Studies have found—and right away I’m dubious because of the hundreds of thousands of studies that are done every year in America, I’ve never been studied once, as far as I know (I don’t know if or how often Alexa has been studying me, or the results of her findings)—that you will fail in your New Year’s resolution this year. Further, studies have found, you will fail rapidly.
In fact, studies have located the precise date when you will fall back into your filthy, slovenly, reckless and dangerous habits: Jan. 12. Some call it Quitters Day, but “quitter” is such an ugly word. I prefer Failure Day.
Jan. 12: Failure Day. The day you smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em, the day you backslide into making meals of Hostess Sno Balls and Ding Dongs, the day you throw your FitBit into the river and jam your gym membership card in your kitchen junk drawer, the day you complete the transition from vegan to vegetarian to paleo to an all meat-lover’s-pizza diet, the day to drink until you forget that your failure was achieved in fewer than two weeks.
Failure Day also happens to be my birthday, a fact that I find neither amusing nor ironic. I’m not failing at anything on Jan. 12 other than in getting younger, because, due to the proximity of my birthday to Jan. 1, my birthday is the arbitrary date I set annually to make my annual New Year’s resolution, and I’d tell you what mine is going to be if doing so didn’t erase the benefits of the feat in the way you lose indulgences by bragging about good deeds. Plus I haven’t figured out what it’s going to be yet. Here’s an interesting and informative story: The biggest sacrifice I’ve attempted in my short life was to give up ketchup for 40 days. This was for Lent, a sort of New Year’s Resolution Lite. It was a supreme give-up because ketchup was the only thing that made my mother’s food palatable. I even had to sprinkle it on salad.
At any rate, I still have more than a week to inventory out all my vices and determine which ones I should probably ease up on a little.
Let’s have a look at some of the more popular resolutions and how maybe you can stretch one of them into mid-February or, with some steely determination and hard work (or just by choosing an easy resolution, like quit using $2 bills at the grocery store), Easter.
Quit smoking: When I took up the noble and romantic habit of smoking, everybody did it, because it was cool and convenient. You could smoke everywhere: hospitals, grocery stores, elevators. In fact, I learned to smoke when I was working in a restaurant where employees could take smoke breaks, but they couldn’t just take standing-around-doing-nothing breaks. I smoked for years and years, until society and laws made quitting easy and enjoyable. It’s one thing to smoke when you look like James Dean while doing it. It’s another when you’re forced to go stand out in an abandoned lot in the rain to smoke with the office losers and talk about the best way to fry a turkey without blowing your house up. It’s easy to quit when you look like a hobo while doing it (and paying $7 a pack for the joy of it).
Lose weight: Don’t try to go yard on this one. You’re not going to lose 120 pounds by Lincoln’s birthday. Simply find a sensible diet that allows you to eat everything you like and, bigod, stick to it. Here’s another interesting and informative story: My doctor always hollers at me to lose weight, and the last time I went in for a checkup, I had inexplicably blundered into losing 15 pounds since my previous visit. Doctor congratulated me. I don’t know what I had been doing in the interim, but I swear by it. It just takes determination and a little bit of heroism.
Save money: Your budget is probably fatter than I was the second-to-last time I went to the doctor. It costs a lot to simply stay alive this deep into the 21st century. There are such necessities as Internet and cable TV; subscription services like HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, Disney Plus, Sling and Crackle; clothing via StitchFix, Le Tote and Trunk Club; monthly fees to Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club for your face; car payments and Uber and Lyft for times when you don’t feel like driving; fees for PostMates, DoorDash, Uber eats and GrubHub for bringing you food; Spotify, Sirius and Pandora payments for playing the songs you like on demand; a couple thousand dollars set aside to go to a couple of concerts; and other unplanned expenses like your (my) dog needing a $3,100 operation and a raccoon knocking over your back fence and mice eating your (my) dishwasher. So, given all that, I’m afraid I can’t help you. Maybe try giving up avocado toast.
Finally, don’t be discouraged when you break your resolution on Jan. 12. It’s Failure Day. Just enjoy it.
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