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H VI, II, iv, ii, 73

by Jason Edwards

I’ve decided to take inspiration from this post over at the Language Log and threaten to kill people for doing something I don’t like. This is what blogging should be all about. No more of this “I had potatoes for dinner, undercooked” type of posting. No more of these “the proletariat have a new sheep in wolf’s clothing, and may god give Rush Limbaugh a thorough balsamic enema” kind of writing-ups. I shall henceforth eschew “want to lose weight fast? Take a friend who’s a faster runner than you, and together go antagonize a bear” sort of bloggy offerings. From now on, not calls to action, but declarations of mayhem!

But I’m not sure who I want to kill, or who I would even be willing to stalk, armed to the teeth with weapons of mad destructions. Prius drivers, maybe? But surely there are some decent Prius drivers, somewhere. At least one, statistically. I accept and applaud the sacrifice of collateral damage, in genral, but it would surely take the wind out of my sails if I accidentally offed the one Prus driver in the United States who wasn’t an absolute asshole.

Maybe I could threaten, and follow through on the threat to violate mortally with a serrated knife those people who claim certain song lyrics are “great” without any substantiation when clearly they’re not. For example, I was looking at the lyrics for “Planet Hell” by the amazing Finnish goth opera metal uber-awesome Nightwish, and while the song is one of my all-time favorites, the lyrics themselves leave a little something to be desired. Of course, more than one fan raved about how brilliant the lyrics were—I could do the Hollywood-hacker thing, track down ISP, IP, home address, daily routine, susceptibility to drinking razor-laden lemonade…

Then again, I have this rule about making people feel bad for liking things, so no, I guess I can’t kill people who think “This world ain’t ready for the ark” is good songsmanship. What I need to do is stay more in the vein of the people who will be killed by the Language Log folks for saying stupid things, in the guise of attempted cleverness, about prepositions. So let’s meditate on that… stupid people who think they’re smart… and I just got done reading a book about that subject… of course the clever person ended up killing himself… and of course Camus said suicide is the only real philosophical questions… and I DO think this post I’m writing now is awfully darned clever…

Uh oh.

Crap, looks like, to be true to this idea, I’m going to have to hunt down, easily concealable and unreasonably powerful firearm in hand, those idiots who write blog posts that are simultaneously derivative, overly wordy, self-indulgent, and hypocritical to the nth degree. Damn it. I don’t even know where to buy a gun. Which is a lie, since there’s one literally on the corner next to a beautiful lake where I like to go running on a Saturday to look at women in yoga pants.

I had a dream last night that Dave Barry was trying to set the world record for the standing highjump (probably because I’d watched this video earlier in the day). So let me end on a kind of Dave Barry stinger, before I go fulfill my destiny and kill myself:

Or, I could NOT publish what I’ve just written, and continue breathing.

Nah.

The FU Files: The NHD&SC

by Jason Edwards

Here at Wiffli we like anagrams. I think that’s what they’re called. Those things where the initials of a phrase spell out a word? I’d look it up, but I’m going to depend instead on my shoddy memory and that English degree I got sixteen years ago. I hear they just found a way to predict Alzheimer’s 25 years in advance. Wait, what was I talking about? No, the other thing. Anagrams, we like anagrams, Wiffli is an anagram itself. Calling this The FU Files isn’t really an anagram, but the good news is, you can probably figure out what FU stands for.

I like it also, calling this The FU Files, because it sort of sounds like “The Rockford Files.” Do you remember that show? I do, and I did, sort of vaguely, a while ago when I went on Netlfix or Hulu or iTunes or Comcast On Demand to look for it. I mean, Alzheimer’s, who cares? Who needs a good memory when we have all these ways to watch old TV shows? And I did find it, and I watched the first episode. It was cheesy and slow, but it had a pretty good detective story plot, and Lindsay Wagner was in it, and she was kinda hot in that if-I-was-in-the-seventies/lip gloss kind of way. Well, I mean, I was in the seventies, for the first nine years of my life, but I wasn’t in to Lindsay Wagner back then; I was in to Luke Skywalker.

Not in that way! What was I talking about? Oh, right, The FU Files. And that also sounds like The Federovich File, a novel by one of my all-time favorite mystery novelists, Ross H. Spencer. The sad thing is that these FU files, unlike Rockford’s and Spencer’s Federovich one, have nothing to do with mystery stories. Also sad: Ross H. Spencer is dead. Old age. It happens.

No, these FU files are about things that make me mad, mad enough to say Eff You, Thing That Makes Me Mad! But before I get into it, one more introductory thing: my wife loves me. No, really, she does. She went on a trip without me recently and brought back a copy of Spirit Magazine, the free one you get in-flight on Southwest Airlines. She knows I like to do the crossword puzzle in there. I like to see if I can get the “easy” one done before we take off and the “hard” one done before we land. Is it bragging if I tell you how many times I’ve even finished the hard one before we take off? Yes it is. So what. Lots. (It’s really not that hard—about as hard as a Tuesday New York Times crossword).

In this month’s issue, there’ a series of one-page “facts,” with associated commentary, like “Nearly 33 million Americans live alone” (I wonder if that includes homeless people) and “A female flea consumes 15 times her weight in blood daily” (insert insensitive Twilight/Oprah joke here) and this one, which made me mad: “The ballpark franks we’ll eat this year would round the bases 28,489 times if set end-to-end.”

Actually, it’s not the fact itself that cheeves me off. If folks want to force us, as a country, to regurgitate all the hotdogs we ate at ballparks, reconstitute them, lay them end to end, and count the number of times it goes round the bases, fine. I live in Seattle, and I watch the Mariners, so I rarely get to see anything go round the bases.

No, it was the part where they quoted the spokesman for the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, who said “Never ever put ketchup on a hot dog after the age of 18” (emphasis his). To which I reply: “Eff You, Spokesperson for the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. I am an effing American. I can do whatever the eff I want, especially (emphasis mine) when it comes to something as stupidly unimportant as an effing hot dog. Eff You, and the smug little horse you effing rode in on.” I’ll bet he lives alone. And has fleas. Big fat bloody ones.

So, anyway, thanks for staying with me through this inaugural edition of The FU Files. I’m going to go do those crossword puzzles now. 15 across, 10 letters, starts with the letter ‘A’ : “Degenerative disease of the mind.”

Any thoughts?

It’s Not A Confession if You’re Not Ashamed

by Jason Edwards

Despite my best efforts to avoid celebrity news, I couldn’t help but read that Katie Holmes is leaving Tom Cruise. (Anyone else sort of wish Oprah still had her show, and Katie would have announced her intentions there, by jumping on a couch? This is why I try to avoid celebrity news).

And just this week, Anderson Cooper has revealed, finally, that he is gay.

These are brave things for these extremely rich and good looking people to do, so I thought, time to grow a backbone myself. Time to finally admit my truth to the public.

I have green eyes. There. I said it.

And I know a lot of you are saying, well, Jason, we’ve seen your eyes before. What are you trying to tell us exactly? I’m talking about melanin, people, I’m talking about wavelengths of light.

I’ve had green eyes pretty much all my life. Sometimes they’re hazel, depending on what I’m wearing. I’ve been told that the setting sun can make my eyes grow a very vibrant green. That was told to me in confidence, but I’m not going to keep it confidential anymore.

I was born this way. It’s genetic. Nothing I can do about it. I did try to wear some purple contacts for a while… but they were very uncomfortable, and they just made my eyes look a sort of greyish brown.

Would I choose to have green eyes, if the choice was up to me? Hard to say. On the one hand, I don’t see why not. I might choose to be a few inches taller, also.

Or maybe if I was born very tall, I might have chosen a few less.

But then again, once should accept oneself for one what oneself is, shouldn’t one? I’m not saying I’m proud of my green eyes, not saying I’m proud of other green-eyed people and what we’ve accomplished over the years.

But I’m not ashamed either. I’m not going to not admit it to everyone I can, all over whatever media is willing to report the color of my eyes. Green.

Green! And if you have a problem with that, sorry, I just don’t care.

I Wrote a Thousand Word Essay, Posted It On Wiffli… You’ve Probably Never Heard of It

by Jason Edwards

When it comes to language, I am a descriptivist. I am as descriptivist as fuck. I am a recovering prescriptivist, someone whose identity was wrapped around language skills and judging/correcting everyone else’s lack thereof. Then I got ahold of some Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Foucault and Derrida, my four-horseman of the post-structural apocalypse. Rules are for tools. E.B. White was a buffoon. Ditto Strunk. Funk & Wagnall? That’s me after a bean burrito and all horny. Are you following the gist of my rhetoric, friends?

But lately—and you knew this was coming, because there’s always controversy—there’s some things that have been getting my linguistic dander up. I’ve been trying to read more blogs these days, eschewing the news-readers. And maybe they were always like this, but the level of writing sophistication in them is somewhat lacking. Yes, yes, my own blog is a great font of that. But I didn’t know it was so pervasive.

And mostly it’s from people trying so hard to be cool. Here’s one, in an article about the Facebook Stalker App:

“You meet a cute somebody at a concert, you’re like, ‘Hey, we should be Facebook friends,’ and they’re like ‘OMG, totes!’ [Facebook quietly unveils ‘stalking app‘]

Totes? Seriously? Look, I like Joss Whedon as much as the next man. Indeed, I think Whedon is a genius, a master of dialogue. He’d have his characters speak in as-yet-unheard abbreviations, sure. But “Totes” is not Whedon. “Totes” is someone trying to be Whedon, trying to sound young and hip without actually using the young and hip vocabulary currently in existence this week. Sort of the same as if I, for example, tried to invent some new Michael Jackson-like dance moves (I’m 5’8” and 195 lbs and white, if that completes the visual there for ya).

Here’s another one:

And, obvi, buy at your local second-hand or indie bookstore. [Missing an Opportunity to Peacock with Literature]

Obvi is short for “obviously.” I had to tell you that since you might have though, like I did, that it had something to do with a Russian Obi Wan Kenobi impersonator working as a gynecologist in India.

So the latent prescriptivist in me is trying to get out, to reassert itself. It wants to stomp onto my front language porch and tell these damn kids to get off my language lawn. At the same time, my descriptivist is nodding smugly. Reap what you sow, grandpa.

I love using the word “irregardless.” I’ve championed “hopefully” as a sentence-starter for years. I’ll split infinitives like Lincoln split logs and drop prepositions like Snoop Dogg drops bombs and mix master metaphors and run on sentences? Run-on sentences and sentences without verbs? Run on sentences without verbs and needless repetition? That’s my bread and butter.

But this Totes and Obvi nonsense… why is this making me so upset? I’ll tell you why.

I’m a language hipster. A lipster.

I never really shed my better-than-you attitude, did I? I just switched it from “you don’t talk right, idiot” to “there is no right, idiot.” And then these young adults posing as teenagers make up some words to show how cool they are, and I get mad, and I can’t decide which vindictive to hurl at them.

Hipsters latch onto seemingly “fringe” subcultures and wear their decals as a second skin, without really immersing or fully sublimating themselves to any culture at all. Or so say the critics. My alleged “descriptivism” is just as shallow as that, an excuse to make fun of “mainstream idiots” who don’t know any better than to toss around “language rules” as a means to criticize the funny way I dress (I mean write).

Actually, I’m just jealous. No one reads what I write, and I rationalize by saying it’s because they don’t understand it, while the writer of Totes and Obvi have thousands of readers. Sell outs!

Fine, I accept it. I’ll put on my language skinny jeans, my language keffiyeh, and get on my language fixed-gear and head over to the Mark Leyner café. Pierce my eyebrow with House of Leaves and write poems that are sincerely about how much I hate poetry.

In an article on Slate [False Fronts in the Language Wars], Stephen Pinker said the war between the so-called prescriptivsts and the so-called descriptivists was a phony dichotomy. He went on to explain why, but I couldn’t be bothered to read it. I mean it was on Slate for crying out loud. I read Language Log.

Good Things Seem to Happen When I Drink Beer

by Jason Edwards

7:30 PM, Tuesday. I am at my usual Tuesday night spot, Pillager’s Pub in Greenwood. My usual spot used to be Revolutions, a coffee place. But they changed their hours to close at 7 on Tuesday nights, and who can blame them. Coffee after seven? Nevermind that I’d been going there, weekly, for five years. (No, seriously, the guys who own the place are the coolest, nicest guys you’ll ever meet, so I don’t really begrudge them a thing).

I’ve just finished a beer, and Jennie the bartender/server/manager asks me if I want another of the same. I tell her I’ll switch to a pilsner, but she accidentally pours me another kolsch. By Odin. This is like if you say you’ll have just a hamburger and they accidentally bring you one with cheese and bacon on it.

Then the Mariners score a run. Yes, against the As, but we’re four games back from even the As, so I’ll take it.

I drain my kolsch, and this time Jennie brings me the pilsner, without me even asking for it. And then the Mariners score another run. And my wife shows up.

My wife almost never comes out to my Tuesday Night Thing, even though it was on a TNT that I met her in the first place, eight year ago. Call me corny, call me cheesy, but it was a nice treat. I like hanging out with my wife in bars.

I drank my beer, and she told me all about the pie-making class she’d just been too. Where she made a French apple pie with a hand-made crust, and got a pint of vanilla bean ice-cream to go with it.

And when we get home, she says, I can have as much of it as I want.

Here’s the thing, people: I used to be a teetotaler. I used to look down my nose at people who drank. That holier-than-thou attitude was part of my identity.

But when I didn’t drink beer, I didn’t have a favorite bar where the bartender knows my name and knows what I like, I didn’t have a favorite baseball team, and I didn’t have a wife who makes delicious pies.

Go ahead and call me simple, but if I had to trade those things in to be a millionaire, I’d just say “what’s the point.”

Here’s Something You Can Try: Mug Meals

by Jason Edwards

I was sipping coffee from my mug when the delightful smell of bacon wafted up to me in my lofted office space. Now let’s get something straight: this is no tiny little stick-out-your-pinky cup of coffee. This is a big ol’ horken MANMUG. I say that because I was on my third cup. (In Seattle, we drink coffee whenever it’s cloudy outside).

My wife’s home from work today and was making herself lunch: bacon, eggs, and hash brown. She loves her some breakfast for lunch. And so do I. I mean I love it when she cooks. Usually she’s at work and I’m here working from home and I have to “cook” my own lunch which means I put things between slices of bread. Ever had a leftover-lasagna sandwich? Well, don’t. Just don’t.

So I walked down the stairs with my empty mug and was struck by a brilliant idea: how about putting my lunch in my mug? It made so much sense, I felt like I was standing in a ray of sunshine. A metaphorical one, since I was indoors and it’s been raining all day.

I walked into the kitchen, scooped hashbrowns, fried eggs, and bacon into my mug, grabbed a fork, and headed back to the office. And it was amazing. Didn’t have to dirty a new dish. Easy to carry up the stairs. Easy to eat from. Food stayed warm in between calls and web-things that distracted me.

Why didn’t I think of this before? I mean, we eat soup from a mug sometimes, right? And cereal, and ice cream sometimes. I could do this with so many foods! The aforementioned leftover lasagna. Pretty much anything from a Chinese restaurant. I usually end up mixing together everything on my plate when I’m eating Chinese anyway.

Or Mexican! It might take some squashing, but I bet I could fit one heck of a burrito in this mug right here. And when I’m done, sitting there on my desk is a cup, which doesn’t take up much space, instead of a big ol’ dirty plate. And say someone walks by, sees the dirty plate? Fine, I’m all alone at home, but imagine you’re in an office. Dirty plate = slob. Dirty mug = productive person who drinks a lot of coffee.

I’m eating all of my non-sandwich lunches out of mugs from now on. As brilliant ideas go, I’m ranking this one right up there with using chopsticks to eat Doritos. Come to think of it, we have one of those Magic Bullet blenders… maybe I’ll eat my sandwiches this way too.

Cheeseburgers Are Beautiful

by Jason Edwards

Lately I’ve been wondering why it’s okay for advertisements to blatantly lie when they’re trying to sell me something. Here’s a straightforward example: food photography. They show us pictures of juicy cheeseburgers, but no cheeseburger I have ever purchased has ever looked like that—why is this allowed?

Maybe it’s this. The truth is I want a cheeseburger. And their job is to remind me that I want one. They can’t show me the actual one I will get, and they can’t show me a real one that I won’t get, so that have to show me the idea of a cheeseburger. And the only way to do that and be truthful to cheeseburgerness is to show me the Platonic ideal. This ideal cheeseburger is not supposed to take the place of my cheeseburger desire, but to communicate with that desire so that I remember I have it.

That’s all well and good. If I then go and get one, and it doesn’t look the one in the commercial, that’s not their fault—they can’t control which shadows I see on the cave wall. They gave me the idea of cheeseburgerness, and it’s up to me make the most of it. In fact, before I become one with cheeseburgerness (by eating it) I can probably return the artifact and get my money back.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend the way marketing manipulates, distorts, lies. I’m just trying to come to terms with it. The real problem is when the lie is blatant and meant to seduce. Nutshell time: beauty is truth; false beauty is a lie; false beauty seduces; seduction is evil; lies are evil. Fine, but what part is the actual lie?

The Platonic cheeseburger is beautiful, so it’s not a lie. Their representation of it might be lie, if they misrepresent what I will have access to—they already know I want a cheeseburger, but I can get one from their competitors, so what else will their’s give me? This is where the evil comes in, when they begin to convince me to want things I didn’t want before. They put the cheeseburger together with fries and a cola, and tell me they’re giving me a great value by providing all of that at a package-price.

The suggestion is that cheeseburgerness is not enough—I have to pay a low price too, or it’s not worth it. But we know they’re not giving me the goods at cost, or at a profit margin to support business growth. They’ve set the price one penny less than the highest they think I’m willing to pay. And that’s not value, that’s gouging. I could buy the cheeseburger at its own price—but if I am willing to spend more money, I can get the cheeseburger for less.

Putting it out there like that, in sentence form, really is an eye opener for me. That’s the lie, the seduction—convincing you that spending more is spending less. I’m not sure what my take-away is here, other than “duh.” But I am starting to get hungry, so there’s that.

Gwyneth Paltrow Used the N Word (With Asterisks)

by Jason Edwards

Did you hear that Gwyneth Paltrow used the N word? Yeah, me neither. (Lame-stream media!) Actually, I did hear about it, but only after a friend told me—a friend who happens to be black. Seems Gwyneth was in Paris with her friends Jay Z and Kanye West, attending a concert on their Watch the Throne tour. Know what’s the most popular song from the album the tour promotes? Gwyneth does—which is why she tweeted a picture she took and said “Ni**as in Paris for real.” (Asterisks hers.) What a vile racist she is, straight out of the KKK, amiright?

When I heard about this I went straight to the internet to find out more. Most of the websites I found that talked about what she did were geared towards black culture. And the debate I saw in the comments seemed to come down to this: whether Jigga and Ye should have even called the song that all.

Here’s the thing: you can say nigger, if you want to. I don’t even think you have to worry about physical violence if you choose to use the word, in whatever context. If you’re in a situation when saying it gets you beat up, you were probably in a fairly volatile situation to begin with. So say nigger if you want to.

You will offend people when you say it, rest assured. And it doesn’t matter if they’re justified in their outrage. People get offended for all kinds of reasons, good or bad. I know people who think calling a Jewish person a “Jew” is offensive. In Michigan, a state legislator was banned from the house floor for using the word “vagina.” Personally, I can’t stand the B word—I hate hearing it, and I hate myself when I say it even in a spirit of irony or satire. So say nigger if you want, but it will make people mad.

Do you care? Because that’s what this comes down to. It’s about respect—not respect for black culture, or respect for decorum, or even respect for the person you’re talking to. It comes down to respect for language.

In some circumstances—playing around with your friends—you may not need to choose your words carefully. Except for a strictly factual exchange, most of the talking you do with your friends is just taste and texture adding layers of intimacy to your camaraderie. You can say whatever you want, because they already know you. That’s what Gwyneth (thought she) did.

In other circumstances, you are using language as the sole means by which to connect to another person. There’s no emotional connection, no shared history, no mutually accepted terms and conditions. There is only the socially understood meaning and usage of words. And that’s what Gwyneth did when she tweeted to millions of people she doesn’t know. They had to take the use of the word at face value. For some people, that “value” was the irony of life imitating art, her friends in Paris.

For other people, that “value” was a white person using the N word. They felt she was being disrespectful… well of course she was. Or, to be more precise, she was not making an effort to be respectful. Most of what comes out of her mouth—and out of everyone’s mouth—is said without any effort at all.

And this sort of thing happens all the time. Personally, when I write—blogs, stories, tweets, Facebook updates—I go back over my words and make sure I’ve chosen them carefully. And I don’t much care for what I read when other writers are obviously not making the same effort. The thing of it is, the N word is unique in that it—usually—flags when a person talks without thinking; that it’s “offensive” is immaterial. This goes for whoever uses it, in whatever context- whether it’s blacks talking to blacks, or whites talking to whites, or any combination thereof.

Of course, sometimes the word is used very deliberately. In those instances, however, the reason to use it outweighs the social invective against it—and while you may not respect that decision, at least allow that language, as a tool, was given due respect. I’m not trying to give Gwyneth Paltrow a pass—it’s not my place to do so. But when it comes to using language, no one gets to tell anyone else what they can or can’t say.

Anybody Else Seen Snooki’s Boobs?

by Jason Edwards

I have never watched Jersey Shore. Sorry if saying that makes me come across as some kind of snob or hipster wannabe. Like those people who don’t have a TV, and are eager to tell you so, anytime you bring up a program. (I was one of ‘em once. Ask me what I thought of West Wing and I’d say “Oh, I don’t own a television” instead of the right answer which would have been “Ah, have not seen it yet.”) I don’t elect to not watch Jersey Shore for any real reason—certainly not one of taste. I watch all kinds of tasteless garbage… ah crap, now I sound like a self-deprecating false modistyster. Damn.

I’m just saying, I’ve never seen Snooki in action, so I might be talking out my butt here. But I was on Google news, and it took me to MSNBC, or maybe Huffington Post and a link next to the article I was reading (something about Spain, maybe, or E3, or hot dogs) said that nude photos of Snooki had been leaked.

So I spent five minutes trying to find them. Then I went back to my article. Spain is in real trouble, y’all.

A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO HATE SNOOKI and I don’t really get it. The chief complaint is that she’s “fat.” I had no idea so many people in the internet were so thin. Don’t know why being fat means one should be hated, though. And for what it’s worth, she shore weren’t fat in any of the nudies I found.

Also, she has sex all the time. And she drinks a lot, it seems. Is this something people don’t do anymore? Why is having sex bad? Why is drinking a lot bad? I mean, if you’re raping people, that is bad, and if you’re drinking so much it causes children to die, I agree, better stop it. But if your job is to be watched on TV… what else can you do, really? I am being serious. Pretty sure the only reason any of us have jobs is so we can afford a place to have sex and alcohol to drink afterwards. Pretty sure.

Many people kept saying that she thinks she’s better than everyone else. Okay, I can see why that would rub a person the wrong way. Why you’d get mad if you spent a half hour, once a week, to watch someone on television getting paid millions of dollars. You know, spending your time paying attention to someone who thinks she should be paid attention to. Like you did. In a serial fashion.

For the most part, and I really do mean “most,” the people who bothered articulating why they hate Snooki were, well, not very articulate. It’s not just a few typos and some questionable grammar choices. It was just the thoughtless rhetoric, defended in this manner:

Why do I think of her this way ? Well you see the answer is very simple that’s the way I think of her .

I know I shouldn’t judge, and I being a hypocrite when I do, but there was not a single comment that anyone made, good or bad, that changed my mind the tiniest bit about Snooki. I DID, however, reconfirm that world is (still) peopled by remarkable idiots, and they all have opinions. Everyone has a colon, too, don’t they? You could learn a lot from a colon.

Screw You, BMI

by Jason Edwards

According the Body Mass Index, I am overweight. I’m 5’8” and 186 pounds. No one who looks at me is going to say “that guy’s too skinny.” No one’s going to call me slender or thin or emaciated. No one’s going to take a look at me and start up a campaign to get me fed.

However, I don’t know what “overweight” even means. Does it mean I’m not healthy? My doctor says all my levels are in the “very good” range (except my Vitamin D, but I live in Seattle, so gimme a break). I ran 5 miles this morning, 4 miles last night (Thursday), 4 miles on Wednesday, 4 on Monday, 8 on Sunday, 6 on Saturday. I can do 30 pushups in a row, 10 pullups. I can touch my toes. So how the #$%^&* am I not healthy? I’m 40 god damn years old.

According to this BMI I have to get down to 164 pounds to be “Normal.” And since a person’s weight will fluctuate on a daily basis, I’d need to get down 156 pounds so that I don’t skirt that “overweight” line. So I’m 30 pounds overweight. 16% of me is unnecessary, heart-stopping, artery-clogging, liver-busting fat.

This is what 30 lbs overweight looks like.

Or I’m not. I typed “BMI is” into Google and it helpfully tried to finish my search query with “BMI is a wrong,” BMI is a joke,” and “BMI is BS.” Dozens of forums with people expressing the same thing as I am expressing right here. And of course, a handful of BMI defenders. “It’s a scale, a tool to get an idea of where you might be, especially if you’re sedentary.”

No it’s not. It’s useless. It’s an arbitrary calculation that people who don’t know you can use to give you a label that doesn’t fit. If your doctor uses BMI to tell you to lose weight and considers nothing else, your doctor is useless. Get a new one.

If you’re sedentary, you’re not healthy, no matter what you weigh. “What about people who are too old to move around a lot, or people who have some sort of condition that doesn’t let them play sports?” Sorry, but those people are not healthy. Whatever their health level is, it can’t be measured against the rest of us.

And if you’re not sedentary—if you’re active, you’re going to have muscle, according to the kind of activity you do, the lifestyle you lead, and your genetic makeup. How can we used the same tool to compare a short Russian bodybuilder and a tall Kenyan runner? It’s not just comparing apples to oranges; it’s comparing watermelons to carrots.

I’ve known this for a while, and I would say to myself, “Okay, fine, I don’t need to be 165 pounds. But I could stand to lose some weight, nevertheless.” Well, I’m here today to say that’s bullshit too. I don’t need to lose a single pound. My weight is not holding me back from anything that I need or want. That I’m never going to win a marathon has nothing to do with my weight. There is no weight I could be that would make me a better husband. The size of my ass will never have any impact whatsoever on the quality, quantity, or general public acceptance of my writing.

The thing I have to remind myself, constantly, is: six-pack-abs is not “healthy.” It’s not unhealthy, but it’s not the only measure of health. It would be nice to have, but it’s certainly not something I should measure my self-worth with.

Do your buns sag a little? Boobies have a little droop? Got some cottage cheese lurking on your thighs? Me too. Yes, I have man-boobs, and they’ve jiggled me over 26 miles of running this week.