The Creature of Habit Meets the Flitter

Editor’s note: The following originally appeared as “Column One” in the 2013 (final) edition of the Fake LA Times I sent East at Christmas for twenty years…

Despite my annual efforts to package my existence as a non-stop whirlwind of adventure and discovery, the reality is I’m not exactly Mr. Excitement. I spend the majority of my time reading the newspaper, perusing the internet, and trying to knock out the “diabolical” Sudoku… with a pen. Yes, ladies, if you are looking for a badass, he’s sipping coffee at the breakfast nook, elbow-deep in the comic section.
I think I’ve always been a pretty boring individual. In fact, I think most of the “interesting” things I’ve done were mostly futile attempts to escape the label of Most Likely To Induce Narcolepsy. I’ve lived in the same house for the last seventeen years and essentially the same place for the last thirty. Had two jobs working with the same guy in the same industry since 1983. Drive a ’98 Camry. Had a ’95, ’92, and ’88 (all Camries) prior. 30 year subscriber to the LATimes. Eat canned tuna 4-5 times a week (yes, I know about the mercury) and can’t really function without coffee. I’m putting myself to sleep, just thinking about me.
Routine is comforting to me, and I’m all about comfort. Most of the risks I’ve taken in life were gambles whose payoff would be an even greater level of comfort than I’d be able to achieve otherwise. When people advocate “get out of your comfort zone” my immediate reaction is “Why?” Are there people that like to be uncomfortable? Is there a market for pills that cause headaches? How about uncomfortable chairs and couches? I could go on, but you get my drift.
There was a time, though, before I settled into my drone like existence, when apparently, I felt the need to Try New Things. It’s not clear to me, even now with the benefit of hindsight and a lifetime of underachievement, whether I was actually interested in trying new things, or simply looking for an escape from the things I’d already gotten sucked into. My early employers included everyone from McDonald’s to IBM, selling cars, cashing checks, driving cabs. I went to two different high schools, nearly flunked out of college, switched majors and eventually several colleges before finally graduating. I was going to be an engineer, then a writer, eventually arriving at the reality of person that sells pianos and organs at the mall. My mother referred to this lack of stick-to-itiveness as “flitting” as in “flitting from one thing to another.” It’s true – before I was Johnny Dullsville, I was… The Flitter.
On close analysis, there’s not a lot of difference between a flitter and a quitter. Mostly it depends on whether you’ve learned your lesson or you foolishly launch yourself into another doomed enterprise after failing at the one at hand. Drop piano lessons and swear off musical instruments forever and you’re a quitter. Give up sucking on keys for, say, sucking at drums, or an electric guitar and you’re more of a flitter, and probably a few decibels more annoying to boot.
Yes, flitting is nothing more than serial quitting, and I did my fair share of it. Eventually, though, the weight of all that failure takes it’s toll and you are less and less inclined to embark on fresh undertakings, knowing full well your odds are daunting.
For much of life I resisted accepting my ingrained vapidity. I fought against the tedium that is me with ski trips and motorcycle adventures, marathons and musicals. But hurtling down that icy XX slope or that winding Lost Highway, you realize there is no velocity that will allow you to escape your fundamental dreariness.
Mercifully, as the years pass, the need to disguise one’s abject insipidness ebbs. You get married, settle down, don’t go out much and there’s less need to be exciting or even appear to be exciting. Some of your peers achieve lasting fame or financial success, leaving you behind with the majority that haven’t. Sibling rivalry (if it was ever present) stabilizes, further reducing the need to be “all that you can be.”
Life flattens out into a level monotony. The desire to travel to exotic locales (and post about it on Facebook), is tempered by visions of the TSA and the ravages that Escherichia coli inflicted on your intestines the last time you ventured off the continent. Three Days of Peace and Music morph into Three Miles of Lines and Mud. You do the math and realize that your home has better amenities than nearly any hotel you could afford – and you don’t have to go through a single security line to enjoy them.
Which brings us (literally) to the issue at hand. The whole point of these things is to expound on all the grand adventures one has checked off in the previous twelve months. The awards bestowed, the milestones passed, the summits… summitted.
When your main activity is napping with the occasional power walk, it hardly seems worth the time and expense to put pen to paper, (digitally speaking.)
When the first of these came out in 1993, the kids were still babies, the first internet browsers were being invented, and Facebook wouldn’t even be at Harvard for eleven more years. The technology for keeping up with the Joneses has advanced rapidly in the ensuing two decades. Social media, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. have replaced what was once an annual rite of braggadocio with effectively continuous on-line windbaggery.
In short, the faux holiday newspaper, not unlike the real thing, has become yet another victim of advances in technology.
The Creature of Habit (I’ve been sending these out for twenty years) shall once again cede to The Flitter. Barring any outcry from the remaining seven or eight readers, this will be the last issue of the fake Los Angeles Times. Ironic that the actual LA Times outlasted it, but I suspect that its days are numbered as well.
If you need to know what cool activities and enviable achievements I’ve accomplished, you can still check my status, follow my tweets or subscribe to my blog.
For the time being anyway.
Given the general dearth of newsworthy activity you may find it more rewarding to tackle the diabolical Sudoku.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgivikkuh, Black Friday, Grey Thursday, Chinese, Jewish and regular New Year.

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