From Homer to Flanders, and onwards to Willie

It’s no secret that my life and Homer Simpsons’ are pretty similar.  We’ve both had our ‘issues’ and the only thing I haven’t done that he has, is go into space… yet.  But this is the way the writers of the show have cleverly written the character of Homer, to empathise with the average Joe in the street.

But there are two episodes that cut a little too close to the bone.

1.  When Homer quits his job at the nuclear power plant and gets his dream job as a ‘pin monkey’ at the local bowling alley.  Money is tight, but after he works out that as long as nothing changes then everything will be just fine.  Then Marge learns she is pregnant with Maggie.  Homer ends up crawling back to the plant where he is put back in his old job with a sign above his bench which says, “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever”.  He ends up covering the sign with photos of Maggie so it reads, “Do it for Her”

This was pretty much what happened to my wife and I.  I can clearly remember saying to her back in the late 90’s, “Honey we’re on the doorstep of a Golden Age!  As long as nothing changes we’ll be just fine.  You can go back to work, and I can leave the plant and get a better, but lesser paying job, etc …” A month later we got the news of a new arrival.  Both of us were devastated.  But as it turned out, the Littlest Princess has been a lot of fun to have around.  So, these days at work when I open my locker (which some kind soul has scribbled on the front “Don’t Forget You’re Here Forever”), I look at the picture inside of my children, and think “Yep, I’ll do it for them!”   

2.  Homer gives up drinking for a month.  It’s a funny show, but again, very close to the bone.  Homer gets booked for drink driving (I haven’t been charged with that ever… and don’t want to either!) and Marge asks him some questions from a survey, ‘Are You an Alcoholic’.  I laughed my head off as he answered the questions:

Q:  Do you drink alone? 

A:  Does God count as a person?

Reply: NO!

A: Then the answer is Yes!

Q:  Does alcohol change your perceptions of yourself?

'Does it ever!'

A:  Does it ever!

While I was laughing my head off at this, a person in my own house said, “Could you give up the booze for a month?”

A:  Sure!  I just don’t want to.

Real Answer:  Sure!  Maybe.  Well maybe not.  I don’t want to.  Stop hassling me!

Now, I don’t drink a lot.  By comparison to say… Barney, but the fact that I ‘needed’ to drink was still niggling in my mind. 

After my trip away, I visited the library and sitting on the shelf was a book by Alan Carr called “Control Your Drinking”.  I reached out for it, and suddenly pulled my hand away thinking, ‘I don’t need that!’  Then I thought, ‘Yes you do.’  I booked it out, took it home and started reading it immediately.  Two hours later I put it down and thought, “Shit!  I want to stop drinking.” 

I logged onto the Craig Harper Forum (http://www.craigharper.com.au/forum/viewforum.php?f=2) and wrote in the Want to Break a Habit topic:  I want to give up drinking for a month.  It was a big step, and I had a picture in my head of Homer’s shaking hand crossing off each ‘dry’ day on his calendar.  Suddenly it wasn’t so funny anymore. 

The next day at the gym I had another re-assessment.  I had actually lost muscle, added weight in all the wrong places, and found that I had made very little progress after my initial 3 months of signing up.  I really needed to make some changes.  The trainer asked me again, “Are you still drinking?”  Yep.  “Well, let’s change your routine, and I’ll get you to cut back on your drinking until you’re just having one every now and then socially, ok?”

I must have looked a little shocked at the time…

Returning home, I opened the book, read the final couple of chapters, and found that the desire to drink was magically taken away.  Not only did I not want to have a beer, a port, or a rum, but the very thought of it made me feel a bit crook.  I opened my beer fridge.  It was full of grog, and usually the sight of all that booze used to make me feel secure, safe, and ready for good time.  Now, as I stared at it, all I could see were bottles full of poison.  It was a small change in my thinking, but a very powerful change.  No desire = no cravings = no drinking.

But as a backup, I’d told my family and my friends, and had the accountability of logging onto the forum so the Want To Break a Habit gang could encourage me as I progressed each day.  How could I lose?  And after all, it was only for a month… 

I was on my way to becoming Ned Flanders, Homer’s non-drinking, goodie, goodie, but fit looking neighbour.  But, why stop there.  Why not aim for being built like Groundskeeper Willie!  Nothing like having a ‘realistic’ goal to aim for. 

I couldn’t wait to see how I looked in a kilt 🙂

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