The Prune Juice Theory
I have a habit of developing a ridiculous amount of theories as I bumble through life, most of which I forget fairly soon after having constructed them. But some, like The Pomegranate Theory or my Person C relationship theory (which is a story for another day), stand the test of time. This is not to say that I necessarily adhere to my own theories, but rather that my repeated mistakes suggest that they’re ones I probably should follow.
The Prune Juice Theory is one such stickler.
We all know about guilty pleasures. We’ve all pretended not to like stuff we secretly love. Vodka Cruisers, Enrique Iglesias (or Pitbull), deep fried Mars bars, erotic anime… we’ve all got secret stuff discretely floating our guilt-ridden boats.
But what about the stuff we pretend that we do like? What about when we outwardly embrace things that we’d secretly rather strangle? Or publicly swallow things that we’d promptly regurgitate if we were alone?
I’m so glad you asked. Because it is in a bid to pull these guilty displeasures out of the closet and into the limelight that The Prune Juice Theory exists.
So, here goes: I’m cleaning out my closet of guilty displeasures. Starting with the prune juice.
Seven Things I Have Lied About Liking:
1. Prune Juice
When my younger brother and I were little, my dad very enthusiastically introduced us to prune juice. It was a moment that would shape a theory, and consequently I remember it well: we were outside at my grandparents’ place, playing on scooters that Pop had made. It was hot. Dad brought out cups of prune juice – which would keep us hydrated but also tasted more exciting than water!
After Dad had gone back inside, we both tried our juice, promptly pulled revolted faces at each other, and emptied the juice into the garden.
I don’t know why I behaved as I did when Dad came back out – I suspect it was a combination of a serious lack of wisdom and an overactive love of being a smart arse (both of which I have grown out of, of course). Not only did we lie and say we liked the prune juice, we raved about it. I, in particular, went on and on about how delicious it was.
Much to the dismay of younger me (but not at all to the retrospective surprise of the older version), Dad went in and poured us more prune juice.
I don’t dislike all kinds of clapping. I think applause is a lovely, harmless way of showing appreciation (as long as it’s not that awful fake sitcom applause, which I do hate with arguably unnecessary vitriol. If we don’t know when to laugh without being prompted by mirthless robotic chortles, perhaps the show needs to be funnier? Maybe??).
What I dread is that moment in a theatre or at a gig when the performer cheerfully calls out, “Clap along everyone!” For years, I have pretended to delightedly clap along to music, smiling to try to convey my carefree enjoyment and appreciation that I am, in my small happy-clappy way, able to contribute to the fun.
“Clap along everyone” is NOT an invitation to blissful beat-keeping. It’s an evil, evil ploy to catapult audiences in general, and me in particular, into a series of terrible dilemmas.
Firstly, do I clap at all? I don’t want to look like a killjoy, sitting with my hands in my lap as I radiate prudish disdain for all things fun. But at the same time, if I do make that decision to clap… what do I do with my face and my body and all the bits that aren’t my hands? Do I energise my entire vibe with a grin and some enthusiastic head bobbing, or do I sit slumped in my chair as before with my hands moving in an obligatory and embarrassingly obvious reluctant clapping motion? And then, when do you stop clapping? At the start of that awkward petering out phase? Or is it best to slowly fade out with everyone else, resulting in an awful, deteriorating clap-version of a wet fish handshake?
I like to think that there are many other people out there who, when offered a drink by some professional businessperson in a suit or by an immaculately dressed waiter at a formal dinner, think longingly of beer before caving into pressure and asking for wine. There have been many times that I’ve pretended to like wine, usually to appear more sophisticated in a room of people older, more qualified, and certainly more dignified than myself. But I don’t like wine, it makes my teeth feel funny. And if it wasn’t for its more pleasant side effects, I would feel equally dismayed watching a wine glass be refilled as I was watching the prune juice glass.
I’ve been out of the closet on this one for a while now; it’s no secret that I don’t like night clubs, but a few years ago I wouldn’t have admitted it. I didn’t want to come across as an uptight party-pooper. So for a while my aim was to get drunk enough that I wouldn’t be bothered by the sweaty bodies, who probably couldn’t dance very well even if they did have the room to move. The noise! The butt grabbing! The BO! The vomit! The stickiness! The overpriced drinks! All the nights I could have been watching Black Books and drinking tea that I will never get back!
The moment Richard Ayoade finally succeeded in stealing my entire heart was when he came up with the wonderful description of the beach as “a disgusting collection of ground down sedimentary rock.”
I love the ocean, but I’ve had enough of pretending to enjoy the beach in summer like a good little Aussie. The sun burns my very pale skin. Sand is a ridiculous surface to try to play cricket on. People look at you strangely if you’re wearing clothes. You may think that this is a glass-half-full-of-water attitude, but I prefer to think of it as bikini-bottoms-half-full-of-sand perspective. Ugh.
6. Step Brothers
There are a few moments in this movie that made me vaguely amused, but not enough to merit how many times I’ve sat through it, usually alongside people who laugh uproariously at Ferrell and Reilly pretending to be intellectually challenged. It’s not so much that I’m offended, it’s more that I’m either bored by the cheap toilet humour or too busy thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to have a mini John C. Reilly scrunched up in a ball and inserted into your vagina to laugh. Sorry, I know that it’s blasphemy and I know I’ve pretended in the past… but I’m not a fan.
7. Your opinion
Not yours necessarily, I’m sure yours are great and you should keep reading this post without being offended.
But the number of opinions I have nodded along to while inwardly seething is probably higher than I can count – all in the name of keeping the peace, particularly when I was working in customer service.
Yes, the environmentally friendly bags are stupid aren’t they, you can always reuse plastic ones!
Yes, the environmentally friendly bags are wonderful aren’t they, it’s great to do our bit for Mother Earth!
Yes, that ballroom joke about g-strings was hilariously funny and not at all disturbing, very clever use of irony there you
creepy elderly gentleman!
…And so the crux of The Prune Juice Theory is this: if we continue pretending to like things we don’t, I for one am doomed to spend too many days clapping awkwardly along to average toilet humour with sand in my undies and vomit on my shoes. So please. Embrace the hate.