Reluctant Townie: Things I'm hypothetically giving up for Lent

Reluctant Townie: Things I'm hypothetically giving up for Lent

Disclaimer: I am not even remotely Catholic and have therefore never observed Lent in any official capacity. The concept of abstaining from a personal vice for 40 days as a form of religious penance was first introduced to me via the 2002 film "40 Days and 40 Nights," which starred Josh Hartnett as a ladies man who, for Lent, gives up having sexual relations with co-star Shannyn Sossamon.

That being said, I am here to help, and if you can't think of anything to give up for Lent this year, don't panic: I have brainstormed a list of things I would hypothetically forgo if I subscribed to a spiritual world view that required me to deny myself carnal pleasures for nearly two months out of every year.

Things I would hypothetically give up for Lent this year:


And snow. And ice. And that feeling you get when you step outside and the wind chill kicks you in the face with a frigid combat boot of subzero temperature.

Don't get me wrong: I like drag racing grade-schoolers down the hill as much as the next 30-year-old hogging his daughter's penguin-shaped animal sled on a workday, but this winter has only served to confine me to my home like some sort of white-collar criminal.

Netflix cannot replace the biological effects of natural sunlight; I know this now. But I hear they're working on it.


You may think that not wearing pants for 40 consecutive days is the American dream — and you'd be right.

At first glance, there doesn't appear to be much sacrifice in freeing yourself from the shackles of pantaloons. But consider the real-world consequences of such a penance: A trouser-free lifestyle would require that you patronize establishments that operate by the credo "No shoes, no shirt, no pants — no problem, stud," a business model that has become increasingly rare in our current era of frivolous lawsuits and public decency laws (thanks, Obama!).

In addition, there is no guarantee that March will be significantly warmer than the rest of 2014 thus far.


To Hades with your science of the bowels, Jamie Lee Curtis. I would, hypothetically, if I were Catholic (and ate yogurt), use Lent as an excuse to distance myself from your cunning campaign of probiotic wizardry.

Man wasn't meant to eat yogurt — no one was! It's gross.

In a show of faith, I would leave the "regularity" of my digestive tract in the good graces of the holy trinity: White Castle, Taco Bell and a 5-pound bag of sugar-free gummy bears I had overnight-ed from Amazon.

Snorting bath salts

Just as the new Pope is trying to bring the Catholic Church into the 21st century, I believe those observing Lent should try to modernize their approach. Alcohol and cigarettes are popular vices to give up, but I think cutting down the amount of bath salts you snort is a penance that more accurately reflects the times we live in.

It's 2014, so unless you're on the cast of "Mad Men," odds are you don't smoke cigarettes. But you probably snort bath salts.

Like most of you, I got into bath salts because I thought it made me look cool and I heard it made everything smell better. And at first, it did. I could walk through the sewers for days on end, smelling nothing but lavender and cherry blossom. I felt like a god. Then, one day, I crashed. And I crashed hard.

Believe me when I say you haven't hit rock bottom until you wake up to find yourself naked, handcuffed, Tasered and trying to eat the face off of an American Apparel mannequin. But, on the other hand, it did Instagram pretty well.

Making deep, meaningful eye contact with strangers on the bus

It's going to be a struggle not to lock eyes with complete strangers as they board the bus, and then to not hold that eye contact until they prematurely exit the bus five stops later, visibly shaken.

But it will probably be easier without the bath salts.


Sometimes you need to go on a break to gain perspective, know what I mean? If I were observing Lent, I would consider using the next 40 days to mull over my other spiritual options. Perhaps there is something out there that doesn't require me to stop doing stuff I like to do for two months a year.

Ryan Jackson is vaguely aware that there are more religions than Catholicism that celebrate Lent, and he can be reached at

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