Juicing at the hermitage

I don’t think I’ve ever had more than two or three close friends at any one time, inclusive of significant others — not in high school, not in college, not once. Even at my peak, when I was doing shows back-to-back and never missing a cast party, my extended circle of almost-friends numbered in the low dozens. That was 30 years ago.

As I’ve said (confessed? bragged?) so often here, I’m way too hermit-like in my tastes and abilities to maintain anything as large or complicated as a “social network.” My brief, unsettling brush with Facebook confirmed this fact in the virtual world, but it was an unnecessary confirmation. I can count on one hand the people I keep up with and on two hands the people I think about more than once in a blue moon. I can count on ten hands (which might be stretching it) the number of people whose names I’d remember without prompting if their faces were flash cards and lots of money were involved. I’ve never been good with names.

Which brings me to my point: The son of a friend is getting married today and he’s invited literally hundreds of people to the wedding. Hundreds.

When I found this out, my unfiltered reaction was, “Shit! I don’t think I’ve known that many people in my whole life, and I’m almost twice as old as he is!” I suggested that the list had been padded with business acquaintances and so forth, but no. Everyone on the list, I was assured, is someone close to him or to his fiancé. Not just friends, but good friends.

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar has theorized that each of us is physically incapable of maintaining more than about 150 stable social relationships. This is referred to as “Dunbar’s number.” We’re limited, he says, by the size of our neocortex and the number of hours in a day available for “social grooming” — picking nits from a buddy’s head among the lower primates, “Let’s get together sometime soon” among homo sapiens.
My neocortex must be a tiny thing, indeed.


If the name “Joe Cross” means anything to you, it might be because you’ve seen his documentary film, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. While I won’t say that it changed my life, I will say that it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It also inspired me to buy a rather pricey stainless steel Breville juicer and now, God help me, I’m 12 days into a juice fast, still waiting for the clarity and energy that a gazillion other people who’ve “joined the reboot” say should be kicking in at about this point in the process.

Called “juice feasting” by some enthusiasts, a juice fast permits consumption of nothing but fresh vegetable and fruit juice. No coffee or tea or dairy or alcohol or anything but freshly made juice. My plan, which I’m dreaming up as I go along, is to continue the fast until something changes. That something might be my energy, or it might be my resolve to spend, on average, almost $200 a week on organic produce. How is it that rabbits manage to do this so inexpensively?