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So many lawyers, so little time...

"The prospect of hanging focuses the mind wonderfully"--Samuel Johnson

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Location: Louisville, KY, United States

Gastroenterologist, cyclist, cellist, Christian, husband, father, grandfather.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Taking stock

Truth be told, I've always taken pride in having an addictive personality.

Don't expect to read the diagnostic criteria on this website. Like the mainstream media journalists I emulate, I'm too lazy to look stuff like that up, and when it comes to blogging I'm no stickler for details. Trust me, addictive personality is like love itself: difficult to define, but we all think we know what it is.

Inconveniently for my self-assessment, I've not suffered from a major addiction: booze gives me a headache and flares my GERD; I'm too law-abiding to get illicit stuff; even legal addictive drugs would take too many fake complaints and doctors visits to obtain, and I'm too pig-headed to acknowledge that I could get some malady that I couldn't diagnosis and treat on my own. I have struggled with workaholism, but after suffering from massive burn-out I've been cured of that for the most part.

My addictive personality has been a peculiar comfort to me. It's reassuring in some weird way to know that there are dark forces that compel me to do stuff I may not want to admit to. It would definitely come in handy if I were accused of extra-marital relationships, for example. We're indebted to Bill Clinton for educating us all on that one.

One addiction that I've always been fearful of is gambling. I've never had any doubt that once I took my first bet that I would succumb to some primal blood-lust and take wild chances with my children's education and my pension.

So I decided to do some research on a cruise this past week (you've never heard me whine about poverty, and I'm grateful to have the means to spoil myself and my wife every now and then). One of my traveling friends invited me to join him at the blackjack table, and, against my better judgment, I joined him.

Within an hour I had tripled my initial amount. The other players at the table viewed me with admiration. The floor manager eyed me with suspicion. I started to mutter "Wopner, Wopner", under my breath, seeing if I could convince anyone I was an idiot-savant like the Rainman as portrayed by Dustin Hoffman.

If you're going to experiment with "drugs", why not just mainline them and go for the maximum effect? After awhile I started planning on how I'd be able to pay for shore excursions. Who knows, maybe if my luck held I could pay for the whole trip.

I went back to the tables several times, playing wisely and following the odds as best I knew how. My traveling companion is a "card-counter", so I would watch his bets carefully and would up my own if the "counts are favorable", an act that would have gotten us tossed out if they had caught us.

After diligent hours at the gaming table I decided I'd had enough, and that I'd retire on my winnings: $12.50. On a per hour basis I was making considerably less than minimum wage.

I quit not out of discouragement but out of boredom. I got tired of the smokers blowing their poison in my face. I got tired of counting the little numbers on the cards to see if they exceeded 21. I got tired of sitting in one spot for hours on end when I could have been off reading a book (even so I was able to read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and almost finished The Life of Pi, good books both).

I had to face the cold brutal truth: I felt no addictive calling to gambling.

I then had to face a colder, more brutal truth: I don't really have an addictive personality.

All these years I'd been doing more or less whatever I'd wanted to, and if challenged I would invoke dark forces over which I had no control. Work 80 hours a week for ten years? I'm a workaholic. Read every biking book and magazine in the English language? Sorry, just can't help it. Watch reruns of "Whose Line is it anyway?" every night at ten, come hell or highwater? No sane person would do that.

None of it was true. I'm just an undisciplined twit.

There are no local chapters of "Twits Anonymous" around that I know of. I'll never enjoy the camaraderie of announcing to the world, "Hello. I'm Jus and I'm a twit." I'm on my own on this one.

And that, I'm afraid, is the truth.