I feel guilty. I feel guilty about eating this steak. Did the cow have a good life? Did it experience a series of wacky cow adventures? When the time came, I hope the farmer gently held its hoof and whispered, “There, there.” In future, can I pay extra to make this happen? (I can see the sticker now: “Organic, pasture-fed, lovingly consoled.”)
I feel guilty about meat in general. I see pigs in those trucks on the highway and I feel guilty. I see pigs in a blanket and I feel guilty, and then hungry, and then guilty for feeling hungry. I see a plate of veal and I feel guilty that we didn’t let the little baby calf grow up to be penned in, force-fed slurry and slaughtered, as nature intended.
I also feel guilty I didn’t get the strip loin. The strip loin never disappoints.
I feel guilty about climate change. I feel guilty that I may not be taking it seriously enough, in that I continue to selfishly exhale with wild abandon. I also feel guilty that I may be taking it too seriously—and that the whole thing is an elaborate prank devised by scientists to get back at the jocks who tormented them in high school, by making Hummers socially unacceptable.
I feel guilty about my dishwasher tablets. They’re not the ones that are “green.” They’re the ones that “actually work.”
I feel guilty when I look at the news. Then I feel guilty that I looked at the news for free on the Internet. And now I feel guilty for having lied about it being the news when really it was naked ladies.
I feel guilty when I pick up the mail and see that charities have been reduced to putting in nickels to coax people like me into opening their envelopes. Then I feel guilty for pocketing the nickel.
I feel guilty about my bum. No Impact Man went a whole year without using toilet paper. Granted, no one has since agreed to shake his hand, but the point remains. I try to make amends by using TP that looks and feels like plywood. I come away slightly less guilty and slightly more lacerated.
I feel guilty for thinking that thing about Tom Cruise. You know the thing I mean.
I feel guilty about my leather shoes. They used to be an animal. How would I feel if someone made me into a shoe? I’d probably feel guilty that I wasn’t more stylish.
I feel guilty about eating that whole pie—not because it was bad for me, but because nobody else got any. And I think they wanted some, too. That’s certainly the impression I got as they were watching me eat it.
I feel guilty about my sexual performance as a younger man. With the benefit of hindsight, I see now that—from a purely anatomical perspective—those moves could never have worked. Sorry.
I feel guilty about Cuba Gooding Jr.’s career. Don’t get me wrong: I had no input into the choices he made after winning the Oscar, but I can’t shake the feeling there’s something I could have done. Perhaps a well-timed letter. Or a Molotov cocktail hurled onto the set of Daddy Day Camp.
I feel guilty that I’m not on Facebook. Everyone is on Facebook and they spend all day planning awesome make-out parties (I assume).
I feel guilty about buying that issue of The Economist and not reading it. Buying it made me feel smart but the prospect of reading 1,700 words on Albania made me feel sleepy.
I feel guilty about taking my kids to McDonald’s. The food is loaded with salt and fat. Plus we usually idle in the drive-through for a good 10 minutes. Between the kids and the car, that’s a lot of emissions.
I feel guilty when I hang up the phone on telemarketers. I know they’re just trying to do their jobs. That’s why it helps a little if I consider telling them to eff-off to be my job.
I feel guilty that the dinners we make don’t take five hours to cook or include homegrown arugula raised indoors without being exposed to fertilizers, herbicides or loud noises.
I feel guilty about my coffee. I feel guilty that I may have paid too much for it. And I feel guilty that I might not have paid enough for it. Was it fair trade? Did the farmer really get a fair deal? Does anyone have the home number of Juan Valdez so I can get some closure on this?
I feel guilty about writing all those jokes about Kirstie Alley being fat. Give me the opportunity to make amends for all those jokes about Kirstie Alley being fat and I’ll be on it like Kirstie Alley on a Mallomar.
I feel guilty for not doing enough to save the whales, the oceans, the polar bears, the polar ice caps, the film version of The Polar Express, the penguins, orphans, orphaned penguins, the rain forest, the other rain forest, the children, Veronica Mars, the earth, the wilderness, the vinyl LP, the queen, and the last dance for Ben E. King.
But most of the time, I feel guilty about feeling so guilty. The problem is that it’s so easy to feel that way these days. And I always do what’s easy.
I feel guilty about that.