I like to think that I don’t have any obviously harmful habits, like smoking, drinking or picking fights with nightclub bouncers (obsessively playing the new Sims game is entirely harmless); but one habit I have picked up recently is that I chew on glowsticks. Yes, the neon strips of (presumably poisonous) light encased in a thin coating of plastic, that you get at clubs and such places. And I chew on their ends like toothpicks.
I know that this is perhaps more likely to kill me, and do it faster, than any combination of narcotics I could pick to tear my body apart, but I don’t really care: I enjoy chewing on them, and if I am going to be killed it’ll happen relatively instantly, so it’s over and done with, rather than the gradual lung-shrinking, teeth-ruining, wallet-burning habit that is smoking cigarettes. I’m a busy person, so if I am going to die young, I owe it to myself to do it quickly.
I’ve also realised this habit is like a weird form of personal discipline; I have to chew the sticks hard enough to keep them in my mouth, but not so hard that I break through the protective plastic casting, and start swallowing the neon liquid inside – at best, this’ll ruin the pretty colours of the stick, which I quite like because I’m little more than a moth with a shit collection of patchy facial hair, and at worst I’ll die, so I’ll be little more than a dead moth, with the same awful attempt at a beard.
I’m also realising that often, these habits make no sense, and are hard to justify to other people; just as it’s easy to objectively point out the health and economic disadvantages to drinking, and the crippling social and academic drawbacks to playing Football Manager as much as I do, drinkers will keep on drinking, and I’ll keep dragging Chester up through the lower leagues behind our regen striker Paul Doran netting 16 goals in 8 games. The point of habits is that they’re a bit weird, and silly, and odd for people who don’t get them, while being totally understandable for people who do get them; this is why there are whole communities devoted to relatively small aspects of culture, be it a single TV show or web series, or the practical reality that drinkers feel so comfortable around other drinkers that it’s non-drinkers who are the different ones, that have to justify their life choices (out of curiosity, not dismissiveness, I hasten to add), even though sobriety isn’t as uncommon as it used to be.
And while this could appear exclusive to some, that you have to conform to certain habits to be accepted by people who engage with those habits, I like to think that humans are more complex than that, and that we’re able to interact with other people as people, not as holders of three or four strong habits or opinions. This is why I get on really well with people who may drink or smoke, or people who think my FM obsession is, at best, tedious and, at worst, laughably pathetic, because there’s more to any of us than a single stance, or a single set of values.
This is also why I might be the only person chewing on a glowstick when we meet up, and I’m totally cool with it.