“Can I please have a line of coke and a wheatgrass shot?” In actual fact, you can’t buy cocaine and wheatgrass in the same place. You do need to go to different places to get your drugs and your health food, but there’s a particular type of person who ingests both with equal enthusiasm.
Meet the New Hedonists. They party hard – really hard – and then do some downward dogs. Instead of doing decadence 24/7 like, say, Kate Moss or Keith Richards, New Hedonists party part-time.
Some do it on weekends, others do it seasonally (summer is particularly popular). While they’re living clean, they’re scrupulously clean, limiting all toxins and impurities in a smug way that would do Gwyneth Paltrow proud. Then they go headlong in the opposite direction, towards excess.
“I go off on the weekend,” admits Amy, a 32 year old banker who regularly parties until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights with the help of amphetamines and vodka. “But during the week I’m really good. I take vitamins, I do Pilates and I jog. I don’t even have a glass of wine.”
Bravo Amy, ten points for hypocrisy. But most New Hedonists see nothing hypocritical in the extremity of their behaviour. It’s just how they live. They even manage to be pious about the fact they only eat organic and only drink decaf – when they’re not partying like it’s 1999 of course.
My friend Max is like that and I find it really annoying. Inviting him over to dinner is hell. He doesn’t “do” carbs or dairy, he’s vegan and he eschews wheat and sugar. He works out like a demon and goes on yoga retreats twice a year. He’s a Buddhist. But every Saturday night he’ll knock back scotch like water and obliterate himself by 10pm. Then he’ll keep drinking until he vomits, falls over or falls over in his own vomit. If I ever dare question his lifestyle or suggest he acquaint himself with moderation at both ends of the spectrum, he gets painfully condescending and manages to accuse me of being both uptight (for not partying like him) and unhealthy (for eating dairy and – gasp – wheat).
At those glamorous health retreats where people go to detox and do tai chi, the biggest spikes in occupancy are apparently the first week in January and the week after Mardi Gras.