Isn't it tiring, trying to be perfect? Isn't there something to be said for the occasional dash of depravity? There is, and we're saying it. So are Elizabeth Edwards, Isaac Mizrahi, Amy Sedaris, and Nigella Lawson. Let them inspire you! Cross a line, eat a gram or two of saturated fat, splurge on something ridiculous. And remember—sometimes tabletops are for dancing.
Elizabeth Edwards: We Have Ways of Making You
That chorus of voices emanating from the campaign bus of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is the doing, or the undoing, of his wife. "I go to websites to get music and lyrics, and I put them in a songbook I started in college," says Elizabeth Edwards. "Then I make people sing with me on the road. I torture my family and anyone who comes close to me."
The tradition of sing-alongs can be traced back to her growing up in a military family. "The Bull Meechum character in The Great Santini is nothing like my father," she says, "but the thing we had in common is that you sing in the car everywhere you go. You sing between one duty station and the next duty station."
Much of the infamous songbook was compiled long before there were computers. "I would take the words down in shorthand, so there are lots of mistakes," says Edwards. "Now I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure they're correct. What I do is sit at my computer and sing the songs. I have more than 5,000 lyrics—if I printed the whole thing, it would be multiple volumes. I recognize that I am probably 15 years past the point of reason, but I can't stop. If the house were burning, after the children and the photo negatives, what I'd save is the songbook."
Isaac Mizrahi: Doing Absolutely
"I feel guilty about doing nothing," says Isaac Mizrahi, "but as I get older, that's all I really want to do. For so many years, I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing as an enlightened, cultured person. I used to go to the ballet 30 times a year. Now I think: Do I really want to schlep all the way there? I want to stay home, pet my dog, and watch Law & Order.
"But I feel guilty about downtime. I always feel I have to be accomplishing or absorbing something. I feel really guilty spending the entire day indoors when it's sunny out. It's like not seizing a moment. And it's my mother yelling, 'What are you doing inside?' when I was a kid."
Ironically, when Mizrahi stopped accepting so many invitations was when he started keeping a journal. "Now I have nothing to write about," he says. "You read Noel Coward's journals, and the heading is 'Sri Lanka' or 'Marrakech.' Mine is exciting when I can write 'L.A.'"
Amy Sedaris: If the Shoebox Fits...
Amy Sedaris attributes her modest capacity for guilt to the fact that she couldn't understand what the priest was saying in the Greek Orthodox church of her childhood. Although entertaining is the theme of her book I Like You, her New York City apartment kitchen doesn't have room for gadgets, so she indulges somewhat guiltily in packages of julienned carrots—for both herself and her pet rabbit.
Most of her guilt is reserved for the shoes she buys with every $600 paycheck for an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. "That's a lot of money for a pair of shoes," she says, "even though I'll wear them just stomping around on cobblestones."
She stores them, a bit fetishistically, in boxes stacked over her bed that she loves almost more than the shoes. "I can't believe when people rip open gift boxes," she says. "They're like gold to me. There's a girl on my floor who throws out her shoeboxes. She wears size 8. My feet are 5, and my boxes are small, so you can imagine the hyperventilation when I get hers." By the way, the shoes are rarely open-toe. "I've probably had three pedicures in my life," she says. "My brother says my toes look like lacquered corn chips."
Nigella Lawson: Dinner in Bed
Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson is not really onboard with the notion of guilt, feeling that pleasure shouldn't engender any remorse. But she acknowledges one habit that raises a disapproving eyebrow in more fastidious types.
"My chief sin in their eyes," she says, "is that I do not always practice what I preach and sit down to eat with all my family, but rather feed them and then sneak upstairs to eat my supper in bed. I compound this sin, but also my pleasure somehow, by not having a tray: I love beautiful linens and adore my bed, but I am uncaring about the spillage and drips and crumbs I leave in my lazy, greedy wake."
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, March 12, 2014