With the final day of drunken stumbling through New Orleans, Rio and other Mardi Gras celebrations now upon us, I've got my Fat Tuesday beer cracked as I try to figure out just what I'm going to sacrifice on the alter of personal growth this year for Lent. I know what you're thinking -- I didn't know you are Catholic, Shonda. Well, you would be thinking correctly, I am not Catholic. You see, not long after high school, I periodically helped out at a small, local cafe. While the owner was the only member of Catholicism working there, the other ladies joined in on the tradition. And since I am so clearly someone abundant in self control, I figured I would be a total natural for this Lent shit.
Yeah, I turned out to be wrong about that. I don't really recall what I swore off for those 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, but I do remember it being the Titanic of sacrifice. Sure, it started out with good intentions, but in the end, there was only blood curdling screams and a bunch of hysteria.
In spite of my first Lent being a holy fucking disaster, I've tried it each year since then. In 2002, that super fly Josh Hartnett stared in 40 Days and 40 Nights, a comedy about a young single man giving up the impossible for God -- sex. The first year I was with Rowdy I suggested that I might make this same pledge and he nearly peed his pants from the all consuming laughter. He apparently thinks he's such a Man God or that I'm such a lustful harlot that I couldn't withstand the lure of his loving, even if it were for the Almighty. I thought about attempting it just to prove Rowdy wrong, but then I realized if I were to fail at this, Rowdy would really strut around here like rooster in a hen house. Yeah, that's definitely why I didn't give up the nookie. It's definitely not because I didn't think I couldn't do it. Definitely.
Then one tragic year I gave up cussing. Now, if you've been following this blog any time at all or, if by chance, you've happened to meet me in the real world, you have probably figured out that I have had a long and passionate love affair with all words foul. In fact, I will go far enough to say that I believe that Jesus gave us cuss words in order that we don't freak out and start beating people at random. He told us to turn the other cheek, but he didn't say anything about flipping the bird while you are doing so. Not only that, if I took the cursing out of my vocabulary, it would literally be cut in half. But, I've always loved an under dog, so I tried it anyways. I spent the following 40 days walking around like a mumbling fool, no doubt convincing frightened strangers that I had Turrette's Syndrome or was in the middle of some acid trip gone awry. First, I would accidentally cuss and then I would start scolding myself under my breath. By the end of the day, I would just be walking in circles.
Last year I gave up Wal-Mart, which I know might seem rather silly to you, but hear me out. Since I'm kind of, well, a cheap skate, I hate spending more money than I have to on anything. I knew each time I had to pay an extra $5 for a box of diapers I would be tempted to scurry back out to the super store. But, after a week or so, it became incredibly easy. I felt pretty good about spending my money at locally owned shops and the local stores don't send me into the full blown panic attacks that Wal-Mart seems to.
So now, here we are on Fat Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday, and I still have no freakin' idea what I am going to give up this year. I've kicked around giving up beer. But, as my friend Lyndi who also gives up something explains, you want to pick something that would be a challenge, not a miracle. I think we should leave beer off the list until my darling children have left for college.
I've also thought about giving up coupons. Yes, I'm really that geeky. I'm sure a few of you are giggling or smirking at the thought of that. But, let me tell you, I get as high as a Keith Richards on a three day heroin binder when those snotty teenage clerks tell me that I've saved 80% on my grocery bill. It will be a challenge to squeeze that full price out of my tight ass, but it wouldn't be like the whole Moses parting the Red Sea like forgoing the Bud Lights would be.
I still have a few more hours before I make the final decision. Since I think my blog readers could perhaps be a collection of the most brilliant people on the globe, I want to encourage suggestions from you guys. My clever husband has proposed that I give up bitching at him, you know, for the sake of Jesus. I tried to explain to him that the thing with Lent is suppose to be something you enjoy. He then chuckled and said, "You can't be that good at something you don't enjoy, love."
So, get after it, friends. While you guys are doing that, I'm going to watch our new president address our nation. I think I will take a big swig of beer every time he says the economy. After all, it is Fat Tuesday.