Let the Guilt Go by
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Prompted By Guilty Pleasures

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When I was young, I would sneak books into the bathroom, hide them in the narrow space between the hamper and the wall, and read them when I was supposed to be doing my homework. Initially they were not books I was ashamed of, the only guilt was from reading when I was supposed to be doing homework. However, in high school I did begin to discover books with sex in them, and I didn’t want my mother to know I was reading those. One memorable book was Sex and the Single Girl by Helen Gurley Brown. This had all kinds of advice about the dos and don’ts of having sex, which wasn’t something I was planning to do any time soon, but it was intriguing to read about it. Then there was fiction like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence and Candy by Terry Southern. I don’t remember how I acquired a copy of Candy, but once the other kids at school heard that I had it, everyone wanted to borrow it. I think my copy made the rounds of the entire class. Today I learned the fascinating fact that Playboy Magazine listed Candy as one of the “25 Sexiest Novels Ever Written.” (Lady Chatterley was on that list too.)

Hidden books, '70s television shows, and Words With Friends have all been guilty pleasures for me.

After college my guilty pleasures were lowbrow ’70s television shows. During my three years of law school, I religiously watched Rhoda (on the air from 1974-78), which was a spin-off from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. The episode where Rhoda and Joe got married was every bit as exciting to me as a real wedding! My roommate, a non-law student, was hooked too, and we always watched together, but I wouldn’t have admitted it to my classmates. However I just learned from Wikipedia that Rhoda’s wedding, which was an hourlong episode, was watched by more than 52 million Americans, over half of the US viewing audience, and was the second most-watched television episode of all time, surpassed only by the birth of Little Ricky on I Love Lucy in 1953. That makes me feel better!

The next show I watched, both during and after law school, was Welcome Back Kotter (1975-79), another guilty pleasure that I loved, starring a young John Travolta, with a wonderful theme song by John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful. I once was supposed to pick up a friend at the airport and was twenty minutes late because I couldn’t leave until Welcome Back Kotter was over. Of course I couldn’t tell the friend the reason that I was late.

Finally, the most guilty television pleasure of all was Charlie’s Angels (1976-81). This show was best (that is, cheesiest) during its first season when Farrah Fawcett was the main angel. One could take Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith somewhat seriously, but Farrah was the most improbable detective ever. The critics called it “Jiggle TV” because none of the actresses wore a bra, but that was irrelevant to me. I liked it because it was a show about three women solving crimes on their own, helping each other, and having fun while they did it. Also, the costumes and hairstyles were great! The perfect antidote to law.

In more recent years, the only TV shows I did or do watch are smart and well-made, so I don’t have to feel guilty about them. Besides, during the pandemic everyone has watched all kinds of good or bad programs and movies, just because we were stuck at home for a couple of years. So I have let the guilt go for watching TV.

My current guilty pleasure is Words With Friends. Word games have always been one of my pleasures, but now I spend so much time on this one every day that I do feel a little guilty. It’s one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning, and one of the last things I do before I go to bed at night. I play in the bathroom. I play while eating lunch. I play when I am waiting for a Zoom meeting to start, and sometimes even during Zoom meetings. I have about twenty games going at any given time. Right now, five of those games are against a certain other Retrospecter who shall remain nameless. With everyone else I play either one or two games at a time, but this person keeps starting more and more games. And I’m not complaining, this person is a fun opponent. But often by the time I finish making a move in each of the twenty games, it’s time to start over again.

Words With Friends also has lots of fun features that regular Scrabble does not have. You can make your tiles different colors, which makes the board look pretty, and also distinguishes the words you played from the ones your opponent did. You can earn “coins” in various ways, and then use them to buy different things, including “swaps.” Swaps enable you to trade in your bad tiles without losing a turn. This is my favorite feature, and why I find it hard to go back to regular Scrabble. Also, each week there is a Solo Challenge, consisting of 10 games to be played against amusingly named bots. This week’s theme is The Odyssey, so the bots, in order of increasing difficulty, are named Calypso, Cyclops, Circe . . . all the way up to Penelope, Odysseus, and ultimately Athena. You get lots of coins and swaps if you beat all ten of them by the end of the week.

Finally, I must mention my newest discovery, Wordle. I love this game, and I am thankful that it is structured so that you can only play once each day. Otherwise it could easily become a time-consuming guilty pleasure. But since almost everyone I know plays it, and many post their results on facebook every day, it would be silly to feel guilty about it.


“Let the Guilt Go” is a 2010 song by the metal group Korn. I don’t recommend listening to it unless you are into metal, specifically “nu metal” (whatever that is), but I do like the title.

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy


Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your pleasures have evolved through the years, Suzy. Yet many seem to revolve around words of some sort (in literature or in puzzles). No wonder you enjoy writing so much.

    I share your enjoyment of those old TV shows. Rhoda’s wedding was eagerly anticipated by many of us, but thanks for the statistical confirmation about just HOW many.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    A great anthology of your “guilty pleasures” over the years. I would bet that a lot of us could include reading (or sneaking) “dirty books” into our repertoire among our guilty pleasures of yore. May I just add that John O’Hara was also pretty steamy back then — mainly just by suggesting that people actually had sex. Shocking!

    As to your TV shows, I would definitely classify “Charlie’s Angels” as a guilty pleasure. But I think you should feel no guilt in enjoying “Kotter” and, especially, “Rhoda,” very well written sit coms. Of course, I am probably of that opinion since I watched them too. Conversely, even the lure of Farrah was not enough to get me to watch “Angels.”

    And I am glad that you, too, list word games among your guilty pleasures — though, as per my story, my Scrabble-esque game du jour is Spelling Bee. I keep hearing about Wordle, but have resisted it so far since I am finding Spelling Bee (and crosswords and jigsaw puzzles….) to be enough of a time suck without adding to them. Plus, I read somewhere that Trump was playing Wordle, so that’s another disincentive.

    As usual, you’ve picked a perfect song title for your own title, though I must admit (as is often the case) this was not a song I’d ever heard of. But maybe I get some points for at least having heard of Korn.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, John. Yes, Charlie’s Angels was my guiltiest TV pleasure, that’s why I used it for the featured image.

      You MUST try Wordle. It is not a time suck, you can only play once a day, I spend 15 minutes tops on it. I doubt that Trump is any good at it, if he really does play (which I doubt), so don’t let the rumor that he is playing dissuade you.

      You definitely get points for having heard of Korn. I will add those points to your tally. I think you are winning!

  3. Suzy, fun learning about your book reading and TV watching guilty pleasures. And by coincidence I’ve recently started playing WWF and it sure is addictive!

    Actually it’s not such a coincidence we both play as oodles of my friends seem to be playing it these days, but I’ve not been attuned to the swapping-without-losing-your-turn thing , will have to learn to do that!

    But one thing I have learned is to turn off the sound on my phone when I play in bed late at night. That way my husband won’t say , “Who are you playing that silly word game with now?”

    Need I remind him how many football games he watched lately?

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Your guilty obsession with word games is good for the brain (probably better than Prevagen — LOL). My husband and I are addicted to Wordle and I have lots of friends playing Words with Friends. I’m afraid to start because I hate to add another addiction to my life, although this one would be much better for me than the guilty pleasure I wrote about.

    • Suzy says:

      Had to look up Prevagen, I hadn’t heard of it. Or maybe I’d heard but didn’t remember, lol. WWF is pretty addictive, but I suppose you could limit yourself to playing once a day, and then it would be more like Wordle, one and done.

      • Khati Hendry says:

        I’m afraid to try WWF now—I spend to much time on the simple ones now—though I do like word games generally. I never saw Welcome Back Kotter—maybe one of those things I missed in the great black hole of popular culture from certain decades of my life. The secret reading reminds me of all the Classic comics I read instead of participating in dance class. Maybe a good thing, since I never read most of the real classics.

  5. I love Wordle. If you like (simple) math, try Nerdle (https://nerdlegame.com/).

  6. Marian says:

    Love all these pleasures, Suzy, and I read a lot of those books at the same time you did, with Fanny Hill added. I am relieved that Wordle can be played just once a day, or otherwise I’d be sunk. In college a group of gals dashed back to the dorm in the afternoon to grab the one TV to watch the soap opera “Dark Shadows.” I wasn’t among them but it was a hoot to watch their enthusiasm.

    • Suzy says:

      Mare, I’m not sure if I ever read Fanny Hill. It’s also on the Playboy list of 25 sexiest. As for soap operas, I didn’t have access to a TV in college, but never was interested in watching them when I did.

  7. Just played Absurdle with success in six tries. I will try to refrain from playing more than once a day!

  8. We were watching Rhoda’s wedding at the same time.

  9. Fun Fact: I was quietly, conspiratorially approached by a female flight attendant on the way to LAX in the 1980s who was certain I was the voice of the doorman in Rhoda! And then it happened two or three more times over the years! I still have never seen the show or heard the guy’s voice.

    Wow, you were way ahead of me with Lady Chatterley; I finally read it when I was around 40 and thought it was pretty thrilling.

    FYI, I first heard the name “Fah Fawcett” (how they pronounced it) from several 5 year old girls in Dorchester who were in my daycare class–mostly African-American kids who watched it regularly, along with the 6 million dollar man, which they also educated me about.
    P.S. thanks for explaining your title; it’s one of the first ones that left me clueless.

  10. Jim Willis says:

    Suzy, I loved reading about your guilty pleasures of racy books and 70s TV shows. I was an avid fan of Rhoda, too, and I still remember when she and Joe split up and how sad I felt over that! As for Kotter, I was a late-comer to it, discovering it in reruns and developing a real appreciation for how it was done. And every guy I knew was into Charlie’s Angels, whether they would admit it or not. I’m also a WWF player if you ever want a new opponent! Just got into Wordle a couple weeks ago.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jim. Glad to know you liked all my 70s TV shows. Love what you said about Charlie’s Angels, despite a previous (male) commenter who claimed otherwise. And yes, I’d love to play WWF with you!

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