Dragging ass May 20 2004

The lazy person's guide to summer

Taking the easy way out gets a bad rap, except in the summer. In humidity like this, why not take shortcuts and cut corners wherever possible? When simply walking across an asphalt parking lot feels harder than a high-impact workout, and leisure pastimes like water parks require the advance preparation of military campaigns, "fun" and "work" become hard to tell apart.

Here are seasonal suggestions to embrace your inner sloth. Take pride in your laziness, and stand up — or at least lean forward a few seconds — for your right to inertia.

The Peachtree Road Race — Via Car. Who was the genius that scheduled Atlanta's major race for the middle of summer? Instead of running, get together with friends and drive the prescribed length of Peachtree. See who comes in first without breaking the speed limit, and give a special prize to whomever avoids the most red lights.

The All-Cushion Indoor Amusement Park. Compete with Six Flags by strategically placing pillows and mattresses around your house to make "rides." Hurl yourself down your well-padded staircase, which now serves as a scream machine. Turn it into a splash ride by training a garden hose or sprinkler on it. To match the terrors of any haunted house, heave some cushions into the basement, turn out the lights and leap forward.

Intravenous Eating Contests. Sure, hot-dog eating or beer-drinking contests appeal to gluttony, the sister of sloth, but they prove an unexpected amount of labor. You might get all the Varsity-style food you can eat, but you have chow down faster than you'd want to. Save yourself that much trouble by seeing who can first drain a bag of fluid nutrients from an IV-drip. Encourage onlookers to chant, "Chug! Chug! Chug!"??
Household Nature Walks. Nature walks provide educational opportunities for family bonding — but why schlep over to the Chattahoochee Nature Center when you can stage one around the house? Packing a "picnic" of whatever's left over in the fridge, go on an expedition to point out the moths in the closets, the mold on the bathroom grout, the shrews in the pantry. Lie outrageously and say the pizza crusts under the couch are the cocoons of garlic-butterflies.

The Remote Control Decathlon. Prove you have a right to hog the remote by meeting a series of tests for finger speed and dexterity. Heats include marathon relays up the channels and back down again; jumping the "hurdles" from Cable to VCR to DVD to TiVO; making the blinking "12:00" go away; and more!

Extreme Tanning. Take competitive tanning and make it an "extreme" sport for lethargic show-offs. Stretch out at Piedmont Park and see who can risk deadly UV rays to get the best tan before blackening like a Louisiana entree. Spectators can heckle the tanners who chicken out and slather on sunblock.

The Rambling Ottoman Race. Atlanta's late, lamented "rambling raft race" down the Chattahoochee River was a much-loved event: floating in water while the river does the work makes the ideal sport for the indolent. But rafting or tubing requires going to a river and arranging to be picked up. Instead, "raft" in your own neighborhood, even if you don't have a creek. Just assemble like-minded neighbors; find your street's longest, steepest incline; lie across an ottoman — making sure it has casters, of course; and push off. If you're serious about steering, you can use a mop as an "oar," but that sounds suspiciously like effort.

Competitive Sweating. You don't have to jog for miles or play Ultimate Frisbee to work up a sweat — you can do it just sitting outside in a hammock, raising a bottle to your mouth. So make perspiration itself the sport. You can pit your own rivulets against those of the lazybones next to you, but other people aren't even necessary. Set your sweat beads against each other, ranking them by size and distance traveled. Play announcer and give them names: "And the winner of the slalom down the shin is ... Drippy!"

Simulated Fireworks. Fireworks make a summer complete, but getting in and out of Lenox Square, Turner Field or other venues to see them would crush the will of a Hercules. Find ways to reproduce the experience. Face the sun and drum your closed eyelids with your fingertips. Press your eyeballs up to the TV or computer monitor and flick the power off and on. Put aluminum foil in the microwave, or try the old steel-wool-in-the-electric socket maneuver. You may set off a pyrotechnic display the whole neighborhood can enjoy.

The Tour de Sleep. Why lose sleep to enjoy Atlanta's tourist attractions when you can do both at once? Practice by dozing at low-pressure places like MARTA and Stone Mountain, then increase the degree of difficulty. With a similarly drowsy competitor, see who can get the most shut-eye at the World of Coca-Cola, Fernbank, the Margaret Mitchell House, the Fox Theatre and more. You don't have to get up early to enjoy the city. You don't necessarily have to get up at all.


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