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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

If the Bit Fits, You’re in Deep Shit

(Need some science in your life? Of course you do!

This week, the science fix over at Secondhand SCIENCE is all about electric bacteria.

No, it’s not a disease you catch from watching too many ’80s breakdancing movies. I promise. Check it out.)

I’m a tad OCD. Just a tad. I take even numbers of steps, eat French fries in pairs and dutifully eat every scrap of food on my plate. Don’t always want it. Didn’t always put it there. But by god, I eat it. Because I’m broken.

But just a tad broken.

This is why I didn’t realize what hell I was unleashing a few weeks ago when I decided to get my wife a FitBit as an anniversary present.

It may seem that one thing has nothing to do with the other. And that’s probably true. For unbroken people.

My first mistake was trying to anticipate my wife’s wishes. We’ve been married for eighteen years; you’d think I’d recognize the futility of that exercise by now. But no. I’m stubborn.

Anyway, it seemed like a good idea at the time. She’s taken up jogging in recent months, and I thought a step/fitness tracker might make a good accessory. Only I didn’t know whether she’d want a wrist-strappy kind of doodad, or a pocket-clippy kind of doodad. So I bought both, wrapped them in Christmas paper — because who buys anniversary-themed wrapping paper and can remember where the shit it’s buried in the storage closet? — and gave them both to my wife on our anniversary.

“Our ‘official’ choices were something like bismuth or ponchos made from the hides of African yaks.”

(Which technically constituted my second mistake, because it violated the tenets of the anniversary gift code.

Hey, I stuck with the list as long as I could — year one is paper, year two is china, year three is, like, lace tea cozies. We’re in year fricking eighteen now. All the good shit has been bought already. Our “official” choices were something like bismuth or ponchos made from the hides of African yaks. I went with FitBits. Emily Post can suck it.)

My wife picked the wristy tracker, which left the clippy one hanging out, sitting in the box. Just a backup. In case of emergency. No immediate plans for use.

So I took it.

And that was my worst mistake. Because I’m a tad broken, and I like nice even numbers and clean finished plates — and now there’s an evil little device in my pocket telling me I’ve only walked seven flights of stairs today, and I need twenty-two hundred more steps to reach ten thousand.

(Warm, comforting, right 10,000.

Not icky, jagged, wrong 7,809.

God. I can’t even look at that. I need a shower.)

Needless to say, I’ve walked literally everywhere since our anniversary.

I’ve walked to work. I’ve walked for lunch. I’ve walked to rehearsals. I’ve walked to class. You name it, and put it within reach of my Reebok sneaks, and I’ve walked there.

Because I had to.

My only solace is this: I may be crazy, and effectively enslaved by an inch-long strip of plastic that periodically eggs me on with messages like “ATTABOY CHARLIE” or “HOPTOIT CHARLIE” or “HEYFATASSWHYARENTYOUWALKINGTOVERMONTRIGHTNOW CHARLIE” (the last of which may have been a fatigue-induced hallucination).

But at least I’m not the craziest person with a FitBit in my pants. That title appears to belong to writer David Sedaris, who wrote a New Yorker piece a few weeks ago about his own FitBit experience. And how he walks sixty thousand steps a day.

That’s serious shit right there. I know people who haven’t taken that many steps since Y2K. The man is out of his head. And probably out of shoes. I’d like to think, with just a smidge of smugness, that at least David Sedaris is more OCD than me.

Like to, but can’t.

The truth is, he’s a better writer. Which has allowed him to write for a living, take up residence in England and spend nine hours a day of his wealth of leisure time walking around his neighborhood.

(And picking up trash, apparently, because community responsibility, fuck yeah.)

Given the same opportunity, would I do any differently? With nine hours to kill and a FitBit plugged into my brain via the pocket of my jeans, would I do aught but walk? Can I really be sure, without strolling a marathon a day — technically only twenty-five and a half, but who’s counting? — in his shoes?

The evidence is grim. For my own sake, I think I’ll just keep writing nonsense, munching fries two-by-two and shooting for 10k a day, whether I feel like stepping them or not. On the bright side, at least I’m getting exercise. Which means I’m looking fabulous in my yak poncho. So there’s that.

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One Response to “If the Bit Fits, You’re in Deep Shit”

  1. Ronnie Peace says:

    My wife used to love the OCD. I’m not a fan of those tv shows, but I did like the theme music, and it always gave me spare time to google monkey videos while she watched it.

    I had an ex girlfriend in another life that didn’t care much for fitness (and why should she, it didnt care much for her, quite obviously). I taught her to jog, so she started jogging. Then she started running. And then, one day, she never came back.

    I’m glad I taught her to run.

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