By Sarah Silverman.
[...] This all relates to the larger point of this chapter: That I am not an animal. Of course, I am literally an animal, but I mean “I am not an animal” the way Elephant Man meant it (though he was pretty gross). I feel I have life pretty much figured out, and I would now like to share this gift with you. I have a mantra, and that is: “Make It a Treat.” Look, there’s not much useful to take away from this book – it’s largely stories of a woman who has spent her life peeing on herself. But there is one way I really believe I can help the world, and that is to encourage everyone, in all things, to “Make It a Treat.”
This maxim was introduced to me by my friend Kerry (you know, the descendant of African royalty from a few brilliant chapters ago). It happened when we were freshmen in college. She came up from Howard University to visit me at NYU and found me smoking pot like a disgusting fiend all day. I offered her a hit of my joint and she waved me off. I didn’t understand. I knew she smoked pot. “Just because I take a puff sometimes doesn’t mean I’m gonna make a career of it,” Kerry explained. “If you want to enjoy these things – things like weed – you have to make it a treat.”
I’ve had very few epiphanies while being extremely stoned that have endured. Mostly they evaporate like mist at the moment I star munching pizza. (An exception that comes to mind is “2-3-1-7-8.” I found it to be an extremely hilarious sequence of numbers when I was stoned, and as you can see in sobriety’s harsh glare, it remains so.) But Kerry’s tiny pearl of wisdom struck me, and stuck with me. For a four-word, off-the-cuff dictum, it has had a surprisingly large impact on my life.
“Make It a Treat” is similar in spirit to “everything in moderation,” but still very distinct. “Moderation” suggests a regular, low-level intake of something. MIAT asks for more austerity; it encourages you to keep the special things in life special. I apply this rule in a variety of ways. For instance, I wear makeup and high heels on special occasions. But if I dressed up all the time, it would become ordinary, and I would receive fewer compliments. If makeup and heels were my everyday look, I would be met with disappointed reactions if, one day, I went out in a hoodie and sneakers. Instead. it’s the opposite: A hoodie and sneakers are my everyday look, so on those rare occasions when I do dress up, or put any effort into my appearance at all, it’s met with “Look at you!”
Nowhere do I find myself invoking MIAT more than in the writers’ room of my television show. My writing staff is a bubbling cauldron of primordial id (more on this in another chapter), and I’m not far ahead of them on the evolution chart. There is a constant clamor to introduce farts, both into the scripts and our immediate atmosphere. I have – not just for a female, but any human being – an inordinate love of farts (jokes involving them, that is; though I don’t personally emit them – ever). Fart jokes make me happier than just about anything in the universe. Ad for that reason I’m terrified by the idea that someday I might have had enough of them. If they are a genuine treat and surprise, they are the surest way to send me into tear-soaked convulsions of laughter.
[...] Another treat in my show’s comedy cookie jar is Steve Agee’s gagging and dry heaving. If you’re not familiar with it, a written description won’t help. It’s just hilarious. No other element of the show has forced me to shout, “MAKE IT A TREAT!!” like Steve’s gagging has. To yank “STEVE GAGS” out of a script is easy. But I can’t be on the set for every scene. So I’ll be sitting in the editing room watching a cut, and goddamnit, there that motherfucker is, doing an unscripted dry heave. Sometimes he’ll do a very subtle one, like he thinks if I’m not watching carefully, he can slip it past me. But since I watch each episode literally dozens of times before they’re finalized, I’ll eventually catch it and, ignoring the editor’s pleading expression, I order it cut. I do this because I love to watch Steve gag, and I never want to stop loving it. Being a standard-bearer can be lonely, but I know I’m doing it for the greater good. You’re welcome on that.
And then, of course, there is pot. Since that moment with Kerry, I treat pot with the sacredness it deserves. I smoke it the way one might have a glass of wine with dinner. On certain days of the week, when my work is done, and I am sure that I have no intellectual responsibilities left, I take one puff, maybe two, and relax. On special occasions, I literally make it a treat, and eat a pot brownie.
I’ll be honest; I have contempt for pretty much every drug other than pot. I find drunk people gross. Most people with more than one drink in them aren’t giggly, goofy, and happy the way people are with a puff of pot smoke in them. In the best case, a drunk person rambles, shares way too much uncomfortable information, and embarrasses himself instead of amusing others. Just as often, drunks are sullen, hostile, wobbly, slurry, and smelly. They talk way too close to my face, and their self-consciousness level rises to such a degree that if you blink at them wrong, they wanna know what your problem is. At a party, I have so much fun stoned, flitting about – but once I sniff that first wave of drunkenness on someone, I’m out of there. To me, it’s a signal that tells me it’s time to head to a diner and finish the night right. With eggs.
I find that people are generally less able to make alcohol a treat than pot. Alcohol tends to be a regular habit, and lots of drinkers don’t cut themselves off after a reasonable amount – they just keep drinking until there is none left.
Whoever designed cocaine intended it as an attack on “Make it a Treat.” The only thing that snorting a line of coke leads to is snorting more lines of coke. Coke turns people into coke fiends. The fact wouldn’t bother me necessarily, if they could ever just shut the fuck up. But that is exactly what coked-up people cannot do. Ad with the possible exception of Richard Pryor, cocaine leads to not-shutting-up about profoundly boring things. I was recently at a party, and got ear-raped by a guy too wired to see that I had no interest in his passionate lecture about Egyptian furniture. Coke and booze, to me, are just not chemically designed for self-control; they don’t facilitate the mind-set of making things sacred. Coke makes everyone, without exception, huge douchebags.
I turn now to sex, and the Internet video watching thereof. I think it’s imperative that for the good of society, we should all strive to make porn a treat. That has been especially challenging for me as I write this book because, of course, I am at home, at my desk, on my laptop, at all times one click away from watching people fuck – and in the most fascinating, shocking ways. The reasons for making porn a treat are fairly obvious: Like any image you spend a lot of time looking at, it shapes your brain. If I’m watching porn every day, I’m allowing my brain to be shaped by the people who work in porn. I may masturbate to them, but I certainly don’t revere them. I’m compelled to point out that porn actors, more than anyone else on the planet, have no sense of “Make It a Treat.” They spend their lives making unspecial the most special thing in the world. I wish they made porn starring people whom I do actually respect. It might be cool to have watched Eunice Kennedy, who started the Special Olympics, have sex with one of those Doctors Without Borders guys – they’re so amazing.
I’ve been very prescriptive, and at moments just flat-out judgemental in this chapter, and it’s about to get a little worse. I am going to recommend that you also make anal sex a treat [...]