I fear the New Year's resolution's extinction. I blame the trial lawyers. Once upon a time, January 1witnessed untold vows for those
standard physical improvements. Millions promised, after the revelry ended, to diet until they could wear their wedding clothing
once again or Oprah's size 10 Calvin Kleins. Others dabbled in exercise covenants, vowing to train until they could jog without
involving paramedics. Now we sit back in our heft in our sedentary recliners and command the trial lawyers to sue McDonald's.
Nabisco and Oreos are next.
Victim hood breeds slackers. January resolutions seem trite in a world of self-control through prescriptions and stomach staples.
The DSM manual will announce a new disorder, "Millions of Americans suffer from the anxiety of FRD (Failed Resolution Disorder)."
FRD will be a new defense, "My killing spree sprung from the pent-up rage of FRD." Then Time magazine will find some crackpot to
say FRD is genetic, and we will have to find a new name for New Year's Day because couch potatoes in Yonkers and Alamogordo
are offended by the suggestion of self-disciplined new beginnings. Happy Continuum!
The January resolution teeters because the masses won't give an inch toward self-improvement. What is man if not born to conquer
the couch and calories? I, therefore, resolve to restore the world's resolve. Herewith, I offer 3 resolutions for the minimalist that
would enrich the fabric of society. I do not strike a deal with the devil, but I am willing to navigate underworld currents for the sake of
civilization's advancement, something that owes a bit to the annual resolution.
1. Pregnant women everywhere, please buy, borrow, beg or steal MATERNITY CLOTHES, and wear them. I lunge into moral
relativism here because the cause warrants. No more tube tops, tank tops, or toddler T-shirts during pregnancy. No more Kate
Hudson or Kelly Ripka belly o' baby staring at me from tabloids. What possesses pregnant women to don shirts that could not
reach their navels under the best of the Atkins diets? Scantily-clad second- and third-trimester damsels provide far more information
than we need. We get it. You're pregnant. You're proud. But, conceal those bellies.
2. Speaking of Atkins, no more. I cannot abide another book on low carbs, South Beach diets or eat-nothing-but-bacon. Go forth,
eat your chunks of chicken and breadless diets and be still. Man does not live by bread alone, but he does require a slice now and
then. These diets are not working. Americans have never been heavier. Join with Subway, Jared, and me and stop the low carb
chatter. I'd call for a halt to the low-carb diets, but that would involve eating a normal, healthy diet, an order too tall for recovering
slackers and resolution restoration.
3. Speaking of . . . language. I have not barked about idiotic idioms since the days of shifting paradigms, proactive actions,
value-added values, and win-win wins. New irritating idioms have evolved and must be stopped before people begin putting air
quotations about them.
No more "at the end of the day." "At the end of the day," is TV pundit language and a Democratic strategist phrase. Its
translation: once we fast-forward through all the scandals and negative information, we hope no one remembers a thing about
them. There were many "ends of the day" during the Clinton administration.
No more "real time." Blame Rumsfield's military for this one. Real time as opposed to fake time? As opposed to dress
rehearsals? Except for Joe Klein, the reporter/analyst who believes Howard Dean can beat Bush (at the end of the day), and Al
Gore who has not seen reality since inventing the Internet, we are always in real time.
While we are fixing time references, no more 24/7. The 24/7 dot-comers lost their shirts in the market crash. Being able to do
anything 24 hours per day/7 days per week finds you broke and working at a Starbucks in Seattle.
No more "thinking out of the box." Arthur Andersen is no more and other accounting firms are sweating bullets and paying millions
because their financial reports were outside the box. Accounting is the box. There are debits and there are credits; ne'er the twain
shall meet, and especially not in the Cayman Islands, a place not even near the box.
Speaking of thinking, no more critical such. Thinking is, by definition, critical, or it is not thinking. I am willing to expend
government funds for counseling and curing teachers who list "Develop critical thinking skills" on their syllabi. For college and
university officials who demand such of teachers and professors, the death penalty seems fair.
No more, "To be honest with you." As my friend Tim Koegel says, "What on earth does that mean? That the person speaking was
lying to you up until now?" One can speak candidly or frankly for a change of pace, but switching gears to honesty gives us pause.
And just to clarify, "To be perfectly honest with you. . ." goes too. Honesty has degrees?
2004 - a time for preserving the new year's resolution. A time for reassurance that we can do it! A time for keeping those bellies
inside the box. Low carbers, we need quiet, and, to be perfectly honest with you, at the end of the day, I expect 24/7 real time
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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State
University. Send your comments by clicking here.