I don’t consider anything to be a guilty pleasure. Nothing that you enjoy should have guilt or any other negative emotion associated with it. This isn’t a bit of wisdom that I’ve picked up as I’ve matured – I’ve always felt this way. The best example of this is my favorite band, which is Hanson.
Usually the reaction to that statement is, “Hanson? Like MMMBop?” and the answer is yes. There isn’t another band with the same name. Yes, they still exist. Yes, they come out with new music. Yes, they still tour, and I’ve seen them multiple times.
When their first album, Middle of Nowhere, was released, when I was the only kid to openly admit to liking Hanson, I had to constantly defend them. I guess I was asking for it by wearing my Hanson t-shirt to middle school.
One thing that generally gave me no pleasure whatsoever was gym class. But once a semester, we got to have a unit where every class was held in the weight room that the middle school inexplicably had, and I found that enjoyable – probably because you don’t need any hand-eye coordination to lift weights.
There were three gym teachers, and unfortunately, the one I disliked was the one who did the weight room unit. He was the type of gym teacher who didn’t like you much if you weren’t athletic, and clearly, I was not. But there was a stereo in the weight room (or maybe he brought it in himself), and he allowed students to bring CDs to play during the period.
Guess what CD I handed to him one day? I expected my peers to laugh at me, or at least roll their eyes, and I didn’t really care. My Hanson love wasn’t a secret, and I was always trying to get others to listen. I was not expecting Mr. Daria to hold up the CD and laugh while asking me if I seriously thought he would play it.
I silently took the CD back from him. I was a little bit embarrassed, but I was mostly angry. How dare he mock me and purposely embarrass me? Yes, I did think he would play it. He should have played it.
I had to deal with Mr. Daria all through middle school, and I never forgave him for what he did. Not that I had any reason to forgive him – he never apologized.
I continued to proclaim my Hanson love, mostly by wearing a t-shirt with the band members’ adorable faces emblazoned on the front. Whenever a classmate asked in a disgusted tone if I liked Hanson, I’d reply, “No, I just like the shirt.”
Fourteen years later, in 2012, we went on a weekend trip to Asheville with the company my husband worked for at the time. On Saturday, we chose rafting for our group activity. Once we returned to dry land, we ate lunch at a picnic table. The shirt that I had chosen to wear that day was a Hanson shirt, but it wasn’t an obvious one. The front of the shirt had three colored boxes – the yellow one with a picture of a megaphone, the red one with a picture of a music note, and the blue one with a picture of a stereo. The word Hanson was on the lower corner of the shirt, so not easily seen.
One of my husband’s coworkers noticed the shirt, and asked what it meant. I told him it was a band shirt. He asked what band, so I told the truth, and I felt like I’d gone back in time.
“Hanson!” he exclaimed. “Hey, did you hear what she said?” he called to the rest of the table.
But everyone ignored him, and that was the end of that. Proof that some people never mature much beyond sixth grade.
I still wear my Hanson t-shirts in public. My husband even bought me a shirt that plainly says “I Love Hanson” right on the front. His grandmother asked me what Hanson was.
Just today, I listened to an episode of the podcast Sporkful where the host, Dan Pashman, interviewed Christopher Kimball, the founder of America’s Test Kitchen. Pashman asked Kimball what his top food guilty pleasure is, and Kimball responded, “What’s a guilty pleasure? It’s either a pleasure or it’s not. How can you have a guilty pleasure? I don’t get it.”
Amen, Christopher Kimball. Amen.