Secret Shames (updated)

This morning Mr. Rowe took off for the Sycamore Hill Writer's Workshop to spend a week in the North Carolina mountains critiquing stories and all the other stuff writers do when they're in an isolated spot together (gossip, drink, generate funny anecdotes for later, etc.). For those of you not from the Land of Science Fiction and Fantasy (and, according to Wikipedia, Slipstream, which I think in this context probably just means psst, literary), there are several peer workshops in the field that have been going on for long enough that history and reputation accumulates around them–Syc Hill is one, Rio Hondo in Taos is another, Turkey City down in Austin and, created especially for novels, Blue Heaven in Ohio. Many fine writers go to these workshops (and lots of other workshops and retreats, of course). I've been to all these except Syc Hill, but this week I'm declaring myself an official Workshop Widow.

While Christopher's gone my big plans seem to be of the virtuous variety. I plan to write LOTS–in fact, I already got in 1400+ words on my new novel and finished a proofing project today–and make sure the dogs are relatively happy. That's about it.

I bring all this up because recently I identified a phenomenon. I first cottoned to the possible existence of said phenom in grad school, where I would depart for 10 day residencies. I would come home and find things like charge slips from Wing Zone and TGI FRIDAY'S (apparently, it's next to the Barnes and Noble, open late for paperback fantasy cravings). Perhaps The Da Vinci Code movie or The 300 would have been watched. Sub par beer in the recycling bin… I think you get the picture. Clearly, the mister felt the need to indulge cravings he doesn't even really have (except for the wings) while I was out of town.

I wondered if this was true of other guys when their wives/significant others are out of range. So I did an informal survey at Wiscon and turned up some unsurprising but hilarious data to suggest this is A THING. One friend, an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, confessed that he'd purchased BLIZZARD-FLAVORED Oreos* and a pound of bacon while his wife was at one of the workshops mentioned above. Another confessed that wings sounded very familiar indeed. The confessions kept on coming. 

None of the women I asked said they fit this pattern, though, because the stuff they did was stuff they'd also do normally.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I'm thinking I should strike a blow for the fairer sex and indulge in one SHAMEFUL, materially irredeemable activity per day. Things like going to see the new Twilight movie on opening night**, maybe? … I'm going to need to suggestions. They should probably be of the baby steps variety, as it just feels so … unseemly. (NO WINGS.)

Updated: See addendum below. Also, I am loving your suggestions and your confessions. It seems the ladies *do* indulge in such behavior, but I think the guys are still winning. Clearly, however, I need to feel MORE shame for my regular activities.

*So, after posting I remembered that he didn't actually buy the Blizzard Oreos, because they were too wrong. (Too wrong to exist, but that's another post–seriously, they taste like ice cream flavored with Oreos? What is this product? Who is it for?) He bought another variety of Oreos instead. And while I usually would come down on the thoughts don't equal actions side, for the purposes of this post I'm saying, contemplating the Blizzard Oreos alone is evidence! Plus, the bacon.

**These are not value judgments, but totally subjective. My SHAMEFUL materially irredeemable is someone else's Reason For Living.

30 thoughts on “Secret Shames (updated)”

  1. Things I do when the husband is out of the house include watching embarrassing television (like Ghost Hunters, although I think that one has finally lost its appeal for me) and eating lots of cheese (my husband is lactose intolerant). I don’t know if either of those is helpful… 🙂
    I love your definition of slipstream.

  2. Gwenda, do I have your cell #? I’m thinking we should both hit the Twilight movie on opening night, coordinate viewing times, and text commentary to each other. Surely it’s redeemable if it fuels what would surely be a scintillating and literate conversation? (I foresee a lot of “OMG WTF!!”)

  3. Last time T. was out of town, I watched 25 episodes of Burn Notice plus the fourth Terminator movie, and ate at least a pound of Cheetos. Also I got a massage. I recommend all of those.

  4. Drew just got home from being away for four days. Four shameful days in which the meal I shared with you and Christopher was the only decent thing I ate. When I’m temporarily single, I eat meals of shame, like canned soup, cold. Sometimes I put it in a bowl. This weekend I ate baked beans straight from the can. If I’m feeling really on top of things I get a giant order of Chinese takeout and eat off it all weekend. The first meal is the only one served hot.
    I also binge on “In Plain Sight” episodes on hulu. And this weekend included VIP bottle service at a nightclub, but that was more circumstantial than regular indulgence.

  5. I just had frozen pizza–it could be that I’m embracing your pattern already. I’m glad to see some of the ladies representing with shameful indulgences, though I still feel the men have us beat with blizzard oreos, bacon and sad chain joint visits.

  6. The year Charlie went to Blue Heaven without me, I drank copious margueritas and tried to watch Sex and the City. Turned out, no level of inebriation was sufficient to make me like that show. So I re-watched Stargate SG-1 instead, which turned out to be one of those shows that *is* better when drunk-watched.

  7. Perhaps it is because we’re so innately classy we have trouble truly embracing the bad… ::g::
    We do *have* the box set of SG-1 and I’ve never seen it. Adds to list!

  8. I totally do this — it’s partly a habit from childhood, when my dad would go off to do geology fieldwork in the summers and my mom and I would watch lots of silly movies he would have scoffed at, often accompanied by frozen pizza.
    Hence my watching all of S1 Leverage, and just a little bit of S2, while T. was away this week. I also went to Whole Foods and bought delicious unhealthy expensive gluten-free baked goods I rarely eat because they’re a pain in the ass to make myself. I highly recommend the combination of cinnamon rolls and Parker, Eliot, and Hardison. (Or Parker/Eliot/Hardison, if that’s how you roll!) Have you seen White Collar? It’s similarly goofy caper fun.

  9. I already watch far too much TV and buy expensive vegan baked goods from our local coop. Perhaps I just need to feel more shame? Or be less indulgent the rest of the time? ::g::
    Prolly I’ll just binge on TV that Christopher actively won’t watch–there’s half a season of Gossip Girl on the DVR right now. Sadly, it’s not nearly as good as it used to be. The last time he was away for a few days was when I started watching Burn Notice.
    (We both like White Collar lots, but wish they’d give Wendy Watson from Middle Man more to do.)

  10. I watched the first couple seasons of Ally McBeal on VHS with an unloaded Ruger Security Six in my lap so I could frequently dry fire at the characters. Maybe this would help?

  11. Okay, so this sampling here seems to indicate that the behavior isn’t really isolated among men, huh? I tend to do the things that Sunshine doesn’t like all that much when she is away. So I eat lots of sushi and Korean and raw Mexican oysters and I break my one daily relationship rule by staying up past six am every night.

  12. Being indulgent is good! My idea of what’s indulgent TV-watching-wise is skewed by the fact that T. hardly watches any, so my weekly Bones and White Collar-watching feels decadent, and a whole week of Leverage was ridiculous. This despite the fact that I regularly waste hours online. Possibly I need to feel less shame!
    Also, hee to the lack of Nate in your second reply. Poor drunk Nate.

  13. It’s true–although I still think the guys are winning… but perhaps because I just do some of this stuff normally. Or maybe it just feels more shameful when you do it alone?
    Blizzard Oreos! No one has topped them. (I loved the first season or so of Ally McBeal, though, yes, characters obnoxious as hell, and I doubt very much it would hold up. At all.) My pinnacle of deviant behavior today involves storing plums in the fridge (discourages fruit flies, allows me to make up new version of the ice box poem every time I eat one!), which Mr. Rowe frowns upon.
    Interestingly enough my same sex couple samples all agreed that they don’t do this kind of thing because they do these things together.

  14. Leverage = I know! I feel so moralistic about it, because I love the actor and yet … you look so puffy and Yeltsinesque, Nate–STOP DRINKING.
    I feel we lead similar TV lives, although I clearly am less disciplined. C watches very few things and loses interest in them quickly if they don’t stay good, so the shows I can get him to watch take precedence in our queue. But then I have the shows I’ve given up on ever getting him to watch, like any reality show except Top Chef. He does like Bones, although he can’t stand it when Bones and Booth are forced apart and will disavow the show for a few eps whenever it happens.
    Anyway, I figure as long as I’m getting enough done In Real Life I get a pass to watch whatever I want. Lazy brain time.

  15. the wife tells me that she secretly swapped out netflix she knew I would never want to watch and order out every day I was @ summer Rez. (summer only because that was when the kids were packed off to summer camp.) evidence of marathon mah jongg games and cases of empty wine bottles in the recycling complete the picture. I am told that the dishwasher was only run once while I was away, and the cat seemed especially happy to see me.

  16. When Ward is gone it is usually on business which means I have the boy so there isn’t much major indulgence. However – late night tv viewing does take on major girly dimensions – the kind of chick flicks he’s not such a fan of like “Sense & Sensibility”, “Miss Potter”, “Little Women”, “Mama Mia” etc. etc. Also lots of Tracy & Hepburn and Cary Grant, Doris Day, etc.
    As for food it is always ice cream – first, last and forever, ICE CREAM.

  17. N’s out of town location scouting for a few days and I plan to catch up on Pretty Little Liars and Kathy Griffin!
    Also I eat pounds of macaroni and cheese out of the box when I don’t have to cook for two.

  18. Pretty Little Liars and Annie’s are my plan for tonight. Great minds heart mac and cheese.
    I can’t stomach Kathy Griffin though, unless she’s drunken and tempered by Anderson Cooper on New Year’s Eve.

  19. I go for Xena & La Femme Nikita marathons. Also Jane Austen movies. And crime tv.
    Food? Gourmet rather than cheap pizza (I know! Snob!) — the kind that bakes for 45 minutes and involves cranberries & potatoes & caramelized onions among other toppings. Cold white wine (Sancerre preferably) or dark & stormies with the pizza, and I’ll end with either an ice cream cone or ice cream sandwich.
    Given that I can’t eat a whole pizza or an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting, I’ll eat the same exact meal for 3 days straight and not care.

  20. Xena! (Do you skip the Joxer episodes?)
    We have lots in common. I’m a pizza snob too, so it has to be some crazy gourmet brand/joint. And how can eating pizza and ice cream three days straight be wrong? SERIOUSLY?

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