Why This Atheist Gives Up Booze for Lent

Lent is once again upon us. For those of you who aren’t Catholics, Lent is the 40 days necessary to recover from Mardi Gras hangovers. Or, alternately, it’s the 40 days in which you prepare yourself for the most important day on the Christian calendar, Easter. (You’d be forgiven if you thought Christmas was the most important due to the commotion and marketing bonanza. But rest assured that if U.S. marketers ever figure out a way to use a grisly execution and resurrection to move merchandise, Easter will regain prominence.)

At any rate, pretty much every year when this time rolls around, I find myself doing two things: 1) Really wanting a drink because I gave it up for Lent and 2) Explaining just why the hell I bother giving up anything at all considering my total lack of belief.

I catch a lot of hell from lapsed Catholics and not-so-lapsed Catholics. The former group seems slightly offended that an atheist is doing a better job than they are. And the regular Catholics just can’t figure out why I gave it all up in the first place.
There’s no need to get into that. Having religious debates is for delusional sorts who think they can actually change a person’s mind on this subject (when their isn’t alcohol or trauma involved).

Other Christians don’t bother me much about it. The Unitarians don’t like talking about the religious parts of religion and Evangelicals figure I was long-ago consigned to hell anyway.

Oddly enough, I’m also pestered by people who call themselves Jews, yet haven’t stepped inside a Synagogue in 20 years and spend their Sabbaths not resting but operating heavy machinery while washing down pork chops with milk shakes. You guys–and you know who you are–should get it.

So why am I giving something up for Lent. It’s simple. I was raised Catholic. Went to Catholic school (and no, was never touched inappropriately … or appropriately for that matter. Thanks for nothing Catholic School Girls!). Was confirmed and all that. Old habits die hard.

More importantly, you need a break from bad habits. I wouldn’t classify myself as an alcoholic, but even semi-pro drunks need to air out the liver once in a while. And after a winter of eating and drinking a lot while doing very little, giving up such a vice–along with soda and candy and fried chicken–is a good way to get yourself in shape for the summer drinking season.

Also, any of you aspiring writers out there who hit the bottle pretty regularly would be amazed at how many hours there are in the week when you’re not spending half the day on Saturday and Sunday balled up on the couch, crying while you watch “Party of Five” on DVD. Further, since you’re not drinking, you might even stay in a few more nights, which translates to more writing hours (and a hell of a lot more money in your pocket).

Finally, it gives your less outrageous friends a chance to shine in party situations. Let someone else drink too much bourbon and pick political fights, carry on about the librul media, do lap dances, hit on everyone in the room without fear of rejection, make out with the most hideous person in the room without fear of infection — or whatever your schtick is when you drink too much and entertain your friends. Besides, they were probably getting sick of your shit anyway.

Keep your drunk self off the market for 40 days, though, and they’ll realize how empty their lives are without you–and how boring you are when you’re sober–and they’ll be lining up to buy you drinks!

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