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No more ‘guilty’ pleasures

Emma Grey

It’s Sunday night and I’m listening to a CD called “More Love Songs from the Movies”. Think of a corny ballad from the 80s and it’s included on this CD. Exhibit A: The Glory of Love, from Karate Kid 2. Gosh, I adore that song.

This follows hot on the heels of three hours blubbering through Anne of Green Gables on DVD, feeling wretched about the passing of “Gilbert”—actor Jonathan Crombie—too early at 48. As my step-daughter and I agreed, he was our ‘formative crush’. Our first and longest literary love. We’re in the ‘depths of despair’ that he is gone…

I saw a quote floating around last week that said, “Read the books that make you happy, even if they’re not classics or academic novels that won awards.” I shared it on the Facebook page for my teen novel, which is proudly and purely escapist, light, fun and romantic because that’s what I love to write.

Then I asked my friends to contribute examples of ‘owning what you love’ and taking the ‘guilty’ out of ‘guilty pleasures’. Here’s what they came up with:

  • Collecting resin dolls as a seventeen-year-old, even when a lot of her friends tease her about it
  • Watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and trashy reality shows like The Bachelor and reading gossip magazines
  • Hand-painting miniature soldiers and never actually war-gaming with them
  • Scrapbooking, crochet, sewing, baking, making sand angels
  • Anything “Laura Ingalls Wilder”
  • Days of our Lives
  • Playing hockey
  • Stock Aitken & Waterman
  • Romance novels
  • Roller skating
  • Melrose Place
  • Cross Stitch
  • Air Supply
  • Collecting Panda stuff
  • Barry Manilow
  • Interpretive dance
  • Pop Opera (Il Divo etc)
  • Time away from my kids
  • Action figure and Star Wars Lego collection.

Which goes to show that I have the coolest friends in the world—who are also published authors, university lecturers, professors, medical professionals, educational experts, media and comms execs, TV researchers…

You may remember a scene in the TV show Offspring, when paediatrician Dr Chris was first invited to obstetrician Nina’s place, and she raced around eradicating any evidence of her ceramic owl collection. Because why? Her romantic interest might catch a glimpse of the ‘real her’? The quirkiness in her personality? The things she actually loves?

One of the most fun nights ever for me was the night my besties and I went to a Bjorn Again performance and so impressed the band’s manager with our aisle-dancing that we were invited back-stage afterwards. I also loved the One Direction concert with my daughter. Not just because she loves the band.

I want to write a Mills & Boon novel.

I love watching “Say Yes To the Dress Atlanta”.

Every so often I spend hours on YouTube, watching pregnancy announcements, baby gender ‘reveal’ parties, engagement announcements, flash mobs and military family reunions.

At school, one of my closest friends remembers being seen as the ‘weird musician’. She now has two ARIAs, because she stuck with what she loved. She’s now writing a musical.

And isn’t it at school where most of this ‘guilty pleasure’ stuff starts? Because we can’t possibly let people see what we really like, and who we really are, because then they might form a negative judgement about us.

And doesn’t that continue into adulthood for some, who are glad eReaders exist because people can’t see what they’re reading on the train, and don’t know what’s blaring in their headphones and ‘hopefully the conversation won’t turn to religion, or politics, or some other area where we expose ourselves for who we are and what we believe in…’

One of my favourite moments in parenting was when my 16-year-old announced that she’d lost interest in a particular genre of TV show that she’d been quietly devouring because ‘now everyone is watching it’. She also wanted certain shoes, ‘because nobody else has them’.

Another was when my 14-year-old wandered the airport a few weeks ago in deliberately-daggy attire, with over-full red lipstick, because she was meeting her comedian-idol in character, and didn’t care what people thought.

And my four-year-old… swoon… holding my hand and announcing loudly in public that “I want to go and pick those flowers over there and give them to the most beautiful girl in the world, who is walking beside me!”

This is the same kid who nearly broke me at lunch a couple of days earlier for exhibiting the worst behaviour I’ve ever seen in my own kids. And I own that too.

Because isn’t the most liberating thing being 100% yourself: desires, embarrassments, fears, pleasures, failures…

Isn’t that living life fully?

We’re not in high school anymore, Toto. We might have tertiary quals, careers etc, but meh

Let’s be ALL IN outside the ‘impressive stuff’. Let’s OWN WHAT WE LOVE.

My “Gilbert” has died at 48 years old, seven years older than I am. There’s no time for ‘guilty pleasure’.

There’s only ‘pleasure’.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Featured image of woman lying in a hammock reading a book from shutterstock.com

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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