The Day of Living Dangerously

(Originally published in Main Line Life on 1/9/08)

The first week of the New Year. I wake up and feel a pang of nostalgia for the last century – those halcyon days before I discovered that everything I liked to do was either bad for me or destructive to the environment. I am so tired of being good.

Maybe what I need is a day of being completely decadent – an entire day where I will do as I please and feel no guilt about it. I will eat no bran, and nothing with the words “lite” or “heart healthy” on it.

I start out with a huge breakfast. Bacon and fried eggs. A piece of white bread toast with real butter. Coffee with the caffeine still in it. Altogether, I am getting a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I will not go to the gym today. No step class or yoga, no pulse monitoring as I try to reach my aerobic plateau. The most exercise I will get is lifting the remote to change the channels on the television.

Yes, the television. I haven’t watched television during the day in decades. Now I settle in and watch the E Entertainment Channel. I will not watch PBS or CNN. Nothing that will make me think of the many ways the world is catapulting toward disaster. I have a second cup of coffee with real sugar and cream, and head outside in my robe to get the papers. This is something I have never done. I have secretly scoffed at people who shuffle out to get their papers in their pajamas while I am oh-so-sanctimoniously on my morning power walk. Today I will join the sisterhood of those who shuffle.

As I trudge through the brown winter slush in my clunky snow boots, shivering in my robe and pajamas, I fantasize briefly about a previous life I had in southern California, and the good old days when I used to go to the beach coated with baby oil, holding sheets of aluminum foil around my face to get a better tan. Those were carefree days, before SPF # 45 was a way of life.

After getting the breaking news on Brangelina from the E Entertainment News Team (who knew there was such a thing!), I turn off the TV and look for something to read. Nothing heavy though – I will not pick up The Shipping News, which I have been trying to read for over ten years. I decide that reading People magazine is every bit as entertaining as reading about the hard lives of ugly people with boring, desperate lives in a dinky, drab, hardscrabble Newfoundland town, Pulitzer notwithstanding.

All that mindless TV watching and trashy reading, coupled with the cholesterol that is probably by now irreversibly clogging my arteries, is making me sleepy, so I decide to take a nap. I haven’t taken a real nap since 1986, when I used to nap when my children took their naps. Nowadays I am much too busy for naps. I have too many household machines, crucial projects, and important e-mails that require my constant monitoring.

What to do for lunch? I decide to throw caution to the winds and have a burger from a local fast food place. I get the fries too. Grease actually drips down my chin, and I wipe it off with a flourish with the sleeve of my sweatshirt. Usually when I go out to lunch, I order a salad with the dressing on the side.

By now I am feeling rather bloated, but I will not take a walk. Instead I will rent a bunch of movies. I watch Bridges of Madison County, which I never saw when it came out fearing it might cause permanent brain damage. The movies are a great finish for the day, although with all the exploding cars, sex in bath tubs, train crashes, sex in wheat fields, and mutants taking over people’s brains, I am slightly disoriented.

Ah, cocktail hour, which usually consists of a three-ounce class of white wine and a couple of ice cubes. On the day of living dangerously, I can have a real drink. The vodka bottle has dust on it, and tastes slightly like lighter fluid, but I rise to the occasion. What next? A char-broiled steak perhaps? Something fried? A baked potato with butter and sour cream?

Maybe when my husband gets home we’ll play a few rounds of gin rummy, watch American Idol, and not floss.

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