Sitting is Killing You But Not Quickly Enough

And other answers to unsolicited questions.

Photo: Jason Eppink/Flickr

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while. And I think I should become a vegan. This is a good decision, right?” — Meatless Mary

That’s definitely a good idea. I admire vegetarians and vegans tremendously, even if I am not one. I have tried it in the past, and I would be a vegetarian or a vegan now. But I’m just too lazy. I don’t know what it is about vegetarians and vegans, I just find them very attractive. Possibly it is their haughty self-regard. Maybe they are not being poisoned by the vengeful bile of deceased animals. Possibly they are just hot. But chances are anyone I am attracted to already is or is thinking of being a vegetarian.

Quitting things, though, is insanely hard. I quit drinking for nine and a half years and it took some getting used to spending Friday nights punching a wall over and over again. Sometimes you can fool yourself into not missing the things you will be missing. If you only eat vegan cheese, the taste of real cheese will fade away from your memory. And be replaced by whatever they make vegan cheese out of. Which, if you pretend it is cheese, will replace what you think cheese tastes like in your memory. We can fool ourselves with all kinds of tricks. I set my alarm clock ahead fifteen minutes like four years ago and I still always think I am late, every damned morning, like some kind of complete moron. Running for the bus in a feverish sprint.

One warning though: you will probably still dream about bacon. I had sobriety dreams all the time where I was like “I should not be drinking this giant bottle of vodka behind this CVS in this dream!” And yet I wouldn’t stop, such is the nefarious nature of sobriety dreaming. You feel like you are flushing all this hard work down the toilet and there’s nothing you can do about it. Then, heaven forbid, you are drunk some night and you eat, like, a rack of ribs. You will feel so guilty about this! Your body was so pure and lithe with goodness and now it is once again poisoned with some kind of delicious barbecue sauce on top. But shame and guilt can be fun things to feel once in a while. Depending on who’s around.

In general, it is a really good idea to experiment with yourself. Drink only Mountain Dew for a month. Join a cult. Whatever you think you should do you should probably do. Just so you can experience it, figure out it’s not that big a deal and get over it. We get these ideas in our heads that if only we became a vegan or got a tattoo then everything else in our lives would fall into place. I have not experienced everything in my life falling into place. But I have experienced meatlessness and getting a tattoo. And I would recommend both of them to everybody. Mix it up! Life is pretty boring, you have to move the deck chairs on the Titanic around. It’s fun to feel like you can make decisions and choices and that life isn’t just spiritual prison in which nothing makes sense and everything you earn will be taken away from you. Try to enjoy your invisible cage.

“I feel so judged now on subways when I manspread. It’s not that I want to make other people uncomfortable, I just do not want to be uncomfortable myself. You know?” — Manspreading Manny

I hear you, Manny. I used to be a terrific manspreader myself. And I feel like we are going extinct. It never occurred to me that my manspreading was bothering anyone else. And usually I give up my seat on the subway practically as a default. Lady with a grocery bag? Giving up my seat. Little kid who’s probably going to fall and break his neck on the subway? Giving up my seat. I don’t even bother to sit down now unless it is like 4 a.m. and I’m the only one who’s on the train.

I am a man with some thighs. And I don’t have tons of junk, but I have enough that I don’t want to sit like an altar boy with my knees together. I’m a sloucher. Whenever I am home I am prone on my couchy thing. If I could get back and forth to the bathroom and refrigerator will lying down I think my weekends would be even more exciting. Could I rig up a hammock on wheels? I will report back when I have perfected this. Manspreading comes from the same impulse as mansplaining possibly. It’s not that I know everything, I just love hearing myself talk. And I like to feel like my opinion matters. Which is why I Iike to turn the volume up on my opinions as loudly as possible. My manspreading is about feeling like my junk matters and it need not be smashed together unless it is really important. Sadly, society has spoken, and both of these proud traditions are going the way of the Spotted Jackalope.

First, let’s blame the subway for not giving everyone enough room. And for not having enough subways. If I designed the subway we’d all be prone in long wonderful hammocks as we were whisked here and there and throughout the land. So don’t blame the manspreader, blame the seatmaker. I’d rather not sit next to anybody! I’d rather the pneumatic tube designs of Futurama would be implemented throughout the city. When are we getting pneumatic tubes? Maybe the seats on subways could have little molded leg holders, to show us how to sit. I am just giving up sitting entirely! Also when you sit next to people they generally are eating a vegan egg salad sandwich or applying eyeliner. People are terrible. Subways are awful and only getting more expensive! And my junk is squooshed. I hope everyone else is happy! Because I’m not! Life is unbearable and much too short.

Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.