The Slippery Slope to Sloth


Definition: Sloth



1. disinclination to action or labor; spiritual apathy

Symbolized by a Lazy Boy in the living room.

2.  A slow moving tropical American mammal

Derived from the activity level of a human in a Lazy Boy

My anxiety spikes as the burly delivery men settle the Lazy Boy into my living room.  This isn’t a discreet model, but a full-on Lazy Boy with oversized, plush pillows and a lever to stretch the chair into a near horizontal position.

I insist the Lazy Boy will be temporary, something my husband Nick will sleep in as he recovers from rotator cuff surgery.  Social media testimonials agree a Lazy Boy is the only way to get even a partial night’s sleep.  I can’t understand why a strategic configuration of pillows on our bed won’t serve the same purpose, but after two agonizing nights, I cave and usher the devil through the door.

I shudder to think that anyone who enters our home will be assaulted with the visible symbol of the deadly sin of sloth, pure sloth.  Right in the middle of our living room.

Maybe after Nick recovers we can banish the chair to the basement, relegate it to a dirty secret, but I know its siren call will still be heard, luring some tender soul into its dark depths, watching sports with a bag of chips perched on a stomach, a cold one in the cup holder.  Even in the middle of a summer day.

My anxiety sends me back to my 1960’s childhood watching the Chicago Cubs play day games, starting exactly at 1:25 with Jack Brickhouse as the announcer and the cheerful Ernie Banks at first base.

I slouch on the TV room couch with my brother, who idly plucks ticks from the back of the sprawling dog.  My mother walks through with an exasperated look.  “Can’t you two think of anything better to do? It’s a beautiful day out.”  She stands there staring at us as Jack Brickhouse says, “Ball one.” The ensuing silence is punctuated by the teletype machines clacking in the background.

Laziness and sloth lie on a spectrum of idleness.  Relaxation anchors one end.  Laziness is the midpoint and the sin of sloth is at the other end.  My mother feels that watching the Cubs play day games is laziness with overtones of sloth.

She embraces the concept of work-reward, the entitlement to relaxation after helping with chores, moving the lawn or cleaning out the chicken coop.  Relaxation embraces hard-earned physical rest.  Laziness implies work-avoidance.  “Can’t you two think of something better to do?”

Sloth adds mental inactivity to the physical.  It is a unique among the seven deadly sins.  All the others – pride, greed, lust, envy, rath, gluttony – are sins of commission.  Only sloth is a sin of omission, which is why it is so deadly.  You don’t have to do anything.  Sloth can creep up and embrace you, pull you into a surrendered state of inactivity.

Baseball fans claim their sport is an intellectual game, but this is lost on my brother and I as we sit on the couch.  We are not filling out a score card, or commenting on play-off prospects, which have been non-existent since June.  My mind is blank, I stare vapidly at the screen, perhaps commenting only on players’ large chaw, their habit of spitting or adjusting their crotch.  I can drift off in front of a baseball game and wake up several innings without missing anything. The national pastime.  Pass time is a perfect description.  “Can’t you two think of something better to do?”

An occasional lapse into sloth can be disguised, but adding a Lazy Boy sends a powerful symbol of a sinful life.  I ask family and friends to describe a vignette illustrating sloth. The compiled image is a young man who still lives in his parent’s basement, spends days playing video games, or even worse, watches reruns of baseball games.  Personal hygiene is a low priority.  The sloth doesn’t bother getting fully dressed; he just wears his boxers.  His shirt is stained with old pizza sauce, his shirt armpits are yellow. Take-out boxes are stacked in the corner, empty cans wedged between the couch cushions.  The sloth rarely gets out of his chair, asking anyone who passes by, “As long as you’re up, can you get me another, or can you take this upstairs for me when you go?”

All the vignettes involve men, and when I ask if women can be sloths, men pause to consider where they will fall between political correctness and equality.  (Note the gender specificity of Lazy Boys.)  Men hesitantly agree women can be sloths, but the vignettes are hazier.  “Female sloths don’t watch baseball reruns,” says one man, “they binge on bad TV, like those reality shows about bitchy housewives.”  However, all concur that binge watching the TV show “Breaking Bad” is not sloth, instead an intense intellectual exercise.

The sloth’s couch is not a focus of the vignette, but when asked all enthusiastically agree that Lazy Boys can tip any image into sloth.  Picture a farmer digging a string of post holes in his rocky field.  The sun is merciless.  He finally takes a break, comes inside and leans over the sink.  Sweat drips from his chin.  He tries to wash his hands, but the dirt is caked into deep creases, and bulging blisters make his palms tender.  He roll a cold can of soda across his pulsing forehead.

No human is more deserving of the work-reward of an afternoon baseball game, but I contend if you put this man in a Lazy Boy, it will smell like sloth.

What should I do with this shrine to slothdom holding court in my living room?  The stigma haunts me and draws me in.  I stare at its soft plump cushions reaching out to my ample form.  One quick test couldn’t hurt, I think.  The cushions envelop me as I reach for the lever on my right.  I pull it slowly.  My legs elevate.  I arch my back to push the back rest into the fully slothful position.  My hands run across the fabric.  Velour sucks energy out through my fingertips.

I fight against it, flail my arm out to reach the magazine on the nearby table.  I hope it isn’t a People Magazine, the epitome of mental lassitude.  My image will be forever tarnished if someone walks in and sees me asleep in a Lazy Boy with a People magazine spread across my chest.  I can’t take the chance.

I want to get out, but this velvet coffin has snared me with its perverse design.  Once in, it requires a heroic effort to exit, a spasmodic flex of abdominal muscles coordinated with a swift push of the calf muscles to fold in the foot rest.  I stagger out.

How can we get rid of it?  It is too bulky for us to move, particularly since Nick’s doctor says he shouldn’t lift anything heavier than a coffee cup for the next three months.

Gratefully, he no longer needs to sleep sitting up.  My best plan is to put a “For Sale” sign in the doctor’s office.  The surgeon does several shoulder repairs a week, the perfect target audience.  The idea of the chair comforting one surgically repaired shoulder after another appeals to me.  In the meantime, every time I walk by, I turn my head and put up to two crossed fingers to hex that behemoth.  I cannot trust myself to take another slippery step.













  1. Richard on September 21, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Love your stories. Best way to get rid of it? Put it on ebay and don’t be too greedy with the price.

  2. Nancy on September 21, 2018 at 10:11 am

    This is a good one, Eliza! Poor Nick, though, hope he takes comfort in the velvet tomb, only temporarily though, as I hope his recovery his a speedy one.

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