HEDONISTS, REJOICE! Harder! It is no longer taboo to be a self-indulgent pleasuremonger.
A Columbia University study shows that, in the long run, people actually regret having missed out on opportunities for self-gratification and pleasure and wish they hadn’t practiced so much self-restraint. You read that right: it’s the abstainers who are unwise, unhealthy, and bound to regret their (in)actions!
My parents always said I should plan for my future, so, Mom and Dad, I’m devoting my days to the pursuit of pleasure. Guilt begone! You have no power here! I have proven scientific fact on my side. (Did I mention the study was from Columbia University?)
Not that I needed an incentive—I am weak and overwhelmed with temptation: clothing-optional vacations in Jamaica (note to self: call travel agent), limited-edition vintage reissue Manolo evening boots on sale, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic finally coming out on DVD… Ah, the guilty pleasures—partake! It’s what we hedonists live for.
Towering over all the other temptations, however, is The Bad Boy. Oh, where would a hedonista be without her Bad Boy? We never crave the good guys like we do those bad ones, do we?
But he’s The One for you. The One who can make you spring out of bed and into a cab with his 2AM booty call. The One for whom you gladly endure the 7AM “walk of shame”—the seemingly mile-long stretch from the front door of his apartment building, past the doorman who nods a nonjudgmental “Good Morning” (surely he’s seen worse), to the elevator, still wearing your little black dress and 3½-inch strappy heels from the night before, your hair just a bit disheveled. The One who you’ve “dated” twelve times but only had one meal with (appetizer, really). The One whose tongue you know better than the color of his eyes. The One whose most redeeming quality is the way he lightly runs his fingers from the nape of your neck, down the sternum, over your stomach, stopping just shy of your… well, you get the picture.
So he has the mental dexterity of a fruit plate. Perhaps he has more hair products in his bathroom than you do. Maybe he’s a Cancer to your Capricorn (if you even know his birthday). Your friends, if they even know about him, hate him. What about the nice guy, they ask? His day will come. Later.
I recently had lunch with a colleague and our conversation about her recent fling went like this:
Her: I don’t know what’s gotten into me. The attraction is strange.
Me: Strange how? Is he homeless?
Me: Does he carry small furry animals in his pockets?
Me: Does he wear a monocle?
Her: No. Strange as in just about sex. That’s all we do.
That’s not strange. That’s planning. Columbia says so! You no longer have to justify yourself or your sweaty actions. You are merely tending to your needs and future physical and psychological health in a manner sanctioned and encouraged by one of the top research programs in the country. Who could argue with that?
We don’t pursue the Bad Boy for the shallow relationship and empty feelings thinking our continued love and devotion will turn this wild man into a tamed pussycat—leave that to the delusionists. Nor do we want him strapped in a black leather harness, kneeling and kissing our stilettoed feet and calling us “Madame X”—that’s for the sadists. We connoisseurs self-indulge for the sheer pleasure of self-indulgence.
Although I may be a lapsed Catholic (my last confession centered around stealing extra cookies from the school cafeteria), I don’t mean to give negative press to the world of restraint. Some of you may need to take it a bit more slowly. It’s just that I’ve always been an overachiever so, like a dog with a new juicy T-bone, I’m going to wrangle every last drop of pleasure out of life. It’s what I do; I can’t help myself. And apparently I shouldn’t try.
So for you neophyte hedonists, and you know who you are, ease into it. Baby steps. Take cream with your coffee. Order more bread.
But for you veteran hedonists out there, rest assured that you had the right idea all along. Lap it up now. You’ll regret it later if you don’t.
by Diana L. Napier