Mardi Gras just passed us by, and after watching youtube footage of some people lifting their shirts, I have involuntarily given up sight for Lent. I don’t know who produces Nip/Tuck, but I think they hosted Fat Tuesday as a casting call for various “before” pictures. If you celebrated Fat Tuesday, I hope the hangover leaves soon. After all, the day after is Ash Wednesday, not I Feel Like Ass Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday, of course, brings us into Lent, the 40-day period before Easter. Lent begins at different times every year. Sometimes it’s in April. In other years it comes earlier because the Pope saw his shadow. I’m pretty sure that’s how they determine it.

To get the full Lent experience, you have to give up something, and before you tell people what it is, be prepared for them to guess “chocolate”. I never understood why people think that’s a good guess. Is there something about chocolate that makes people think it would be the ultimate sacrifice? Death would be the ultimate sacrifice. We can all agree on that. But I guess some people think chocolate is the obvious runner-up. Maybe they think the church should somehow make a holiday about it.

“You going to Mass today?”
“It’s Thursday.”
“Yeah, but today we celebrate when Mary gave up chocolate for two months.”
“I’ll get my rosary.”

This Lent, I chose to give up drinking. That’s right, people. I’m 35, and giving up drinking is something I’ve considered for 22 years now. And now it’s time I committed to it. My friends think it’s a huge sacrifice, and they also think it’s their duty to tempt me into breaking that promise. Well, they don’t so much want me to break the promise, but they immediately act like expert theologians in a vain effort to twist the rules of Lent, at which point the only response is sarcasm.

“Dude…you really gave up drinking for Lent?”
“Yep. Not a drop til after Easter.”
“Weekends don’t count, right?”
“Yeah, you got it, it’s just like a T-Mobile contract. I gave up drinking, but I can do it on weekends and nights after 7. Oh, and with any drinking buddies in my Fave Five. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to text message a confession to my priest.”

The decision actually wasn’t that difficult because drinking is an expensive hobby in New York City. When I pay my tabs, sometimes it feels like the bartender forgot to explain the adjustable rate to an underqualified buyer. Now, with all the money I’ll be saving this Lent, I can play countless games of PhotoHunt and TriviaMaster while the bartender ignores me and my free Coke refills. That’s mad money fun!

I’ve already been asked why I didn’t give up coffee. I certainly drink more coffee than alcohol. The answer is simple…coffee helps me work, and alcohol sometimes leads to bad decisions. In other words, coffee is my “thinking juice” and alcohol is my “what was I thinking juice”. And now that alcohol is out of the picture, coffee consumption will certainly go up. Sure I’ll be way too energetic and have eyes like a barn owl, but I won’t be hitting on any girls who are way too energetic and have eyes like a barn owl. You see now? If someone asks if I like ’em “tall” and “grande”, I’d like to be talking about coffee and not women.

So it’s no more alcohol for another few weeks. No problem. I’m sure I’ll be a lot more productive and creative. Besides, since I’m not drinking this Lent, I no longer run the risk of telling a girl that after checking out her ass, I think she should give up chocolate.

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