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Stop Drinking You’re Already Drunk: a story about moderation

You’re either a Paul or a John. It’s a binary system. You define yourself by your choices and there’s no going back. You can learn to modify behavior, consciously elect to make new attempts. But essentially you are always the same. Who you were when you were six is who you are at 30. A book I liked very much in college grouped the peoples of the world into two categories: takers and leavers. These terms are used to define the drastically different worldviews and practices of the hunter/gatherer versus the agricultural society. Guess which team we’re on?

As a part of the collective (a defective form the collective?) I am a taker. I use up all the resources I can and if necessary I then move on. If I can sit on my fat ass and have resources delivered on a flat bed truck from the surrounding surrounding areas I’ll do that first. But finally, at some point you have to go out and meet your needs. We’re like zombies for consumption in Dawn of the Dead.

I have always been a glutton. As a child I was chubby. As a teenager I put on ten pounds during a month long school trip to France. I gained the freshman fifteen and then some before Thanksgiving break. My father called me Rubenesque. I was fat. I couldn’t say no. Not to pizza or beer or pot, which only caused more pizza. I like to consume. I don’t mind imbibing. Not a bit. And not a little, an ugly amount. It is an unladylike habit that I wish to change.

But can you/me? Can one convert her nature? I don’t think so. I have always envied those picky eaters and constant movers. Women who are thin and can’t sit still. I envy the person who can turn down a drink. It would never occur to me. Drinking is delicious and it makes your head feel funny. It’s funny until you fall asleep and wake up in the morning. It feels good. I have always believed, or talked myself into thinking that decadence is good. It’s hedonism and that’s a healthy un-hung up approach. But the Greeks advised Nothing to Excess and Epicurious wasn’t about indulgence so much as he was the absence of pain. Why couldn’t I take up jogging in earnest or learn to crochet. I always mean to read more. I have a pile of books and a longer list of titles.

There are individuals who tell you that they are a George but those people are misguided. They want to indicate that they love the music; they are pseudo-intellectual and for shit. It’s a visceral reaction that draws you to dreamy, scheming Paul or muted, peacenik John. And everybody who watched Shining Time Station loves a tiny Ringo. That’s quite alright. It’s distinct from the issue. Like it or not you are what you are. You also are what you eat, but that is a different didactic essay.

There is an essay that Anthony Burgess published at the end of an edition of A Clockwork Orange that I read in high school. It affects the ending and Alex and addresses the issue of whether a protagonist can and should experience a complete metamorphosis of character in the course of the novel’s plot. Burgess maintained that the very point of a novel is to bear witness to growth and transition. Yes, we do grow. We move toward experience from a state of innocence. Yet who we are at the core remains unchanged. Call it personality, ego, a collection of learned habits, acquired qualities, innate ticks, perceptions and reactions. (I’m not getting into a big thing about nature and nurture. Not now.) What I meant to say is that fiction is about observations of humanity and reality. It reflects, it contemplates, it examples, it plays. It is fundamentally quite different from reality or rather actuality. In fiction we can do what we wish we could.

That’s it! I’ll make myself more like a character. Or like George Costanza when he decided to do the exact opposite of his every inclination. I will pretend to be a leaver. I’ll pick at my food and practice disdain for inebriation. I will elect to have something other than wine after dinner. What do people do instead?

the picture of a leaver with the soul of a lush.

There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. I have given this matter a lot of thought. After observing others and a certain amount of introspection, I believe that people can change their basic behaviors, but they almost never do. Not very many Buddhas come along.

  2. We were just rejoicing last night about the smaller portions generally served in Mexico. Yeah, we’re trying to make a change by saying no to one ice cream at a time…

    I read an article in some magazine a couple years ago that talked about how people will rarely make the changes necessary in their lifestyles even when death is imminent, like people with heart conditions, for example. Even when the doc says they have to change, they can.

  3. I am a George, without the unibrow.

  4. you <3 drinking

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