In order to infuse guilt with pleasure, we have to buy into a "should": a social, religious, cultural or personally-held value that tells us what's right, best, expected. To have no guilty pleasures is to exist outside constraints and norms, lolling in a pure-id bubblebath: "Of two evils, I always pick the one I've never tried before", as Mae West said.
But adherence to certain conventions guarantees the frisson of such pleasure. And, when I do indulge, it's such delicious fun, even more than April Fool's jokes!
When so bad is so good
Tucking into what Dr. Phil calls "a party in your mouth", that orgy of empty but addictive calories: that's probably the #1 guilty pleasure of health-conscious women.
I could provide a long list of my food contenders, but (after much consideration) present my Top Three, which I can even enjoy together:
Chocolate is not a guilty pleasure ever since my family doctor told me it was good for me in reasonable quantities. (Nothing like an authority figure to strip the guilt from a guilty pleasure.)
So, the third item on the list: movie popcorn, popped in palm oil, slathered in butter, liberally salted. And $7 for a small tub, which would feed an entire family in some parts of the world for a week.
Man oh man!
This is embarrassing to admit, but I can watch the opening scene of "Magic Mike"— with Matthew McConaughey taunting the house full of women—on a loop.
Don't you already have one of those?
I own enough sweaters, so ordering yet another cashmere v-neck is definitely guilt-inducing, especially in a non-practical colour like Mojito Green, which reminds me of Mojitos, a happy substitute for that Margarita. (Actually Mojtos are not even close to that colour, but what do the French know about Cuban cocktails?)
Endangered guilty pleasure
There is about nothing as enjoyable to me as the bumper car ride, a vanishing amusement like those playground merry-go-rounds that you hung from, your skull skimming the pavement. The sparking wires, the careening acceleration, the sheer joy of delivering a neck-snapping t-bone to a shrieking ten-year-old who was asking for it!
They aren't making any more of these, so, if you like occasionally displacing your aggression into harmlessly wild fun, find the nearest bumper car ride and set yourself free while you still can.
I have asked friends to contribute; some replies were "the cigarette I no longer smoke, except...", "soap operas", and "bacon double cheeseburgers".
What are yours? I will completely understand if you wish to provide your comment anonymously.