What Is “Normal”?

The Gonzo Journals

May 1st, 2023

This is how my mind works. I trade one hobby for another and dedicate myself to it until I get bored or another more interesting hobby comes my way. I’ve managed to quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol and sodas, and refuse to play rap music in my pickup truck. Ok, I lied about rap music. I never listened to that stuff to begin with. It’s 80’s hair metal or nothing!

I pulled my bicycle out of storage on Saturday, and my wife and I took a quick ride. I couldn’t help but notice something was off. I haven’t touched the thing in about nine months because my health was in shambles. I felt sick all the time after I’d do a quick ten miles. Come to find out, I’ve been poisoning myself for forty-eight years by eating chicken, turkey, and eggs. Yep. A food allergy has been plaguing me all my life, and I always thought I felt that way because it was being undercooked. I recommend a food diary for anyone out there who has an unexplained, reoccurring illness. My wife accomplished something in a year that dozens of doctors couldn’t do in decades. Sometimes the simplest clues are overlooked. I honestly thought I had some kind of cancer and was practically picking out coffins in my spare time. Nope. Chicken. Bo Pilgrim is indeed the Anti-Christ.

After inspecting the bicycle, I noticed two broken spokes. It was still pretty early in the day, so I journeyed to my local bike store for some quick repairs. According to modern society, this was a pipe dream. A seasonal tune up cost me about $200 and they won’t be finished with it for ten days! TEN DAYS! This begs the question: is a post pandemic society really this backed up or are the employees who decided to accept their “meh” wages during “the great pay fiasco of the 2020’s” just getting slower? I didn’t see ten day’s worth of bicycles in their back room. Is society expected to make reservations for crap like this now? It was bad enough that the pandemic raised the price of a low-end Trek hybrid bicycle to nearly one thousand dollars. Now I must pay 20% of that cost for a basic tune up and wait a week and a half to ride the damn thing. I truly think the asteroid is coming. If it isn’t, can we make requests like an eighty’s late night radio program? I really want to hear “Crazy Nights” by KISS. That song always makes me feel better about being me.

My last goal – other than continuing to live for another fifty years – is to lose sixty pounds. I haven’t been underneath the two hundred mark since getting out of the Army on April 4th, 2000. According to the military, my target body weight for my height is 165lbs. Ha! I haven’t been that weight since I was a teenager and, after that, since the day I graduated basic training. I’m a pretty muscular dude, short and stocky, but 165lbs is probably out of the question until I’ve been occupying a casket for a year or so. I can live with 199lbs, possibly 180lbs, and the bicycle is going to be my safest bet. No more running, thanks to Uncle Sam. Two bad knees and a wimpy $325 military disability check every month prevent me from being the runner I used to be. Can you believe that’s all I get from the Army? Every step I take is a painful reminder of how my health was driven into the ground by “hoah ass, ’bout it ’bout it, NCO’s” who were past their prime and showing off. I seriously had a sergeant who would smoke cigarettes while taking a PT test. He ran us five days a week with no healing breaks. Thanks, jack ass. People like you made sure my son was injured enough to bow out before his time as well, turning a twenty-two-year-old into a disabled veteran. Why spend billions of dollars on a military if you’re not going to take care of your soldiers? They’re the bottom line, and you can’t have all that fancy weaponry without soldiers to operate it. The worst mistake I ever made was not talking him out of it.

Life has changed so much over the previous three years, and it appears as though society expects us to accept this as the new “normal”. In the end, what is normal? Does it change from person to person, do we, as individuals, have any say so in the matter, or is this reasoning invented by the media? I no longer live in a world where body shaming is the norm, yet I can’t seem to stop calling myself a fat bastard. Younger people look at me funny or get onto me when I do so, like it’s the weirdest thing they’ve ever heard. I’ve got news for them. Go back thirty or so years and watch MTV for a day. Everything we loved insisted that we were good looking, fit, and rich. If we weren’t all of those things, then we were losers and couldn’t get laid in a brick yard. I mean, think about it. Really sit still for a second and think about it. If you were lucky enough to be alive during the musical MTV era, what did those music videos teach you?

The damage is done. There’s no turning back. You can change your mind, but it always comes back to haunt you in moments of silence. We are who we are, and that’s about as normal as it’s going to get. At least until the sky begins falling…



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