I’m not proud that for most of my adult life, I have tended to play it safe. I’ve always obeyed the rules and did what I was told. I’ve always used my turn signals, always separated the white from the dark laundry. I’ve always followed a predictable routine. If it’s 6:15 am, I’m hopping on the exercycle. If it’s 6:20 am, I’m in the bathroom flossing. A boringly predictable life. 

But not anymore. I’ve decided life’s too short. I’m not going to be a conformist sheep following the herd anymore. I’m going to zig when they expect me to zag. I’ve decided to shake up my button-down life – starting by unbuttoning my collar. Hell, I just might not even wear a tie for work tomorrow. And there’s not a damn thing my boss can do about it (since I’m working from home tomorrow).

Lately I’ve turned into a rebel. It feels so liberating. My natural hair color is coffee brown. But last week, feeling in a dangerous mood, I dyed it mocha brown. I feel months younger. And look closely at my hair. I’ve started wearing my left sideburn an eighth of an inch lower than my right one – my silent protest to The Man that I will not conform to society’s rules anymore. 

At sporting events, I now do the wave two seconds after the rest of my section. Sure it pisses off some fans. I’m living life on the edge. 

At work, I sometimes will print out a ten-page document without using the two-sided paper setting, just to shock the environmentalists in my office. 

The other day, when I took my daughter to the mall, I parked my minivan in a “compact cars” parking space. At first I felt guilty but then I said, screw these oppressive rules. I’ll park wherever I damn well please (so long as I’m not taking up two spaces or a handicapped space, of course). 

Last weekend, I mowed my yard and instead of my traditional parallel rows that go the length of the lawn, I mowed diagonally. Next weekend I’m actually thinking about not edging my lawn, just on principle. It’ll blow my neighbor’s mind. 

The other night, while watching CSI Miami on TIVO, I fast-forwarded through the show and only watched the commercials. My wife was like, “Do I even know you anymore?” What a rush. 

This past Saturday morning, I decided to take a stand against my oppressive wife. I am sick and tired of her harping all the time how I need to scoop the kitty litter by 7:30 am. So today, to show her who wears the pants in this house, I refused to scoop the kitty litter…. until 10:30 am. My wife is not going to tell me what to do – unless it’s something she feels is fairly important. 

And last week, I deliberately parked in my boss’s parking spot every day. Nobody was going to dare try to stop me. Not even my boss (coincidentally she was on vacation that week). 

A couple weeks ago, I conducted a yard sale, even though the homeowners’ association bylaws for my housing development specifically state that yard sales can only be conducted between June and September. You want a piece of me, homeowners’ association? Bring it on. Besides, I held it at a friend’s house four miles away, so I’m pretty sure they can’t touch me. 

My kids barely recognize their new, rebel-rousing dad (in part due to my bold new hair color and uneven sideburns). I refuse to drive my daughter to gymnastics practice on Tuesdays anymore. (Because that’s my wife’s day to drive. My day is Thursday.) 

Every day, I look for new ways to make a personal statement that I will not be oppressed. I won’t conform to society’s rules anymore. My days of doing whatever my wife, kids, siblings, mother, and federal authorities tell me to do are over (with the limited exceptions of immediate family members, the IRS and state and local police). 

Sure, I may still do the vacuuming, as I promised in our wedding vows. But I just might conveniently “forget” to do under the beds. And the next time my wife orders me to kill some icky spider, I will demand she say “please” if she expects this man’s help. 

I have been keeping a bucket list of things I hope to do in my new life as suburban rebel. Things like getting my picture taken feeding penguins at the zoo, right next to a sign that says Don’t feed the penguins. And  telling my boss I have to leave at 3:30 instead of 5:00 because I have a doctor’s appointment, when really I’m just leaving early to take my kid to her cello recital. (I still have to build up the courage for that one). 

I can’t tell you the rush I feel now that I have broken free from the chains of conformity. Sometimes it’s a bit scary. But I am committed to living life without a safety net (except for when I use my Groupon ticket for a free trapeze lesson, in which case, yeah, I’ll still want a safety net). 

Welcome to the new me. I even refused to make our bed this morning even though it was my turn. Besides, there was a cat spit-up so the sheets really needed to be washed. But this time, I’m going to mix the light blue bed sheets with the white laundry. And there’s not a damn thing my wife can do to stop me – because she does not get back from her business trip until tomorrow. Booyah! 

That’s the view from wild side of the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. But I’m willing to take that chance. 

PS:  If you enjoyed this week’s post, be a non-conformist. Do something way out of character and get outside your comfort zone by sharing this post on Facebook, posting a comment or giving it a.  Do what I am telling you and show The Man that nobody tells you what to do. But don’t forget to pick up your kids from soccer practice at 6:30. You know how they hate to be kept waiting. 

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2013

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