Friday, March 13, 2009

The Curious Case of the Calculating Computer

I think I may have figured out why I’m going bald. Three years into my membership at X-Cel/Gold’s Gym, I finally cashed in my free trainer consultation, and his computer told me I have the health of a 43-year-old.

In the time since I have been trying to explain the results:

1. The computer wants me to hire a personal trainer

This is a totally rational argument, given that the purpose of the consultation is to get me to sign up for a personal trainer. It is also rational because I use my body all the time for all sorts of stuff, and I know that I at LEAST have the health of a 42-year-old.

2. My current workouts are aging me

In the last few months, as my schedule has opened up, I have started visiting the gym more consistently, and, in my mind’s eye, more effectively. However, it could be that my slavish dedication to the bench press is actually hurting my overall health. So while it’s cool to be able to bench press a small foreign automobile, I may have to sacrifice that claim to fame for the greater good.

3. I recently grew a beard

In the last few years I have reached a curious stage of life where growing my hair out always makes me look older. This is especially true on the top of my head, where neglected shaving further highlights my bald spot, but it also works on my face. In recent weeks I have grown a modest beard, partially out of reverence for Joaquin Phoenix and partially out of disgust at the current status of my social life, and I’m pretty sure that beard makes me look a good decade older. So it’s possible that the computer took my facial hair into account and said to itself, “Hey, this guy is lying about his age. There’s no way anyone could grow a Kick-A beard like that under 40. I’d better say he’s got the health of a 43-year-old, then get back to work undermining the numbers on Wall Street.”

4. My current eating habits are atrocious

This point is deserving of a special, largely unread column of its own, but I will summarize: my eating habits suck. Bad food at erratic times. But the thing is, the stuff I eat TASTES GOOD. And I still say the Barbacoa Burrito Bowl is healthier than eating two junior hamburgers and a large fry at Wendy’s, no matter what the trainer guy says.

5. My current sleeping habits are atrocious

Sometime in the last month or so I decided to re-watch all of the “Lost” episodes starting with Season One. As I have worked on this Personal Life Goal, I have noticed two things: First, I tend to go to bed closer to 2AM instead of 1AM, and second, there is not a single character on the show who doesn’t have a significant daddy issue.

Jack: Alcoholic, overbearing father who dies in Australia and may have been resurrected on island.

Kate: Blew up abusive father, though she thought he was only her stepfather at the time.

Locke: Father is a con man who stole Locke’s kidney and pushed him out an eighth-story window (not simultaneously).

Sawyer: Father killed mother and shot self after being conned by Locke’s father.

Charlie: Working-class father who discouraged his artistic interests.

Claire: Father is also Jack’s dad, via intercontinental adultery.

Sun: Father is either a Korean automotive kingpin who has government reps killed or is connected to the Korean mafia. Probably both.

Jin: Former button-man for Sun’s father, his own father is actually a really good guy, though Jin is ashamed that he’s a fisherman and doesn’t know that his mother is a prostitute.

Hurley: Father is Cheech Marin.

Sayid: No mention of his father, but it’s safe to say that after spending the 1990’s as a torturer in the Republican Guard and a stint after leaving the Island as an assassin for Ben, Sayid’s relationship with his father is at least strained.

Michael: We never meet his father; rather, HE is the father issue with telepathic super-human savant son, Walt.

Ben: Father blamed him for causing the death of his mother in childbirth, so Ben drove him to the top of a tropical mesa in a Volkswagen Bus and gassed him to death while listening to Three Dog Night.

Desmond/Penny: We don’t know Desmond’s father (at least as far as I know), but his father-in-law is a multi-millionaire (billionaire?) industrialist who was totally mean to him when he asked permission to marry his daughter. Plus he exhumed hundreds of bodies from a graveyard in Asia to fill a dummy airplane he planted in the ocean to distract search parties while he sent a freighter full of mercenaries to exterminate everyone on the island.

Vincent the Dog: Never knew his father.

I could go on, but you get the point. Either the “Lost” writers have serious issues with their own fathers, or the whole show is trying to make some kind of social comment on the current condition of the family, perhaps connected to absentee fathers or single-parent strains. All I know is it makes me super-grateful for my own dad.

6. The date on my birth certificate was doctored to improve my chances of becoming a pitching phenom in little league.

Yeah, I think we can rule this one out.

7. 43 is actually an improvement

It’s possible that the health glass is really half-full. In the course of discussion with my prospective trainer, he mentioned (without provocation) that failure to get enough sleep actually “ages” you. It just so happens that I recently came out of an extended stint as a television producer where I worked from 1 to 10AM and averaged about four hours of sleep per day (in the afternoon, no less). With that in mind, I’m guessing that if you had measured my health at the time the show was cancelled, the computer would have told me I was 117 years old, which means 43 is a dramatic improvement.

Viva the power of positive thinking. Viva the power of the beard.