Many things change as you get older. Add marriage and mortgage and bigger responsibilities take priority. Add children and you are worlds away from the neighborhood where you lived carefree and downright frivolously. An interesting index of this trend is how you might indulge yourself in a little guilty pleasure.

In the 80’s indulging was far too many kamikazes at dollar drink night. It was such an excessive decade; people had parties—big parties—in their homes. Correction, in their parents’ homes, as soon as the parents went out of town. Sometimes patios and interior walls were repainted before mom and dad returned home. Sometimes plants were not watered when they were supposed to be and sometimes they were watered with keg beer. Fraternity parties often raged long after the highest-ranking officer of the fraternity was hauled away to jail. Clothing was bright—orange and magenta, purple and green, Mondrian prints with blocks of red and yellow, colored resin earrings and bangles, pumps in every color.

In the 90’s it was one more glass of cabernet after a big steak dinner, and perhaps a chocolate soufflé for dessert. Professional women in bouclè jackets with Chanel-style buttons, gold chain belts, strands of pearls and gold links rested on black turtlenecks. Suede and leather skirts in every color with blouses and broaches waded through malls. Chanel purses featuring quilted leather and a leather and gold link strap hung on every shoulder. Wide headbands, often leather, held back long bobs ala Hillary Clinton as first lady. Indulgence was also an extra pair of shoes or a new outfit for every date with a new guy.

After marriage indulgences were headed into the land o the mundane. Once child number one was born, indulgence was a cup of regular coffee after a dinner out just so you didn’t fall asleep on the way home. After child two, indulgence was nothing more than eating a hot meal while it was still hot. The bar had been lowered so low it seemed that normalcy would never return. Having more children would prolong this stage where indulgence is in no way sinful but just a glimpse of average.

As the kids get older and more independent, you find more time for yourself; more time to do the things you want to do and you seize the opportunities to do them. Things are a little more normal. Life settles in and you don’t celebrate a hot meal because you can expect that every night, even with a lot more noise than it used to entail. You can schedule a manicure and pedicure once in a while. Do bars even have dollar drink nights anymore? If they did, I might go if the music wasn’t too loud.

Recently on vacation in a time-share condo, with a kitchen so we can cook and eat in to save a few bucks, indulgence was something quite different altogether. These days, when resources seem scarce, the economy is in a valley, and the only color anyone mentions is green, indulging has become the simple sin of running the dishwasher before it is completely full and not using the air-dry setting. How depressing.

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