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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Column: Not as I do

Halloween weekend and the envelope-pushing skin-baring “costumes” it yielded have come and passed. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with a diatribe about trashiness versus creativity – that shtick is a tired, silent shout. I will, however, gladly lay this other doozy of a seasonal cliché on you: just as the candy that we collect (or used to, at least) on Oct. 31 teaches us, sometimes the things that are worst for us are the things we want the most.

I know you must have heard it a million times and in a multitude of different ways by now, but there’s still some serious fiber to be found in that platitude, especially if you take it at more than just face value. I’m going to just skip to the part where I spoil the symbolism: the candy in question is a metaphor. I’m not going to spend 750 words fleshing out that idea when I could just divulge it right here, upfront, and conserve my remaining allotted space for talking about myself – you’re all welcome. In short, consider the candy a microcosmic representation of all unhealthy habits and addictions, or to really drive home the symbolism here, junk food for the soul.

You stayed for the third paragraph? Kudos. After the verbal diarrhea and groan-worthy symbolic comparison of the second, I figured you were a goner for sure — hence the speedy condensation of this column’s moral content. But I digress.

Circling back to the idea that we young’uns have a tendency to want things that are bad for us, let’s consider the past month in a nutshell. When the midterms of early October reared their ugly heads, students in every class standing allowed their true colors to shine through. “MORE COFFEE! WHO MOVED MY SPIRAL NOTEBOOK? WHERE’S THE ADDERALL?”

During the period in question, I had just been hired at a downtown coffee shop (Mishka’s Café, 610 Second Street; please, no autographs during work hours) and soon found it to be the studying student’s Mecca. I also found that, even with all the highly customized espresso drink orders (“I’ll just have half-caf soy mocha with two pumps of hazelnut and etc. for here but in a to-go cup.”) most people were either too preoccupied or didn’t care enough to notice when I slipped up on a minor detail or two. They were there for a caffeine fix — and the gourmet coffee, naturally.

When the end of the month came around, bringing the end of midterms, (for the most part; damn you, Linguistics 6!) the atmosphere of anxiety was suddenly replaced with anticipation for the impending bingefest and veritable soft-core porn of Halloween weekend. A steaming mug of Dark Balkan wasn’t the drinkable accessory du jour anymore, if you catch my drift.

I’m not saying that coffee, caffeine or alcohol in moderation are unhealthy. The point I’m trying to get across is that as students we almost force ourselves to develop these dependencies. We lay out all of the things we want and need on a (once again, metaphorical) table — good grades, social/love/sex lives, a job, a beach bod, etc. — and more often than not choose to succumb to all of the overwhelming wants as opposed to delineating a cutoff between them and the needs.

Allow me to water down said previous statement into something that’s a bit easier to swallow: it isn’t necessarily the things we put into our bodies that constitute junk food, but the addictions themselves. Using coffee simply to stay awake rather than savoring it, drinking for the sake of getting drunk, doing everything you want to do to the detriment of your sleep schedule — in attempting to prolong bouts of fun, you kill time that could be used much more industriously.

But enough of the didactic monologue; I would just like to thank the readers who still remain at this point –– the true 1 percent – for their tenacity and admit that, actually, I’m kind of glad to have reached my word limit. Now I no longer have an excuse to put off doing all my other work that doesn’t involve self-reflection. Good thing I’ve got plenty of coffee.

If you want to be DYLAN GALLAGHER’s lover, you gotta not only get with his friends but also buy him things and satisfy his every whim. Suitors may contact him at dylaaaaan@gmail.com!

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