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"I've conquered that god-damn willpower of mine. Gimme a double Scotch."
Don Marquis, after a month on the wagon, as recounted in "Essays of E.B. White"
A brand-new year, the same old story
. . . and a no-resolution picture to go with it
By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media
OW ARE THOSE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS COMING? Yeah, me too. I broke more promises in the first 10 days than the Bush administration has in the last five years.
Why do we pick the first day of the new year to end a lifetime of evil habits? A guy needs evil habits and plenty of them to get through winter, with its short days and long nights, if only to keep from tracking the neighbors through the peep sight of his Ruger Mini-Thirty.
The vernal equinox, which this year arrives on March 20, seems more suited to reformation and rejuvenation. Or better yet, the summer solstice on June 21, since winter in Colorado follows its own calendar, delivering a blue-fingered goose to the unwary on St. Patrick's Day, Easter or even Memorial Day weekend. Just ask anyone who raced the 1997 Iron Horse.
But no we brandish our freshly written manifestos on Jan. 1, smiling bravely and stupidly down the lands and grooves of a brand-new calendar locked and loaded with 365 hollow-point, semi-jacketed, 24-hour days. And we wonder why we always wind up taking one right between the eyes.
Resolved (Your Pipe Dream Here). I quit making formal resolutions after discovering that simply vowing to quit smoking wouldn't make it happen. Shedding that addiction required a new one, bicycle racing (which also causes hacking and wheezing, but in a good way).
Still, old habits die hard, and they don't all have filter tips attached. Like blue-collar working stiffs who vote the straight GOP ticket, I seem to have an unnatural affinity for things that are bad for me: tequila, bacon, reading newspapers. And I still think of January 1 as a new beginning, if only because I often awaken with no idea what I was doing the previous year.
So for 2006, I decided to take one more shot at a successful New Year's self-improvement program. The plan was simple: Lose some weight.
Fat Chance. I know, I know: Weight-loss pledges have the imagination of network TV and the longevity of a Hollywood marriage; they are why yard sales in February look like 24 Hour Fitness centers in bankruptcy.
Since I already eat sensibly, when there is no bacon around, my regimen involved cutting back on the tonsil polish and riding and running more often. I even built up a new cyclo-cross bike, spending heavily with local shops for maximum guilt factor in case a weepy liquor-store proprietor phoned, whining about his Aspen condo payment.
I envisioned two immediate benefits. First, my liver would quit demanding a person transplant ("How about something in a writer, only funny this time?). Second, more cycling might mean more ideas for cycling columns with actual cycling content, and thus fewer death threats from irate readers.
The Cold Facts. Well, that was the idea, anyway until I caught a wicked cold that left me curled up in a nest of befouled snot-rags for the last week of December (which was sunny and warm, the way April will not be).
I got no exercise beyond blowing my nose. Even my drinking was affected. I had planned to overdo it a bit on New Year's Eve, for psychological purposes, but failed miserably; come Jan. 1 a half bottle of wine remained, plus a few beers, a tot of brandy and a dollop of Bushmills.
Now, I abhor waste, and anyway you don't want to pour stuff like that down the sink 'cause there's no telling what it might do to the pipes. So I got kind of a late start on the less-drinking thing.
And the more-exercise bit? That's hit a snag, too. Seems it's not so good for the Achilles tendon to do an hour of 'cross and a 45-minute run in new shoes back to back after a week on the couch, painting Kleenex green and watching Monty Python DVDs.
And who cares, anyway? The Chinese new year isn't until January 29, and there are 1.3 billion of those dudes running around, drinking Tsingtao, smoking Marlboros and swapping their bicycles for cars. Plus you know what year it is? The Year of the Dog, that's what.
Hell, I'll drink to that.