And so this is Christmas. And what have you done?;

Not much shopping, that's for sure. Everyone's budget has had a botched lipo job – the fat has been removed and the muscle with it. We are all down to the bone. ;

We get it. You can't spend like you want to this Christmas, but you want to give your loved ones something nice. You want to avoid those hopelessly lame coupons that say things like "Good for one free massage" or "Free car wash." Those promises are never kept. Besides, your friends can massage themselves. You'd be surprised at how often.;

Here are 10 coupons you can clip out of the paper and hand to your pals, coupons that promise not dopey services but behavioral changes that your friends and loved ones have been praying for. Changing your patterns shows you care. They don't have much faith in you. This is your chance to do something nice and shove in their faces how wrong they are. Win. Win. Win.;

We also advise you to hang onto this issue – it'll come in handy when you're on your way to a party and think, "Crap! I should stop and get some wine," and then, "Crap! I can't ; afford wine." ;

Happy holidays. God help us. Every one.;

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For the next 12 months I will not whine to you about my problems while you watch me actively create them. I won't bitch about my weight after I've had four deep-fried foods in a row (including cheesecake), won't bitch that I never accomplish anything while I'm getting hammered for the fourth time this week and won't wonder aloud why I don't have a girlfriend while I'm playing with my Star Wars figures. Friends don't make friends ; say, "Duh."; ;

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Whether it is your cigarette, your stupid vegan hot dog, your barbaric regular hot dog that's full of pig lips, the coffee you drink too much of, the booze you drink too much of, that crappy 1 percent milk you buy (it's gray; milk shouldn't be gray), that gum you chew night and day like a clichéd movie hooker, or your boyfriend, I promise not to judge anything you put in your mouth for an entire year.;;
; ;

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Unless you're my bestest friend, my mom or my doctor, I will never describe anything happening in a part of my body that you can't see. I won't tell you about my pregnancy, surgery or illness in terms that would make Stephen King run for the Pepto and will never, ever, ever describe my kids' or dogs' poop to you, no matter how theatrical or bizarre its color or texture. Should I ever break this protocol, you are free to tell me how your last jack-off session went.;;;;

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Whether it's a film at Enzian Theater or a DVD from Stardust Video & Coffee, I will never do any of the following: ask you, "Who's that?" after I took a phone call in the middle of the movie; say, "That could never happen," in a world-weary, know-it-all way because it's a movie, fergodssake, not CNN; or otherwise comment, fidget, get up, sit down, pester the cat, send a few texts, go to the bathroom or do the dishes and then ask you, "What just happened?";;
; ;

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I promise that for the next year, unless I have a note from my boss or my doctor, I won't be late again. I won't delay the start of any more dinner parties, meetings or movies, or otherwise leave you sitting there like a dink, wondering why you rushed to be on time. If I do, you can cut me out of your social circle so it looks like a social pie with me as the missing piece, and when people ask why they never see us together anymore you can say, "Skin fungus," and make a face. ;;


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People from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Ore., love to tell you how great their city is. From Boston to Budapest, civic pride is the norm – till you get to Orlando and start hearing, "There's nothing to do here," "We're so backward" and the like. I promise that if I'm only going to go to chain restaurants, shops and theaters, then I'm not allowed to bitch about the lack of local color, and if I haven't bothered to take in one play, art show, literary event, concert, wine tasting, new restaurant, film event, networking group, recreational class, festival, political event, social meetup or charity fundraiser all month, I don't get to bitch about how there's nothing to do around here. I'll either help improve things or shut up.;;

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Some people need gargantuan vehicles for their jobs. They're called "soldiers." OK, a few others do, too, but needless auto-bulk is so yesterday. How is it that you keep your body so trim but you let your car look like Gilbert Grape's mother? I know soon you'll be driving something saner, something whose love handles don't slop over into the next parking space, something that doesn't have room for a home theater. Either money or sense will win out. Until then I promise to stop calling your car "the short bus.";;

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I promise to phrase all invitations so that you know what's involved before you commit. I'll never say, "What are you doing tomorrow night?" in a deceptively casual way, then, when you say, "Nothing," pounce on you with, "My book club is going to see Tampax the Musical! and I really want you to go with me." You were too nice to lie instinctively – and this is the thanks you get. From now on I will phrase invitations like this: "I'm doing something tonight that you'll;;
; ;

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I promise that while I'm in conversation with you, I will keep my texting to other people as brief as possible. I will not send a message longer than Gone With the Wind, holding my hand up to you like a crossing guard while I stare at the keyboard, my thumb moving across it in a way that would bring about orgasms if I would put it someplace important. ;;


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There was a time when Americans lived with one phone anchored to one spot in their homes, and that phone didn't have an answering machine. People still didn't answer it half the time because they wanted to be left in peace. E-mail, texts and social networks (i.e., Spacebook and MyFace) have made it easy to send messages – and almost impossible to answer all the ones we get every day. I promise, therefore, that if you don't get back to my "Just saying hello!" message right away, I won't take it personally. Conversely, if you're the one trying to get hold of me, please understand that your call is very important to me and I promise to try to return it by 2012, when the fiery apocalypse will clear my calendar.;

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