Guilty pleasures

I initially thought of writing this as a foodie blog, but then I thought to myself ‘why stop there?’  After all, we might all enjoy the occasional comfort food treat, but there are so many ways in which we can fulfil our own personal desires with a treat we would not necessarily own up to in public, and not all of them involve food.  And neither when asked would we necessarily admit the truth… So what are your guilty pleasures?

As a starting point though, the Guardian Weekend section always includes a questionnaire to a celeb (Q&A), in which is asked “what is your guiltiest pleasure?”  Answers are not as varied as you would think:

  • James Corden: “sandwiches”
  • Danny DeVito: “popcorn”
  • EL James: “eating Nutella out of the jar”
  • Isabella Rossellini: “eating spaghetti”
  • Jane Goodall: “a whisky every night”
  • Sheridan Smith: “junk food”
  • Nicola Adams: “cream doughnuts from Patisserie Valerie”
  • Jo Wood: “a pot full of caviar.”

Hmmmm… food and drink are dominating here (including a luxury food), though a fair number of participants are revealing nothing at all, and nobody is saying anything sexual for example.  Ah, but there are some more varied replies:

  • Daniel Johnston: “In used to watch horror movies every day.  They got too scary and I had to quit”
  • Jaime Winstone: “Horror films.  I love being scared”
  • Andrew Flintoff: “Coronation Street”

Perhaps Mr Johnston and Ms Winstone ought to get together sometime, and maybe bring Mr Flintoff with them if, like me, they regard Corrie as a horror story.  However, there are also some more thought-provoking and philosophical responses:

  • Peter Tatchell: “If no-one is harmed, no pleasure merits guilt”
  • Miranda Hart: “Don’t believe in guilty pleasures.  Particularly when it comes to the arts.  My Strictly Come Dancing viewing is the next person’s modern art gallery opening”
  • Lisa Marie Presley: “My lack of moderation.”

I can’t imagine Mr Tatchell is really much of a foodie, so his pleasures in life are most likely to relate to politics and sex.  And the real guiltiest pleasures are merely hinted at here; if Lisa Marie has a rapacious appetite, maybe that applies to all good things in life?

However, the most interesting view is unquestionably that we should be able to enjoy anything which gives us pleasure without guilt or shame.  Given that the major religions of the world (and Catholicism and Judaism are two of the biggest culprits) specialise in instilling shame that lasts a lifetime, to the extent that long after people shake the religious beliefs of their family and childhood the guilt remains intact, it is hardly surprising that some guilty pleasures remain a taboo even in these most liberal and tolerant of times.

If you believe biblical sources, you would assume the greatest of these guilty pleasures are also the most sinful, as described in the modern interpretation of the seven deadly sins:

  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Gluttony
  • Sloth
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride.

If Lust and Gluttony are the obvious pleasures, Greed for some material possession is another, and Sloth on the grounds that we all take secret enjoyment from having a lazy day every now and again.  But surely you wouldn’t gain must pleasure from Wrath, Envy or Pride – unless is part of a strange ritual act?!

Actually, the more you go into it, the more subtle guilty pleasures can be, including some which are ostensibly innocent from the perspective of the seven deadly sins or even the ten commandments (though I don’t think they are necessarily pleasurable in all cases) but which would give society a rather different perspective and cause eyebrows to be raised.  Take this anonymous contributor:

As I secretly indulged in some of my favorite things this morning, I started thinking about guilty pleasures. The urban dictionary says guilty pleasures are those things we shouldn’t like, but we like anyway. I think this is a contradiction in terms. They are things we do but don’t talk about to anyone. If we really like doing something, we shouldn’t feel guilty about it, right?  CNN did a story on this last year entitled We men don’t have ‘guilty’ pleasures. According to that article, for men, “obsessions are points of pride, not shame.” I don’t think women should hang their heads in shame either. What are yours? I wonder if any of yours are the same as mine.

My Top 10 Guilty Pleasures

1. Tweeting while taking a bubble bath and drinking a beer

This is, by far, is number one on my guilty pleasures list. I love it and I’ve only ever told one other person about it.

2. Listening to my “Barry Manilow – Greatest Hits” CD

Barry Manilow rules my world. This one is a little embarrassing. Yep, I still cry sometimes at the beginning of “Mandy.” Go ahead, laugh it up. He is one of the best guilty pleasures for sure.

3. Watching any of the Alien movies

Sigourney Weaver is the bomb and spending a random Tuesday afternoon watching those movies is heaven on earth to me.


4. Listening to a guy with an accent talk

Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about a guilty pleasure – I could listen to a guy with an accent talk all day long. If it’s a European or Australian accent, I turn to complete mush. This is one guilty pleasure I don’t get to experience often, but when I do, I can’t get enough.

5. Late night Taco Bell, chocolate ice cream and Easy Cheese (squirted straight into your mouth)

Yep, it doesn’t get any better than this! The question is, is Easy Cheese really even cheese? I don’t think I want to know.


6. Regifting

Regifting is something I think many people do but few will admit. It fits the true definition of guilty pleasure. It’s so fun to take that lame gift and pass it on. No need to feel guilty because the person you gave it to will probably pass it on too!

7. Fuzzy socks that go all the way up to your knee

Ahh… I don’t know why, but every time I put on a pair of those soft socks, I feel like I’m a queen. They are just so cozy and warm. I love it when I get these socks as a gift and I treasure them. What guilty pleasures they truly are!


8. Reading “OK” Magazine

That magazine is so bad, it’s good. It is one of the easiest guilty pleasures out there. Just grab one at the supermarket for a few hours of indulgence. I don’t care that most of that celebrity stuff isn’t true; I just want to look at all the pictures and dream that I owned as many pairs of shoes as Suri Cruise.

9. Sleeping late without being interrupted

Oh.. wow.. what a guilty pleasure. I haven’t been able to do this for months; lately there just isn’t room in my schedule. Do you remember when we were teenagers and we would go to sleep Friday night and wake up late in the afternoon on Saturday? Back then, I didn’t realize how indulgent that was. What I would do for a solid twelve hours of sleep right now. :)

10. Stealing fluffy pillows from luxurious hotels

True, it’s against the law, but dang, gimme a break. Sometimes you lay on a pillow and it’s so soft and perfect that you just can’t leave without it. Don’t lie; you know you’ve done it too.

OK, stealing is wrong, even if the pillows are gorgeous, and no I haven’t done it!!  This is obviously a very individual thing, though I will admit to doing Facebook in the bath, enjoying Alien movies and occasionally regifting.  Never ever would I read OK magazine under any circumstances, still less listen to Barry Manilow – though I do listen to Jacques Brel sometimes – and my ex-wife believed that to be an embarrassing pursuit.

However, from that list the one that I will admit to enjoying is people watching and listening into conversations – and in my defence I would suggest any author does the same, the point being that weaving into works of fiction real life conversations is totally essential. They are often more bizarre than anything you or I could invent, and add some real zing to any story.

For comparison, there are more lists of guilty pleasures here, here and especially here.  This last list is worth quoting, since it really gets to the nub of the issue:

Top 10 list of Guilty Pleasures:

#10 Smoking-Let’s face it, the trend in today’s society is to go smoke-free in many organizations. You can no longer just smoke and hang out anywhere you desire anymore. Smokers are usually corralled and cordoned off to the one corner of the outside of the building where all the grass is dead and where non-smokers don’t dare wander into. Avid smokers say smoking helps them relax and that the psychological pleasures of smoking outweighs the certainty of the bad health results. Due to the current trends, however, many smokers feel ostracized in today’s health conscious non-smoking world, thus making them feel that taking a puff is indeed a guilty pleasure.

#9 Ice Cream and Cake-Ice cream and cake are always associated with happy events, so therefore the guilt of ingesting so many sugar calories easily dissipates as we’re singing the “Happy Birthday Song”. However, after all the candles have been blown out, that guilty feeling starts to set into your consciousness. How often have you caught yourself saying, “I sure hope the chocolate cake and Rocky Road doesn’t go straight to my butt”.

#8 Shopping-One survey revealed that 8 out 10 women felt guilty after they went on a shopping spree. Oh the shame of it all–but will that embarrassment stop future shopping trips? Probably not because that same survey showed that despite “all the baggage” associated with shopping, 7 out of 10 women will continue to shop habitually because it simply makes them feel good. (Hopefully the good feelings continue after the credit card bill arrives). :<)

#7 Fried Foods-Fried chicken, Fried bacon, Fried twinkies, French Fries, the list goes on and on. Everything tastes good fried and the deeper it’s submerged in oil or fat the better it tastes. We all know that eating too much of a fried food can be unhealthy, but who can really resist the crispy texture of our favorite fried cuisine. I know I can’t–Now bring on the fried chicken! (In moderation of course).

#6 Porn-Even in today’s advanced and modern society porn is still considered a “taboo” in many circles. Although, the viewing of “pornos” has increased significantly, especially on the Internet, there are few men or women who will openly admit to watching porn. Most guilty pleasure porn viewers prefer to remain anonymous and will only watch it in the comforts of their private homes. However, just like any other guilty pleasure, if you get too obsessed with watching porn it can seriously detract from “real people” relationships and other parts of your personal life.

#5 Coffee or Insert favorite Coffee Establishment-Coffee gives drinkers an energy boost and increased mental alertness. The heightened physical/mental feelings comes from caffeine, which of course is also the addictive ingredient in coffee. There are billions of people who cannot resist their daily dosage of 1,2,3 or maybe 4 cups of java. Coffee cafes have sprouted up throughout the world in order to satisfy their coffee enthusiasts. Starbucks alone has over 17,000 stores worldwide and has a net worth well over $20 billion. Now that’s the way to profit on people’s guilty pleasures.

#4 Soda/Pop/Soft Drink-Carbonated soda water was first invented in 1767, by an Englishman named Joseph Priestley, who discovered that by infusing water with carbon dioxide you can come up with a refreshing drink that had a pleasant taste. Thus history was made and to this day man has had to battle with weight problems, tooth decay, and a disease called Hypokalemia, which is a low potassium level sickness related to chronic extreme consumption of colas. I know sounds pretty doom and gloom, but “can you please pass me my soda can because I need something to down my hot dog with.”

#3 The Internet-I know a lot of you are probably saying, “How can you consider the Internet a guilty pleasure?” You may say, “The Internet is a valuable resource and is necessary in today’s fast moving world.” I certainly agree with that assessment, however, there are so many addictive things to do on the Internet (besides your job) that you can often feel guilty about being on your computer or electronic device too long. I’ve heard of horror stories of where people cannot even function in any type of personal relationship because they simply do not know how to relate to a real person. Now that’s bad!!

#2 Alcohol-What is your alcohol guilty pleasure of choice? Is it tequila, gin, rum, beer, vodka or my personal favorite red wine? No matter what alcoholic beverage you prefer, alcohol only becomes a guilty pleasure if you are only worried about other aspects of alcohol (such as caloric intake), as opposed to the negative aspects associated with alcoholism, and/or harming yourself or others. Alcohol is considered a depressant and consuming alcohol can help you relax, but if you turn into the “lamp shade” head wearing drunk at the party or the mumbling and stumbling crazed idiot than the guilty pleasure line has been crossed.

#1 Being Lazy-The lyrics of Bruno Mars big guilty pleasure hit song “The Lazy Song”, says it all:

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at the tone
‘Cause today I swear I’m not doing anything

Laziness is defined according to Wikipedia, as the disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to do so. Hey I resemble that remark, but I don’t take offense to it because Being Lazy is definitely this author’s number one guilty pleasure. As my Facebook profile reads, under work status, “I work at Mostly Horizontal at Permanently Retired and Loving It.”

Now let’s get on with our Guilty Pleasures because Life is too Short not to.

Amen to that!!

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