Sunday, February 10, 2013

Guilty Pleasures


I’ve been thinking of guilty pleasures while I’ve been stuck on the couch, trying to amuse myself while I wait for my broken ankle to heal. Guilty pleasures are those things you really, really enjoy that you just don’t think are cool, or sophisticated or very grown-up. Nothing really shameful, just things that maybe you feel a little embarrassed about and nothing you’d be likely to tell anyone but a close friend. Things that don’t fit the image you have of how you would like to be.

I was thinking about this because my husband went out and brought back Pop-eyes for lunch. If you don’t know, Pop-eyes is a fast food chain that specializes in “Cajun-style” food which consists mostly of fried chicken, fried shrimp, battered spicy French fries, and salty buttery tasting biscuits. It is, of course, incredibly unhealthy and not authentic at all. It’s quite tasty though. For me, this is a guilty pleasure. I like to think of myself as sophisticated about food. I enjoy quite a few cuisines from different countries, I understand the importance of eating organic and local, and I care about my family’s nutrition. When we have friends over we take pains to cook delicious and intriguing food. So Pop-eye’s doesn’t really fit my self image, but I sure did enjoy it this afternoon.

Books by L.M. Montgomery are another of my guilty pleasures. L.M. Montgomery is the author of the “Anne of Green Gables” series, a set of seven books about an idealistic, dreamy, optimistic orphan growing up on a farm in Prince Edward Island in the late 1800’s. Anne begins by being a bit of an outsider but as she grows wins friends everywhere by her charm and sweetness. Most of L.M. Montgomery’s books feature similar characters, settings and themes. They are sweet and bright and evoke a simpler, happier, more wholesome time. As a sophisticated adult, I know perfectly well that the world L.M. Montgomery writes about never existed as she wrote it. The late 1800’s certainly had their share of problems, among which racism, sexism, classism, lack of modern medical care, and poverty are seen between the lines of her books. She makes the hard work of life on a farm seem romantic instead of backbreaking and she makes insular villages seem charming and friendly instead of exclusionary. I still love her books. I still love the descriptions of the surroundings and the funny antics of the characters and the image of a better, brighter world than the one we struggle with now.

I also love silly games on my iPhone. Right now Arcane Empires, Tiny Zoo and Dragonvale are my three favorites, with Dragonvale being my top choice at the moment. I have to confess I will often spend a half hour or more a day on these games, breeding different dragons or feeding them up or racing them to try to earn coins or what have you. None of which has any bearing on real life, of course. They are mindless games without any kind of strategy or intellectual challenge, but they are colorful and attractive and offer a small break from the daily routine. I enjoy the goofy animations and the special events the gamemakers come up with to keep you hooked into the game.

I think having a few guilty pleasures is good for me. It’s easy to be too serious, too busy, too caught up in the tasks of daily life. Having a few simple, slightly silly, unsophisticated things I love reminds me not to be too grown up.