazy to qualify for Medicare," hissed Dominick. "Alright. Here's my medical problem. I got WeDK: We don't kare. WeDK. I ain't got nothin' more to live for, so I might as well sicken and die. I mean, like what, like Angelina Jolie's gonna ask me to spend a year with her at her Maui marijuana plantation? It's over. WeDK! Research funding now!"
Dominick paused to catch his breath. "Say, Lefty, you mind going to the back door and asking my old lady to send out a glass of tea?"
As Lefty grumpily got up to do as asked, Dominick smiled out from his hammock at the rest of his visitors, "There ain't nobody like me out there, huh boy?" he asked.
"Who's even trying?" Calvin wanted to know.