Work Hard

In Atomic Habits, James Clear advises the reader to: “Work hard on the things that come easy.” This is a dangerous proposition for a person like me. I’m a lazy bum. Given the option, I could easily squander the rest of my life stuffing my face with warm chocolate chunk cookies while catching up with Doctors Phil and Oz, along with the ladies of “The View,” “The Real,” and “The Talk.” But this raises a question: Can one “work hard” chomping junk food and nursing from the boob tube all the livelong day? 

First of all, I wouldn’t want to “work hard” eating cookies the way Joey Chestnut crams hotdogs down his gullet. I’ve a real beef with the “sport” of competitive eating. Though, in fairness, if swallowing large quantities of food at record speed with minimal chewing is your calling, your God given gift, your honed-to-perfection skill, then please, do not let me or any other snooty blogger stand in your way.

Which reminds me: The bakery down the street holds an annual paczki eating contest. 

(And before we move on, please, I implore you, use your connections with the Polish government—if you have them—to lay down the law on the correct pronunciation of “paczki.” And if you do not have such connections, please, I implore you, establish them at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much.) 

You will find a panhandler rattling his change cup at the entrance to the aforementioned bakery damn near every day. While it’s likely he can’t afford a decent meal, it’s possible he’s only raising enough scratch for his next bottle of booze. 

(Why is it, by the way, that you’ll never see a panhandler standing outside of the liquor store up the street, but there’s nearly always one or two in front of the bakery? Are alcoholics less charitable than sugarholics?) 

If anybody should enter a paczki eating contest—or an eating contest of any sort—it’s a panhandler. Indeed, those who qualify as “food-insecure” are the only ones we, as a species, as a civilization, should allow to enter a competitive eating contest. 

Aside from the waste of simple nourishment, food that is first and foremost intended to please your tastebuds ought to be savored. Yes, I recognize that the custom of savoring is not currently in fashion, but binging—on anything—is unhealthy. I don’t know about you, but I have only felt guilty, if not hungover, after a binge of any sort. And who enjoys feeling hungover? 

(You’ll hear any burly, beer pounding dude say, “I’m gettin’ drunk tonight!” with manly glee. You’re not likely to hear the same dude say, “I’m gettin’ hungover tomorrow!” with equal enthusiasm. “I’ve been waitin’ all week for a splittin’ headache!” Nope. “Boy, I’ve missed kneelin’ at the porcelain god!” Nuh-uh.) 

On the other hand, you could persuade me to enter a competitive eating contest where the object is to take as much time as possible to relish the dining experience. The comestibles served would have to be so tasty that the contestants feel a ceaseless compulsion to wolf it all down at once. But the last one nibbling—that’s your winner. So, yes, in theory, I suppose I could “work hard” at nibbling delicacies.

Alas, we are impatient beasts. 

(From what I’ve read, the sight of a simple comma, even if properly used, nowadays causes slight, if not considerable, consternation. Worse still, the period itself is becoming passe.) 

(OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE, WILL YOU LET A THOUGHT BUILD FOR ONCE?)

Savoring contests are likely to be few and far between, if at all. Besides, who’d be willing to watch? Ah, here’s a cruel answer: The famished. What’s more, wealthy people might get a kick out of watching the famished watch competitive nibblers. 

(Imagine the bulging eyes, the gaping mouths, the lengths of drool!)

(That is, from the famished, not the wealthy.) 

It’s all a question of marketing. Isn’t every contest a marketing ploy? It’s not simply what you’re selling, it’s who you’re selling to. Who’s your audience? You don’t want to peddle to the famished. If they had money, they’d spend it on food. Right? Well, who knows? Give a panhandler several hundred thousand dollars and maybe he’d shout “YOLO!” and head straight to the nearest Lamborghini dealership. Plenty of people, let alone panhandlers, would probably not describe themselves as pennywise. 

I’ve somewhat strayed from the topic, haven’t I? On the other hand, I’ve heretofore worked hard at meandering and convoluting and effectively wasting your time—which, clearly, at least to me, comes easy. 

My apologies. 

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