in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Friday, January 30, 2009

Detox Retox (with a hose in your buttox)

So you’re on a detox. How long’s it gonna last? All year? Yeah right. I know you’ve heard this one before, but detoxes are stupid and they don’t work… The best proof of this? Americans are into them. In Tokyo I used to work with a bunch of off off off off Broadway Americans. Every year around Thanksgiving, most of them would go home to the US of A, returning in early January after Christmas with an improbable tan.

‘A lot of sun in Maine this time of year?’ I would enquire.

‘Oh no!’ Ken would reply, with freshly rinsed enthusiasm, ‘I just got back from Thailand.’

A quick glance around the staff room revealed several other equally tanned specimens. They all had that ‘glow’, which (don’t tell the detoxers) is actually caused by smugness, not brimming health. But they were tan, I will say that, a brown that took on a rather different hue in my widening eyes as Ken explained, blow by blow, the total wash out that was. Some people go to Thailand for the hoes; my co-workers went for the hoses.

‘Man,’ he’d say, ‘you wouldn’t believe the stuff that came out of me.’

Two weeks later, Ken and all the other irrigated Americans were back on the burgers, tucking in and porking up. At this time, Atkins was still the craze diet (so burgers were fine, natch), but there was another woman who was carrot stick deep into a vegan raw foods regime (including for her three year old), and several others on their own private Idaho diet yo yo. Omaha oh my. When I first started working for the company, I’d worry for their health, but gradually I realised that most of these regimens would last about three weeks, after which (metabolism now bruised and confused) they would return, nostrils a-quiver, to the barn-laid, corn-fed bombardments of Electric Weinerland (with extra sauce, and mad isms). Come next thanksgiving? Gobblers are back home for more stuffing. One guy used to yo-yo 30kg over the course of the year. Of course, such stupidities aren’t the exclusive province of Americans, but when you see them in a group, you get to witness the neuroses of the rich West, rendered with a technicolor intensity lacking from the ‘yeah nah yeah’ land we call Oz.

Since returning to yeah nah yeah, I’ve counselled baker’s dozens of January guilt puffs about their detoxing. Never mind insulin, the thing you notice most of all is how fact-resistant detoxers are. The only thing more stubborn than their Christmas kilos is their conviction that they can expunge it all by a weird mixture of abstention, irrigation, guilt, brown rice, and laxatives. You can say ‘just eat and drink in healthy moderation, exercise, get plenty of rest and drink lots of water’, but nobody wants to hear it. Why? More exercise and smaller portions can deal with the kilos, but only the infliction of unpleasantness (foul tasting thistle, growling stomach, spasming cramps) will keep the guilt at bay. People really, really, really want to punish themselves. The only way to feel good about yourself… is to feel bad… Detox, retox, wax on, wax off. Hey, it’s a neat way to live, really. It gives you something to hate and something to look forward to, ‘cos guess what? Next stop on the salvation merry-go-round is sin, and if you still feel guilty, you can smash yourself so hard jacking up fried chicken nico-martinis and transfat-enriched methamphetamine greasewashed tequila bombs that you won’t notice a thing, until the next moaning. Then you can stick a hose up your arse, and feel better.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Well Hungover

If the silly season sucks, at least you know you’re going to get blown out the other end. And here we are, far, far from the pointy end of the year that was only yesterday, last week, or… sometime. It’s difficult to remember. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to remember almost anything. And this is because I am, in seasonal style, well and truly hungover.

Today, the hangover I have given myself is damp, foggy, and right behind my eyeballs. I don’t feel that I’ve been hit by a bludgeoning object so much as I’ve become one myself: man as mallet. The other day, it was a head full of rusty nails scraping down the raw folds of swollen brain meat hard against my temples. A few days before that, I had a hangover that was like a succession of hot knitting needles being pushed in one ear, then pulled out the other. Then there are the throbbers: I had a soft throbber on NYE, and a hard banging throbber on NYD.

In the week before Christmas I twice suffered from a particular favourite: the motion sensing hangover. Turn your head to the left even just a bit too quickly and the suffering comes at you in a surging, rushing toxic lurch. Shake your head in a way that might express emphatic refusal (say, at the sight of another tequila shot, ever), and you’ll be spraying acid-washed technicolour chunks through both nostrils with such great pressure and volume that the stinging stench it leaves in your nose an mouth makes you…. retch again, inducing more shaking, which causes more retching, etc, etc…

Then there are the weird, once in a lifetime hangovers. I had one that was like a massive gas-filled zeppelin inside my head cavity. The engines were on, and it was trying to fly west (the direction of my eyeballs) but, being prevented by the head cavity, was rendered ineffectual, left to buzz and bump its soft head against my tender one with a dull machinic hum. I once had a hangover that didn’t hit until 2 o’clock, and when it did, it was like being bashed by a cucumber (just one decisive blow), with enough force to break it, leaving sticky cucumber juice to trickle down my scalp… until beer o’clock.

But I like hangovers, and not only because they’re almost the only ‘memorable’ things of this time of the year (in that they’re about all I can remember). Why do I like them so much? Well, there are so many things in life where the punishment is deferred, implied, indirect or merely possible. Smoke your whole life, and the odds of cancer are good. But you might be one of the freaks. You probably won’t, but you might. It’s possible. And in the interim, you can kinda sorta kid yourself, kick back, and enjoy one sly fag after another. With anything like this, there is the added need to punish yourself for what you’ve done. You’ve been a very naughty boy; feel bad about yourself for a while. Not so with the hangover. There it is, your head on the plate. No need to feel bad… the hangover will do it for you. It comes on like a curse and passes like a blessing, reminding you with exquisite horror what your wallet already knows: how much you’ve lost, what a fool you were, and how much fun it all was. There there.


The Author

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.