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"Daddy! I want an Oompa-Loompa!"
Veruca Salt in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Heroine, Bon Vivant, Hedonist
A five-year old child has a firm grasp on both reality and the greater good. It’s only the older child who is forced to reflect on the noble and come up with an ascetic, altruistic, altogether no-fun life philosophy. That "me-first" attitude is washed out of the children after the school-board approved diet of ecology videos, making the child feel ashamed of their parents’ perfectly good Hummer®, the shouting on television about a healthy diet when it’s common knowledge that every known food group is contained in a Big Mac®, and the utter dismay of learning that, despite proof in the form of cartoons and razor commercials, the former Bishop of Turkey, the so-called St. Nicholas, does not exist as anything other than a marketing tool.
Regardless of the American child’s religion of choice, the youngster looks to the secular Santa to share not
what he plans to do for others, but rather what the portly underemployed mall employee can do for him. It’s a brief exchange, utilizing several key action words: want, get, now and me. The first-person singular exchange ends with a perfunctory "thank you" and surreptitious wink, the implied threat being that the promised good behavior was contingent on delivery of the merchandise. This is no Social Contract. Retroactive mischief will be visited upon the family not taking this contract seriously. Woe unto the mall Santa who believed the tyke could be bought off with a cappuccino-flavored candy cane.
Hedonism has gotten a bad rap. This is unfortunate, just from a sartorial viewpoint. Nihilists tend to dress for comfort rather than style. Anarchists are fond of the witty T-shirt, but aren’t big on decorum. There may be ‘no rules’ but that does not extend to fashion. Existentialists are big on the color black, which wins points for being slimming. It’s the painfully thin ascetic zealots that seem to get the most air time come the holidays. They don’t even enjoy being in the spotlight; they’ve turned self-denial into a twisted piety, which loses points for being completely annoying. (No, I don’t want to hear about your 80 day fast. Eat a cupcake and get over yourself.) Where are the people shouting that hedonism, for lack of a better term, rocks? Perhaps there was a bit of a heyday in the 1980s, but now hedonism is back in the closet, next to the clothing draped Life Cycle® (or blow-up doll, depending on your personal lifestyle choice).
When people look over the list of life long regrets, the list often includes vacations never taken, high end merchandise not purchased, and days not spent lounging. (Coach potatoes are oafish and lazy. The idle classes are lounging, preferably with a beverage to stave off dehydration.) It’s not good to allow others to have all the fun, spend all the money, wear all the cool bling and live to lounge another day.
That being said, I want it all, I want it now, I want it nice and pretty.
To meet the minimum standards, one needs both a clear conscience and access. Power is good, but not in the bench pressing your body weight sense. Power is having the fawning lackeys, the subservient hordes, the family members that never appreciated you now trying their hardest to get into your good graces. (Of course your graces are good. And my graces are outrageously fabulous.) While there is an expectation that money is involved, that’s not exclusively true. There are also beauty and style and presence and a level of self-possession that warrant attention.
So allow me to take a seat on your metaphorical lap. The key words are want, get, now and me. That being said, I want you to get me now a new iPod. Don’t worry. It won’t harm the environment, lead to mass revolt or the death of farm animals. My old iPod, the one without the color video capability, will be donated to a worthy cause, or perhaps left at home as a back up. The fine people at Apple keep coming up with new models of the iPod every five minutes, leading to a tension headache that won’t respond to lounging. If I don’t get a new iPod, I will commence screaming, pouting, whining and banging my fists until they are bloody and bruised.
Thank you for your immediate response to this dilemma. I hope your own hedonistic dreams come true.
Copyright © 2005 by Pamela Miller
OTHER HW ARTICLES BY PAMELA MILLER
ABOUT THE AUTHORPamela Miller saves the world by day, writes by night, and wishes she could find a hotter place to live than Phoenix. The world is simply too cold.