What’s a holiday without any guilt?

I feel guilty that I paid too much for my coffee. And I feel guilty I didn’t pay enough.



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.


What’s a holiday without any guilt?

  1. Very well written. I love it. (especially about saving the last dance for Ben E. King!)

      • Me too. He's dreamy. Hey, I know what we should do: Let's all buy him extravagant gifts to demonstrate the depth of our feelings!

        • I guess my feelings aren't that deep afterall. :-) Thoroughly enjoyed your post SF.

    • The accusation that we Catholics suffer from too much guilt is a cliche. Ironically, it is as much a cliche as the idea that we don't suffer enough guilt because we get off too easily with the sacrament of confession.

        • Practicing, and would avow everything in the Nicene Creed?

          • Of course not. Religion is ridiculous. I'm an ethnic catholic.

          • I grew up Catholic. Plus I loved the Jewish comedians. My guilt pedigree is top notch.

          • Then you are not a catholic. We aren't an ethnicity.

            Given that you are parroting talking points of the protestants, you probably weren't formed by the church either. If you were formed by the church and then left it, you would be more original in your criticism.

          • Gee, I guess Catholics are humourless, too. Bad news for Feschuk.

            I don't think you get to rule on whether I am ethnically Catholic.

          • Humour requires spontaneity, insight and originality. For example, if I was to say "some ex-catholics are generally whiny tossers who rhetorically piss on their own culture because they have a desire to feel superior without any actual accomplishment in their lives" then that is generally not humour.

            Likewise your comment wasn't humour. It was just evidence that you are too weak minded to resist the talking points of the wider culture.

          • I'd like to say hence the 'ex-', but that is really because I am more impervious to superstitious mumbo-jumbo than average. The Catholic Church really did try, but they couldn't get me to believe in the Easter bunny. Anyway, have fun eating Jesus on Sunday.

          • I sure will have fun! Have fun being the stereotype of a smug idiot! You can just keep tossing the catchphrases of new atheism without any of the burdens of thinking for yourself.

            This is not to say that one can't be an atheist and an intellectual, but atheist intellectuals generally don't hold 2000 years of intellectual and cultural history in contempt out of hand. That is what particularly makes me despise you as weak minded.

          • The only way I could enjoy this exchange any more is if it were remotely interesting.

          • I agree. Sorry for hijacking your post, Feschuk.

  2. I hate to go all fangirl on you but this was too funny to let go without comment. "I feel guilty about my dishwasher tablets. They're not the ones that are “green.” They're the ones that “actually work.”" I have the same actually-working dishwasher cubes. And the amount of guilt I felt about not buying the green ones was… well, of Catholic proportions.

  3. This column is great! A terrific reminder of why Catholics are so mocked, and the importance of avoiding anyone of any religious persuasion who likes to talk about it.

    Keep it inside, where it can fester and save you.

    • Meh, he called me guilt-ridden and superstitious, I called him weak-minded. Seems pretty even to me.

      Oh, and there is a reason new atheists are mocked as well.

      • Being called weak-minded by someone who believes in an angry sky god isn't terribly threatening. Apologies again to Feschuk.

        • Again, there is a reason the new atheist movement is mocked.

          Ah, once upon a time atheism was made of the brave and intellectual freethinkers. Now its increasingly also the refuge of people who live in an alternate reality and believe in caricatures of their neighbours, ancestors, family and fellow citizens. Sad really, to be so patently awash in parochial prejudice and ignorance. I guess that's what happens though when you cease to be counter-cultural.

          • I'm not an atheist. Atheism is almost as illogical as theism, though I would say it seems more likely to be an accurate worldview.

            Go ahead and try to insult me for refusing to believe something for which there is no evidence and which isn't even terribly plausible.

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