1. Lana Del Rey
Without all the insane hype that surrounds her, as well as the near-endless stream of photos of her looking physically flawless and vaguely sad, I would probably just enjoy her music without guilt. But that insanely effective image-cultivating, coupled with what were some inarguably limp performances on SNL and elsewhere, makes my near-obsessive infatuation with her Sad Pretty Girl music the stuff of deep shame. I have listened to her cover of Blue Velvet at least 20 times in the past two days, and it can’t solely be attributed to my unhealthy obsession with any music produced between 1940 and 1965. I just love listening to that human quaalude fetishize abusive relationships in any form I can get it. I want more melancholy pop hits, Lana. Give them to me. And while we’re at it, more photos of you in a bustier and a European micronation’s worth of eyeliner. Please.
Guess what, world? I enjoy Chicken McNuggets. I enjoy McDonald’s fries, when they’re eaten within 25 seconds of leaving the deep-fryer. I enjoy that beetus-inducing sweet tea. Go ahead and judge me. I’m already embarrassed. I enter the warm embrace of the yellow arches with the full knowledge of the greasy shame-spiral that awaits me. I know that I’m probably going to lie about where I got lunch. I know that just one tub of sweet-n-sour is not, and never will be, enough — I am prepared to avoid eye contact whilst I demand another to satisfy my hearty nugget dipping. I know that ranch dressing is only a less-healthy alternative to ketchup, already no bastion of clean eating itself. But I will enjoy its buttermilky goodness with all the self-loathing it demands of me. In fact, I’d say the shame only somewhat enhances McDonald’s, this hate-sex factory of a restaurant. I’m ready to sad-eat, Ronald, bring me my little plastic tray.
3. John Grisham
I’m not saying that he is the great writer of our time — I’m not even saying he’s in the top million. But don’t think I don’t know that at least a decent amount of the side-eye I receive when I am waist-deep in one of his novels while at a beach or airport or other Grisham-friendly reading zone is about how insanely popular he is. He’s not bad, and his better books are compulsively readable. Who doesn’t want to lose themselves for a few hours in the Law and Order of summer paperback reading? I’m sorry that every minute of my life isn’t spent crying into a David Foster Wallace tome, but sometimes I just want to read what happened to that murderer with the heart of gold. Can you snobs stop judging me for five seconds? Me and your mom are gonna join a book club together to talk about his latest page-turner.
4. Rosé Champagne
As I live in the country of champagne (a country that takes its fermented grapes so seriously as to be almost crippled by it), my embarrassment over pink bubbles is quite profound. The thing is, pink champagne tastes no better (and quite often, worse) than regular champagne. It is also, almost universally, more expensive. You know who likes ordering rosé champagne? Douchebags in the club who get bottle service. And me. Why? Because it’s pink, and pretty, and bubbly, and I feel like Marie Goddamn Antoinette when I drink it. I once had a brunch that included both rosé champagne and macarons, and my sense of personal achievement was so high that I felt on the verge of fainting. It was my 7-year-old dream tea party come to life, only I got buzzed off of it. What could possibly have been better? I know that ordering this in bars makes me the most bougie person alive, but I just can’t stop myself. Cheers!
5. Singing Competition Auditions
If we’ve learned one thing from singing competitions, it’s that extremely endearing people with moving stories and powerhouse voices are all around us, living everyday lives, waiting for their chance to make a stodgy British man in a deep V cry. Yet no matter how many emotionally manipulative backstories they show, no matter how many contestants become the love of my life only to fade into obscurity a week later, I can’t stop my love for those first nervous auditions. I don’t care about the rest of the show, but I have yet to meet a YouTube video of a particularly nice voice and a story of overcoming fear/tragedy/previous failures to make their dreams come true I can’t sob over with a nice glass of pinot.
6. Baz Luhrmann Movies
I am fully aware of Baz’ status as Tim Burton for the musical theater nerd crowd. I know that he has his one bag of tricks — glitter, inappropriate music, insane art direction — that I shouldn’t allow myself to fall over so easily. But, God, I love Moulin Rouge. And yeah, I let out a small sigh of exasperation when I saw the preview for The Great Gatsby, complete with acid-trip colors and ridiculous musical sequences. But there was a tiny, musical theater-geeky part of me who squealed inside. I know I shouldn’t fall for his luscious optical tricks, but it just hurts so good.