SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
February 8, 2015

Oh, Fuck Your Denial—You Can’t Run From God

 

As I get older, I’ve been noticing a deeply disturbing trend among the people I know, who are likewise getting older. It almost feels genetic, like they reach a certain age and a bad switch is flipped in their brains. One by one by one, they all (even the once-hardcore reprobates) seem to be cutting something out of their diet or lifestyle because they want to “live better.”

            Literally overnight in some cases, this one’s stopped smoking because he “decided it was bad for him.” This one’s gone vegetarian, that one’s gone vegan, this one over here’s gone “gluten-free,” whatever the fuck that means. So far as I can tell all it means is that you’ve decided to eat only bland, awful foods for the rest of your life. And then there are the sudden non-drinkers. They may be the worst of the lot.

            One old friend told me he had to stop drinking because he “fell down a flight of stairs.” Oh boo-fucking-hoo, ya little Mary-Ann. Do you know how many flights of stairs I’ve fallen down? Did I let that turn me all fruity on the issue?

            Oh, Christ, even worse than the abruptly non-drinking types are the ones who stop drinking for a month or so every year so they can “clean themselves out.” Seems to me a good enema would accomplish pretty much the same thing in a couple of hours. I’ve even known kids in their twenties and thirties who’ve spouted that bullshit at me, telling me “oh, maybe I can see you next month, ‘cause this is my sober month.”

            Then on top of it all, most of them end up exercising, more often than not with some personal trainer.

            And they think a life without meat or smokes or booze, a life which includes going to a gym three times a week to have some sadistic son of a bitch inflict tortures on them, means they’re living better?

            What are all these people thinking? Don’t they realize they’re making themselves very unpleasant to be around? More than that, dealing with them at all suddenly becomes very complicated. Oh, you’re not drinking so we can’t get together and grab a couple of beers. And you’re vegan so if we go to a restaurant we have to make sure they offer vegan slop of some sort. And this one here’s “gluten-free,” so I have no idea what the fuck to do with that.

            Tell you all what you do, see? Why don’t you just go hang out with your new gluten-free, non-drinking, non-smoking vegetarian exercise buddies so you can all be smug together and look down your healthy smug noses at the rest of us with our filthy vices and our slovenly drunken ways, while you giggle together like a bunch of snotty Catholic schoolgirls about how much better you feel and how much better you are spiritually because you’ve made this stupid lifestyle choice to be a smug asshole?

            There’s something very Christian and masochistic about it all, this push toward personal denial and discomfort as a means of, I dunno, spiritual enlightenment or some crap. Even if they don’t start with the God blather (which many of them do), there’s still a sense of a kind of weakness and self-loathing at play here, which of course they flip around and insist is really strength and self-love. Next thing you know, out of this same strength and self-love they’ll be starting every morning by giving themselves thirty lashes with a studded leather belt.

            The reason at the heart of it (at least so much as they’ll admit publicly) seems to be that they want to live longer, healthier lives. Okay, that’s just super, but let’s look at the bigger picture. Assuming you aren’t struck and killed by an out of control skateboarder next Tuesday on your way to work, maybe you will indeed live a few years longer than you might have otherwise. But by ridding that life of intoxicants and drugs, by subsisting on a diet of flavorless foods (and don’t try to hand me all that crap about everything you can do with tofu, because it’s all a fucking lie and you know it), you get rid of everything that’s fun and enjoyable and decadent. You might feel superior to all of us who haven’t likewise opted to be self-righteous and boring, but you end up living a longer life of denied cravings and horrifying lucidity in a world full of boring dicks.

            If that’s what you want, I don’t fucking care, fine by me. But if you don’t mind, I think I’ll hang tight to my beer and Marlboros and pork products and butter and pie. With the exception of those four days I was in the hospital, there hasn’t been a day in the past thirty years I haven’t had at least a few drinks and a fistful of smokes, and I’m healthy as a fucking horse. I may die long before you, but at least I’ll die knowing I lived the way I wanted, without denying what was in my nature. And I bet I have a hell of a lot more fun than you do in the process. Better still, at that moment when my heart explodes, I’ll be able to tell myself exactly why it happened. You, my pathetic teetotaling, healthy-eating, exercise-happy friend, will be all confused and bewildered as to how any such horrible thing could happen to you. After all, you did everything you were supposed to, right?

 

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