Saturday, November 28, 2009

Secret Pleasures

Living alone has its benefits, not least of which is the chance to be as naked as possible as frequently as possible. (Another is peeing with the bathroom door open, but this really isn't going to be about bodily functions, I swear. But it is nice.) But the best thing about living alone is the chance to indulge in all the secret pleasures that otherwise would need to be smothered in the interest of, you know, living in polite society.

For example: I enjoy stand-up comedy. A lot. I mean, I have seen my fair share of Just For Laughs, the seminal and usually hilarious Canadian comedy showcase out of Montreal and rerun 84 hours a week on the Comedy Network. I'll rent stand-up comedy specials by comics that other people are bored by: Jim Gaffigan, he of the Hot Pockets jokes and blinding whiteness, or Russel Peters, the it's-okay-I'm-racist-'cause-I'm-brown comic. I know these people are celebrities, but in a very particular, nerdy way. I am clearly a member of the Nerd Tribe, however, and indulge myself as such.

Anther secret pleasure I can only really enjoy alone is my huge number of baths. I am a bather. Showers? Meh, and I'm sure my friends can attest to my high score on the stinkiness battles. (Those battles are disgusting, FYI.) But baths? - baths are ridiculous. I take, like, nine a week. I think it combines some of my favourite things: hot tub-like spaces, reading, and being naked. Win-win-win.

Secret pleasures don't have to be a strictly house-bound game. One of my personal joys is dining out - or in, since the person who developed the take-out container is, in my opinion, worthy of at least a Nobel prize. Magazines are another delight, as is playing solitaire on my iPod, and playing Bad Outfit with friends while in line for the bathroom at bars. I love sequined shirts, short-shorts, graffiti, duvets, the smell of new books, really cold Coke Zeroes, petty thievery when drunk, and scoping out bikes on the street.

The thing about keeping a personal blog is, some of those secret pleasures aren't so secret any more. I write a lot about myself and my interests - hey, as your high school English teacher probably taught, write what you know (they probably also taught you about Freytag's Pyramid, which you heard about 95 times in fours years of high school, never knowing the name, until it was reintroduced amongst great internal groaning in your totally horrible Fantasy and Horror class in university and you were docked marks for forgetting the name of the Pyramid, which, frankly, never seemed all that important until said marks were docked, provoking a great gnashing of teeth and rumpusing of spirit, because seriously, that class was frustrating and gave you the first C- you had recieved in, like, three years, which is totally stupid because you're practially a professional English major at this point. Maybe this didn't happen to you specifically. Maybe another secret pleasure I have is hyperbole. There are a lot of hypotheticals going on here), and what I know is myself. If I knew a lot about ancient Egypt, say, or animal husbandry, I'd write about those. As it stands, I'm not totally clear on what animal husbandry is. I'm pretty sure it's not dressing up livestock in formalwear, but that's what I think of. Every time.

While the people who fought in World War Two are known, not without their own sense of the hyperbolic, as "The Greatest Generation," I would posit that people who are currently living and breathing and, for the most part, not fighting off the Red Commies or what-have-you, might be known as "The Indulgent Generation." Oh, I'm not indicting anyone but myself. The Craig Kielburgers of the world aside, my peers and I are a pretty self-obsessed. I might make the argument that our technologies have allowed us to monitor ourselves with ever-increasing levels of mania, but that's more of a symptom than a disease. We love to talk about ourselves.

Okay, maybe not as much as the alleged Me Generation, whose pop-culture legacy, despite having great sports apparel and hilarious moustaches, consists pretty much of Classic Rock and the invention of cocaine - sometimes both at once. Or Generation X, which incorporated the medicalization of every known personality failure into their self-obsession. People who are jerks do not have "Oppositional Defiant Disorder." They're just jerks. My generation loves to blab: we twitter, update our statuses, and overshare to the max. We're so good at telling each other way too much that "TMI" has become a standard phrase, like NASA, or DTMFA.

Our secret pleasures? Not so secret. I propose a thought exercise: search your brainpan for one thing you've never told anyone you enjoy. Masturbating outdoors? Dipping your fingers into barrels of dried beans? Vintage slides starring your parents in their awkward honeymoon phase? Paper-mache? The feeling of fresh, fluffy towels? Dusting your television set? Static electricity? Whatever it is, think on. Turn it over in your head. The word "mull" is appropriate for the activity I'm describing. Now, take that secret pleasure and never tell anyone. Save it; make it just for you. Don't update anything or take a picture. Preserve a little something that makes you happy in a weird, fleeting way. Your secret pleasures may change through the years, but the ability to keep something secret should last a lifetime.

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