The Harder They Come by T. C. Boyle:
The next morning, early, he found himself back in Fort Bragg, at the grocery there—the cheap one, the one the tourists didn’t know about—pushing a cart and working his way through the itemized list Carolee had pressed on him as he went out the door. The place was over-lit, antiseptic, as artificial as the flight deck of a spaceship, and at this hour there were more shelf-stockers than shoppers. That was all right. He liked the early hours, when things were less complicated. He’d been up early all his life and though everybody said the best thing about retirement was sleeping in, he just couldn’t feature it. If he found himself in bed later than six he felt like a degenerate, and he supposed he could thank his mother for that. And his father. The work ethic—once you had it, once it had been implanted in you, how could you shake it? Why would you want to? Relax, he kept telling himself. Keep busy. Relax. Keep busy. The last thing he wanted was to wind up sitting in a recliner all day staring at the TV like some zombie or pulling on a sun visor to chase a golf ball around the fairways with a bunch of loudmouthed jocks. Or bridge. He hated bridge, hated games of any kind. But how did you relax? That was the problem he was trying to resolve—and certainly world-class indulgence wasn’t the answer.