Okay, I confess that I’m a Scooby Doo fan. I have, in fact, seen pretty well every episode of the animated children’s series ever made, from Scooby Doo and the Haunted House to Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness Monster. I am anxiously awaiting Scooby Doo and the Headless Dental Hygienist, and was shocked and dismayed when the first Scooby Doo live action film failed to sweep the Oscars. For a long time Shaggy, Scooby’s scaredy-cat, clearly pot-addled owner with a perpetual case of the munchies, was a personal role model for me. I don’t need you to tell me how sad that is.
For years I kept this shameful secret to myself. Eventually, though, the internal anguish became too great. I wondered if other, seemingly mature and intelligent people might share my affection for the members of Mystery Inc. I mentioned it, as casually as I could, to a hoity-toity acquaintance who claimed to have some appreciation of film. I don’t think I would have received a more uncomfortable reaction had I admitted to a particularly troublesome case of venereal warts.
Perhaps my situation would not be quite so pathetic if my addiction to a ludicrously lowbrow cartoon were my only guilty pleasure. Unfortunately, there are many more. For one thing, my favourite song of all time is Beth. By Kiss. I also have cassette tapes of every Air Supply album ever made, and I sometimes lock myself in the bathroom with a box of those donuts with sprinkles on top and listen to them one after another, lip-syncing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush for a microphone. On Friday nights. Naked.
On the plus side, the more I speak about this problem of mine, the more I find that, although I may be alone in the bathroom, I am not alone in the guilty pleasures department. A co-worker of mine recently admitted to sneaking out to McDonald’s and ordering a sixpack of Chicken McNuggets everytime her boyfriend, a vegan nutritionist, is out of town. Another friend, a doctoral candidate in comparative literature, confessed to a lifelong affection for Harlequin Romances.
In fact, the more I research the phenomenon of guilty pleasure, the more widespread I realize it is, even amongst the intelligentsia of our age. It is a little reported fact that both Noam Chomsky and Margaret Atwood carry suitcases full of Hostess Twinkies with them whenever they’re away from home. Jazz and classical trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis is reputedly a die hard Britney Spears fan. Cultural philosopher John Ralston Saul is known to set his VCR to record every episode of Temptation Island.
The moral, I suppose, is that we should be true to ourselves and proud of who we are as people. Or that it’s not what we like that defines us, but rather what we aspire to be. Or that a stitch in time saves nine. Or something. Anyway, at least I’m not defensive about all of this. In fact, if anyone’s defensive, it’s you. Whatever – at least I don’t like the Three Stooges. Much.
[editor’s note: Ok, I’m inspired. Got a guilty pleasure of your own? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for an upcoming Sounding Off column. We’ve got to have some fun this summer! The first three responses get a free Voice coffee mug.]