Sunday, September 25, 2005

36.5. Magical Thinking

by Augusten Burroughs

Or, and a fifth, I should say, as I got exactly 52 pages into this 268-page book before I looked up and considered the possibility of not finishing the book. I tried to remember how many books I’ve started without finishing and, not counting some of the books I had to read for class in college, only two come to mind. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, which I tried to read twice but only got halfway through each time because it is so unbelievably boring (to me at least); and Neuromancer by William Gibson because I didn’t understand much of what was happening and realized that I didn’t care. Magical Thinking gave me pause for a different reason, which is revealed in the following two paragraphs:

Women just smirk at baldness, as if it’s cute. How adorable would they find it if they began to lose their breasts in their late twenties? If both tits just shrunk up – unevenly I might add – and eventually turned into wine-cork nubs. Then it would be a different story. Then men would get the pity they deserve from women, as opposed to the smirks. There would be little ribbons you could wear on your jacket for Baldness Awareness Month. There would be marathons where people wept openly as bald men crossed the finish line, smiling and wiping sweat from their fleshy heads.

As far as I’m concerned, baldness is the male breast cancer, only much worse because almost everyone gets it. True, it’s not life-threatening. Just social-life threatening. But in New York City, there is no difference.

Okay. Where to begin…

A) Women’s breasts do deform as they age. Maybe they don’t “shrink up” in our twenties, but if we have a baby or breast-feed or even lose a significant amount of weight, our breasts change greatly and it’s not necessarily for the better. Not to mention the fact that just your normal, average, everyday breasts don’t measure up to the perky, perfectly symmetrical spheres we’re expected to have.

B) Breast cancer can kill you. Baldness cannot. End of story. No one ever died from baldness. (Although Cinnamon made a good point that Burroughs might be the first one.)

C) When you’re bald you have options. Baldness can be sexy. Case in point – Bruce Willis. Case also in point – Billy Zane. Not to mention Samuel L. Jackson, Damon Wayans, and, some women would say, Patrick Stewart. You have significantly less options when you lose a breast. One-breasted women aren’t really en vogue at the moment.

D) So you’re going bald. Most women who have breast cancer? Also end up bald. We lose a body part that some might argue is essential to our femininity, we’re subjected to possibly-fatal drugs, and we lose our hair. Who, in this scenario, is more deserving of that little ribbon?

Bear in mind, this is the calm version of my reaction.

As I stood on the El, feeling incomprehensibly offend by these two paragraphs, I tried to examine them from another viewpoint. What if Adam Carolla, who I love and who is undoubtedly offensive, uttered this sentiment? Would I still be offended or would I find it funny because it’s Carolla? I tried to imagine these thoughts repeated in his voice – what jokes would he make and would they undercut the inherent stupidity of it all? And I couldn’t. Adam Carolla would never say this because while Adam may say the basest, most chauvinistic things, he’s never been so ignorant as to compare a life-threatening, socially pervasive disease to something so trivial as the quality of his hair. I love Adam Carolla because he’s offensive. I hate Augusten Burroughs because he’s a sniveling nitwit.

The question remained – do I finish the book because I have a record few that I’ve given up on? Or do I toss it aside and add one more to my short list? When I came home I looked around my room. I have a back-issue of McSweeney’s waiting for me. I’ve still got the last three of my Powell’s binge to get through. Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs sat on my bed, begging to be read because not only have I fallen in love with Klosterman through his series of Esquire columns, I can’t help but get excited about a “low culture manifesto.” And I thought, life’s too short, and there are far too many published books to waste it reading absolute shit. I slipped the book back in its jacket and haven’t picked it up since.


Blogger hooizz said...

klosterman is overrated - you did the right thing.


8:00 PM  
Blogger Exxie said...

Except that I was dogging Augusten Burroughs, not Chuck Klosterman. The digust with Burroughs was the entire point of the post.

8:37 PM  

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