March 17, 2010

I became overly strategic about my pants selection

I collect magazines. I'm addicted to them which sucks for my wallet because they're expensive if you don't have a subscription. I go through phases ... except I don't really want to call it a phase because phase indicates temporary and I never plan to move on. So we'll just say, that right now I'm reading Esquire and I love it. A year's (or two, or three ...) worth of issues will soon join Teen People, Teen Vogue, NYLON, Paper, Vanity Fair, GQ, Adoptive Families, ADDitude's (proud former intern!), Rolling Stone, TIME and many others on my shelves. I've never really read an issue of Esquire in its entirety until the March 2010 issue (hopefully this doesn't work against me considering I recently applied for its summer editorial internship ... think they'll find this? Eek). It is brilliant.

This post's excerpts will come from "Doing Without," which I almost don't want to link to because the Web site doesn't do the editorial spread's minimal, but fitting, design justice. It intelligently complements the point David Granger makes in his editor's letter (which I'll get to later). It's a better experience if you can read this one in your hands (not with the iPad) than from the screen and if you're lucky you can still get your hands on one (the April 2010 issue was released today).

So, seven Esquire writers were each given one (pretty essential) thing to go a month without.

Drinking, David Granger
"You've grown used to relishing the anticipation of the first one. The first drink is the one you've been waiting for, and it's just plain weird the first few times you deny it to yourself. In fact, the most difficult thing is not not drinking; it's saying to the bartender, "Club soda on ice, with a piece of lime." It's a little embarrassing."

E-mail, Peter Martin
"Then there were the inconveniences. Having to call our office assistant just to tell her that we were out of dish soap felt silly - and kind of dickish. I learned that Web links were never meant to be read over the phone. And one thing I didn't realize until I showed up at an office three hours early for a meeting: E-mails are really important as a means of confirmation. I felt handicapped. Pitied. And judging from most people's reactions to my asking them to call, fax, or write me a memo, annoying. I also felt out of the loop. E-mail has become so standard, so expected, it was easy for people to forget I wasn't using it. And so it was easy for me to be left out of things. Small things, like when my boss's mom sent holiday peanut brittle, but also big things, like the time I found out about an important meeting just three hours before it happened."

The News, Richard Dorment
"It did, eventually, and thirty-one mornings after I'd stopped paying attention, I checked out a news site and saw that, weeks after I'd heard the brief mention of Tiger Woods's car accident, it was still in the news. Weird. So I started to read about it, and, with all due respect to the Woods family, I was like a pig in shit. I moved on to the rest of the stuff I'd missed that month. The president's decision about Afghanistan, the one that seemed so imminent the day before I started my fast, still hadn't come to pass. Health care reform remained a holy mess. With the notable exception of Tiger, nothing had really happened, and all that stress about what I thought I'd been missing went up like smoke. I saw that most of what passes for news today isn't really news at all - it's just variations on the same stories, recycled over and over again, filling the void until something, anything, actually happens."

Underwear, Chris Jones (yeah, same guy as below. Hopefully this wasn't when he spent time with Roger Ebert?)
"When this ridiculous excuse for a magazine told me to go a month without underwear - OSHA's getting a letter, by the way - I was worried principally about chafe. I was blinded by my fear of it, in fact, made ignorant of more terrible possibilities. I became overly strategic about my pants selection."

Driving, Tom Chiarella
"I began to see routine chores as odd little challenges. I walked to the grocery store and schlepped home with a backpack full of potatoes. I walked to a distant pharmacy in a driving rain, walked to my son's first home swim meet on the night of the first real frost. The reward was ample enough: I always left on time, was never late, and my pants started to fit more loosely. I even fancied that I could forget my obsession with driving, forget my old ways, anyhow, and become a more careful, prudent driver by watching traffic as a pedestrian. It was all about choices, I told the empty space on the sidewalk next to me."

Google, A.J. Jacobs
"Usually, there are ways around Google - it just takes some Internet gymnastics. told me the meaning of wassail (to toast with a drink). For restaurant addresses? On the third day, I did something shocking: I called 411 - it still exists! - and got the address of the Apple store. Also, I occasionally cheated. I sent e-mails to my wife such as "Esquire is making me go without Google. Could you please Google 'ugli fruit' for me?" She did, not happily."

Sex, Mary-Louise Parker (yeah, how convenient, make the woman go without it, lol)
"I could write about giving up something else, like bondage, or Ebonics. Esquire said come on, how about two weeks. Two days, I said. Today and tomorrow. They said today is partly over, and how many times can you have sex in two days? I said you really want to know? and Esquire said kinda. I said I probably shouldn't share and Esquire said come on and I said what I thought was achievable and Esquire said whoa. The magazine agreed to two days."

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