Something that's always been an enormous source of pleasure for me--both guilty and otherwise--is music. Oh, not playing music, of course. Fourteen years of Suzuki violin, clarinet, and piano lessons failed to yield a single ounce of temporary--much less lasting--musical talent. No, my early years spent prepping for Carnegie Hall did nothing but foment familial rage and cause an Ebola-like hemorrhaging of my parents' bank account and dreams. But I've always loved listening to music. Browsing in record stores (back when they existed); sitting on my bedroom floor making "mix tapes"; staying out all night seeing live bands; supporting various friends who make their living as musicians; and shamelessly singing along to Top 40 in my '98 Honda Civic... and also my 2005 Subaru Forester ... and also my desk at work.
My husband is a competent guitar player who often derides my musical proclivities. He's partial to obscure jazz, Afro-beats, and live Grateful Dead (the latter being very easily deride-able in its own right) and he lacks the taste for Lorde that I seem to have so easily acquired. So while SOME people don't appreciate any music made after 1994, I try to expand my horizons by seeking out music created by people born after that year.
Recently, a very good friend mailed me a collection of music that included two songs by Brandi Carlile. I'd heard of Brandi Carlile, but this was the first time I was hearing her music, and I loved it. The first thing I always do when this happens is visit the Wikipedia page of the musician to find out more about them, namely (a) how old they are; and (b) how beautiful they are. And true to form, I went to Wikipedia right after the first song. Not surprisingly, Brandi Carlile is both young (i.e.: younger than me) and beautiful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandi_Carlile.
I usually read the artist's page from top to bottom, honing in with special scrutiny on the "Early Life" entry, in a vain attempt to discover where this person went right and I went wrong, such that they achieved a level of success in their late teens that I cannot realistically hope to reach before I develop Alzheimers and die alone. (Exhibit A: those who follow the link will find that Brandi's "Early Life" entry begins with "At age eight ...."). That's where I stopped reading and started looking at pictures. The photos showed a beautiful, willowy songstress in various states of musical ecstasy, a young woman who appeared born to sing and play acoustic guitar, which clearly, she was. Then my eye alighted on the "Personal Life" entry.
There I discovered that Brandi is a married lesbian, and that she and her partner have a daughter. This made me love her more, for two main reasons. First, I liked the idea of supporting an artist who had the same domestic life and sexual orientation as so many of my closest friends; who was on the frontier of the modern civil rights movement; and who was vocal, proud, and open about all of it. But second, she instantly seemed more approachable and less threatening. Because obviously, the fact that Brandi Carlile is a married lesbian means that the affections of all the gorgeous, musically-talented, and otherwise highly desirable men who would otherwise flock to her with hearts in their eyeballs will now instantly revert to me! Naturally, I found this thought extremely comforting. And I hummed along happily to that second song.