from the bakery:
Lent and my ticket to hell
By David Baker
February 8, 2008 | Lent is a really good excuse for
getting out of things you don't want to do.
For those that don't know about Lent -- which seems
pretty improbable, but what the hell, some people don't
know who the first president of the U.S. was -- it's
the 40-day period before Easter that represents the
time Jesus spent in the desert being tempted and means
people are supposed to fast and give something of importance
Basically, it's awful.
It won't be this year, because I've figured it out.
If you don't want to do something, eat something or
whatever, just say you're giving it up for Lent.
Things I may be giving up for Lent: Homework, underwear,
conversations with stupid people, Jerry Bruckheimer
movies, tact and courtesy, sobriety, work, using indoor
plumbing, paying bills, saying hi to people I don't
like, giving high-fives, traffic laws and flossing --
not that I ever floss, so that wouldn't be hard.
In the past, I've given up a variety of things, but
nothing to really inspire me.
One year, I gave up drinking soda -- at least I did
for about 12 days. I don't drink soda, but I do mix
my whiskey with 7UP. After about five glasses or so,
I was more concerned about where I'd left my pants than
Drunken revelry is not cool during Lent. Ideally,
you're supposed to get it all out on Fat Tuesday --
the Tuesday right before Ash Wednesday, which happened
to be this Tuesday -- but it's pretty damn hard to get
drunker than a small Irish town on a Tuesday. Two days
isn't enough time for the week to drag you down into
a funk that only strong drink can cure -- that usually
takes at least three days. So for me, that plan was
screwed from the word go.
Another year, taking into consideration the whole
somber shtick, I gave up drinking beer. Again, only
lasting until that weekend when my knees -- and my will
-- got weak at the sight of a cooler full of nothing
but ice and Bud Light.
The only time I can actually think of me successfully
completing a Lent promise was my freshman year in college.
But it was such a gargantuan feat, I think I should
get credit for a couple bonus Lents for going through
I gave up carnal satisfaction of any kind for the
full 40-day period. Yeah, I'm talking about sex, and
all related matters.
As hard and, in hindsight, as stupid as it was, I
actually made it 42-and-a-half days. That was just a
dumb, dumb, dumb idea. I had my friends worried about
me. They were concerned for my mental and physical health,
so they helped me out by showing me as many erotic images
as possible, putting me in the middle of tempting situations
and laughing about it.
That's what friends are for.
I will never do that again. For one, as a general
principle, you shouldn't turn down sex. That's just
self-defeating and counterproductive. I'm not doing
anything nearly as stupid this year.
There's a special balance between picking something
too hard that you are going to perish without and picking
something too easy that doesn't really mean anything.
I discussed the conundrum with my friend Berto in
a phone call that also brought about my new Lent philosophy.
"What are you giving up for Lent, B?" Berto asked.
"I haven't even thought about it. I really don't know
if I'm going to give up anything."
"You have to, or God will smote you or something."
"I don't have anything I want to give up. I can't
give up sex, because that's just irresponsible. I can't
give up drinking, because Spring Break is during Lent."
"Give up tacos."
"I'd die, B. That's all I ever eat."
"What are you giving up?"
"I don't know, either."
"Give up shaving."
"Maybe showering, too."
"Yeah, your girlfriend would love that."
"I'll just give up doing the dishes. She'll say, 'Come
help me with the dishes.' And I'll say, 'Can't, gave
that up for Lent.'"
"Why don't you just give up work for Lent? Tell your
boss you're on a religion kick and you've given up selling
hats at the mall for Lent."
"Then I wouldn't have enough money to go on Spring
"I'll just give up wearing a sock on my left foot.
That way I can get two days out of a pair of socks.
And I won't have to do as much laundry, which will save
"That's a good idea. I think I'm just giving up sweets.
I don't eat candy anyways, so it won't be hard to give
"What happens if you don't make it? Is God going to
come down and smote you or something?"
"It's not really that dramatic. It's more of a goal.
Like a self-help thing. There's not really any consequences
that I know of."
So it's settled, I'm not going to eat sweets - except
for chewing gum and the occasional mint - for 40 days.
I figure this way, I can just use that as my excuse
when people ask me why I don't want some cookies or
something. Instead of having to bother them with healthy-eating-habits
talk and diet rigmarole -- stuff nobody wants to hear
-- I can just say I'm giving sweets up for Lent.
And if I can't do it, who cares. There's no consequences,
really. Some may say, "Well, young man, there are consequences
in the after life."
To those people, I say, "Thank you for your concern,"
because I didn't give up politeness for Lent. But I
would also say if you are making light of the somber
season of Lent, punishment for eating sweets is probably
not the biggest of my afterlife-related worries.
If there's one thing I'd never give up for Lent, it's
sarcasm and laughter.