MONKEY THINK, MONKEY WRITE: Each journey begins with a single step, so count me out

I first became interested in mental health issues about the same time the Little Missuss started her first diet.

I first became interested in mental health issues about the same time the Little Missuss started her first diet.

Quite honestly, I had forgotten how much I had learned, and how much I had yet to learn, from those times.

But I was reminded this week while standing in line Monday night at the grocery store — vine-ripe tomatoes, two pounds of hamburger, beer — and saw the photo of my favorite celebrity on the cover of two different magazines.

One said, “Britney loses

15 pounds,” and the other had her face and the headline, “Living with mental illness.”

Suddenly, I began to recall incidents over the past weeks that, taken alone, could be viewed quite singularly. But combined, they added up to a fascinating collection of events that kept my mind spinning for what seemed like hours.

Take last Saturday morning, for instance.

“The neighbor invited us over for brunch,” the Little Missuss said.

“That sounds good. Do you want to drive, or should I?” I asked.

“It’s at the neighbor’s, we can walk,” she said.

I found out later she wasn’t kidding.

Then the next day, I almost didn’t stop at the grocery store because there were no parking spaces by the door. The Little Missuss made me stop, anyway, and I had to walk across almost the entire half-length of the parking lot. Can you imagine how worn out I would have been if the Little Missuss made me push the cart the whole way back when we were done shopping? Luckily, she looked away while unloading the groceries and I hid our empty cart behind a big SUV that was parked nearby.

Those events made me think the Little Missuss was part of a conspiracy. The conspiracy promoting Subliminal Intentional Exercise.

Subliminal Intentional Exercise, or SIE, is sort of like the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is another thing that means bad things can happen. To me.

You see, I am a devout opponent of unnecessary movement or exertion, or what some unenlightened observers may call “exercise.”

I take extra steps to avoid going the extra mile. Before I leave the couch, for example, I always ask, “Is this trip really necessary?”

I’ve thought of dozens of ways to avoid unnecessary movement and potential muscle strain, and many of my ideas are still in use today.

Not all of them, though. I still have to get up at night to go to the bathroom, thanks to the Unfortunate Bedpan Incident of ’98.

Unfortunately, the Little Missuss does not agree with my credo of “Easy does it.” She is always dreaming up schemes to get me up and about.

It didn’t take me long, but within a few weeks I figured out that I had entered the zone of Subliminal Intentional Exercise. The Little Missuss had launched a double-secret campaign, a subversive program of getting me to move around more so I would get some exercise. A twisted scheme, indeed.

Instead of using that piece of Styrofoam from the washing machine box to slide down the stairs to the basement, for example, the Little Missuss has been insisting that I walk down stairs like a “normal person.” She has also said I need to start using a real comb instead of my Electro HairMagnaton, as seen on TV, despite the personal energy I save and the time it saves with messy hair brushes.

And, yes, the remote control has gone missing. Coincidence? Or is it the work of SIE?

Quiet frankly, all this talk about exercising and eating right is starting to take a toll on me.

I would just go hide out in the basement until it all blows over, but, when you think about it, there isn’t a couch or TV down there or anyplace to plug in my HairMagnaton. And there are about 18 steps or so in the way and no Styrofoam in sight.

Next issue: More great conversation starters.