Heaven and Earth
Thoughts on Baseball, Art, and Other Altered States

Tobacco Road
Tom Rogers and the Philip Morris Tollway

Coyote Waits
Native American folklore says that Coyote will outlive us all and be the last survivor on earth

Hallucination Engine Revisited
The Psycho-dynamic Obsolescence of General Motors

search engine by freefind


Farewell, Fat Head: How Monica Lewinsky Changed My Life
Americans are largely fat. Almost 65% of us are either overweight or obese. This is fine with me. Excluding the higher insurance rates I pay to compensate my elephantine fellow citizens, I could care less about the condition of their fat asses.

But Americans are swelling unnecessarily in another, far more insidious way.

With each tick of the digital clock, pointless movie reviews, frivolous dogma, worthless editorials and regurgitated rhetoric disguised as information bloat our brains and artificially inflate the importance of the public sphere.

Today, entire media conglomerates are churning out sugarcoated, empty-calorie, hyper-speculative swill. At the present rate of consumption, the total number of over-opinionated Americans will double within the next decade. Judgmental mammoths will run amok.

We need to get serious about our fat heads. In this time of judgmental hyperbole, the less frivolous viewpoints we have, the better.

“Nathan,” you say. “What can I do to loose excess fatheaded opinions?”

I’ll tell you about that in a moment. But first, let me explain how I started.

My opinion-consumption awareness began in 1998 when it seemed that everyone was gorging themselves on assessments about a woman named Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Lewinsky was “a whore,” “a Mossad agent” “an opportunist,” “a real pro,” “a honey trap," “a sock puppet” “a voluptuous beauty” “a felon,” and so on ad nauseam. Americans were on an opinion binge, consuming more frivolous points of view than their fat heads could bear. In spite of the incessant media smorgasbord of super-sized informative communication, the only thing that anyone could really claim to know about Ms. Lewinsky was her position at the receiving end of one of our president’s non-presidential moments.

And yet, thanks to Monica, my life changed. Tired of the endless stream of pontificated lard served up as intellectual gruel, I decided it was time I loose my excess brain fat.

I went on a 24-hour judgment diet. I said nothing about Monica Lewinsky. It was a revelation — a metabolic tune-up that boosted my energy, increased my intellectual tone, and helped me lose those unwanted self-righteous inches creating pressure against my cranium.

Coincidently, a couple of years after the Lewinsky-opinion glut, a Harris Poll released a report showing that 83 percent of all Americans believe in the virgin birth. With it, a new round of fattening opinions began and America’s judgmental obesity increased. After all, what could be filled with more head calories than a Harris Poll statistic about parthenogenesis?

Do eight out of ten people we pass on the street believe it’s possible for a woman to get pregnant without having sex? Or do they entertain the idea that Mary may have been artificially inseminated? Or that she reportedly had the opportunity to cheat on Joseph opening the possibility that Christmas evolved out of a novel excuse for infidelity? Or are Americans really mystics who have an unwavering faith that the Holy Spirit deposited the Son of God in the womb of a nondescript Jewish woman not so unlike Monica Lewinsky?

I could feel my head trying to form a ridiculous high-fat opinion just thinking about it. That Harris Poll was the final straw. Before long, I decided give up junk opinions for one day every week.

My diet was not without its challenges. Not so much because I was nibbling opinions on the side, but because everyone around me seemed to insist on sharing theirs with me. Like those porky colleagues who bring Danish to weekly staff meetings when they know you’re trying to control that annoying little jiggle at your beltline, these miscreants mercilessly tempted my will to improve my pudgy head.

“Oh come on,” they would say. “What do YOU really think?”

What I thought was it takes tremendous personal strength to live a contemporary American life without passing judgment on worthless bits of information.

For a while, my friends began to form opinions about my lack of opinions. Their heads swelled with inconsequential appraisals. I refused to give in.

My discipline paid off. Today, even casual acquaintances pause a moment before offering the tidbit o' the day, knowing that their hunger for junk-food repartee will go unsatiated. They know I can effortlessly decline to voice an opinion about Scott Peterson or Kobe Bryant.

You’re probably asking yourself right now, “Is this diet right for me?”

Of course, it is. I’m not asking you to give up your shallow opinions entirely, just one day every week.

You’ll be surprised how painless it is to say goodbye to those add-on attitudes. Before long you’ll learn to end intellectual frustration and break free from that defeating inconsequential “that’s what I think” cycle forever. You’ll lose irrelevant opinions and keep them off! There’s no guesswork. It’s fun and simple.

Here’s how you can resist those empty brain calories.

First, when someone asks you for a junk opinion, just say that you don’t have one.

Second, when you feel the urge to make known your own petty judgment without any prompting, just say these two simple words: “Monica Lewinsky.”

It’s that simple!

Soon, you’ll take pleasure in the startled looks.

In a matter of months you’ll feel the difference. The unopinionated time you spend will help you cogitate more freely. And when you DO have a judgment about something of consequence, you’ll be amazed how satisfying it is.

No longer will you grow fatheaded trying to form an opinion about Bill O'Reilly or Simon Cowell or Krispy Kreme or fanny packs or Winona Ryder’s shoplifting or Jocko’s nose or Harry Potter’s paganism or Saddam Hussein’s artwork or mullets or corked bats or Carlos Ponce and Beyonce.

You too, can belong to those brave souls in the polling pie charts represented by the extra-thin slice entitled “Don’t Know/Don't Care.”

Remember, there’s always plenty to talk about without sacrificing your intellectual integrity by indulging in media inflated gossip. And who knows? The world might be a better place with you not saying what you think you think.

— Nathan Callahan, August 21, 2003


© NathanCallahan.com / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved