There are just five days remaining until Lent. Now, I’m not a Catholic, unless you count my attending an academy run by Dominican nuns from preschool through fourth grade or the fact that I once liked the song Sister Christian. But a little restraint is needed right now, and forty days seems like the appropriate amount of time to check myself. And so this year, for the first time ever, for reasons relating to work, health and the coming of spring, I will adopt the Lenten practice of giving something up for five weeks and five days. Won’t you help me choose what that something is? Here are the nominees, and the pros and cons of abandoning each:
1. Beer. Pros: When I drink, which can be often at times, beer is the way I choose to go. Wine, margaritas and martinis appeal to me to a small extent, but usually only on special occasions. I have no interest in becoming a whiskey, bourbon or Scotch drinker. Which means, if I cut out beer for forty days, I won’t drink much for the next forty days, which would be beneficial to my health, my industriousness, my clarity of mind, and maybe most importantly, my gut. Cons: When I hang out with people, it’s usually to drink. Which means, if I give up beer, I might hang out with my friends less often — not necessarily a good thing, and who knows what they’re like sober. On top of that, March Madness falls squarely during Lent, and the frenzy of basketball is greatly enhanced when you are under the influence. Also, a non-Lenten concern (i.e. work) has already made me vow not to drink until March 16 (the first day of the NCAA tourney), and so far, so good. Thus, choosing beer would really only be asking me to give up beer for three more weeks — not really that big of a deal.
1a. Beers beginning with any letter B-Z. Pros: This corollary would eliminate almost all of my preferred beers, so it might have a similar effect as Number 1. And it would be fun to consume only beers starting with the letter “A.” Cons: I can still drink beer, just less-interesting beer, which includes Asahi, Amstel Lite and Anchor Steam. For a short period of time, that wouldn’t affect me very much. Plus, this idea is a bit precious.
2. Potatoes. Pros: I am a big fan of potatoes in all shapes and sizes and textures, especially French fries, mashed and potato chips. Cutting out potatoes would eliminate a sizable portion of my diet, and a supremely unhealthy one at that. Eschewing potatoes and their associated grease would likely cause me to lose weight, lessen my salt intake, and improve the condition of my skin — all good things for a happening guy my age. Cons: Life without French fries hardly seems worth living, especially if burgers and beer are involved. I suppose onion rings could be swapped in, but that feels like cheating.
2a. Anything referred to as “chips” by Americans and the British. Pros: This corollary would eliminate French fries and potato chips from my diet, but also send tortilla chips packing for forty days. It would be even more beneficial to my health than Number 2, because I can put away a lot of fattening tortilla chips, especially when they’re arranged in the preferred gooey nachos format. Cons: Same as those in Number 2 only ten times worse. I love me some salsa!
3. Burger platters. Pros: A burger here or there isn’t going to kill anyone, but how about six or seven big-ass burgers a month? Served with French fries? And topped with cheese and bacon? That can’t be good for anyone my age. Also, since burgers are something I get from restaurants only, a considerable amount of money could be saved, provided I didn’t swap the burger idea to quash a craving for a kick-butt nachotastic orgy and instead eat at home. Cons: I tend to go on burger benders, so forty days without burgers, if it’s a slow month, might only affect me three or four times. (Then again, it could be more like ten.)
4. Sleeping past 9am. Pros: I’d get my ass out of bed when everyone else in the world does. Days would potentially be more productive. And per Ben Franklin’s proverb, it might also lead to health, wealth and wisdom. Cons: As a freelance writer, working at off-hours relative to most people is sometimes an advantage, because you miss the morning rush when you go to the gym and the coffee hut in the morning, and don’t get hungry for lunch or dinner during restaurant’s busiest times. Plus, I get most of my work done between the hours of 10pm and 3am, and this almost demands a waking hour past 9am.
Of these five choices, my vote goes to Option 2a. Paired with no drinking until March 16, this will help me get back in fighting shape by spring, when softball begins. But I can be persuaded otherwise. Your thoughts?
WHY I’M ANGRY TODAY
Too many reasons, but the biggest one is my shocking indifference to the release of the new Morrissey album.