Average Dude

An Experiment In Mediocrity

John Bear
11 min read
Average Dude
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I feel so average.

It’s hard to feel average in a country where no one feels average. Everyone’s a unique snowflake, a maverick, one of a kind. 

I am no exception. I feel exceptionally exceptional most days. 

But in reality I’m not special.

I’m a pretty average American. I’m overweight. I have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. On the other hand, I don’t have diabetes.

When I’m employed I work about 40 hours a week. I eat fatty foods and don’t exercise. At six foot three inches, I’m taller than the average American, who is between five and six feet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I can play a little guitar and I watch too much television.

I consider myself fairly lazy and considerably boorish.

In a sign of the times, I have returned home to my parents house, and until 10 a.m. on July 13, had been unemployed for four months.

To torture me further and satiate their sadistic wants, the cruel screwheads at the
Alibi Central Offices sent me on a mission to live as an average American for a week.

Beginning on a Monday, I tried it for five days, most of which was spent attempting to figure out just what the average American is and killing myself with the fast food average Americans apparently are inclined to eat a lot of.

It wasn’t easy. Close to 300 million souls dwell in the United States of America. It’s filled with people from every conceivable background, ethnicity, race, religion and creed. And we take our diversity seriously. I’ve known Thai cross-dressers, Arab hillbillies, high-strung Buddhists, closet liberals in Bible Country, you name it.

I once heard America described as being everything, all the good and all the bad rolled into one package.

It begs the question: How can one be average when there are so many variables? Age, race, ethnic group, Facebook or MySpace (or neither), gang affiliation, religion, and so on. 

I would need statistics.

My editors sent me some to begin with and I found a few myself. I narrowed my study down to these categories: Food, Hygiene, Activities, Sex and Alcohol, and Miscellaneous.

What Is Average, Anyway?

My experiment was fraught with peril, procrastination and too many excuses to mention.

First of all, it was hard to track down statistics and decide which ones were faulty. Even some of the government website statistics seemed dubious to me, and the Church of Euthanasia website was not what I would refer to as a reliable source.

Once I sorted through the statistics, choosing which ones to follow was obviously tainted by my own thoughts on the matter (and laziness, fretting, freaking out, etc.).

Maybe “average American” is too vague a concept.

Or maybe average American is impossible, so I (briefly) contemplated researching the habits of the “average white dude.”

I googled “Average White Male” and it brought back nothing but right-wing propaganda about how “they took our jobs!”

A search for “Average White Man” netted information on the Average White Band.

“Average White Guy” returned Average White Penis Size.

It became apparent that the Internet is awash with racists who are obsessed with ’70s rock and insecure about their manhood. 

I gave up on the idea and returned to my quest to live like an “average American.”

And I did a so-so job.

They Want Me to Eat How Many Hamburgers?

It was no small task to locate information on what the average American eats. There’s plenty of information on what one should eat, but what is actually eaten seems to be a dirty secret.

EcoSalon.com states that the average American consumes more than 3,700 calories a day. Gross.

I knew I would have to eat some fast food. No study on the average American would be complete without that.

According to “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” I would have to eat three fast-food burgers and four orders of french fries a week. I am not the most health-minded individual, but that seemed excessive. One of those meals, according to the data, would be consumed in the car.

Numbers provided by the National Coffee Association state that the average American drinks three cups of coffee a day. For some that’s a lot; for me, it’s a sacrifice in the name of research. I haven’t had enough coffee unless I can feel my eyes trying to escape.

In addition to gorging myself with soylent green burgers and brutalized potatoes, I would have to eat in my averageness what Wikipedia (that’s right; I’m sourcing Wikipedia—it is the new reality) calls the Western Pattern Diet: fatty red meat and processed grains.

The CDC dictates that I would drink eight cans of soda in five days, eat 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day and eat between one and four servings of vegetables.

In the interest of maintaining that average American feel, I ate only at establishments owned by very large corporations.

It came as a surprise that I couldn’t successfully eat the average amount of fast food. Eating fast food apparently isn’t one of my strong points—ironic, considering how much I like eating.

I managed to choke down the three hamburgers in five days but only two orders of fries instead of four. I ate a few fries in the car but not an entire meal.

It was too much filthy slop. Sure, it was delicious, but if I ate like that every week, I’d be dead in a year.

Sticking with the Western Pattern Diet posed no problem. Cheese, meat and too many carbohydrates is kind of my thing. I faltered once and ate an entire cantaloupe. I can’t in good conscience turn down a nice cantaloupe, even in the name of research.

I tried to add 20 teaspoons a day of sugar, but I don’t really sweeten anything except my coffee, so I never managed to pull it off.

Speaking of coffee, three cups of it is uncivilized. I tried this limit for a few days but found it intolerable.

Moderating my coffee intake led to coffee abuse; the 7 p.m. espresso, the multiple trips to the coffee bar at the mall bookstore. Lying about drinking coffee. Drinking coffee alone, to relax, just because.

I probably drink too much coffee. 

By Friday, I had reverted back to the coffee fiend I had been at the beginning of the week.

Smell Me, But Please, Don’t Look Between My Teeth

In an effort to stay as clean as the average Joe, I would follow the CDC and
The Average American by Kevin O’Keefe. I would shower 10 minutes a day (but not sing in the shower), exercise 20 minutes and never floss. For me, this amounted to substantially less showering (I shower closer to 20, maybe 25 minutes—environmentalists, commence hating on me now), a hell of a lot more exercising and about the same amount of flossing.

I tried to sleep eight hours as per Bureau of Labor (BOL) statistics. As a chronic insomniac, this wasn’t really possible, but I tried.

And failed. Eight hours of sleep a night sounds like one of the white man’s lies to me. I’m more of a two, two, four, two, three, sixteen, six kind of sleeper.

The BOL states that the average American works about eight hours a day. I was unemployed at the start of my average week, so I was forced to be creative. My goal was to devote eight hours a day to “working on that novel,” but I never really “got around to it.”

Fortunately, my definition of work is fairly liberal. I counted time I spent taking a drug test for a newspaper job. I got massive stage fright and had to stand in the waiting room at the place for two hours guzzling water and watching CNN. The lab technician told me it was a normal thing for men to “freeze up” (pretty “average guy at the drug testing place,” huh?) but it didn’t happen that often to women.

I helped my brother move. This may not sound like work, but my brother doesn’t really buy furniture. His possessions are more like Statues Unto His Greatness. They include a television the size of an aircraft carrier and a bed referred to as “300 pounds of fun.” We moved the contents of a five-bedroom house into a third-story walk-up in 100-degree weather.

I never knew I was in such horrible shape. There were several injuries as well: twisted ankles, hurt feelings, heat stroke, etc.

Tack another eight on the work column.

The Internet search for the average American consumed many hours. And I also read
How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce. Call it research.

I’ll admit, my “work” for the week in no way added up to eight hours a day. 

Just like the BOL told me to do, I pretended to commute for 30 minutes, and I took an hour lunch and a half-hour dinner. I looked at four hours of television and Internet but found it difficult when I
had to do it. Usually I watch that much television and probably more.

There are only so many hours in the day, but I would still find a way to fit in six hours of leisure time.

Sex and Alcohol: Without Them Rock and Roll Is Just Not That Good

I don’t drink and sex seemed unlikely, having just ended a relationship, but I didn’t want to go into the week with a negative outlook, so I told myself alcohol and sex were imminent.

The average American drinks 320 cans of beer, seven bottles of liquor and 12 bottles of wine a year, according to the CDC. Like I said, I don’t drink—at least not anymore. For a little insight into what I am like when I drink, rent
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer .

The average American has sex two and a half times per week, according to ACNielsen.

Despite my best efforts, I had sex no times that week. 

Two and a half times seems a little high to me, anyway. (How embarrassing it is to admit that.) If you have sex two and a half times a week, please contact me through the
Alibi offices. I greedily await your calls.

Who Keeps Track of How Much They Pee?

The average American spends 95 percent of his day indoors. Not a problem. I haven’t seen sunlight since 1994 and quite frankly am terrified of it. I stayed inside all week, that is, if the Bataan Death March-like moving day isn’t counted.

To blend in with what the sickos at WebMD feel is normal, I tried to urinate six times a day (the average between four and eight times a day, which is what the site states) and lie 20 times a day (never easy for the obsessive compulsive). The CDC says that most Americans also pray, so I gave that a whirl.

I couldn’t remember to keep track of how many times I urinated and am happy about that. I lied below average, mostly about sex, and found praying a tad too creepy to continue. I don’t have anything against religion or praying, but it’s not for me. I sleep in on Sundays and talk to myself so much there just really isn’t time for God / Supreme Being.

Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death. Or Both.

It was a learning experience. I bathe with too much water. And I’m suspicious of statistics.

I’m glad it’s over. It was inconvenient, and if there is one thing I hate, it’s being inconvenienced. I believe Americans do share this unflattering quality, to varying degrees—at least, every American I’ve ever known.

It seems like "average" is impossible to attain in this wacky country; too many people from too many places. We all share similarities and differences, and those traits can be replicated in almost infinite combinations.

Maybe I’m not so average, after all.
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