There is a little hall monitor inside my head whose job it is to keep me from overindulging. No, the hall monitor says, I should not go downstairs and open a bottle of Champagne for no reason at all. If I had accomplished something terribly important or difficult today, maybe. If we have company coming over and I’d spent all day cleaning the house and cooking something impressive, all right. If some crisp cream-colored envelope had arrived bearing wonderful news, fine. Just this once.
But no, the hall monitor tells me, I cannot pop a cork on an ordinary Sunday evening for no reason at all. Especially given the way I’ve already frittered away the day in the garden when I knew perfectly well I had work to do.
Other things the hall monitor will not allow me to do:
1. Sit around on the couch reading New York magazine’s feature on why Gossip Girl is the Best Show Ever when there is very serious, important reading material stacked, unread, on my desk.
2. Eat truffle-infused goat cheese and kalamata olive ciabatta for dinner when there is perfectly good broccoli that would otherwise go to waste.
3. Book another trip to Manhattan when I have not come anywhere close to paying for the last one.
4. Spend $27 on a jar of organic citrus lavender hand cream, even though it smells way, way better than the cheap stuff at Target.
I hate the hall monitor in my head. She’s a mean and miserable person who doesn’t ever let me have any fun.
But when it came time to go cut some lilac, I sent her to her room.
"Twenty stems of lilac all at once?" she said. "You don’t need that much lilac! Cut one or two and leave the rest on the shrub!"
A-ha! The hall monitor is not a gardener. "Shut up!" I said. "If I don’t cut these branches, it won’t bloom next year. This is actually a practical and necessary task!"
"Oh, OK then," she said, and shuffled off to some dark little corner to finish composing her list of reasons why I shouldn’t pre-order 100 fragrant daffodil bulbs from Old House Gardens. And I placed upon my desk a lilac bouquet worthy of a Jane Austen heroine.
The hall monitor’s probably right. It wouldn’t do to go around popping open Champagne bottles on a whim. Next thing you know I’ll be lounging around in some inappropriately-revealing floral robe trimmed in red feathers, smoking a non-medicinal quantity of Humboldt’s finest, reading trashy magazines, and popping canapes in my mouth. Someone’s got to keep me in line, and I have grudging respect for the hall monitor for keeping me employed and out of rehab all these years.
But when it comes to cutting flowers from the garden, I’m a total floozy. And there is nothing the hall monitor can do about it.