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"You say you want diamonds and rings of gold..."

A recent trip to an optometrist, who would not agree that there is a contact lens made specifically for lazy Americans, has proved two things to you over the course of two days.

First, you can't judge a personality from a website. Yes, she was hot. She was even more stunning in person. You should be aware by this point that fantasy consistently fails to live up to reality because, at the end of the day, she was still a doctor. Try to forget her good advice and hectoring and take it to the shower.

The second thing she convinced you of was your need to buy prescription sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are only good for things that are right in front of you and don't wander into your peripheral view, which excludes such activities as driving, fly-fishing, playing golf or making sense of the conversation around you. $279 later, you have a pair of sunglasses that allow you to see what's directly in front of you and don't allow you to judge anything that strays outside of your direct vision.

In that spirit, here is a list of other things you should try out before committing yourself to purchase:

1. Ski boots - Whatever size you think your foot is, no matter how many different sorts of shoes you've purchased in your life, ski boots are the one shoe you will want to second-guess what your size is before accepting them. By the time you realize ski boots are the wrong size, you're crippled. This is because ski boots are about as comfortable as getting your foot stuck in plumbing.

2. Religion - They're all smiles 'til you're slipping on a pair of athletic shoes and waiting for death to spirit you off on the tail of a comet or giving up 10% of your salary and wearing funny underpants.

3. Military service - They're not all the same. Each branch may have over 100 different and exciting careers but at the end of the day, you're not really in a position to choose and there are only a few slots open for the jobs that may transfer to the civilian world. Think about it - if everybody in the army was a communications specialist, artillery would fire cell phones and nobody would die. There's a very dire difference between troubleshooting and shooting in trouble.

4. International Space Station - It sounds noble. Several hundred miles of atmosphere allow us to put aside our political differences and work to explore the final frontier together, as a team, just as Hollywood has imagined it. But let's make sure our sanitary habits are in line. Some people aren't bothered by a broken toilet. They would just as soon drill a hole in the bottom of the space station and squat over it. These are the kind of people you take camping, which is never done in a zero gravity environment.

5. Volunteering in general - Before you give up every Saturday, figure out why they're homeless to begin with. Some people don't want homes. Remember how you used to love hunting for snakes and turtles? Some people feel the same way about bottles and cans.

6. Anti-depressants - There are a lot of them out there and they have different side-effects, so ask your doctor how bad the withdrawal symptoms are. The last thing you want is to take an anti-depressant that makes you fat and then gives you a raging case of the heebie-jeebies trying to get off of it. It's bad enough being depressed - trying to get back to depression from fat and edgy can be a very bad year.

7. Girlfriends - They all have vaginas, true, but they have different personalities. Eventually that interferes with the ultimate ambition of having sex when you feel like it. This is especially true with women of Irish descent. If you haven't already made this mistake, let's make it simple. When you insult, belittle or just plain say something thoughtless to an Irish girl, your life will be a shallow hell that you could have dug with a plastic spoon. Perhaps you said something minor yet you accidentally gave birth to a grudge. Irish women hold grudges the same way most women carry infants. The grudge will last for 18-24 years and your job will be to admit culpability and just tend to it. Trust that there is very little you can do about having given an Irish woman a grudge outside of consistently admitting it and keeping her out of your liquor cabinet.

8. Cellular Phone Providers - Not checking out a cellular provider before locking in to a two year contract is a very bad idea. They may have plans you like but you may not have coverage in your area, no matter what the brochure says. It's annoying waking up every Saturday to find that your free minutes are available somewhere other than your own home, even more so when you live next to a cell phone tower that you could hit blindfolded with a softball. Your property values are depressed because it looks like a piece of the Death Star fell in your neighborhood and is currently irradiating everybody within a half-mile radius and you can't even call a good friend to complain.

9. Tattoos - You can't really try them out beforehand but you should carry a picture of what you want inked on your body for a full year before committing to having it put on your body. That cartoon character that you love and identify so much with? The artist behind that cartoon is downloading child pornography right now and will lose syndication as soon as the FBI arrests him.

-William Cadillac Donovan

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Mike Doughty



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