GateHouse – I’d like to start this column by arguing that I am not a jerk.
This is, of course, a ridiculous and self-defeating argument, because people who are not jerks do not have to say so. If you were not a jerk, the idea of defending your unjerkitude would never occur to you, because it makes no logical sense. It would be like having to passionately argue that you were not a turnip. You never once heard Mother Teresa start a prayer by saying, “OK, listen, I know I can be totally moody or whatever, but …”
So, really, I’m not a jerk. I pay my bills, I read books to my son (over and over again, too. It’s like, look, I get it, The Very Hungry Caterpillar will turn into a butterfly, I KNOW). I recycle things and I let people merge in from the on-ramps, even when they’re clearly driving as though they recently arrived here from the planet Nincompoop. So once again, that’s Jeff = not jerk. Here, have a brownie.
But that said, and by “that” I mean “those two paragraphs of desperately transparent defensiveness,” I confess that my slick, icepick-cool exterior is shattered when I come across certain national feel-good trends that fit any of the following criteria: It’s endorsed or invented by someone who knows or is Oprah; it involves the purchase of a prohibitively expensive book or DVD; it has something to do with Mitch Albom; someone associated with Hallmark just optioned it into a TV movie; it involves some span of time (“30 Days To…”) and a mostly impossible goal (“… A Scurvy-Free You!”); it is “The Secret” or is something that is basically regifted common sense that you should have known anyway.
But, again, and not to hammer this again, but I’m not a jerk. Seriously, I can’t watch four minutes of “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” without sobbing into my couch pillow like a 6-year-old girl whose poodle was just backed over by a tank. (Once my son caught me doing that, and I had to pretend that I injured myself cleaning my crossbow.)
Anyway, this brings us, in laughably roundabout fashion, to Purple Bracelets. Purple Bracelets are supposed to make you not complain, whine, nag, gossip or whimper, and here’s how: If you are wearing a Purple Bracelet and catch yourself involved in any of the aforementioned venial sins, you remove the Purple Bracelet and put it on the other wrist as a reminder of your malfeasance. That’s right. Wrist-swapping. What, you thought flaming spikes were gonna spring out of them? This is something they have to sell books for. It’s not like it’s a little-wrist version of that albino guy from “The Da Vinci Code.”
See, I think right there I’d have to swap the bracelet, because when I typed that last sentence I thought, jeez, “The Da Vinci Code” movie sucked. So I think that’s a negative thought. Other wrist. Which restarts the clock, which is too bad, because the goal here is to hit 21 days without complaining. Twenty-one days. Twenty. One. Days. At which point you achieve nirvana, I guess. I don’t know about you, but it’s a minor miracle if I can make it through a dinner without whining about about 17 different topics before the salt gets passed. The biggest problem? One of the topics is how long it takes for the salt to get passed. So I clearly either need an entirely new positive mindset, or to immediately decrease my reliance on salt.
Going 21 days without complaining would require each of the following things to happen: I would have to drive nowhere, ever, and if I did I’d have to never turn left, so as not to run into the apparently fierce number of people who don’t know if you turn before or behind the other car; I’d have to never turn on cable news; I’d have to smile and nod warmly at my son when he spills a half-gallon of chocolate milk on my pants; and I am a Cubs fan, so I’d pretty much just have to pretend that baseball doesn’t exist for three weeks, which is actually OK, since I’m a Cubs fan.
So here’s my plan: I’m gonna get the Purple Bracelet, and then spend 21 days complaining about the Purple Bracelet. It won’t make a difference to anybody but me, but at least I can eat my salt.