The Theories of Pleasure


I was only a small child when I realized that there were two kinds of people in the world. Those who chose to carefully and slowly dole out life’s little pleasures, and those who simply devoured the good things when they showed up.

It was, of course, the twin candy orgies of Halloween and Easter that showed me this key life lesson.

On both holidays, kids like me were amazed to find ourselves suddenly surrounded by piles of candy. As children who lived with a health conscious, thrift conscious Italian mother, candy was a rare treat for us.

I learned pretty quickly that I was one of those undisciplined hedonists who tried to eat as much candy as possible in as short a time as possible. I remember counting every piece, lining them all up in order of deliciousness and then attacking the pile like a girl on a mission.

My little sister, Liz, was the opposite. Liz was the calm, self-disciplined one out of the two of us. She would carefully go over every piece, arranging them in her own order. Then she’d eat them one at a time. Slowly. Slowly.

So slowly that I have a vivid memory of her crying once because her Halloween candy (in January, maybe??) had turned all white and we thought it was ruined.

I haven’t really thought about this dichotomy for a long time. Now that I’m an adult, with good reasons to pay attention to my health, I eat my treats carefully. I am now able to exist in a house with a candy dish, filled with M&M’s or other goodies. I eat a couple a day, usually with my granddaughter Ellie and only after we have achieved something wonderful. (Like pooping in the potty).

But I’ve started to think about it again.

Not because of food pleasures this time, though. No, I think I’ve got that one covered.

Now I think of whether or not I want to indulge and get all the fun out of the way when I contemplate Netflix.

I mean. Wow. Sometimes you get a rainy weekend day when your back hurts and you think, “I should just settle in with some good TV.”  Right? So the question becomes vitally important.

Do I binge watch “Stranger Things, Season 2” or do I slowly dole out each episode, so I can think about them between viewings. Should I wait for my husband, and watch together? Should the two of us grab a pizza and a bottle of wine and watch them all?

If we do, how will we go on? We’d have to wait another YEAR to find out what the hell is in the upside down! But….

Do I have the internal fortitude to let the cliffhanger hang for a week? Or two days?

Well, do I?

In our house, this is still an evolving issue. We have so far come to a middle ground of alternating shows in the evening. We go from “Bloodline” to “Madame Secretary” to “Grace and Frankie” to “Stranger Things.”

Paul is the slow and steady spreader out of the joy.

I am, naturally, the one who wants to pull the curtains and watch the rest of any of one of those series with a bowl of popcorn and a chocolate bar.

How do you approach the amazing wonder of a complete season of drama at your fingertips? And does it match the way you ate candy?

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7 thoughts on “The Theories of Pleasure

  1. Yup, 2 episodes at a time for me too, 3 max. My girlfriend reckons she could binge watch a season, and my 17yr old son does; ‘Breaking Bad’ was pretty hard to turn away from sometimes I admit, but I kinda like the discipline of delaying the gratification… isn’t that meant to be a sign of ‘successful adulthood’, the ability to delay joy?? : ) G

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  2. I’d happily watch Netflix for hours but I’m married to a man who up to two weeks ago never watched it. Now he does he has no idea that we do not have to wait a week for the next episode! Not a match made in heaven.

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