1.15.2009

Things I used to do

This time of year, many folks feel bad because they're "falling off the wagon" of their New Year's resolutions.

They pledged to swear off certain vices, but soon found temptation too strong. Or, they promised themselves they'd attain certain goals, such as daily exercise, only to find that televised playoffs restricted them to the sofa.

Here's the problem: They set their sights too high. It's better to set realistic goals. Swear off things you don't really like anyway. Or, vow to establish a habit you already have.

Remember when President George Bush the First announced he would no longer eat broccoli? He didn't like it, and no one could make him eat it. There followed a huge uproar, mostly from dietitians and broccoli farmers, who said no one should rule out a healthy vegetable just because he didn't like the taste.

That argument is a load of, well, steamed broccoli. Why else would you rule out eating something, if not for taste? We eat certain foods because we like them and for no other reason -- certainly not because they're healthy, and I'm thinking here of bacon cheeseburgers. We absolutely should be allowed to ban particular foods from our diets because they taste and/or smell bad.

As I've gotten older, I've followed the former president's example, and now have an entire list of foods I've sworn off. I happen to like broccoli, and I'll even eat cauliflower in small doses, but if you're serving snails, liver, rhubarb, beets, mussels or tripe, please cross me off your guest list.

My sworn-off list isn't limited to food. I've reached the advanced age where I consider many other behaviors too risky, disgusting or annoying to pursue.

For example, I refuse to participate in any activity that requires me to attach objects to my feet. (Other than shoes, and I'm not crazy about shoes.) Skis, skates, snowboards, skateboards, surfboards, snowshoes -- all of those are out. I can hurt myself just trying to walk around in a normal fashion. I don't need the added risk of strapping wheels or six-foot-long slats of wood to my feet.

The same goes for bicycles. Yes, yes, cycling is a very healthy activity. Until you go flying over the handlebars. Or get mowed down by a truck. I'd rather be the one driving the truck. Just in case.

I swore off neckties 11 years ago after quitting a regular job at a newspaper -- the Daily Noose. Once in a while, some occasion arises where I'm supposed to dress up, but I'm never tempted to break my necktie rule. That's why God created black turtlenecks.

The list of Things I Don't Do Anymore remains fluid, depending on my age and changing tastes. A recent addition is TV shows with annoying laugh tracks. I just can't stand them. If my sons are watching "That 70's Show," I have to go to a different room.

However, my long-time ban on dancing apparently has been lifted. My wife and I and several glasses of wine danced the night away at a holiday party a few years ago. So dancing's no longer on the sworn-off list, though I'm still no good at it. I'm a large, clumsy man, and I always felt people on the dance floor were staring at me. Now I know they were just frightened. Turns out they learn quickly to get out of my way.

So, dancing's no longer a forbidden activity. As long as there's nothing more challenging than shoes on my feet.

Roller disco remains out.

1 comment:

Ivan Toblog said...

I've only sworn off two things:
1) Never; and
2) Always (and always is kinda iffy)
because there is always a possibility that something could cause me to change.