There are eye-opening moments all around. Often, I find strangely deep lessons in what others might perceive to be mundane. When my children became old enough to develop their own opinions about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I suddenly realized how representative those allegiances are of our own personalities. I was always a Michelangelo guy. We were party dudes! I never in a million years thought I’d be raising two Raphael diehards, but it changed the way I looked at our attitudes and interactions. For those unaware readers, Raphael is notoriously hot-headed and impulsive. In a way, it warned me.
It wasn’t the Ninja Turtles that got me thinking recently, but rather, Sixpence None The Richer. Somewhere during the second verse, while singing along to their 1997 hit, “Kiss Me,” I realized I’ve mostly outgrown “guilty pleasures.” I’m sure my coworkers cherish my vocal stylings, but even more than that, it didn’t matter that knowing the words and enjoying them so openly would almost definitely be seen as lame. Moreover, I wasn’t alone in my appreciation for the song that graced the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack. I see people all around embracing weird and unusual things or just things contrary to potential perceptions about them. I love it. Let those freak flags fly, I say!
When I was attending boarding school as a youth, there was a particular freshman who got bullied pretty badly. I received my fair share, but he got it far worse– and more often. One specific instance that escalated beyond anything we could have seen coming was a discussion about favorite movies. The freshman proudly declared his unyielding adoration for the science-fiction/horror film, Event Horizon. At the time, it was a fairly new movie, but this was a prestigious academy. The fact that he didn’t choose some obvious classic like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, or A Clockwork Orange brought immediate and brutal ridicule. Despite numerous opportunities to change his stance, the freshman maintained his love for the gory haunted spaceship story. I didn’t understand it, but I always admired that about him. He liked what he liked, and to hell with the haters, consequences be damned! And believe me, there were actual consequences that day.
There’s so much of our short time on earth wasted by being embarrassed or feeling like we shouldn’t enjoy something that’s ultimately harmless. I would say ultimately superficial as well, but it’s obviously not as superficial as it might seem. When we embrace our guilty pleasures and cast aside the superimposed guilt, the seemingly banal pleasures we engage in can sometimes teach us surprising truths. Unusual inspiration is what makes us unique and has the potential to deconstruct stereotypes. Save your guilt for the things in life that truly deserve it– like broken promises and being obsessed with White Claw Hard Seltzer.