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.

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