In Praise of Sinful Pleasures or Acknowledging Your Inner Slut

In which the Elegant Bastard points out the advantages of having a good long chat with one’s inner slut.  

I can be perfect for only so long.

Eventually the strain will show. My fingers will begin to twitch, my molars will grind, and my eyes will look about, perhaps searching for anything cute to kick. My smile – taut, and holding as if glued in place – will tremble. A sneer will threaten at the corners of my lips. I will resist for as long as I can, but if the grumblies are gathering, the snarlies cannot be far behind. I soon will be combustible.

Somehow I will avoid ignition. Most of us do. We try to push away the feeling that we are forever standing at attention. We concentrate on being green enough, and smart enough, and parental enough and cool enough. We strive to be multicultural, we pop our multi-vitamins and we multitask like mad. And we generally manage to stumble through life on emotional auto-pilot.

But when that control falters, when the warning lights begin to flash, we panic. We pull back from unauthorized acts and suck in unsavoury sounds. We look for the always present judgmental eyes. We are in a no-fart zone and our claim that pressures are building will earn us no sympathy. Woe to those whose social sphincters fail them.

We may try to divert ourselves. Memos get sent, the calendar is updated, the bills get paid, the light bulbs are changed and so on down the take-my-mind-off-my-life list until you snap yourself out of the trance and realize you’ve just dusted the dog. It then chases the cat, the kids take opposing sides and you wonder if you could just vacuum seal the entire group. But you can’t. The noise of your failure is all around you and it goes downhill from there. You are falling groaning into guilt.

It is at that points like these that we reach for our “pick me ups”, our sedatives, our “tranks” of choice. It might be “Big Bang Theory” reruns, or another night spent watching Indiana Jones running from a rolling stone, or listening yet again to 2 Live Crew practicing dirty words. It could be gummy worm ice cream, truffled mac and cheese or a triple G and T. But whatever we may turn to, it brings no real pleasure. Good chocolate used in this way is chocolate wasted!  Even as we tell ourselves that we deserve our little treat, something deep within us whispers “No!” And we sigh, for we know the truth. There is no place to go to escape bad guilt.

Bad guilt is life’s nasty little gift. It starts when you first discover there’s a wrong way to tie your shoes or do long division or eat pasta. You learn that there’s a wrong sport to play and a wrong way to play it. Then you discover there’s a wrong subject to study, a wrong career to choose, a wrong party to support, a wrong person to marry. Guilt’s moving finger points and its voice won’t go away: “Not Good Enough!” “Wrong, wrong, wrong!” “Guilty, guilty, guilty!”

 And you groan.

Bad guilt is the kind your mother hoped would make you clean your room, be nice to your sister and become Prime Minister. It makes you pay most of your taxes. It forces you away from the eight-or-less express lane when you have nine items. It denies you carrot cake. It pops up when you think, say or do the wrong thing and again when you don’t think, don’t say and don’t do the right thing.  It stomps around the intimate rooms of your inner brain, mocking the pictures and kicking the furniture. Then it beats you with the whips that it forces you to make.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. The imaginative among us can get off the bad guilt treadmill if we want to very much and we try very hard. You start by getting in touch with your inner slut. Oh, don’t be silly. Of course you have one. You just haven’t let it out to play in a while. Once released, this powerful and essentially naughty persona rushes into the limbic system, grabs bad guilt by the scruff, stuffs it in a environmentally unfriendly bag, seals it with duct tape, tosses it in a closet and slams the door. Then it turns, looks at you, grins an evil grin and blows you sexy little kisses. And you giggle. Welcome to Good Guilt!

I know, Dear Reader, that some of you may be questioning this strategy. You will reasonably point out that “inner” is often kept inside for a reason. Best to keep it locked away in there where it can not cause embarrassment, cause acne or lower property values.. But such reasoning is fallacious. Not everything that lies hidden out of sight is necessarily evil. What about a leprechaun’s pot of gold? What about inner beauty. And  just where do they keep the caramel in Caramilk, eh? Why can’t your inner slut be just as sweet?

Perhaps the reluctance has more to do with the sexual connotations the word “slut” usually carries with it. But I am not counselling rampant sexual excess – unrestrained flash mobs chorusing “Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma’am and Sam”.  I’m not necessarily talking about sex at all, and certainly not of massacres, or gluttony, or anything else rapacious. If I were, I would be saying that it is quite all right to manipulate others, making them instruments to be used for your own enjoyment. It isn’t and I’m not.

What I am talking about is simply indulging our inner sensualist, that happy sluttish imp that savours some modicum of pleasure for pleasure’s sake. Why then use the word “slut” at all? I do so because the word adds a necessary dimension. Our most potent little pleasures must be those we know will elicit judgmental frowns. They must not be “deserved”. They must have about them just the faintest scent of sin.  We must take our delight the same way Alexander took the world: by choice, by force, and because it was there! If bad guilt bends our backs and saps our strength, Good Guilt lifts our heads and helps us build our empires.

The expected tasks and the prescribed chores and the assigned worries will wait. For a while I will be at the spa, eating cookies while I have a pedicure; or in front of the television, watching royal babies enter life; or heading off on an unnecessary jaunt to Montreal, perhaps first class; or eating a second Ritters Sport square; or having a second nap on the good couch; or buying and refusing to share licorice-flavoured toothpaste; or ordering a strangely complex coffee at a cafe farther away than it needs to be. Concerns about money, time, calories and good taste will be tossed away. Do not be misled by my soft tones; this is my rebel roar!

Why indulge in these pleasures? Because I can! Did I earn any of them? Not in the least! Then isn’t there guilt? Of course there is – that wonderful lingering shivering guilt that comes with a smile. “I am so bad,” you whisper to yourself. “Yes you are!” responds your inner slut. You smile and offer the world one proud chocolate dipped finger.

Now those urgent voices chanting “Wrong” and “Guilty”  are reduced to a feeble “tsk, tsk!” or a silly “tut, tut!” with only the shaking of disdainful heads or the elevating of arrogant noses to add a little drama. But these are ineffective and impotent acts. We are now in the land of Good Guilt. Here we rule. Here there are no whips, or, if there are, they are consensual and they come with mounds of fresh whipped cream.

We cannot stay here long; we all know that. Duty calls. But it is a wonderful place to visit, and we return to the real world restored. We take with us a new smile and a new strength. The issues and the causes and the people that depend on us will once again gather around our feet. They will notice, however, a difference in our posture, a spring in our step, a sparkle in our eyes. They will sense that we are free in a way that wasn’t true before. They will not understand it when we smile, giggle, and blow them sexy little kisses.

Those wishing to read more about the saving power of pleasure may do so at http://wp.me/p3cq8l-3S

And, as always, feel free to comment, criticise, “share”, “tweet” and ask for the locations of stores selling licorice flavoured toothpaste.

Gay Marriage, or “What’s in Your Closet, Bob?” pt. 2

Part 2: In which the Elegant Bastard and “Bob” each drop their Bible Bombs

Please see Part 1 before continuing.

Bob has returned and the sin-as-choice argument has apparently not done all that well. Bob has therefore brought with him with him a variation. Simply put, if God says something is a Sin, it’s a Sin, whether or not it occurs by choice. And the Bible specifically condemns Gay sex in at least three different places. Bob waves this around like North Korea waves a nuke.

I am reasonably familiar with the Bible. I read it sporadically at Sunday school, cover to cover in university and parts of it as research in my thirties. I have great respect for it, even if I poke mild fun at some of its passages. I also have a lot of respect for those who, like Bob, make a sincere attempt to live their lives according to its teachings. However, I do not turn to it for spiritual or moral guidance. Nor would I ever insist that others do so. This is why I have difficulty accepting its contents as the sole basis for the making of laws.

Three of the bigger biblical same-sex prohibitions are those found in Genesis 19, Leviticus 19 and 1 Corinthians 6. In the first, two male angels visiting a guy called Lot are threatened with rape by a crowd of men at Lot’s door. Lot offers up his virgin daughters instead but the crowd persists in its demands. Eventually, the angels strike the potential rapists blind and the story ends. All this occurs in the city of Sodom. In this tale, Bob finds an argument against Gay sex and Marriage.

Really? The big no-no seems to be rape, or, if we examine Lot’s words, the sin of poor hospitality. Lot makes it pretty clear that he has a duty to care for guests. And besides, if this is intended as a moral lesson to us all, it does seem to be giving us permission to use our sisters and daughters – our virgin sisters and daughters – as gifts to visiting mobs! Wrap ‘em in some tissue, stick a bow on ‘em and write “For You All” on the tag. (We have no idea what the return policy would be in this case.)

Bob, we will have to assume that Dear Reader’s stunned silence at this point indicates a less than thrilled response to this variation on neighbourly sharing, so let’s turn to Leviticus, who writes, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination.” [i] That seems pretty clear. Two things, however, do give us pause. First, we have to wonder what kind of strange folk Leviticus is dealing with because in the nearby pages, he feels it’s necessary to tell them that they can’t “uncover the nakedness” of, among others, their fathers, their mothers, their aunts, their uncles, their nephews and their daughters. He goes on to ban both men and women from having sex with goats, cows, and camels. I mean, who are these people?

The second and far more important issue is the range of other restrictions Leviticus lays down. Among them is a prohibition against eating the flesh of the swine that “cheweth not its cud” even if it has a cloven hoof. Bob, think for a minute. He’s talking about pork! Bar B Que! Ribs! That pulled sandwich you so love. The roadside dinner destination of millions of ravenous middle-Americans.

And please, won’t someone think of the bacon!

So essentially, it comes down to this. If we enforce  a Bible based ban on Gay Marriage, we are also going to have to give up eating any and all forms of pork, uncovering all that nakedness, and looking lasciviously at domestic animals. If, as you say, things banned in the Bible are Sins, Bob, then everything banned in the Bible is a Sin. If it makes you feel any better, Leviticus allows you to eat locusts (but not shrimp, scallops or lobsters, with or without garlic butter.) And by the way, he also bans gossip.

The bit in Corinthians is also going to force Bob to make an inconvenient choice. Here we find a list of those who will be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s a pretty long list. Yes, it includes those who “abuse themselves with mankind”. This likely means those who have Gay sex. I suppose I could argue that it includes anyone who plays tackle football, hockey or rugby! I mean if those aren’t examples of “self abuse with mankind”, what is? However, I would be kidding.

My real issue is the rest of the “excluded” list. Right there in first place are the “fornicators”, followed by thieves, drunks, those who covet and a few more. Fornicators, Bob! This includes anyone who had sex before marriage as well as those who marry and then commit adultery. According to USA Today, almost all Americans have had premarital sex! [ii] And if our past or present sex crimes don’t get us, how about cheating on a tax return, drinking one too many beer one too many times, wanting anything that is our neighbour’s or even feeling lust in an improper fashion. (Apparently the kinky stuff is a sin even if it happens within a marriage!)  I don’t even want to begin to think about Heaven’s opinion on internet porn.

So is self abuse with mankind the bad one because it’s the one you don’t do and the rest are just naughty examples of boys being boys? I don’t think that’s the way it works! The problem with using the Bible as a rule book, Bob (and as I said earlier I have no real issue with that idea) is this notion of consistency. You can’t just pick and choose what is and is not a Sin and for whom. And if you feel you can, then we really aren’t dealing with the Bible.

We are dealing with the Boble.

Let’s consider two further Bible related points here.  We need to keep in mind that the Commandments begin with “Thou” either stated or implied. For example, “Thou shalt not kill.” or (Thou shalt) “Honour thy father and thy mother.” No Commandment begins “Other people shall not … .” Thus, while a concern for the holiness of neighbours may be touching, it isn’t what the Bible’s going on about. No one is going to be denied the Kingdom of Heaven because the neighbours sinned. If that were so, no one would live within 100 miles of a Kardashian. No, that Divine Finger is pointing at you, Bob, so do let’s be careful. We don’t want another Sodom here, now do we?

And if your primary motive is less the holiness of others and more their pain, God doesn’t really need help there either. I mean this is the deity who managed to come up with great floods, columns of fire and assorted plagues without our help.

Let’s end today’s letter with a new but key point. Assume you and Bobawa have invited the neighbours over for a dinner celebrating your anniversary. We all arrive bearing small wrapped gifts. Conversation begins. You mention your first apartment. We ask what the sex was like there and did you “do it” on the balcony. You go on to speak adoringly of the birth of your two children. We ask for details about their conception. You reminisce about family vacations over the years. We want to know if you had sex in all the hotel rooms or just in those with three stars. You then unwrap our presents and discover that everyone has brought you condoms, albeit in different colours and several flavours.

At that point, you would (I hope) – with righteous and justifiable anger – demand we all take our filthy and sex-obsessed imaginations out of your nice clean house.

My point, Bob, is simply this. The issue being discussed is Gay Marriage and every argument you have raised has to do with sex. And since you undoubtedly would agree that you are married to Bobawa even on those days when you do not have sex, we must assume that there is more to marriage than sex. That being so, perhaps in part three of this letter we could move on?

Cheers for now, Bob.

The last part will be posted on Friday.

 



[i] Leviticus 19, 22.

[ii] http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2006-12-19-premarital-sex_x.htm