I am certainly no fan of moderation.
"All things in moderation," goes the saying, and to that I respond: "All things? Every day? What about love? Or grilled chicken? What about charity and compassion?"
Or is it merely moderation in stuff that might kill us? In any case, when someone says, "All things in moderation," I immediately suspect them. Seems like the recipe for a long, drawn-out life, waiting by the window for fun to finally come home.
Still, I find myself eating half a burrito where I used to easily polish off the entire thing. In L.A., the burritos are bigger than the women, which is a big part of our appeal. But I can no longer devour an entire L.A. burrito. More and more, I take half of it home, strapped to the top of the car.
Same goes for the No. 19 sandwich at Langer's deli, not only the world's best sandwich but the most glorious architectural achievement since St. Louis erected that amazing arch.
Let me introduce you to the No. 19: Blessed by God, it is the drippiest, sweatiest, most succulent pastrami in deli history, slathered with slaw and served on rye that is as soft as an angel's tummy.
So lately, what have I been doing? Taking half of the No. 19 home for later. That's right, I eat only half of the world's greatest sandwich.
Guess that's growing older. Or wiser. Or less gluttonous. Guess that's all good.
Let's just amend the saying: "Many things in moderation — with the option of going a little crazy once in a while."
Last week, I wrote about how a couple buddies and I had formed the Happy Hour Hiking Club, another nod to the powers of moderation, with occasional bursts of ribald good times.
The Happy Hour Hiking Club is based on the premise that the suburbs don't offer enough fun activities for parents, who are often stressed out after pouring all their money and emotions into their ungrateful children. After 10 or 15 years, that can really start to wear on a person.
Hence, the Happy Hour Hiking Club, devoted to the benefits of twilight hikes and 2-for-1 bar specials,
Two readers, Ellen and David, emailed to say that they'd like to join this hiking club, and I ran into a nice woman at the farmers market who was genuinely interested. Another reader, Duff, said his ideal day is "a leisurely hike followed by a cold pint." So he's in.
In short, you can attract a lot of people with the promise of flimsy friendships and cheap beverages.
Some Facebook cynics dismissed the HHHC as an elitist attempt to pass off your basic pub crawl as a legitimate workout.
This being America and all, we're thinking of franchising the Happy Hour Hiking Club nationally, as you would a burger joint. There's no reason to think that the tired parents in the suburbs of Chicago or Atlanta shouldn't hold their own twilight escapes.
As with the Supreme Court, HHHC membership is forever, and the application process is fairly straightforward. If you're straight, you're in. If you're not straight, you're also in. If you're not sure what you are, you're especially in, for the last thing we want is a bunch of insufferable know-it-alls who think they have themselves totally figured out.
All we ask is occasional humility and a wry resignation that life is a long, puzzling and wonderful privilege.
No, even an esteemed club like the HHHC doesn't have all the answers. All we have is questions. And hot hamstrings. And the chance at fresh friendships.
Hey, it's a start, right?
Happy Hour Hiking Club
When: Thursday at 5 p.m.
Where: At the entrance to Hahamongna Park in Pasadena.
Info: RSVP to the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org