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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

America’s real problem

Published: April 28, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

It all started when I was 16 and three quarters. In the state of Massachusetts at age 16 and a half we Mass residents are given the opportunity to get our licenses. I didnt pass the first test, nor the second, and no, not the third. Ive never gotten along well with state troopers, or maybe state troopers dont get along well with me.

Despite this hurdle I persevered when my sixth attempt proved successful, thereby rendering a new possession the cherished, laminated card that permitted me to operate a motorized box encapsulated by a combination of steel and glass, with two axles and four wheels. It was at this age that I would be given a shiny set of keys: keys to the car, to the house, and a bunch of other keys that somehow mysteriously ended up on my chain. Life changed quite a bit at this point. I was no longer free-handed, I had to carry my wallet and keys everywhere I went.

By my later years in high school, everyone had cell phones. And so, being an American, I had to conform to the majority and get one of these portable phones. It was the same motive for my neon orange snap bracelet purchase I wisely made back in '91. For my 18th birthday, I got federal gifts, which are the same for every one of us: ability to buy guns, gamble, buy & smoke cigarettes, and enlist in the army.

Overnight no child left behind became How badly can we fuck with your adult life?

A few months after my 18th birthday, the lord opted to blur my vision. An ophthalmologist therefore awarded me two thin pieces of glass to correct the lords mistake.

At age 19 I jumped on the cigarette-smoking bandwagon and by age 20 I realized that in order to light the damn things it was much easier to carry my own lighter. 365 days later I was awarded a palm pilot for surviving the year – thank you Mom & Dad.

I was now carrying around my wallet, which by now after accumulating random plastic cards was more like the size of a mini bible, various sets of keys, a cell phone, a pair of glasses, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, and a palm pilot. Thats a total of seven items. And guess what else I had to do as male in this society I had to wear pants. As soon as I threw the palm pilot into my already overloaded pockets my pants became unbearably heavy. They were falling below my ass. I could barely walk. I tried all different kinds of belts, none of which helped they all broke because of the strain they encountered. I tried getting tighter pants, tapered pants, short pants, long pants, relaxed fit, snug fit, carpenter pants, and none of it worked. It felt like a baby or a little-person was doing chin ups on my belt. I was miserable;

I didnt want to go anywhere. I was considering getting a European Carry All. There I was 22 years old, supposedly one of the greatest & most exciting times in a persons life, heavily burdened by all these pocket items that were required for life in the 21st century.

A couple weeks ago, I was in New York City visiting some friends and some asshole stole my wallet. The bastard came up behind me, punched me in the jaw and then kicked… Well okay I left my wallet in a movie theater. But the point is that it was gone. I had to cancel this credit card, cancel that credit card, change bank accounts, call Social Security, and buy a new wallet. I still had a few more days left in New York, I had no money, and I couldnt walk without holding my belt up, which by the way pulls the boxers into the wedgie position. I had hit rock bottom.
My friends wanted to go out for lunch. I thought I would just sit with them, watch them eat, and ask them if I could borrow money to take the bus back home to Boston. As they picked up their menus I sat still. They saw me sitting there empty handed and bought me lunch. After the free meal my friends said that they felt bad for my broke ass, and offered to cheer me up with some rounds of toxic beverages. Who could turn down sitting around with great friends and throwing back free pitchers of poison? We ended up stumbling into some party way uptown and hitting up another bar for some shots of the white mans devil water, all of which was compensated for by my semi-conscious peers. It was then, in my drunken stupor, that I had a revelation.

Losing my wallet wasnt so bad. I thought, In fact it was great. I didnt have to pay for anything and my pants were finally fitting better. I stayed in New York knowing I could count on my friends for money. I was thriving without my wallet, which lead me to decide to leave my cell phone in my friends apartment before we went out. I didnt really need it. Who did I have to talk to so urgently that it couldnt wait? At this point I felt incredible. I had lost a good 3 pounds. So I decided to leave my palm pilot behind too, then I got rid of my glasses. I was looking cooler, less nerdy, and thinner the world was becoming fun again. Next to go were the cigarettes & lighter. Youd have to be crazy to choose cigarettes over pants that fit perfectly. The anti-smoking campaign advertisements have it all wrong. Everyone knows smoking can cause cancer, everyone knows its bad for you, and yet people continue to smoke. Havent the advertisers figured out by now that the adverse health effects of cigarettes are not an adequate incentive for people to quit? What nobody realizes is that if they stop smoking thats two less items that they need to carry around with them. Thats 2 lost pounds if you include the lighter. If the anti smoking campaign focused on the loss of weight incentive, tons of people would quit. And what about the anti-drug advertisements that try and tell 14 and 15 year olds that if they smoke some weed theyre going to get pregnant or end up homeless? We all know thats bullshit. How about telling them how much easier it will be to get around when theyre not carrying half a pound of weed, a bowl, and two lighters in their cargo pockets (every good pothead knows you need two in case its raining or something and one gets ruined). I mean shit if someone told me when I was 15 about the possibility of my pants fitting better I would have quit weed in a second.

I always hear about how Americans are the heaviest people in the world. Well no shit, we carry 15 pounds of luggage everywhere we go. And the situation is only getting worse. People have started to wear fanny packs, fucking fanny packs. They know they look like complete tools but they have no choice, they simply have too much stuff to carry. Women have stopped carrying purses, now they wear bags. Every year the number of pocket items seems to be increasing and nobodys doing anything to eliminate any of them. This year everyones carrying i-pods. Whats it going to be next year? Whats going to happen in ten years? Men are going to have to wear overalls and jumpsuits to keep their pants on and women are going to have to wear big back packs. The beautiful female body is going to be destroyed in America;

instead well have a nation of hunchbacked women. Whats going to happen in 20 years? And you people sit there and worry about which countries have nuclear weapons, the war in Iraq, the Asian bird flu, world hunger, world poverty, pollution, global warming, spreading of AIDS, wildfires, healthcare, social security, nursing homes. People wake the fuck up. This issue needs to be addressed now.