With that in mind, I was curious to see what these sad thrifty pilgrim people consider a vice. The list did not disappoint, with eight vices that include:
• Eating candy
• “Filling landfills”(?)
• Watching TV
• Playing poker
• Drinking beer
• Drinking soda
I like the idea that the Real Simple demographic breaks down such that fully one-fourth of this article is devoted to gambling. I'm imagining an editors' meeting where there’s a whiteboard covered with phrases like “eating candy” in loopy cursive. And then, like, one tough broad in the back puts her feet up on the conference table and is all, “What, we ain’t gonna address the elephant in the room? What about gamblin’?” And the lady at the whiteboard is like, “You’re right. This is Real Simple, and we're not afraid to tackle the tough stuff.”
Judging from the rest of the list, another quarter of readers—the smokers and beer drinkers—seem pretty normal. Presumably, the remaining half is Mormon? The diversity of this audience seemed absurd until I remembered that I myself subscribe to Real Simple even though I sort of hate it.
While the vices are good for a chuckle, the real joy of the piece is in the “new uses” part, which include:
• Using plastic bottle caps as a contact-lens holder
• Hiding $100 bills in an old remote control
• “Corral[ling] some clutter with that poker caddy”
Judging from the accompanying photograph, the latter works only if your clutter happens to be colored pencils.
Then, above all, there is this tip, which is hands-down the best thing I’ve ever read in a women’s magazine:
Quit smoking? Fill that (clean!) old ashtray with soy sauce instead. The notches make a handy rest for chopsticks between bites of spicy tuna.
Good idea. Just repurpose your old toilet as a punch bowl and it's a PARTY!
I also loved this:
Cut down on drinking? You can still start 2012 off with a bang—or at least a rattle. Drop a dozen coins into a clean, empty beer can and seal the opening with tape. When the clock strikes 12, shake some noise.
…which ran next to this photograph of an open can of Pabst.
Still, I wonder if there’s something to the idea of finding a new use for an old vice. I have to applaud the underlying sentiment, anyway. Sure, it’s obnoxious to suggest that people with a gambling problem might find the same satisfaction in organizing their colored-pencil collection as they would in blowing the kids’ college fund on card games or whatever. But what if we really could find a way to transform our faults into something positive and productive?
One of the things I admire about my imaginary best friend, Jeff Lewis, the OCD designer of Bravo’s Flipping Out, is how he managed to build a lucrative career upon pure pathology. Morrissey changed my life with his vanity and his self-loathing. And Louis C.K. has built an empire on exploiting his own flaws. And that’s just off the top of my head.
I was thinking about a new use for my own crippling self-obsession when I remembered that I’m a writer. Hopefully this will be my year to capitalize on that shit. So I'm grateful, I guess, to the sad thrifty pilgrim people at Real Simple. It’s 2012, and feeling bleak has never looked so bright. Plus what with all the drinking I should have plenty of noisemakers come next NYE.