Guilty Pleasure: something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt (Merriam-Webster)
Hardly like you need a dictionary definition to understand the term, but thought I’d look it up anyway. And there we go – I couldn’t have defined it any better myself!
So, what is mine?
Well, as it turns out, I actually have quite a few, of which spending hours trawling the internet for cute cat (sloth/alpaca/slow loris/owl/dog/bunny/anything fluffy) videos and shopping sprees in Dischem (an hour is not enough for all the cosmetic and toiletry wonders… and I don’t even like make-up and have no idea how to ‘do’ my hair), feature quite strongly.
However, if I had to pick out the guiltiest of guilty pleasures in my life, it would have to be…
Yes, I might as well admit it. There’s nothing I enjoy more than listening to other peoples’ conversations. And, no, let’s just get this straight right now – not the kind of eavesdropping where you shuffle along in your socks and press your ear against a keyhole to pry on private exchanges.
I mean the I-couldn’t-help-but-overhear-because-you’re-talking-audibly-in-the-bus-seat-in-front-of-me kind of eavesdropping.
Whether they’re lamenting their complicated love affairs, sharing tips on fashion or cooking or home decor, dishing out some juicy gossip, chattering away about good times past or simply discussing the weather, I find the way people communicate fascinating.
Not to mention the stories! As you may know, I really am a sucker for stories and have found that often the best ones are just drifting about (untold) around coffee shop tables, up and down Pick n Pay aisles, on sidewalks, in taxi seats, between boarding gates… you get the picture.
Now, I would probably have felt far too guilty about all of this to admit, but since I come from a long line of eavesdroppers, I may as well wear it proudly on my sleeve.
My mom always tells us about our great grandmother, Ouma Leen, who used to entertain her granddaughters endlessly with stories she’d make up about people at the next table in the restaurant or two sun umbrellas away on the beach.
My mother says, she’d always settle into her seat, sit back, light a cigarette, quietly contemplate for a bit and then say: “Now, listen my girlies. Let me tell you about those people over there…”
With the scant information received from the bits of conversation she picked up, body language analysed and behaviour spied, she’d weave a colourful yarn and encourage her audience to participate, till the tale grew beyond the characters on which it was originally based and took on a life of its own entirely.
I love that.
And I love that the tradition has continued:
My mother inherited her gift for spotting an interesting situation miles away and my father’s curiosity gets the better of him time and again, my brother is good with picking up on fine nuances and nothing escapes my sister-in-law’s sharp eye… so when a particularly intriguing party of strangers present themselves, and we’re all together, we can’t help but dabble in a little story building improv.
It’s our thing, I guess. Is that weird?