Do You Want Fries With That?

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I don’t know why everybody keeps staring. I mean, it’s not like I did something everyone hasn’t thought about doing a million times.

I was just so tired of watching some middle-aged person compromise their dignity by asking something like “do you want some poppers for later?,” “would you like fries with that?” or “How about a nice slice of cheesecake to go?”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, a job’s a job. In this economy you can’t be too picky, but it strikes me as cruel that the faceless management of these corporate slop purveyors would force their resigned employees to ask these questions. I know there is some market research somewhere that tells us that x percentage of people respond in the affirmative when asked “how about a large chocolate shake?” Probably because of some deep-seated psychology about not wanting to go against the herd, or whatever.

But what about the waste of breath and effort asking that question really is? First of all, nobody needs poppers or a large shake. People are fat enough as it is, especially the people who eat at these places all the time.

But the real problem is the deep existential offense of requiring human beings to say stupid things against their will. Someone should do a study measuring how much a soul dies each time we ask a question like, “would you like a hot apple pie?”

I, for one, am overcome with grief and a blackish despair each time I ask for a coffee and am robotically assaulted with offers made by regular people trapped inside the bodies of fast food automatons peddling deep-fried foods bearing all the appeal of a dirty tissue.

I guess I finally just had my fill. I hardly even realized what I was doing when I reached across the counter and pulled the stand of plastic cups containing sickeningly sweet, artificially preserved baked goods onto the floor.

I hardly knew what I was saying when I yelled “No! I do NOT want a popper! I do not want FRIES with that! What the FUCK is the matter with you? If they’re so great, YOU have them! Just give me my goddamn coffee!!!”

But, you know, whatever. I was just doing what everyone thinks about but never does. One thing is for sure, though. I should probably start making coffee at home.

Or maybe less coffee is the answer…

NEEDLE WEAKWRIST

greatest-american-hero

Lance Armstrong. Come on. Is that really his name?

I have always wondered… It’s a bit too “Max Power,” “Dudley Do-right” or “Wes Mantooth” to be true.

And now, with the current sad state of affairs, I am feeling more and more like the fates have been so fickle. I mean, why should he get Lance Armstrong when others are cursed with names like Dick Butkus or Guy Whimper? It just doesn’t add up… Just like Lance’s story didn’t add up. But you know what does add up? The dollar bills in Armstrong’s bank account. And this in spite of his bold faced lies, bullying and self-satisfied, unrepentant douche-baggery. Although, now, to hear him tell it, Lance is “paying the price” for his lies. He will pay some fines, to be sure. It seems likely, however, that the financial impact will be slight since Armstrong is the figure head of a corporation and not just one guy.

The real punishment for his dishonesty is that he is banned for life from the sport that made him famous. Well, tough titty, Lance. I guess you should just go out and buy yourself a mountain bike and start riding for pleasure. Also, I happen to know Austin has the awesome Texas Trike Pilots Pedicab company that might hire you if you need something to do after all of this is over.

I noticed when watching Oprah Winfrey’s recent interview with Armstrong that the caption on ESPN said “Lance Armstrong comes clean.” But did he? can he ever be clean? Of course, America is the land of second chances. We’re a bit like the Catholic church that way. Confess, say you’re sorry, do your penance and you can stay. We all know the Catholic church has taken its hits in recent times and one might argue it is partly due to that very philosophy. But hey, we gave Michael Vick a second chance to make millions of dollars and receive critical accolades playing football after he went to jail for brutally abusing animals for money and entertainment. Shouldn’t we do the same for disgraced super hero Lance Armstrong? He’s banking on it.

To me, in the OWN interview, it felt as if Armstrong was responding to Oprah’s questions more as though he were a casual observer of his own experience than the party responsible for it. (Like “I know! awful, right?”)

When the big O asks him why, after years of brazen defiance and fierce denial of doping, he admits to it now, he initially responds that he doesn’t have a good answer, that his confession came too late. He launches into a wholesale admission of guilt calling himself arrogant and commenting on his ruthless desire to win.

We could all venture some guesses as to why, even if Lance can’t. Perhaps it’s because he got caught? Because he no longer stands to gain from cycling and needs a new media cow to milk? Cynical, I know. But it’s hard not to feel a little cynical in the face of the collective disappointment Lance’s admissions evoke.

When Lance gets tearful when talking about his son defending him, should we interpret that as remorse and forgive him? Or, should we see it as a personal regret insinuating itself into a public issue, and so bracket our misplaced empathy? So many questions.

Let me just say loud and proud: if Lance Armstrong couldn’t win without doping then he shouldn’t have won at all.

EPO, Cortisone, Testosterone and blood doping are banned in professional cycling. Dems da rules. Don’t like it? Do something else.

You wouldn’t step onto the football field wearing a hockey uniform. You wouldn’t decide to play baseball with a new rule that involves hitting a player you don’t like with a bat (although I feel certain that would generate higher ticket sales). You don’t get to make new rules because the old ones were inconvenient, knowing that others (even if they are few and far between these days) are abiding by the old ones.

I’ve heard it argued that doping shouldn’t be such a big deal. I’ve heard it argued that everyone does it. I’ve heard it argued that blood doping especially seems like a silly crime given that it uses one’s own biology for enhancement. I’ve heard it argued that in the future, everyone in every profession will use some form of performance enhancer – Adderall, Prozac, coffee, Kombucha anyone? Well, tell that to Babe Ruth, Walter “Sweetness” Payton and Muhammad Ali.

Look. You can make an argument for anything. You can say Eugenics had some good points. You can say the Nazi party pulled Germany together after a tough economic period. You’d never convince me (though enough were convinced in the past to change the world forever).

Let me be clear. I am not calling Lance Armstrong Hitler or saying doping is equivalent to sterilizing minorities (before you go all crazy with the tweets). What I am saying is that this is more than a conversation weighing the ups and downs of performance enhancers. This is a conversation about transparency and integrity. This is a conversation about one man’s (perhaps undue) influence on an institution and what that influence says about American values. This is a conversation about agreements that have been violated. Lance Armstrong agreed not to use banned substances. He violated this agreement and every other agreement he explicitly or implicitly entered into on the basis of that initial basic contract. As a result, the integrity of his career is cracked beyond repair

Armstrong referred over and over again to these infractions as the result of a personal “flaw.” In fact, he seemed desperate to characterize his crimes that way. Being judgmental is a flaw – one I am guilty of, obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing this. But, to me, a level of arrogance and drive that gives way to years of willful flouting of the rules, calculated deception of the masses and bullying of contemporaries is more than a flaw, it’s a syndrome. Here is one that comes to mind: http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html.

Am I being too harsh? Am I jumping on the ungenerous bandwagon of judgment heaped upon our former American Hero? Is that collective judgment borne out of embarrassment and guilt over lionizing Armstrong in the first place? Maybe. But I think Lance will bounce back. After all, you gotta hand it to the guy. He beat cancer and got back on the bike. He won 7 Tours de France – albeit with Cyclist’s Little Helper. He even got on Oprah! But his real legacy? I think we will find that the face of professional sports will be forever altered by this debacle. In the end, I believe Lance Armstrong will have changed the rules for everyone. In the end, I believe Lance Armstrong is going to be just fine.

I’d be worried if his name was Needle Weakwrist.

http://www.facebook.com/TexasTrikePilots

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-newell/lance-armstrong_b_1832707.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_doping

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erythropoietin

http://espn.go.com/sports/endurance/story/_/id/8855686/lance-armstrong-admits-doping-interview-oprah-winfrey

http://www.funnyordie.com/slideshows/58b662f026/amazingly-unfortunate-names