Maxed Out 

Greed and the WHA jackpot

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I don’t know about you but I’ve had one of those on-again, off-again love affairs with the seven deadly sins ever since I learned they not only existed but had been codified. I mean, these aren’t just your run of the mill sins or minor transgressions, these are deadly sins, one-way tickets to hell, absent any snivelling apology on your part or divine intervention. Burn baby, burn.

Problem is, I’ve never been as good at them as I’d like to be and some of them I’ve failed to make much headway on at all. For example, there aren’t very many things I’ve ever done well enough to engender much pride. There are a lot of things I do with varying degrees of skill and success but I grew up – unfounded assumption – before self-esteem was invented and never mastered being proud of my shining mediocrity.

After spending the better part of a day I couldn’t think of a better way to spend cleaning and polishing my aging motorcycle, a friend commented, "You must be proud of that." I didn’t know what to say. Proud? He may have been right but I wasn’t convinced; I thought I was just being obsessive, a family trait I try hard to keep in check.

I mostly use the deadly sin of sloth to thwart my obsessive gene. Now I thought I mastered sloth early in life. I thank television for that. There was, in fact, a time when I thought my mastery of sloth just might give me a handle on pride. But then I suddenly started doing things and now there hardly seems enough hours in the day to finish what I started. Only time will tell if I’ve lost my grip on sloth, assuming I ever get around to measuring my success.

Gluttony came so easy for me, like breathing; I was born fat. But I can’t really take gluttony seriously as a deadly sin. Leading as it did to becoming a slothful, fat blob, gluttony eventually embodied my concept of hell on earth about as well as any self-inflicted condition I could imagine. Why even bother elevating it to deadly sin status? I finally whipped gluttony when my hormones kicked in and I discovered…

Lust. The coincidence of my birth managed to place me high atop the enormous cultural wave known as the Sexual Revolution. To torture a metaphor, I bodysurfed that wave for all it was worth and if I burn in hell for it, hey, it was so worth it. Lust? Check.

Now come the hard parts. There’s not much I envy. Oh, I’d like to be taller and every now and then I cast an envious glance at some bling or another but on the whole, I’ve rarely been visited by envy. There’s still hope. I haven’t given up completely on envy and in fact, sometimes my lack of envy makes me angry. But I know that’s just a pale rationalization for my unwrathful nature. Yeah, I complain about things, get pissed off even, but on the fury scale, I’m as much a failure at anger as I am at envy.

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