Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

On Monday I felt I’d hit my emotional limit. You know those days when just one more thing will make your head implode or your eyes whirl madly and a train-engine noise emerge from your smoking ears. Yup, that’s where I was—in the same state as a balloon inflated so tightly that you just know one more breath will blow it to smithereens.

My horoscope erroneously advised me that this was to be a tranquil day, a day of particular good will with women, and one where decisions I made would have fortuitous outcomes in the future. With that in mind, I came unglued by a small infraction on the part of my husband and then headed out in my car for one of my guiltiest coping strategies … shopping therapy. If my horoscope couldn’t soothe me, a good bargain was sure to do the trick.

For all my sincere social consciousness, for all my anti-consumeristic, don’t-succumb-to-the-pressure-of-the-market, recycle and reuse jargon, I can’t lie to you—I like pretty things. And when I'm feeling very tenuous, I like acquiring things that I didn't previously have. At those times, I seem to enjoy indulgent things. I like scented lotions and pedicures and a full-priced, newly released book. On a bad day, a new bra can really cheer me up. Or a summer blouse, or new shoes ... OK, you get the picture.

I want to reject this superficial bandage/bondage during times of stress, but sometimes I simply can’t resist. So, last sweltering Monday the air conditioning in TJ Maxx and Marshalls beckoned to me (our house has no AC) with promises of cheap BCBG and DKNY, so I abandoned the cocoon of my humble abode and delivered myself into the sanctuary of the true American drug problem … endless shopping/consumer options.

And, as I drove home with a bagful of my comforting stash (Oh, I was relieved), I felt extraordinary guilt combined with oodles of pleasure. Which led to musing about guilty pleasures, and how indulging them is so therapeutic when you feel your shoulders up around your ears and your neck as tight as steel cables. When I'm still sane enough to do so, I'll generally do some yoga or meditate or take the dogs on a walk, but at times this is simply not enough.

What are your guilty pleasures? Here are some of mine:

* Harry Potter (anything relating thereto, books, movies, candy)
* Sunglasses (this is almost comical during a good portion of the year in Portland, nevertheless I
usually own at least 5 pair that I find nice and cheap at my discount stores)
* The Aztec hot chocolate from Moonstruck Chocolate Bar (requires no explanation)
* Expensive ice cream, especially gelato
* “Designer” hair care (I’ve convinced myself it’s better)
* Organic fruit at ridiculous prices, like $1.50 for a single peach
* Things that smell good—candles, lotion, bath products
* Skin care: preferably with a gimmick, whatever is the newest, latest thing
* Dog shows (I hate what they do to those dogs, but I love watching the proud pups with their freaky handlers)
* Reality TV: Rock Star INXS, Survivor, Project Runway … I know, I know
* Testers and Free Samples: food, perfume, lotion … I may not even want it, but I’ll try it
* Luxury linens, thick soft towels, cool Egyptian cotton …
* Things which impact the house (small statues, vases, pillows, new dish towels)

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