Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From the Sacred to the Profane

So, what are you giving up for Lent?

I claim no knowledge of what goes on with the other Christian persuasions, but if you grow up Catholic, you’d better have a good answer for that one.

Some people take this quite seriously. Forgoing chewing gum, for example, is their way of suffering right alongside Jesus on that cross. Pious little grade-schoolers stop biting their nails or go cold turkey with the sweets. Or perhaps just the subset of “candy,” or a sub-subset like M&Ms. Adults might swear off alcohol, coffee or cursing, all the while counting the days, hours, seconds until the Resurrection.

Then you've got your Self-Improvers. Every bit as committed as the Sacrificers, these folks take the Gospels a bit more metaphorically. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, Jesus makes these people want to be better men and women. They vow to get to work on time every day. They promise to read to their kids every night. I swear I will stop mocking Lisa Rinna lips.

At best, I only ever half-heartedly dipped my toe in either camp. I might offer to cut, say, canned peas out of my diet. And then donate said languishing cans to the school food drive.

Now I find myself on yet another Ash Wednesday wondering whether this is the year I will make the ultimate sacrifice. What are the big ticket items that will cause me the greatest pain to do without?

  • Photos of my niece and nephew. Connor is 7 months old; Gabrielle is 5 months behind. I live 250 miles away from them both. What would Jesus do? He would open every gosh-darned “Connor Cutie” JPEG-attached-email, print the image and magnetize it to the refrigerator, that’s what.

  • Television. But the Oscars are Sunday. And “Lost” might suddenly start making sense. WWJD? Unless He’s willing to divulge how it is that Jack and Locke are keeping their heads perfectly shaved while Sawyer, Charlie and Sayid grow more hirsute by the day, I’m not compromising here.

  • Exercise. Me and Condi gotta get our daily cardio fix. Now we know how she out-muscled Colin Powell—Ms. Secretary of State hits the gym every day. WWJD? He would beg me not to cede this territory to the Neo-Cons.

  • Cookies. Oh, me loves cookies. I’m not saying I can’t live without them, I’m saying I don’t want to. WWJD? He would say it’s bad enough Sesame Street has Cookie Monster eating vegetables and let me slide with avoiding trans fats.

I wonder what, exactly, is the point of denial, especially if it just makes me cranky. I find it nearly impossible to feel the love for my fellow man in a self-enforced cookie-free zone.

So sacrifice is off the table. Perhaps the Self-Improvers are onto something.

The other day, I was shredding our bank statements and I came across my husband’s credit card bill. I saw how much he paid for my Christmas iPod, which, needless to say, has yet to see the light of day. I am bordering on ingrate. He is threatening to return the gift.

So this is what I'm prepared to do for Lent: I will take the iPod out of its box. I will crack open the user's manual and revel in its gloriously painstaking detail. I will read about the gadget's various buttons and capabilities. I will linger over the diagrams. I will absorb information about functions I have no intention of using. I will not look for corners to cut. I will not throw in the towel if operational instructions include more than five steps. I will not throw anything, period.

I will become the sort of person who enjoys following directions, who doesn't look for easy answers. Who doesn't expect life to be as simple as pressing an "on" button.

And if that fails, I will give up peas.

* * *

The Race Is On

If you remember Team Guido from Season 1, you may equal my fandom for “The Amazing Race.” If you have no idea who won the horrid “Family Edition” of this usually stellar series, ditto.

Last night, the show returned to form. That is, the airport. While the challenges were yawners—helicoptering over Sao Paolo, Brazil, might totally rock for the contestants but had all the drama of a traffic chopper for viewers—all the other key Race elements were present and accounted for. Language barrier (Portuguese is not the same as Spanish)—check. Crowded, chaotic urban streets—check. Death by cab driver—check. Ugly American Syndrome—check and double-check.

This early in the Race, it’s usually impossible to keep the teams straight without resorting to short-hand pejoratives—the gay guys, the old couple, the hippies, the black team (mercifully this time out, not literally the Blacks, as in Family Edition). But our duos proved immensely adept at providing quip-worthy monikers for competitors. Uber-intense Lake is “Scott Peterson,” Danielle and Dani are the “Double Ds” (in every way). I’ve taken to calling we-work-as-little-as-possible Eric and Jeremy the “Horn Dogs.” See “Double Ds.”

Scott Peterson aside, the as yet not-so-sleep-deprived teams kept the gloves on. I tallied four kisses between the old couple (aka Fran and Barry), followed closely by three for the nerds David and Lori. Credit David for perhaps the funniest self-assessment of all time: “I’m really great at taking tests.”

Highlights from the first episode: The Double Ds trying to assemble a motorcycle. When locals proved immune to the charms of their cup size and refused assistance, the gals from Staten Island were forced to abandon the task.

Comic relief via the “Frosties,” a pair of fiftysomething, six-foot sisters. Upon learning Brazil is their destination: “We’ll probably be eating monkey testicles.”

Cabbing it through the streets of Sao Paolo:
Frosty #1: What’s that smell? Did you fart?
Frosty #2: No, it’s the city.

Reaching the helicopter challenge: “Well crap a big load of turds.”

But the best moment of the night went to Fran and Barry, a dead ringer, by the way, for one of the guys from Peter, Paul and Mary. Why is it that the old couples always claim they’ll whip the young ‘uns with their mental ability and then spend hours walking by the clue box? Which is right in front of their eyes. I swear I thought I heard someone yelling, “Meredith.”


Post a Comment

<< Home