The concept of the New Year’s resolution is a conspiracy made up by skinny people to encourage fat people to kill themselves. It’s bad enough that I feel fat; do I have to feel like a quitter too? After three weeks of heavy drinking, eating and merry-making, we start squinting at ourselves cross-eyed in the bathroom mirror hoping that blurry might equal skinny, we start feeling bad about all the casual sex we had in December and start making vows to remain celibate until February, and we start being nicer to people we once hated as we vow silently to invest in the practice of voodoo. January is the month when everyone in this country, men and women alike, identifies most closely with the literary character of Bridget Jones.
It takes only a short period of time for the apathy to set in and for people to stop exercising, showering, brushing their teeth and being nice to each other in favor of a nice, friendly cigarette and a stiff drink. Every year people vow to quit drinking, quit smoking, lose weight and enjoy life more. I am extremely skeptical about the ability to enjoy life while sober and hungry, which is why I have always been personally opposed to the concept of the resolution. This year, however, I decided to be a bit more open-minded.
Earlier this month, I sat down with a piece of paper, a list of my hopes and dreams kept locked in the music box of my heart and a general nagging feeling of self-hatred and doubt, and I wrote down everything that could possibly be wrong with me in order to decide what I should change. When I looked through the list later over a bottle of vodka, an entire chocolate cake and my burn book, I decided that all of my faults combine to equal one truth: I am a hater.
I hate people who refuse to play tennis unless they are wearing white, I hate people who tell you how they would have done on an exam if they had only done something differently (i.e.: “I would have gotten an A if I had answered number 30 through 60 correctly”), I hate Mountain Dew (for its unnatural color) and nickels (for being dumber versions of quarters). I hate when people say they never watched television as a child (am I supposed to imagine you at home creating the DNA link between orangutans and bunnies? That’s not what I’m imagining. I’m imagining you under your race-car bed masturbating to “The Lord of the Rings” while your parents sit around the breakfast table commenting on how brilliant you are).
I hate guys who play with little children just to get laid — you know like, “Look at me with this little child, oh it loves me, oh it’s so cute, I’m putting a bag over my head and the little child is laughing, oh now she wants to put a bag over her head, isn’t that cute, fuck me while the child is turning blue.” I hate girls who are fooled into thinking a guy might be a good boyfriend because he sticks a plastic bag over a small child’s head.
After spending the whole night making the list, I became deeply depressed wondering how I would ever change this seemingly integral and hateful part of my personality, and then it struck me: a resolution is a promise you never intended to keep.
For instance, George W. Bush might resolve to end the war in Iraq.
A resolution is something to tell others in order to appear to be more self-aware. Your resolution says a lot about you. You could even say that a person’s resolution is a window into their soul, if you were the kind of person who said things like that, which I am not.
If you resolved to “get skinny” in the New Year, you probably don’t have enough homework this semester or else you are desperately in love with a man who constantly points at pictures of starving children and says, “That’s hot.” If you resolved to “quit smoking” in the New Year, you also made a quiet resolution to yourself to start drinking more to fill the void. If you vowed to “enjoy life more,” it probably means that you were embarrassed to write, “get drunk and hook up with nameless hotties.” You may tell people that you plan to read more Kundera and Tolstoy or occasionally take a long bath instead of a shower, but I’m on to you.
Why should we keep kidding ourselves? Why do we make resolutions so that we can tell other people about them? And why does the arbitrary changing of a last-digit number (“Oh my God, look, I’m writing ’07 instead of ’06, this is WILD!”) give us free reign to become completely different people? To be honest, I liked my friends when they were fat, mean, drunk and smoking. Do I have to suffer through the self-improvement of January just to get back to the good old days?
Every time someone tells me about a resolution they’ve made, I have a flash-forward to a reunion many years from now where some man whom I once would have climbed a drain pipe just to see or scaled the shelves of Gourmet Heaven if he asked, will stand before me with a round belly almost touching mine, and a head of dubiously well-placed “hair” and tell me that he has resolved to start exercising and spend more time with his kids. (I have a vivid imagination, I didn’t watch TV as a child.)
This year I’m going to make a promise that I can keep. My resolution is to “not die” so that maybe in the future, I will be able to understand the art of the resolution. In the meantime, I will focus my efforts fully on not dying and if I succeed, I can feel great about my ability to follow through, and if I do not succeed … oh well, at least I tried.
Eli Clark loves to sit alone on a pile of empty vodka bottles contemplating subjects of great importance.