There are some people for whom a jigger of Johnny Walker is lethal. One sniff, one sip, and they’re in trouble because one sip must always follow with a second, third, and fiftieth. I know from whence I speak. My dad was a serious (Hemingway-style) alcoholic…not the funny kind you sometimes see on TV. But this isn’t about him. We’ve all heard of alcoholics anonymous…probably seen the movie Lost Weekend way back when, and most likely we have a friend or two…or relative, whom we quietly wonder about.
Sooo…what’s this article about? It’s not about the usual addictions, tobacco, booze, drugs, gambling. It’s about some of the other…”cute” addictions that we joke about and wink at each other over. Me? I smile naughtily when my wife brings home one of those packages of slice-and-bake cookies. I’m not fat, but if she brought home a package every night, I probably would be. There’s something really special to me about warm chocolate chip cookies, the melted chocolate inside, the glass of cold milk just waiting. It makes no logical sense to me to have one warm cookie and then let the others get cold. It seems cruel to them like…cookie abuse. No…they must all be consumed…while they’re still warm. The poor babies… There has to be some very strange gene inside my head that fires when someone is unwrapping a log of slice ‘n bake.
Okay…chuckle chuckle. It’s really funny when it’s the other guy, but the list is more insidious than you might think. And it’s possible I just may wander into one that strikes closer to home than you might like.
Sexaholics: When Pamela accompanied me (8.5 months pregnant at the time) to Yokota AFB, Tokyo, Japan, it was eye-opening in myriad ways. Styles, customs…getting jammed onto the subway with wooden planks to make sure the doors would close. Thinking a restaurant was a pet store with all the snakes and things running around in the window. But some of the oddest behavior, we saw unfolded on-base, not off. One couple, in particular, very nice folks, smart, witty, good-looking, good dancers… After a while a pattern began to emerge that the gal (a terrific mother, by the way) had an insatiable appetite for men…any men. It didn’t even seem to be premeditated. She was a nice gal, not an evil bitch-woman. But she’d run into some guy and he was toast. Pam and I started to hide. Eventually their marriage was toast…that was bound to happen, and the odd thing was that, in every single other way, this was a smart, funny, sensitive gal. Two ganglion in her brain seemed to have gotten disconnected..or possibly misconnected. She was by every measure a sexaholic. But by every other measure a good mom, and actually a nice person.
Performing: In discussing this topic of addictions this morning I had an interesting (and enlightening) discussion with Pamela, a person I’ve whispered, “nite-nite” to close to 20,000 times so far. I asked her if she had ever had an addiction and she answered instantaneously. “Yes.” Pamela began ballet dancing at the tender age of three. She doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t addicted but she mentioned something about there having been a study and the hyper-kinetic exercise caused the body to dose itself with small doses of morphine. She said she’d get into a nice zone when hyper-exercising and couldn’t wait to get back to it. Is that addiction? Yeah, it actually is, particularly if it were to disrupt other parts of your life. This could be compared to runner’s high.
My Mom was a concert pianist: Tours, Carnegie Hall, and….8 hours+ a day for all the days that I remember growing up. It’s just…what she did. She practiced relentlessly, meticulously, loudly, softly, and…never seemed to stop. Was she an addict? She’s not around to ask, but I suspect, knowing her, she would chuckle provocatively and say, “Well, of course, dear. I’m a pianist.”
Can someone become addicted to religion? I speak, not with authority so much as someone who has been a keen observer. Many, perhaps most of our friends are religious to some extent. One or two over the years…well, really only one stood out as having taken it to a new and to others a scary level. Church once a week is pretty normal. Twice a week is sorta normal, too. Three times? Five times? How ’bout seven times a week and often more? If that couple had somehow morphed into kinder and kinder and more compassionate people, I would have thought, “Well…they might be onto something,” but quite the opposite thing began happening. The word is, prosletysing and even the Bible suggests you’re not supposed to engage in it. Essentially, it came down to a show-down. You join with us or you’re toast…and you, Henry and Pam, are going to hell. It seemed a bit extreme, considering our fairly moderate, fairly middle-of-the-road existence.
iPads? An Addiction??? Having said all this, and having pointed fingers at kids eternally on their cell phones, I noticed lately that Pamela and I are on our twin iPads…a whole lot. I can rationalize the addiction pretty easily. I go onto this device and I learn…a LOT. Every day. I’m finished with the New York Times by 5:30 am and on Flipboard, Zite, Jezebel, Huff Post etc. (conglomerations of apps I’ve pre-chosen). I know how fast the latest electric Tesla can go. I know the 27 steps to a better life, the 14 things you need to know about tipping, the 7 best positions in bed…God, all those stats, it’s hard to keep up. Amusing? Mildly. Scary? Yeah, a bit. The question arises: Can there be too much of a good thing..even in keeping up with what’s current? I have a sneaking suspicion there can.
Ahhh, you say, but YOU don’t have any addictions do you? I don’t have enough paragraph space to cover every possibility but that doesn’t mean you aren’t hooked…in some way. Do you really, really LOVE golf? How ’bout watching football…or maybe your mate watching football? Do you get a little squirrelly when you don’t have a knitting project going on? Do you have any really big collections of things? Songs? coins? stamps? beer mugs? Do you absolutely positively have to get away with just the girls every few days? ….I’m scratching around. If you think about it, you may see that addictions are a bigger part of our lives than just booze and cigarettes.
…S’cuse me. Today is New Year’s day and Pamela just turned on the oven. As I understand it, the new dark chocolate chip cookies with nuggets of peanut butter is just defrosting. Nine to thirteen minutes from now (or until they’re golden brown) I may be back.
At any rate, I hope 2015 will be much better than last year, a year where we got hammered. Happy New Year!