Lately, I’ve been engaging in an activity that makes me feel quite naughty.
I grew up a rule-honoring kid, and I’m not much of a limit-tester as an adult, either. Breaking rules has always created an unusually uncomfortable moral struggle for me. My level of contrition lies somewhere between a strong sense of responsibility and a marginally unhealthy guilt complex. That said, the allure of naughtiness for its own sake is not lost on me.
For some, a simple act of defiance ignites a thrill. A wicked grin spread across the face of a willful child tells the story of a primal pleasure that can be derived from simply breaking a rule. I have no respect for those who break rules to clamber their way to the top of the heap, stomping on those in their way. However, throwing care to the wind and rules to the side, having a little fun while testing the limits of the laws, can be somewhat exhilarating. I get that.
I remember a particular night in high school. A friend and I were hanging out, having a discussion about yogurt. Frozen yogurt, to be exact. We tossed around every four-lettered word we knew, exploring ways in which we could colorfully emphasize our love for the creamy goodness of yogurt. We used words we wouldn’t use in public to this very day. Yet, on that night, they made us laugh until we cried.
These days, with little eyes and ears on me at home, boxed into a über-formal business environment by day, I have little opportunity to push limits just for fun. But I’ve found a guilty pleasure. I’m going to tell you what it is: Sometimes, even when I’m not reading anything, I put on my reading glasses and walk around looking at stuff.
I feel like I’m bucking the system when I don drugstore readers and read fine print on bottles — cheating in plain view of everyone, taking the easy way out. I examine the pansies in front of my house, bursting in technicolor. I scrutinize my pedicure, my kids’ drawings, the skin on the back of my hands.
The guilt, I suppose, kicks in the moment I remove the glasses and my eyes struggle to reacclimate themselves to my usual, moderate vision. The readjustment causes me slight disorientation and a headache — like my eyeballs had a little too much fun and now they’re hungover. They protest, and I consider putting the spectacles back on, but remind myself that indulgences must be taken in moderation, so as not to cause addiction. I could become dependent upon my 1x magnifying glasses like a drug addict drawn to the heightened experiences of chemicals coursing through their veins.
Last night, I put on my readers to peruse headlines on my cellphone. They sickened me. Dogs horribly abused in dog fighting rings, a mom killed by a drunk driver, bullying against a handicapped high school student, a child who shot and killed his sibling with a gun he found in the house — all results of sensation-seekers committing acts of depravity in search of their thrill. Naughtiness gone horribly wrong.
The stories bruised my heart, and I removed my glasses — not for the sake of my eyeballs, but because sometimes I don’t want that much clarity.
Overland Park mom and freelancer Emily Parnell writes weekly.