The advantage of vice

I knew a guy called Dale. He was a classic alpha; a rugged, handsome baseball coach, sporty and athletic as you’d expect. However, he had a prominent beer gut.

Dale was a drinker. He’d stay out so late on a Saturday night that every Sunday would be wiped out. Whatever plans he had would have to be cancelled because he’d sleep in and be crook as a dog until late afternoon.

One day, out of the blue, he declared that he was going to quit drinking altogether. Though I suspect he was an alcoholic, his stated aim was to get more done. He saw how much of his life was being pissed up the wall and decided he needed to change if he was going to get anywhere.

It worked. Dale finished a management course he was struggling through, focused much harder on his career and is now part-owner of his own gym. He also did some fiction writing but I never saw the result.

Dale was suddenly available for hikes on Sunday and would roar up the tracks ahead of everybody. One hot, subtropical day he just had to pull off his sweat-soaked shirt on the trail (we were with some girls) and we all saw that his beer gut was 100% gone. From just six months of teetotaling he’d transformed into the most in-shape middle-aged bloke I’ve ever seen.

And all this improvement stemmed from one change – he quit drinking.

Delicious Tacos is a similar example. As soon as he gave up booze, he actually started finishing books and publishing them, receiving critical acclaim.

This is the advantage of having a vice: you know there’s one big, obvious thing you could do to improve your life. Give up grog, junk food, drugs, time-sucking video games or problem gambling – whatever your thing is. Do that one thing and the rest follows almost automatically.

Pity the poor bastard who has no vice. Like me – I’m not terribly fit, work glacially on my projects and generally plod through life. But unlike some, there’s no debilitating vice that’s holding me back. I barely drink, don’t smoke, don’t gamble; I barely have any fun at all. Nor do I want to. There’s no simple thing I could change to level up my life. I’m already firing on all cylinders – both of them.

At least alchos and other vice-ridden losers can satisfy themselves with the thought that one day they could achieve everything they’ve ever dreamed of by giving up their crutch. For those lacking a vice, we know that our mediocre life is about the best we’re ever going to do.

Do I envy my vice-ridden fellows? I don’t think I’d really want a heroin addiction or something like that, so no. But when I try to think of a major way I could work more effectively, I come up blank.

This is as good as it gets.


  1. dickycone · October 20

    Sometimes it seems like you’ve essentially become Christian for the most part, just haven’t quite committed to the actually believing in Jesus part yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · October 20

      Because of the lack of vice? No, I’m just a two-pot screamer and don’t have the patience for computer games. I’ve only had one major vice and age has largely taken care of it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • dickycone · October 21

        Combo of that and some passages from your novel, one in particular. Sometimes it seems like you believe without realizing it.


    • lemmiwinks · October 21

      I feel like people who don’t believe in an afterlife are (or at least should be) naturally incentivised to live a good life, by which I mean do unto others etc etc. The reason being there are no do-overs, no-one to grant forgiveness except maybe those you wronged. You only get one shot at this so try not to screw up too badly. That’s just my $0.02 and it’s not even worth that.


  2. luisman · October 20

    I don’t know. You’ve lived and worked in a number of countries, have shown you ability to adapt. Maybe you just don’t realize how much more efficient you are now, than 10-20 years ago.

    If you’re just talking about writing, I think most people have no idea what a grueling process that is, unless you wrote like 200+ pages. Most writers hate the work, but love the result. It doesn’t really matter how efficient you are, but that you finish it. And you’ve done that already, so, hooray.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · October 20

      This post was meant to be light-hearted but people are reading all sorts of things into it. That’s ok, all are welcome to their interpretations.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Maniac · October 20

    I’m a Christian who works out regularly, doesn’t smoke, drinks moderately and has very little interest in sex. My criminal record is spotless and my life is very uncomplicated. One of my married coworkers once flat-out told me that he felt jealous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kentucky Headhunter · October 21

    Like Nikolai, I don’t really have any vices, but I do have some character flaws.
    1. I can be lazy/procrastinate about getting things done. But eventually I do them.
    2. I often get bored with things after getting a handle on the basics. Getting to the next level usually doesn’t seem worth the effort.
    Couple more things like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Gunner Q · October 21

    Noooo! Not my pizza! Don’t make me choose between pizza and a successful life!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Wolf · October 21

    Are you sure you’re not addicted to information? My life improved dramatically when I locked the internet down.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kentucky Gent · October 21

    Not surprised about Dale. I had a similar experience. In January 2019. After reading about an amazing Kentuckian named Owsley Stanley, aka “The Bear”, I decided to try the carnivore diet. Initially, this included drinking as well as all other plant-based foods.
    Quickly I got to a point where I was eating zero carbs, living on steak, eggs, cheese, burger patties, chicken, etc. Although I would have some sparkling wine on weekends, I was sober 5 days a week. Soon, I had a nascent 6-pack of abs emerging from my rapidly shrinking booze belly.
    Since I was also lifting weights regularly, it didn’t take long before I started getting looks from yound, attractive ladies in my apartment building. This lasted about 6 months, until I went through some family tragedy and trauma. I started self-medicating with alcohol every day, and eating carbohydrate comfort food. Which is where I find myself today.
    Anyway, beer/booze bellies are not all fat. Chronic drinking leads to chronic gut inflammation, which pushes out the belly fat even more.
    Folks can read about The Bear here:

    Liked by 2 people

  8. overgrownhobbit · October 22

    I’ve run into people who are blessed with an abundance of “mostly” gifts. They’re mostly smart, mostly pretty (or handsome), mostly musical, mostly artistic, and mostly good at math, writing and public speaking. But not, mind you, exemplary. Just… mostly okay at it. In theory these teens could be *anything*. But most seem to find it quite demoralizing. I suspect vices work the same way. Lots of little ones that add up…


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