4 Habits I Wish I Did Not Have

Forget Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. I’m getting a jump-start on my New Year’s resolutions.

There are habits I wish I did not have–aspects of my personality I probably should have shared with EHM (Extremely Handsome Man) before we got married, but I didn’t and now it’s too late and he is stuck.

  • Mouth-breathing when I sleep. If God wanted me not to look like a dead monster when I sleep then he should have given me bigger nostrils.
  • Telling people, multiple times, what celebrity I think they look like. It can be OK to do this once, maybe, if you know the person well enough, and the celebrity comparison is flattering, and the person is perhaps in search of a Halloween costume. However there is zero reason to tell a person such a thing MULTIPLE TIMES.

    Regardless, celebrities I have done this with:

    • Sara Bareilles

      Sara Bareilles

    • Edie Brickell

      Edie Brickell

    • Will Forte

      Will Forte

    The problem here is that, when I make a comment or joke that doesn’t land, I will have a strong impulse to repeat it. This is due to a faulty fail-means-try-again logic similar to that of Allie Brosh’s dogs.

    My perception exists in a vacuum, whereas the possible recipient of this comparison has cultivated their aesthetic sense of self over their entire lifetime, and I have no way of predicting how my comment on someone else’s looks will resonate. The best practice here is consistent with a basic rule of politeness: make no comment on a permanent or semi-permanent aspect of someone else’s appearance. Earrings: OK. Face: not OK.

    I have made interesting non-progress on this issue. For instance, I know someone who looks like Anne Hathaway. I have had the thought and stifled saying the thought out loud so many times that now I can’t say for sure whether I have or not. So I find myself at the end of the cycle, feeling sheepish about the possibility of having said it multiple times, while there is a pretty good chance I never said it at all. Verdict: I can be taught, just not quickly.

  • Picking my nose. I am so bad about this I have lost all track of when and where I am doing it. Someday I am going to get caught and basically die of shame.

    The problem here is that there is no mid-level consequence for nose-picking–either no one sees and you get away with it, or someone sees you and you are instantly shame-dead. Thus any pre-death attempt at curbing the habit is pure honor system.

    There is the possibility that I have been seen but not made aware of the seeing. Unfortunately non-perceived possible shame is not enough shame. Meanwhile I keep breathing all this dry air.

  • Eating foods with known but delayed negative consequences. There must be an equation for determining likelihood of self-inflicting food pain. Let us gather some data points, controlling for “time since last encounter” and “known social commitments in discomfort window”:
    Food Entity Pleasure (in International Pleasure units) Cumulative discomfort (on the logarithmic International Discomfort scale) Delay of discomfort onset (in seconds) Likelihood it will be consumed in a given day of availability
    Habanero pepper

    Habanero pepper

    one slice
    1 7.5 (nociceptive) 5 0 %
    Pepperoncini pepper

    Pepperoncini pepper

    one
    2 3.5 (nociceptive) 10 10 %
    Kimchi

    Kimchi

    two servings
    5 5.5 (olfactory) 18,000 50 %
    Sugar-free candy

    Sugar-free candy

    two servings or more
    7 6.5 (nociceptive & olfactory) 28,800 80 %
    Fiber One bar

    Fiber One bar

    two servings or more
    8 7.2 (nociceptive & olfactory) 28,800 60 %

    The conclusion to be drawn here is that with regards to food I cannot be taught. This conclusion is further suggested by the fact that EHM has to hide our monthly order of Quest bars for them to last the week.

This is only a sampling. The grosser, sadder and more maddening habits I will save for another day.

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