I was thinking for a while of trying to become perfect.

It’s all because of an article I read in “O” magazine last month–one of those personal experience pieces in which the writer decided she’d do everything just right. I can hear you right now saying, “Oh, yeah? Under what set of rules is what she does considered just right?” And you’re correct to be so scrappy about this, of course. All bets are off these days at trying to figure out even how to be good, much less perfect.

But for the purposes of this article, the writer (and if I weren’t so lazy, I’d get up and fetch the magazine and tell you her name, but the magazine is all the way over there, and the dog’s head is resting on my leg and it would really disturb him if I got up)–anyway, the writer decided that she would look up online what amount of calories she should consume, and how many of those should be fat, protein and carbohydrates, and how many beans and legumes she would have to eat, and how many veggies. All that kind of thing.

Plus, she would exercise for an hour each day, doing both aerobics and weights. And furthermore, she would get seven hours of sleep each night, because that’s supposed to be optimal. AND she wouldn’t drink alcohol or give herself any days off whasoever.

It was just going to be her will power, the free weights, the veggies, and plenty of sleep.

Well, I was fascinated, naturally.

I have periodically managed to get myself in line and force-march my way through eating five vegetables a day and not consuming loads of saturated fat. But just as soon as I had managed to adjust my lifestyle to get five vegetables into myself each day, new government guidelines came out that claimed five was nothing; we needed NINE.

I can even get myself to go to the gym–I purportedly LOVE the gym–although just when it seemed possible to go work out three times a week, doing both weights AND aerobics, the new reports came out: nothing short of an hour a day would do very much good at all.

The author of this article was perfect for 30 days, foregoing birthday cake and champagne toasts and all kinds of things she really, truly desired. She actually ate the nine daily vegetables (and prepared without butter, too) and she worked out every single day and even stretched both before and after. And when she got to the end of the time period, guess what! She drank some alcohol, ate something she’d been denying herself…and then, much to her own surprise, went right back to the perfection plan. She said it felt amazingly good to be perfect: her clothes fit better, her neck wasn’t stiff anymore, her skin and hair looked better, she had more energy, and she felt, in fact, FABULOUS.

That was the tempting part, feeling that great.

I’ve decided, though, that it’s too hard to be perfect in March. The weather is cold one day and warm the next. Spring hangs like a promise in the air and then doesn’t come. The house is miserably cold, and who can face nine vegetables over, say, a pot roast with mashed potatoes? And how can I give up the homemade bread I’ve gotten used to making lately, served with honey and melted butter?

Also, if I got perfect, I think I’d turn crabby. I’d be one of those people who would go around in the streets, trying to make all my friends be perfect too. I’d give boring lectures on things you could do with vegetables that didn’t involve fats. Nobody would want to have anything to do with me, which would be okay because I would always need to be busy stretching and toning and making a note of when I next needed to take a calcium tablet or munch on some legumes.

I think, though, the real trouble with deciding to be perfect is the fact that it would pretty much be all you could think about. You’d have to question every decision, every bite of food. You’d say, “Wait! Is this my fifth glass of pure water today, or my sixth? And if it’s only my fifth, how the $^#@! am I going to get three more in before it’s time to go to bed?” (If you were being perfect, you probably wouldn’t use real cuss words anymore either; you’d have to figure out nice ways of saying $^#@!)

And if you were out having a wonderful time with whatever friends would still speak to you, no doubt it would be all too soon time to go and start logging your seven hours of sleep.

My friend Liz said we shouldn’t think of trying to be perfect until we get old and our aches and pains drive us to it. But I’m looking forward to the kind of old age where I don’t HAVE to try that hard anymore. When I get old, I think I’m just going to start having butter delivered by the carload, and I’m going to watch TV in bed and read until all hours, and eat whatever I $^#@! well please.