Resolution: Try to QUIT a health club
I'm trying something different to celebrate the new year. I'm actually trying to quit a health club. I know. This is the time of year when everyone joins health clubs, also known as fitness clubs, gyms or "parasitic automatic money suckers from your credit card."
Health clubs depend on the groggy, liquor-soaked, sashimi-gorged optimism that infects many residents at the beginning of a new year. In barely functional mental condition, these people vow to "turn over a new leaf," "start anew," "get their lives on track," "get in shape" and "stop the madness." It is self-delusion on a grand scale, but the health clubs love it.
The key to turning over a new leaf is to financially commit yourself to something so you can't try to turn the leaf back over when you sober up. Automatic withdrawal from your credit card is the way to go. Then you'll have to follow through with your plan. This enthusiasm lasts for about two weeks, and the health clubs suddenly are packed with converts. Every stair-climber, treadmill, stationary bike and rowing machine is taken. Then, on week three, the gym is as empty as the main street in that cowboy movie "High Noon." All that's left is Gary Cooper on the elliptical machine and a few bad hombres eyeballing him from the free-weights area.
The Official New Year's Health Program is over, but all the people who joined the health club on Jan. 2 continue to pay their monthly dues. They figure as long as they are paying, they'll get back in the gym. Maybe after the Super Bowl. You can't start an Official Health Program before the Super Bowl. That's when the new year really starts. Or maybe Easter.
The health clubs LOVE this. In what other business do people pay NOT to use your services? The money comes in every month, yet there's no wear and tear on the business infrastructure. It's like buying a brand-new car and then letting the dealer keep it in his showroom. Sweet.
Of course, I know all this because I typically have been the one who tries to turn over a new leaf only to find that every year the leaf gets heavier and harder to turn over. This year the leaf is so heavy it can hardly get off the sofa.
But I can't join a health club this year because I joined one a few years ago. I've gone off and on but really haven't darkened that particular doorstep for about five months. And the last time I only took a 20-minute sauna. I figure that sauna cost me about $300.
So, this year I'm going to quit! Or at least try. Quitting a health club is harder than quitting the Mafia. Health clubs are known to be hard of hearing when it comes to telling them to quit taking money out of your account. You quit but they don't. So, we'll see how this new financial health program goes. In the meantime, I leave you with a New Year's wish I learned from a book by Texas humorist Kinky Friedman that I got for Christmas:
"May the best of your past be the worst of your future."
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
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