Mañana is soon enough for me.
– Peggy Lee
I wonder if the trait of procrastination is nature or nurture. Some psychologists would argue that procrastination is an innate part of some people’s personalities. They are born to keep all options open to the last possible second and then rush, cram, and race to meet deadlines. Others may argue that people are the product of their environment and learn such behaviors from observing those around them.
Either way, I was destined for leaving things to the last minute, running late or right up to the last second, and putting off for tomorrow what I could do today. As the song goes, mañana typically is good enough for me.
Growing up, my family was referred to by friends as the Mañana Morukians. When we were invited to dinner parties or barbecues, our hosts told us the party started an hour earlier than they told everyone else…so we would only show up an hour late. And we were always the last to leave. My sister and I would be either passed out under a couch somewhere or running around like maniacs in the wee hours, long after the other guests made their exits. My parents would still be sitting with the hosts at the table, laughing and telling stories, until our hosts would politely yawn enough times to send the hint. Then we’d spend another half hour saying goodbye at the door , while my dad told one last story. He called this drawn out farewell the “Armenian Goodbye” (I think every culture I’ve run across has their version of this but it does seem pretty prevalent among my people).
Dad definitely was the biggest culprit of the Mañana Morukian lifestyle. When tasked to perform a job around the house, call a relative or friend, or take initiative in making social plans, Dad’s typical response was, “I’m going to do that tomorrow,” and he would even go so far as to write it on a yellow steno pad. Then he would promptly forget where his to do list was and start a new one the next time an idea came to him or a task was assigned. His lists were priceless. They never followed any order or reason in terms of organization. “Replace roof” would be followed by “get toilet paper.” We would find his little yellow lined lists hidden all over the house, and sometimes display them on the fridge if they were especially humorous. And, of course, he never actually got around to doing any of the things on the list.
My mother had her own form of procrastination that was more methodical and less scattered than my father. Mom had a method and plan for just about everything. She just always seemed to be struck by a last minute panicked rush. She’d awake every morning at 5:15am to ensure she had plenty of time before going to work. She would sit at the kitchen counter, sip her coffee, read the paper, follow the same daily routine of dressing and doing her hair and makeup, and then somehow fall into a frenzied scramble to get out the door, usually 15 minutes late and yelling about how they were going to hit traffic and be late for first period. Every day. Same thing. It’s like the routine she set had a built in procrastination button somewhere. I observed this daily, and couldn’t for the life of me understand where that extra time she set for herself was eaten up. I vowed never to allow myself to engage in Mañana Morukian behaviors.
It’s such a funny truism that we really do turn into our parents. When I tell my current or new friends about our family’s nickname, they don’t display much surprise. I am a Mañana Morukian through and through. Like my mom, I start planning far in advance but leave most of the details until the last possible second and then run around like a squirrel in the road who can’t make up its mind which way to run to escape death. Like my father, I make countless lists of all the things I should do. Like Dad’s lists, mine follow no logical order, no timeline, no prioritization. Then I ignore them or lose them and forget two thirds of the things I wrote anyway.
It may cause me a bit of hysteria at times. It may give my spouse heart palpitations when he sees me in “running at the last minute holy crap get it done” mode. It may make my sister (who somehow escaped the Mañana curse and is the most thorough and organized person I know) throw her hands up in the air and refuse to ever help me move or plan another birthday party. It may make my punctual and meticulous friends roll their eyes when I come running in thirty minutes late for a dinner reservation they lied and told me was thirty minutes earlier than everyone else.
Yet in a weird way, I’m proud of my Mañana gene. For all the trouble and annoyance it may cause, it means another little bit of my crazy parents that lives on in me.