Do people really still give up vices for lent? It's shocking but true: they do, especially in heavily Catholic areas like New Mexico. This is a fascinating religious ritual, a physical and mental marathon of self-denial. A few years ago I gave up booze for lent (mostly just so I could refuse drinks with the line, "No thanks, I gave it up for lent"). But the joke was on me; I'm not so good at self-denial and this 40-day-dry-out was brutal. I think I actually only lasted about 36 days, finally breaking down at Launchpad with a couple of double-tall Bombay Sapphire and tonics. It's so easy to obsess about whatever you're avoiding (booze, cigarettes, candy, pay-per-view porn) that the whole challenge is to think of something—anything—besides the object you've given up. When I was in Sunday school I thought the whole suffering thing was stupid. Why suffer when you don't have to? Needless to say the lesson was wasted on me. Why not pledge to keep everything in balance for lent? I will not do tequila shots. I will not have casual sex with strangers. I will not eat a Snickers and a bag of Fritos and call it lunch. Then again, this moderation doesn't entitle you to any sort of Mardi-Gras blowout. And that is really the best part of lent: getting all the evil out of your system beforehand.
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