Aug 19 2008

Cardboard jungle causes smoking

Have you ever, while you were packing into cardboard boxes all your spinster auntly accouterments (I allude to the complete Proust — in French — that you keep on the mantle, as if ; ceramic baby-smoking-a-cig figurine; giant rubber toad; 80’s vintage 4-track w/ gazillion basement recordings on cassette) run out of newspaper? Requiring an emergency run to to the U-Haul depot on Ben White Blvd? On a Saturday?

Admittedly, you are between a rock and a hard place here. If you don’t replenish your packing supplies, your whole Ambitious Plan comes to a grinding halt, at which point all you can do is fester on the lime green recliner, surrounded by cardboard chaos, emitting muffled sobs.

But if you do go the the U-Haul on Ben White Blvd on a Saturday — which U-Haul is, you will discover, held in the highest possible esteem by all other South Austin residents as the most desirable Saturday destination in Central Texas — you will be 48th in a queue of sweaty truck-renters, few of whom possess magnetic personalities, and each of whom requires an extended period of personal quality time with the U-Haulist behind the counter.

To be perfectly accurate, there are two U-Haulists behind the counter, thus two lines of sweaty truck-renters. But, as is required by rent-a-truck law, only one of the U-Haulists possesses sufficient security clearance to operate the top-secret truck-rental computer. This slows transactions down to a maddening trickle, which has the effect of escalating the anxiety amongst the clientèle, who by now are packed in cheek to jowl like hogs to the slaughter. The interminable line, the incompetence of the customer service dudes, the overwrought frenzy of movers who see their security deposits slipping away with each passing minute — you get the picture. U-Haul on a Saturday is like the IndyMac Bank on Failure Day.

If you conclude from the above that I chose, last Saturday when I ran out of wrapping paper, to go to U-Haul rather than sit weeping in my corrugated prison, you are correct. After waiting 25 minutes to spend twenty dollars on two boxes of paper, I dropped one of them in a puddle in the parking lot and was nearly creamed by a speed demon piloting a 17-footer.

Well, my obstreperal lobe blew right then and there, all over the dented hood of some poor schlub’s eggplant-colored Saturn. On the way home, with no internal regulating mechanism to prevent it, an imp of the perverse caused my car to turn in at the Bluebonnet quick shop, where I grabbed a roadie* from the handy ice bin and heard myself utter the most beautiful words in the English language: “pack of Marlboro reds, and make it snappy.”

Four-and-a-half packs later, it is Tuesday, and the self-preservational blaming gas produced by my blown lobe (obstreperone), has begun to kick back in. I have called my oncologist and renewed my date with Chantix. I love Chantix. Apparently there are six or seven people in the world who are not transformed by this anti-smoking drug into homicidal maniacs, and I am one of them.

Meanwhile, did anybody happen to hear a piece on NPR the other day about some Christian weight-loss group’s vilification of fat, and obesity as a moral issue, etc? I can’t find it anywhere on the site now, or, indeed, on the entire World Wide Web, and I’m beginning to think I imagined the whole thing.

See, I was going to tie this all together with a big tirade on the bogus notion of health as a moral issue — how people are always yelling at you to quit smoking or quit eating or quit procrastinating when you should be packing or quit doing anything the doing of which is considered a moral failure, ostensibly out of their concern for your health, but in reality because “health,” in accordance with some convoluted Christian doctrine embedded in the cultural subconscious, has become a kind of yardstick by which conformity within the social order is measured, and how shaming people who are insufficiently obsessed with their cholesterol puts these concern trolls in a morally superior position and creates an underclass of “unhealthies” who have brought it on themselves through their blatant ingestion of Cheetos — but I’m too exhausted from all the delicious smoking. Let’s just say that if you ran into me at the coffeeshop and suggested that my self-indulgent punk rocker lifestyle caused my breast cancer, you wouldn’t be the first. The idea that you, through some assiduously applied, sanctimonious personal health program, can “prevent” cancer, or death, or whatever, and that such practices should win you higher status in your tribe, is a fucking load of crap.


* A roadie is an extra-large can of cheap beer that all Texas quick shops stock on ice right next to the door, thus simplifying the important work of driving drunk.


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  1. goblinbee

    I went to visit an old high school friend one summer who had become a born again Christian. She told me she was in a weight loss program at her church that called itself something like “Losing Pounds For Jesus.”

  2. Karen

    Ooh, Cheetos! and beer! You’re making my mouth water here!

  3. Panic

    Is there not such a thing as a free weekly in the greater Austin area? It’s what I always use while packing.

    but I’m too exhausted from all the delicious smoking.
    I. Love. You.

  4. Twisty

    I love you too, Panic, but I do not love inky smudges from porn ads all over my dishes. I hate U-Haul, but even I must admit that their packing paper is without equal.

  5. Mamasquab

    AMEN SISTER! I’m a bioethicist, and I’ve been making this point–though not nearly as articulately–for years. I. Too. Love. You.

  6. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Crap on a cracker, there are too many variables for health to be a Moral Issue. Anyone who disagrees will have to pry the deep-fried Twinkie I consumed at last week’s county fair from my cold, dead hands. And there is a special place in Dante’s 7th Circle reserved for the smuggest of the self-righteous, the Ex-Smokers.

  7. B. Dagger Lee

    Oh, big bummer, Twisty!

    Moral/ethical systems as codified by religions are founded on the mistaken, grandiose notion that individual actions and agency are the only elements to be taken into consideration when assigning causation—or rather blame. I suspect it’s a manifestation of the way our monkey minds are wired to learn; the fallacy of false cause is wired into us: “I should not have done this or that, because it was followed by badness.” It’s the essence of magical thinking, and the large part of notions of sin or karma.

    I wish the evo-psych theoreticians would get on this, instead of bloviating about made up sex-differences.

  8. Lalock

    You could try going to a print shop that has a web press. The rolls of paper are discarded or sent to recycling once they get low, but there’s usually enough left on the roll to pack a crystal museum’s worth of goods. And, if you ask nicely, they’ll probably give it to you for free.

  9. lawbitch

    Moving would drive anyone over the edge. We don’t have so many “health-conscious” types down on the Gulf Coast. Come on down here to drink and smoke. Remember, though, Baptists don’t recognize each other in the liquor store.

  10. LisaB

    I would say best. post. ever. but that might peg me as an un-healthy. But seriously, thanks for articulating this once and for all, Twisty. Pinot Grigio and Marlboros all around.

  11. Dr. Steph

    Healthism. Wrote my dissertation about it in women’s magazine health messages. Been to papers about “christian weight loss”. Not your imagination.

    And it’s much easier to blame someone for their “failings” than to examine the contributors to ill health: patriarchy, capitalism, economics, etc. etc. etc.

    You’re making me want to smoke. I’ll quell the urge with a nice cold beer after work (one things I miss about grad student life; beer while writing).

  12. Vera

    Funny you should tell this story, because the last time I was stuck in a long line at a U-Haul rental place, I found myself asking, “What would Twisty do?” This was on account of the two U-Haulists behind the counter, who were married and hated each other’s guts. The male half of this pair–who, in this particular U-Haul center, was the one with authority to handle the computer and all the various rental forms–spent about 15 percent of his time actually helping people, and the rest verbally abusing his wife. He explained to everyone in the shop that she was stupid, incompetent, sloppy, incapable of doing anything, deserved to be abandoned, and so on. I am not exaggerating; if anything, his tirade was worse than what I’ve written here. I wanted to cuss him out and stomp away, but I’d already rented the truck (and was working on renting a storage space) before this lout’s abusive behavior began. I also had a gut feeling that anything I could say or do would make the woman’s situation worse. The best I could manage was to catch the woman’s eye and communicate via rolling eyes and raised eyebrows “Your husband is an asshole and you have my sympathy.” It was the best I could do under the circumstances, and it felt so inadequate.

  13. TP

    There are moral distinctions like rape being bad and Dream Whip being good, and then there are random moral dirtbombs scattered throughout our culture that tend to confuse these simple distinctions. The idea that that there is some blame to be assigned to everything and anything is the worst of them. Generally, blaming yourself for anything is the easiest way out for anyone who tires of untying the thousands of threads of causation that bind almost every random result.

    Scientists have been trying for decades, if not centuries, to untie the threads that result in cancer and have come up with nothing but unscientific sensational newspaper articles.

    What I wonder is why is it that we have a hard time accepting that some things Just Happen? We could live in a world where random is an option.

    Talking about moralizing always reminds me that men and men-loving women like to bring up morals as the reason why they shouldn’t curtail their degrading entertainments and pursuits in the sexual arena. These people like to deny that there is nothing bad about being degraded, because it’s not really degrading, and besides it was some other woman who probably loves and deserves it, and anyway it’s just a fantasy, so I should stop moralizing by saying that porn is evil when it’s not.

    So yes, I do have morals. Simple morals, that suchlike rationalizations can’t convince otherwise. Some things are bad and that’s as real as the slap I shall deliver upside the thick head of any porn apologist who whines about morality.

  14. PhysioProf

    Beautiful story! Cheap beer and Marlboro reds go together so wonderfully.

  15. thebewilderness

    I’m glad the Chantix works for you. I’m working up to thinking about considering it.
    In the meanwhile, American Spirit Organics, because even smokers can be self righteous and sanctimonious. Criminy!

  16. Panic

    Oh, good point. Though maybe I like a nice inky, smudge? Or maybe I’m just very, very cheap. I won’t pay for parking either. The things I’ll do not to have to pay someone to stop a car!

    Antoinette Niebieszczanski,
    there is a special place in Dante’s 7th Circle reserved for the smuggest of the self-righteous, the Ex-Smokers.
    Three cheers to you!

  17. narya

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about self-righteous ex-smokers; when I quit (20 years ago this month), I made a vow to avoid becoming one.

    A few years later, I worked with a bunch of recovering junkies (heroin, mostly) and alcoholics, and recognized in a whole ‘nother way just how much of an addiction smoking really is. Gave me lots of useful insight (and, oddly enough, helped me stay quit, because I realized I can’t have A cigarette any more than an alcoholic can have A beer, number one, and, number two, I hated quitting so much–cold turkey, from 3 packs/day to nothing–that I never want to do it again).

    All that said, I’ve learned a lot about quitting smoking, largely by being friends with someone who’s one of the experts in the field and by serving as a group leader and guest speaker for her over the years. Point being, I am happy to share information with people WHO REQUEST IT. Including any of you blamers. But I’m not going to impose it on you, and I am most especially not going to regard your smoking as a moral failure of any kind. I find that kind of blaming to be completely tedious. IBTP for that other kind of blaming, as well.

  18. BadKitty

    What I wonder is why is it that we have a hard time accepting that some things Just Happen? We could live in a world where random is an option.

    Nope, not going to happen. Most people won’t accept “random” because it means that bad things could happen to anyone, which would include themselves. If they believe that bad things only happen to bad people, they can prevent said bad things by being good. See? It’s beautiful logic. Until, of course, something bad happens to them and then they have to do some fancy mental contortions to explain it, like “God is testing me” or some such shit.

    As a fellow resident of Cancer Land, I can’t tell how many times I’ve heard people whisper that so-and-so got cancer because they sinned. In fact, a local asshat of a minister said that during the eulogy of a 39 year old woman who died of breast cancer. I’m sure that was of immense comfort to her family and three small children.

    Personally, I find “random” a lot more comforting than “God hates you and gave you cancer” but then, I don’t believe in god so that point is moot.

  19. phio gistic

    I have been smoking cigars on the weekends and so have undone 47% of my Chantix-aided quitting smoking. I don’t smoke Mon – Thurs, and am in somewhat of a rage at the beginning of every week. This is keeping me from exhibiting any kind of boringly consistent behavior and I highly recommend it to anyone suffering from such.

  20. rabbitwink

    There is a book, wildly popular a few years back called “The Weigh-Down Diet”, which was based on being Godlicious as a weight loss method.

    “please jeebus, let me reziss da twinkie!”

  21. Twisty

    In the NPR piece, one of the Christian weight-losers said something like “Jesus gave up his life for me, the least I can do is give up a brownie for him.”

    What I never understand about this Jesus myth is how it’s supposed to be such a big deal that the guy died for my sins. When clearly he didn’t die at all; he ascended to the right hand of God and immediately began pursuing a brilliant career, in Paradise no less, as the world’s most popular deity. Some sacrifice!

  22. Silence

    Ah, but you see Jesus suffered three agonizing hours of crucifixion for our sakes; that’s why we’re supposed to respect him.

    Of course Judas, who betrayed Jesus and actually set the whole holy campaign into gear, is supposedly suffering eternal damnation for his role in the plot. So, if we reason logically, Judas has actually put a lot more effort into the Christian campaign than Christ has. Therefore, if you’re going to give up brownies for any mythological dead Jewish figures, give them up for Judas. It’s time he got a little credit.

    Personally, I wouldn’t give up brownies for Andrea Dworkin and she has actually done something beneficial for me and my kind.

  23. mir

    I think mean-spirited healthier-than-thou/more-enlightened-than-thouists are made uncomfortable by pleasure. It frightens and tempts them, and they can’t stand to see anyone enjoying themselves, period.

    I smoke. I smoke unabashedly and without guilt- if I must have a vice I will enjoy said vice. Besides, Chantex made me feel lobotomized. Which made me want to smoke. Bad drug, bad bad. Glad it works for you though, Captain F.

  24. blondie

    The idea that you, through some assiduously applied, sanctimonious personal health program, can “prevent” cancer, or death, or whatever, and that such practices should win you higher status in your tribe, is a fucking load of crap.

    You. Fuh. Kin. Rok.

    Anecdotally, the only persons I have known who have had lung cancer were non-smokers (lifelong), and I’ve known plenty of smokers.

    When the disaster strikes, we try to figure out why it happened; so it won’t happen to us. But, sometimes, you just get blasted, and there’s nothing you could do to not get blasted.

  25. blondie

    By the way, this evening, around the gauzy time, I will kick back, light one up, and draw deep in your honor.

  26. Medbh

    I quit smoking 8 days ago after a solid 22 year habit and I am still a cold turkey mess with waves of sickly desire crashing through my body to give in and light up a delicious Parliament Light.
    You can do it, Twisty.
    The whole health=morality is total Puritan bullshit.

  27. greenmayo

    But don’t you see? If we can blame the fatties for everything, we can surreptitiously sneak in our other biases (misogyny, racism, classism)while we’re at it and no one will be the wiser! It’s like the be-all-end-all of blamership! “I’m not discriminating against that person because they are (insert politically incorrect prejudice/bias), I’m hating on them cause they’re fat…it’s for their own good.” Come to think of it, I may be on to something here. Hating people for their own good is basically what religion does! No wonder religious people love bagging on fat people! It must be so delightful to be able to add a new sin to the big long list of things that Jesus hates. Especially when, back in the day, Jesus hated you for being skinny cause it meant you were poor and couldn’t afford food and obviously that meant you must be a sinner to deserve such treatment. That Jesus…he changes his mind so much!

  28. Pinko Punko

    best packing paper is the reams of rain forest Crate and Barrel shoves into a giant box containing one wine glass. Or so I’ve heard. You know.

    Somebody told me a Chantix story backchannel and if their front channel internet behavior was any indication, YIKES.

    I’m glad it works for those of a jaundiced eye.

    Question: has TF or any Blamers seen the 1933 film Female? I saw it last night at a certain revival house. I don’t know if it shows on TMC. A giant advertisement for Patriarchy, yet some decidedly subversive notes. Some good lines for sure. It was pre-code so it had some unexpected stuff.

  29. speedbudget

    mmmmmmmmmmm Parliament Lights….

  30. Sylvanite

    Your story just reminds me of how asinine PA’s liquor laws are. Yes, I can’t go to a grocery store to buy beer, much less a beer. No, I’ve either got to go to a beer distributor and buy a whole case, or pay through the nose to buy at an establishment that’s licensed to sell single beers or sixpacks. I drink Magical Fairy Beer (aka lambic), so a case is expensive. Letting the yeast colonize the mash all by itself not only takes a while, but apparently it has to be magical Belgian yeast, so, expensive. All this trouble to buy something that’s legal thanks to moralizing and the dubious concept of “sin.”

  31. ashley

    I kind of wished you had vlogged that..

  32. Jezebella

    Ah, yes, the healthier-than-thou. Eff them, and their righteousness, for the “healthy=moral” crowd are profoundly able-ist, not to mention smug and irritating in a concern-troll kind of way.

    I do not look forward to the day I get some loath cancer or other smoking-related ailment and some ass-hat tells me I brought it on myself. I get lots of congratulations for having quit (with Chantix, even, which gave me crazy-ass dreams), but I have no doubt those congrats would fade and become wagging fingers if I got sick. I have gotten no congratulations, however, for the fifteen pounds I’ve packed on since quitting smoking. Food, it tastes good. Who knew?

  33. jael

    i can’t get over how vile it is when someone smokes in between courses inside a restaurant. and then i feel bad, cause i inflicted the same on others, often. Way, way to often. that was my favorite cigarette, that one between main and desert.

    followed in close order by the end of the meal cigarette; mid afternoon cigarettes 2, 3 and 4; the i just got to work cigarette; the morning coffee cigarette… actually; i don’t’ think there was a cigarette i ever met i didn’t like. except vinataba red. smoking horsehair is more gratifying.

    and the quitting was accidental! i took a meditation course. 10 days. No nuttin’ – meat, smoking, talking, what have you. And since then? I’ve not desired to have a cigarette. I mean, truly. And i had no intention of not smoking. I enjoyed my three packs a day enormously. Magic, really. My good fortune amazes me whenever I think of it.

    Jez, you are totally correct; food does taaste good; it is so much more delicious than I ever thought it could be. And the lung capacity? Who could have guessed your lungs can hold that much air. It’s quite extraordinary.

    As for the Christian weightloss – I know of a group called “tidying god’s temple”. Your body being god’s temple, where your husband gets to worship. You gotta keep it in order; much like your house. Tidy. And containing children.

  34. kbro

    Screw the “health conscious crap. I smoke and drink and am fat (according to the US Gov). When my Nigel started worrying about how we should stop smoking, at first I ground my teeth and felt like I SHOULD want to stop smoking. I finally realized I don’t want to and informed him of such.
    In my job it’s the only way to get any fresh air. Plus, you meet people ~ we are all outcasts from society because we smoke and are funneled into a specific smoking area where you light up and cast your eye about for someone interesting to talk to. Airports are the most fun. I travel a lot and go to dreary conferences and meetings…guess who are the people who all know each other? Yup – the smokers.

  35. sevanetta

    Thanks Twisty. I am contemplating moving to East Timor (from somewhere on the southern end of Australia – which means dry cold climate to humid tropical) and your posts about moving make me feel better that someone else is having the same stresses! Moving sux no matter where you’re going from or to. If only I had a lime green recliner to collapse, weeping, into. I suppose if I did it would cost a bazillion dollars to ship to Dili, though.

  36. Cat Ion

    Someone much smarter than I (and I’m much too lazy to look it up) said that people nowadays have the same attitude towards fatness that the Victorians had towards sex.

  37. ElizaN

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s deep-fried Twinkie. No matter how good it sounds.

  38. the little one

    I just wish I was one of those people who could have a delicious Parliment occasionally. I quite often convince myself that I can and then quite quickly I’m up to several a day again. I also wish I was one of those people who could smoke with no ill health effects. As others have indicated, they do exist! I’m just not one of them. Hell, I thought those already referred to American Spirit Organics would be the cigs I could do. Nope. Sucks. I want cigs. So far 8 days without though.

  39. Lar

    When I was 19 I became the third person in my family (of four) to have cancer. I lost my mother to cancer a year later. So needless to say it bugs the hell out of me when people resort to pointing the blame at cancer patients for their illness (i.e. “They’ve done something unhealthy or made God angry to deserve this punishment.”).
    I think the “it was your fault and it’ll never happen to me” mentality is a big set back in cancer awareness. I was 19 and lived a pretty healthy lifestyle and I still got it.
    This health = morality thing seems like just another witch hunt to me – “Let’s villainize people for petty or imaginary differences to distract people from the real villains.”

    Twisty, I adore your writing style.

  40. keshmeshi

    Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, although is conspicuously absent from the Bible itself.

    Someone much smarter than I (and I’m much too lazy to look it up) said that people nowadays have the same attitude towards fatness that the Victorians had towards sex.

    Makes sense, food and eating have been associated with sex for ages, and Americans are still uptight about sex, especially the nondegrading kind.

  41. slythwolf

    This is the best I can figure out about the whole Jesus thing: Jesus never did anything wrong, or something, and yet some bad stuff still happened to him. For this the rest of us owe him our eternal worship. By that logic we should all be worshiping tiny babies who die of horrible diseases. They haven’t done anything wrong either.

  42. Windstorm

    Love the Rev. B. Dagger Lee’s “our monkey minds are wired to learn; the fallacy of false cause is wired into us: “I should not have done this or that, because it was followed by badness.” It’s the essence of magical thinking…”

    Also – It’s just amazing that the Puritan ethic is still so pervasive in our melting pot culture. It’s all over the place. Very weird.

  43. VinaigretteGirl

    It is possible to exacerbate one’s genetic predisposition to a given cancer through behavioural choices. They won’t be the sole factors in activating that genetic expression, though; and multi-factorial causes are “too hard” for Teh Peeplez Branes, no?

    Given that cigarettes have over 40 different chemicals in them of which at least 30 are known carcinogens, and that smoking is now found to be a likely contributing factor in bladder and cervical cancer, it’s maybe not a brilliant idea as ideas go. Sadly, we women also tend to be less responsive to currently-available treatments for lung cancer, and it is a more virulent cancer in us than in men. So yeah, I’m not into blaming people for smoking, but I won’t go along with saying “oh, yeah, smoking is good because it brings the person doing it so much pleasure”. We don’t exist in isolation.

    It is possible to decide to spend less money on food one doesn’t need and give the “extra” to $charity; one might cast that equation as a moral choice.

    But all this is *your* business, and not good material for other people’s moral judgement calls.

  44. saltyC

    The deans of conformity will violate all manner of common consideration and empathy in the name of “health” and “well-being”.

    I just keep seeing the pressure to conform rising in the U.S., in the name of making us happy, happy sheep. And the worst conformity police are not even christians; they’re psychologists. Flame away.

  45. Lala

    Thank you for reminding me why I read your blog regularly. *goes off to light up up again*

  46. Joselle Palacios

    Awesome. I actually am health-conscious but that’s because I care about how I feel NOW. I don’t care about nor can I control how I’ll feel at 40, 50, 90, whatever. I don’t like to delay gratification. If I don’t workout and eat some greens, I feel like shit NOW. Also, if I don’t do yoga and other stretches, my repetitive strain injuries gets the better of me. I also love eating junk food and being lazy and surfing the net (hence my withered hands) and if all I did was “be healthy”, I’d want to do die.

    My mother is a nurse oncologist and I can’t tell you how many times she’ll tell me about a 27 year old nonsmoking sweet mother of 2 who is dying of head and neck cancer. My uncle was a smoker and died of lung cancer in his 50’s. My dog, who I stopped giving dog food to over 10 years ago so he would live longer, has thyroid cancer at the age of 14. My grandfather died of heart disease when he was almost 90. There are 5 year old children who die of leukemia. It’s all tragic, hard, and completely OKAY, not to mention inevitable, to get sick and to die. Fuck those people who shame those with illnesses by saying their personalities caused it. That’s just evil.

  47. SolNiger@gmail.com

    Speaking of smoking, my friend’s feminist mom gave her a lighter that said “Women who want to be equal to men lack ambition.”

    Reason enough for me to light up a cigar.

  48. Cathy

    Twisty, my sweet saint of a sister-in-law has cancer, and no one takes better care of herself than she does. No junk, everything organic, light drinker of wine. She has access to the healthiest food anywhere and does not smoke. The thought that some Christian might say “God is punishing her” (for what – not going to church?) makes me furious.

  49. Amananta

    I doubt you imagined it. Twenty years ago while I was growing up my 135 pound frame was relentlessly criticized by my mother and our church taught that fatness was caused by gluttony, which was a sin – therefore fat people were sinners. The weight charts of the time said I “ought” to weigh 120, so at 13 I became anorexic for Jesus. Anorexics for Jesus get a lot of praise from their churches.

  50. Amananta

    Oh and:

    “Ah, but you see Jesus suffered three agonizing hours of crucifixion for our sakes; that’s why we’re supposed to respect him.”

    Well I personally went through 12 hours of agonizing labor during which me and the kid almost died – yet somehow I don’t get worshiped or respected for it, just lambasted for being an impoverished single mom, how disgusting that I decided to breed and be a burden on society, no pain relief or compassionate aftercare for you!
    If three hours of suffering is enough to make one ancient Jewish man god, every mother who died in childbirth through the ages should have a religion that follows her.

  51. Luo Lin

    I think I heard part of that piece too. If so, it was KUT’s “Best of Public Radio,” not one of the NPR shows. I think they introduced the religious dieters as examples of the general craziness about weight in the United States.

  52. saltyC

    But Amananta, nobody told you to be so irresponsible as to raise your child yourself. Don’t you know, poor people are supposed to give their children for rich celebrities to adopt so they get a decent shot at becoming jet-setting Green embassidors for the Earth.

  53. Jeni

    Great post! In college, I spent a lot of time in Montana, where it seemed like the open container law was “one must carry an open container of Coors Light in one’s hand whilst driving”. It was awesome.

  54. Barbara P


    I cannot believe this hasn’t been said before (or maybe it has, but I never heard it):

    “Hating people for their own good is basically what religion does!”

    Very nice summary!

  55. cafesiren

    First of all, this is why you still need your secretary, Phil. He can stand in line at the U-Haul for you.

    Second, I recently started smoking again, and I *Hate* it. I wish I could blame the patriarchy for it, but this one is all my fault.

  56. panoptical

    Was that the one that included the comparison to euthanasia? As in, Christians don’t believe in suicide, which is what eating too much supposedly amounts to? I was listening at work and my coworkers wanted to know why I kept muttering “stupid godbags” while it was on. At least it wasn’t as bad as the next piece on NPR, which was about the “controversy” over the Olympic women’s beach volleyball uniforms. Ugh.

  57. RadFemHedonist

    I do think smoking is bad for one’s health, but I don’t blame people for getting cancer.

  58. Pontiste

    Personally, I wouldn’t give up brownies for Andrea Dworkin and she has actually done something beneficial for me and my kind.

    Silence, thank you for that! It’s a wonderful little gem that I’m going to put in my pocket and take out throughout the day whenever I need a chuckle.

  59. Twisty

    Cafesiren, because it is the dominant social order, and therefore inescapable, there is literally nothing you can’t blame on the patriarchy. The tobacco industry is a perfect example of the megatheocorporatocracy in action. As a result of its marketing efforts, you can no more help smoking than wearing a shirt in public.

  60. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My brother-in-law died of metastatic lung cancer at the ripe old age of 62. He was a lifelong smoker, BUT he had an extensive family history and worked in a foundry for a lifetime before OSHA took effect. I’m no research scientist, but from where I’m sitting, you pays your money, you takes your chances.

    And nothing used to anger me more than the happy-talkers who claimed that people “choose” their illnesses. (I remember them surfacing around the time a boat-load of my friends were dying of AIDS almost before it had a name.) What a load of hooey.

  61. narya

    Actually, part of the reason I quit smoking, lo those many years ago, was precisely because I had gotten damn sick and tired of cigarette company advertising, and their pretending that their product doesn’t cause all manner of disease, and I was tired of lending my support to the industry. And, because I’m weird, another reason was because I realized just how addicted I was, and I was getting tired of so much of my life being ruled by that addiction.

    I realize these are not normal reasons. And I also do not Blame individual smokers. I still BTP.

  62. ma'am

    This idea (that you are to blame for whatever cancer or sickness may ultimately get you) is simply because the average schmuck cannot deal with the idea that they are going to die. I lost my dad last year. He smoked. His brother is thoroughly convinced that smoking was the cause, as if Big Bad Death isn’t coming to get him too.

  63. Cimorene

    “Crap on a cracker, there are too many variables for health to be a Moral Issue. Anyone who disagrees will have to pry the deep-fried Twinkie I consumed at last week’s county fair from my cold, dead hands. ”

    No offense, but that’s just disgusting.

    The deep fried Oreos were sooooo much better. Only problem is they don’t sell ice cold milk by the glass at county fairs. Curses!

    And now I’m really craving some hot mushy oreo mush fried dough dipped in chocolate sauce. Ahhhh.

  64. peggynature

    I have only one thing to say to you, Twisty, and it is that I love you ardently.

  65. Theriomorph

    Echo the I. Love. You.

    And thanks, I needed that today: have spent the entire week interacting with people straight out of the ’50’s for a class I’m teaching this year at a college where the students are pretty great but the entrenched faculty/staff culture is Stepford. The result: wanting to tell the sanctimonious, arrogant, privileged, classist, hypervigilant arbiters of other people’s behavior to go have a f*cking cigarette for dog’s sake (preferably right in front of the 600% mark-up Co-op).

    Have a beer, too. Or a pint of ice cream.

    And when you come around to the fact that mortality is inescapable even for you, and cancer is not a moral issue, and in fact judging other people’s behavior will not keep you alive or healthy any longer than you would otherwise, try out some inventive curses. Good and loud.

  66. dizzywhizzy

    I smoke, I love to smoke. In an effort to not support the megatheocracy I have turned to cigs manufactured by Native Americans. Whatever, I am a cowgirls at heart and miss the Marlboro man billboards. I do my part and stay away from the “reds” as much as possible. Someone I care for deeply asked me today “if I was to be diagnosed with the big C would I quit…?” My answer was flippant at best, why stop then. I got to thinking as I continued to shovel manure, that if a diagnosis would make me stop, why not stop before. In my wacked mind I decided that I would either get it or not. With my luck, I would struggle for months (for the gazzilionth time) to quit smoking, be miserable, longing continuously for the catch in my throat as I inhale, and get hit by a tractor trailer. My grandmother smoked forever, (60 years or so) and died peacefully in her sleep. She did have emphysema (sp?)at the end, but still snuck behind the backs of all the peeps that decided they needed to run her life for her. My dad understood that for her, smoking was the bomb. he slipped her a pack once a week. Smoking put her in her happy place. She died at 83 years of age. Love you mucho Yaya

  67. lightly

    Twisty, if you curious about a group of fundies gearing up to call fat immoral, do I have a writer for you.

    Marilynne Richardson is the writer. The book is called (and won’t Twisty love this) The Death of Adam.

    I’m halfway through Richardson’s essay called Prigs and Puritans. She notes that original Puritans didn’t think some things were important enough to be moral issues. John Calvin called them “things indifferent”. Seems to me Christians who want to make dieting a moral issue have gone off the rails even by strict Calvinist standards.

  68. firefall

    Enfin, a post I feel qualified to comment on – you’ll find if you visit the Uhaulists on a Thursday morning, there will be four of them, only one being qualified to rent out a truck, but all of whom are required to assist that one with comment, instruction, and extended stories about their lovelife or lack thereof, so even without any queue at all, the process still takes 25 minutes.

    As for Chantix, I can’t personally say, having given up with other methods, but it certainly raises a tidal wave of depression in my wife when she tries it, so rejoice in your singularity, and make the most of it: and good luck with it.

    As to why give up, eh well … my father was youngest of 13, all of whom smoked heavily (and still do, in the case of the 5 remaining), and of them all, only he has died of smoking-related disease yet (emphysema), so perhaps the odds of cancer may be somewhat skewed: however, knowing my luck, I figure I’ll be the one to even up statistics if I continue.

  69. Dana

    FYI, several people here have mentioned fatness in the context of what you said about health morality, and I found out something interesting not long ago. It seems that fatness is ONLY associated with greater mortality rates IF it is accompanied by diabetes.

    People who are obese are marginally more likely to become type 2 diabetic but only because obesity is ONE symptom of insulin resistance, a precursor condition to type 2. However, you can be skinny and be insulin resistant, and there are plenty of thin people out there with unpleasant symptoms and bad lab values in their futures, and I’m sure they’ll have no frigging idea why. That stuff only happens to *fat* people!

    Just underscores what happens when you scapegoat an entire people and let yourself believe crap just because experts say it. The facts become obscured and of those health factors over which you DO have control, you can’t control them because you don’t know how.

    If I’d known fifteen years ago that the low-fat craze was bullshit and that pasta would destroy my glucose metabolism I would be in a very different place today.

    As for cancer, pollution and the use of hormone mimics in damn near everything we touch are at least as responsible for the increase in cancer rates as anything the sufferers have done in their lives. Once again, obfuscation of the facts is killing people, and of course IBTP for all the pollution going on.

  70. Hedgepig

    I’ve decided this is the place to share my somewhat embarrassing story. Partly because it is such an old thread my contribution may never be read anyway, but also because I think it illustrates how obsessed with weight is our society.
    I have always been skinny. For most of my life I have eaten almost no fresh green veges and fruit, just lots of refined carbs and sugary stuff and meat and potatoes. Of course, all around me I heard the instruction to eat healthily because…wait for it..”you’ll lose weight”. Well I didn’t want to lose weight, I wanted to put it on in the right places so boys would like me. So I kept eating crap and wondered why I spent my whole 20s feeling depressed with no energy and chronic constipation and a raft of other health problems. AND I never grew tits so boys would like me. Meanwhile I had heaps of generously sized friends who ran rings around me in the energy, vitality and life achievement stakes, but society seemed to be telling THEM to change their eating habits, not me.

    Then, quite by accident, I heard about someone who started eating more healthily and FELT BETTER. No mention of weight loss. It was an a-ha moment. So I ate some broccoli, stopped eating pasta and potatoes and a family sized block of Crunch every night and, remarkably, had heaps more energy and felt more cheerful. I still had no tits and boys still didn’t like me, but I’d learnt a valuable lesson. Our society is so obsessed with weight loss that “health” has become synonymous with “thinness”, to the point where one skinny, unhealthy person could get well into adulthood before realising there was a connection between eating rubbish and feeling rubbish.

    Of course, I might just be a tad slow. But I still blame the patriarchy.

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