Aged nine, my younger brother presented me with a list of things he supposedly enjoyed. In first place, rather alarmingly, he had written the word “pain.” I attributed this to a case of pre-pubescent toxic masculinity, brought on by watching too many action movies (a hypothesis he later admitted to be true), but years later, I have quite a contradictory list myself.
Whilst I’ve never claimed to be a fan of pain, I seem to have a tricky time where pleasure is concerned. Many popular activities which should, according to loads of evidence, improve my health, hygiene or simply effect a general sense of wellbeing, instead strike me as simply more trouble than they’re worth. I like them in theory, but the reality rarely matches up, and so I’ve collected, over time, quite a list of unpopular opinions. Pain may be rightfully on my shit list, but the 10 things that follow it might be slightly less popular. Let’s start with enemy #2: cocktails.
Carrie Bradshaw and her cosmopolitan, James Bond and his martini. Every time I order a cocktail I imagine twirling an olive on a stick whilst gazing enigmatically across a low-lit bar. In reality, I’m nursing an immediate sugar-induced hangover and a slight slur after emptying my wallet for a thimbleful of sickly sweet, overly-alcoholic Bond juice.
I have no self-control when it comes to salted popcorn, which I routinely finish during the trailers, resulting in Sahara-strength thirst. Water costs a small fortune so I decide to go without, instead spending the rest of the film feeling triggered each time there is a beverage in shot. What’s more, something about the quiet focus and cavernous space sends my anxiety spinning out unabated into the Dolby darkness.
Each time I try to live my best #tublife, things go awry. I’ll run the bath too hot and then spend an awkward minute crouched in half-scalding, half-freezing purgatory waiting for the water to cool. Once immersed, I quickly become a lethargic lobster, crimson and immobilized. I try to read but the book becomes damp and wrinkly due to my damp and wrinkly lobster claws.
Despite the above, many cultures consider bathing a ceremonial act. Not the English. We are a nation built on a history of infrequent washing and entire winters spent sewn into the same set of underwear. Occasionally I like to honor the past by skipping my daily ablutions, convinced I’m saving money and the planet by indulging this act of laziness. In my defence, grubby hair is the pinnacle of rock’n’roll texture goals.
One way to distract from poor personal hygiene is to keep the rest of your person in tip-top shape. Ahh the joys of the mani-pedi! Frozen with only a stack of outdated magazines which I can barely flip through due to impending ruination of forever-wet nails, I end up trying to get my phone out of my bag, smudge them, incur wrath of technician and am forced to rinse and repeat or leave with one crusty claw.
I’m a Cancer, so I want to be uncomfortably close to those I love. Boundaries sound like a sensible idea but really I just want to sleep in your bed, braid your hair and share all our secrets.
I’m clearly not needy at all, so often enjoy a spot of alone time. Just kidding! Whilst routinely pulling the “I’m an extroverted introvert” card, I’ll spend approximately five minutes in my own company before texting everyone I know with a *casual* “wyd?”
I’m an extroverted introvert, so sometimes I just need to chill in the sticks with a good book. Once there, I realize my attention span is shot (thx Instagram) and am unable to read for more than three minutes. Instead I occupy myself in a new role as lord of the snack break, counting down the seconds until I can return to my multi-stimuli urban bliss.
I recently got a marketing email from UberEATS whose subject line read “Georgia hates sharing food.” Guess Siri really is listening. Portion politics run rife on tiny ceramic plates; it’s a no from me.
I guess that’s why many people’s go-to meal is pho. Me? Turns out consuming a large measure of hot liquid has similar effects to lying in a bath of it (see no.3). Perspiring and pink, I live in fear of a pho-king awkward first date.
There you have it. A list that perhaps reveals more about my neuroses and lack of personal hygiene than it does about pleasure (although I prefer to call it a deep dive into the cognitive dissonance of the modern world.) What about you? Are there any of life’s popular “pleasures” that you simply can’t abide?
Collage by Madeline Montoya.