We know Valentine's Day is all about tawdry commercialism, and that it has become increasingly difficult to wring any spiritual meaning out of Christmas. But New Year's remains the one big, fat, sickening, humongous lie that most of us grudgingly accept. Even though it is really nothing more than an artificial break in the Gregorian calendar, we still buy into the promotional hype of New Year's, braving drunk drivers, inclement weather, and exorbitant door prices to hit the bars every December 31. And once we've all held hands and sung a happy Kumbaya, we individualize the experience with a bullet-point list of "New Year's resolutions." Which inevitably fail.
To figure out why, this reporter went into the trenches (of the Internet, that is), and gathered testimonials from people who made some fairly standard-issue resolutions last year, but had to abort them.
Lie #1: I will lose weight.
Supposedly, weight loss is the most popular resolution in the world, though it's also, perhaps, the most insurmountable. Take it from Santa Rosa gardener "Upper Torso," aka "Billy Boobs." In a recent e-mail Billy groused that he's getting Man Boobs, which he sees as "karma justice for all the nasty comments I made about dudes with tits while younger." Here is his story:
Once upon a time there was a flat-chested man. One day he noticed a neighbor in the pool in a white tee-shirt. Wet, it showed a pair of knockers with one pointed north and one east. Relentless scathing comments followed. Now, some 35 years later I am saddled with a rack where both are staring in the southwest direction. As noted in my original posting, this karmic retribution is troubling.
I first noticed this growth in my 30's and promptly began wearing shirts with double breast pockets. Now in my forties I am forced to do monthly breast cancer exams in the shower (mercifully no lumps yet). As for prevention, an ounce of that is worth two pounds of tits.
Yet, Billy admits the unwanted "perky upstarts" come with a silver lining:
I'm receiving a number of phone numbers from interested women. This surprising development rivals that of my cleavage.
Lie # 2: I will quit smoking.
Many people tried to achieve this goal by switching from cigarettes to weed, often with unsatisfying results. One thirty-nine-year-old quasi-smoker from San Francisco wrote:
I quit cigarettes in April, for the second time, needed weed to help with that. That's an awful experience, if you've never had the pleasure. I am deciding to quit pot because it makes me lazy, withdrawn from friends, relationship, job. I'm just not interested, and do the minimum in most situations. I still eat healthy, go to gym all the time, don't get the munchies. I mostly just feel as if I'm going through life in a fog.
As for how, I guess I'll just stop. I'll let my supply run down, not restock. Plan a busy day, and try not to think about it. I guess some mindfulness will be in order, it will probably be uncomfortable, and I'll get weepy. It's much easier than cigarettes, being that it's not a physical addiction; I think that when I get to it, it can happen. I probably won't get too involved in Marijuana Anonymous, as I don't think I'm powerless, don't think I need to avoid it the rest of my life. I just want to use MUCH less of it.
Children MacNuggits front man Corbett Redford III said in a recent phone interview that he quit weed cold turkey after a lifetime of smoking. "Man, it was hard," he wrote in a recent e-mail. Too hard, apparently. Two days later Redford wrote back:
I smoked weed tonight ... Dammit, broken resolutions.
Lie #3: I will begin a functional relationship.
This is by far the most popular theme in this survey. Many people had stories about being seduced and jilted. Wrote twenty-eight-year-old software engineer Hasan Diwan:
I took a chance in August and started dating a girl living in my building with problems, of the 12-step variety. Summary, while the addictions weren't a problem — I think it's a part of life and you pick and choose which addictions to indulge — the resulting effects on personality increasingly became a problem, culminating with her accusation that I needed help because I was a workaholic. At that point, I told her that was batshit insane and the "mark of an idiot." After this turn of phrase, she ended the relationship.
Other people recalled harrowing stand-offs with the one temptation they couldn't resist. Take this testimonial from "Renee52":
Well, I resolved to give up men! Was doing pretty good (over a year without) when my newish l4-years-younger roommate walked out of the shower one day clad in some sort of bikini thing (only). I honestly got weak in the knees. I had no idea he looked THAT good! Needless to say, the obdurate resolve I had formed dissolved in the shape of a really available male.
Then there were people like MySpace user "Mark ... A Dangerfield Manifesto ..." whose lack of "obdurate resolve" led him into a perilous co-dependent relationship:
I swore off my ex girlfriend. We have been dealing with each other for the past twelve years. Back and forth ... back and forth ... I decided to finally get rid of her and leave her alone.I think that we have been addicted to each other for more of a comfort level more than anything. It was not only sex but a great companionship. In June I decided that I was no longer going to deal with her. I took her number out of my phone and told her I was done.
One month later we were back at it again. I made a mistake of helping her sister get a job, and I continued to answer her calls to hang out and I had problems registering my car so she put it in her name for me. This assured that she would stay around. It gave us yet another excuse to keep in contact. By October I was sick of the same drama all over again. I am trying again ... this year 2008 I have gotten the car out of her name and also changed my phone number ... I hope this is the break that I need to stick with it ...
Lie #4: I will stop using MySpace for nefarious purposes.
Social utility sites like MySpace and Facebook are increasingly becoming the frames through which we reinvent our personalities and determine our own self-worth. Indeed, it appears that modern teenagers and adults devote as much attention to their online friend quotas as to their social networks in real life. Tragic, isn't it?
Many of us vowed to commit MySpace suicide in 2007, but few actually saw it through. There is, in fact, an entire Facebook group dedicated to online networking addicts. In a recent post on the group's discussion board, Jacob Winkler asked if he's the only person with two MySpace accounts (one for himself and one for his car).
A lot of us use those servers to Internet-stalk our exes. As forty-year-old "Su" wrote in a recent e-mail:
My X girlfriend has a MySpace page, and I swore I would not look at it. BUT I still do just to see what she is up to.
Lie # 5: I will stop lying.
No one will admit it, but this final commandment applies to all the respondents (and yes, there were many) who said they had no regrets from 2007, and no apologies to make.
Yeah. Don't kid yourself.
Seven Days - April 26, 6:48 PM
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