Thursday, August 12, 2010

The phantom comb (and other analogies)

I recounted on Froogville a little while back how I had finally been driven to shave my head.

I'm quite happy with my 'new look', overall. And the initial novelty is wearing off: I no longer find myself stroking my own head every couple of minutes to test the continually softening texture of the bristles.

However, it's beginning to bug me that every time I step out of the shower - every time I set foot in the bathroom for any reason, in fact - I suddenly find my comb in my hand.

I am still a good two or three months away from needing the services of a comb again. At the conscious level, I am fully aware of this. But the more primitive centres of my brain are obviously locked in a (disturbingly vain??) set pattern of "bathroom - mirror - COMB".

I am trying very hard to 'reprogram' myself, but..... every time I relax my vigilance the slightest little bit, the subconscious takes over and I'm picking up the bloody comb again.

I fear I have the same problem with drinking and bars. At the conscious level, I am very happy with my decision to abstain from alcohol this month. I don't think I've ever found it easier to undertake one of these dry spells. I'm actually, sort of, enjoying it. I'm starting to think that I could extend this run of abstinence beyond my original plan of 28 days - or at least, cut down very drastically when I do resume my wicked drinking ways.

Except that...... whenever I'm in a bar, something like The Phantom Comb Syndrome takes over: my subconscious brain doesn't get the whole not-drinking thing, and it keeps nagging me, nagging me, nagging me, two or three times every minute: "Why haven't you bought a drink yet? Why haven't you bought a drink yet? No, not that - a real drink! Why haven't you bought some alcohol yet??"

I think this is why it's such a trial for me to stay DRY if I go out on the town, why time seems to drag so terribly. It's that nasty little ingrained habit in my subconscious mind to expect an alcoholic drink every time I'm in a bar, peevishly piping up to register its complaint and bafflement every few seconds. That, I think, is what keeps reminding me of the (non-)passage of time, and can make the evenings seem so insufferably long.

Well, I suppose I have reinforced that expectation countless thousands (gawd, probably tens or hundreds of thousands) of times now. It's quite a task to try to undo that much conditioning. I'm not sure that I'm ever going to be able to throw the 'OFF' switch on that pestering inner voice.

Then again, I haven't picked up my comb for a few days now. Maybe there's hope......


The British Cowboy said...

Far from it being my habit to lecture you... :)

Maybe you should print this post out and stick it in your wallet, to read to yourself again when you exhibit your usual callousness towards smokers.

It's combining that subconscious programming with one of the greatest physical addictions...

Froog said...

Well, as you know, Cowboy, I have the highest respect for smokers who are trying - even with limited success - to give up, precisely because I appreciate how very difficult it is.

However, I have enormous contempt for those who perversely or complacently persist in the habit - and make fatuous attempts to defend or justify their vice, and their supposed 'right' to practise it in public (in disregard of the hugely negative impact it may have on the health and comfort of others).