Taking the Pursuit of Happiness

I have a secret to share with you.

For the last 30-or-so years, I’ve been attempting suicide.

In elementary, middle, and high schools, I was told of the importance of a healthy diet. This was reinforced with after-school public service announcements, commercials with the first lady, the Today show, C. Everett Koop, and the government. They all said that a healthy diet is essential to avoid dying from some sudden, massive heart attack. In movies, a recurring motif is a random fat guy eating a cheeseburger, sweating, gasping 1-4 times, and falling dead on the floor. It’s quick, the pain is short-lived, and in a few frames of film, he’s outta here. Plus, it usually accompanies a fantastically tasty meal.

Now, that’s my kinda way to go.

I realized early that life is an extremely harsh punishment for behaving oneself. Perhaps it is the fact that my family skipped a generation, and I attended a lot of funerals before age 10. The conversations at those uplifting events focused on how bad things were for the dead guy/gal and how they are now “in a better place.”

So, I chose food as my express train to get off this rock and to a “better place.” So far, I realize that the government, C. Everett, Hollywood, and Jane Pauley all lied to me. My health is depressingly good. Hell, after countless cheeseburgers, T-bones, and malts, I’m at least owed a decent stroke.

I’m pissed. Somebody’s ass is getting sued for this.

For this reason, I am insanely jealous of guys on death row. The government gives them a place to live (segregated from much of life’s bullshit), and feeds them. No bills to pay. No waiting in line at post offices. No commute. No marathon phonecalls from Aunt Mabel on her recent bladder surgery. No deciding on whether to buy Ketchup or Catsup. Eventually, tubes pump chemicals into their veins and, 10 minutes later, viola! They are out of here. No more suffering from bad drivers, bipolar bosses, Sarah Palin speeches, Joel Osteen, and American Idol. All of those torturous life experiences disappear as the electricity stops in the (now dead) brain.

Lucky bastards.

Why should they get all the perks. Many killed, raped, and/or maimed. They caused the suffering of others to peak. That shouldn’t be rewarded.

Thinking of this caused me to consider punishment in this country. In the beginning, the founders talked about our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Most of our current punishments address losses to liberty. We send folks to jail, depriving them of certain freedom. Occasionally, they receive parole or probation. With these, there are conditions placed upon their liberty. Life, though not taken as often as liberty, is still a possible punishment for misdeeds.

How many times do we punish people by impairing their pursuit of happiness? Rarely. This warrants discussion by sentencing authorities. Let’s be perfectly frank: some fates are worse than death. All it takes to put this into practice is a bit of creativity, some motivation, and a moderately sociopathic perspective.

Consider a few possibilities.

You are hereby sentenced to:

Normal Portion Sizes for (X years/Life). Here, a person is sentenced to consuming only the recommended daily allowance of calories, fat, saturated fat, and all other essential vitamins and minerals. They must only consume adult portion sizes of food for each meal. This eliminates the most basic of red, white, and blue American rights. Gone are days of gluttony, double cheeseburgers, and supersizing. Instead, your diet is rigidly controlled by a 6′ tall, 80 lbs. dietician (who also acts as parole and suicide prevention officer). Each day, you feel the horror and the pain. As you consume a few choice pieces of spinach for dinner, you feel the mockery of our increasingly-supersized society. Life is utter hell. This punishment has the added stigma of making the convicted person healthy and, therefore, extending their life. Oh, the horror.

No Electronic Gadgets for (X years/Life). Can you imagine the clinical depression forced upon 20-somethings given this punishment? No iPhone, iPad, Wii, Gameboy, XBox, or any other useful (or worthless) gadget. Each day, you watch cell phone users walk around you in the mall, flaunting their ability to interact with electrons. The itching and burning are constant as you lament the deeds that caused the sentence to digital purgatory.

No Sex for (X years/Life). This must be applied selectively. For some guys, there would be no change in their daily routine (especially the married ones). For others, the harm this imparts upon their manliness and status would be more than they could bear. This, of course, can work similarly for women. Although, be mindful of those who enjoy the title “hot chick who doesn’t put out.”

No Petroleum-Based Fuel for (X years/Life). What defines us as Americans more than our addiction to gasoline fumes. The speed. The freedom. The ability to travel long distances to see other crappy people. The competition with the neighbor to see whose vehicle makes more fumes. To force a person to utilize a bicycle, public transportation, or walking shocks the conscience. We can imagine the neighbors talking, “Oh, yeah, that’s Fred. He beat his wife. Now he must drive an electric car.” Response: “Gasp!”

No Access to Porn for (X years/Life). Within one year, crimes committed by males drop precipitously, causing the closure of dozens of prisons.