I was lying on my couch a few Saturdays ago, eating a Weight Watcher’s ice cream sandwich and watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta on Bravo when I heard a knock on the door. Realizing that I had all blinds open and my car parked in the driveway and could not feign absence, I jumped up and glanced out the window.
I stuffed the last bite of ice cream in my mouth, shoved the wrapper into the trash can, changed the channel to CNN, and opened the front door. I lied and told them I was busy. I think one of them turned a hairy eyeball on me, but they left without proselytizing.
When I walked past the dining room mirror, I saw chocolate sandwich residue on my cheek where a quick swipe with my hand had deposited it. Why on earth was I embarrassed to let those LDS-ers know what I was doing?
I was indulging in some of my favorite Saturday afternoon guilty pleasures: trash TV, comfy couch, ice cream treat.
What is it about those guilty pleasures? Why do I feel guilt at all? In my lifetime, guilt has been a dominant emotion. I blame it on being Catholic but I don’t think Catholics have the guilt concession.
I’ve done plenty things to feel guilty about. I am, after all, an alcoholic and did not live my life in a blackout. Over the years, there’s nothing that brought me guilt from my alcoholic life that I haven’t talked about openly to others. The talking part has demagnetized guilt. Perhaps the guilty pleasures gain some guilt over the secrecy.
Part of it is that I think I need to be doing all the time. If I’m not working and taking care of things, then I think I’m not worthy. Of what, I’m not sure. I haven’t found people exactly busting down my door to throw accolades on me because I’m whirling with motion. I’ve said in the past that I couldn’t meditate because I couldn’t keep my mind still and was too furled with activity.
I hear that a lot in the rooms of AA. But the truth is that I lacked the self-discipline to be still for any length of time. Once I faced that deficit, I could make an attempt to be still for 3 minutes, then 5, and now 20 doesn’t seem like an eternity.
My dad used to say that if we lived our lives so that what we did could turn up on the front page of the newspaper, then we wouldn’t have cause to worry. So, this is my front page and, in an attempt to demag my guilty pleasures, I’ll throw them out to the world.
- All types of reality TV especially Real Housewives of any city, Project Runway, and Top Chef. (A truly secret guilty pleasure is Dog the Bounty Hunter and America’s Next Top Model. I may write a book called Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Tyra and Dog.)
- Naps. Any time, any place. I hear people say they can’t sleep in the daytime or that they can’t sleep late. I can. My favorite Sunday activity is to get up early, make coffee, retrieve the newspaper from the front yard, and alternate napping and reading until noon. With our local paper, that means I do more napping or reading a book than reading the newspaper.
- Incredibly fluffy and fun mystery novels. A few years ago, I went for jury duty carrying a Stephanie Plum book. One of the lawyers cast a cynical eye over the book and commented that her 12-year-old daughter loves those books. The next time I had just duty, I stuffed the Plum book into an Umberto Eco cover.
- Bubble baths that last over 4 hours. I love running a hot bath and refurbing it until my skin has turned pruney, I’ve finished a trashy mystery novel, and I’ve consumed at least a pot of coffee.
National Enquirer. I read them in the check-out line and tut-tut when someone glances my way.
Lip-syncing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” or air drumming the drum solo to “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” or singing any Beetles song loudly. I’m not sure if it’s the actions or the fact that only people of a certain age remember Iron Butterfly.
With my guilty pleasures exposed, I have no idea if I’ll still hide my sloth from a Mormon or pretend that I’m reading a rag mag to condemn the writing. I hope that I’ll remember that what I like to watch and read is my concern and not up for the approval of people. Above all, I can start remembering that it is okay for me to be a human BE-ing and not a human DO-ing and that peaceful time isn’t wasted time.