former-fiancÚ-turned-hubby and I just returned from our long overdue
and much anticipated weekend vacation on Hatteras Island. (And now
that we’re married, I suppose I can finally disclose his name. It’s
John Smith. I am not making this up. In fact, I asked to see his ID
on our first date.)
I realized both during our trip and upon our return that every
“vacation” back home to the Outer Banks is, well, a little
different. When I’m on Hatteras Island, I’m relaxed, more
carefree, and more inclined to take part in actions that I know are
bad, but that feel so incredibly good that it’s easy to give in.
thought this was just a side effect of the “Vacation Brain”
ailment – the same ailment that made me eat a pound of gourmet
macaroni and cheese during our honeymoon.
upon reflection, I think that it’s actually because of Hatteras
Island in general. This little corner of the world happens to boast
some of the most accepting, un-judgmental, and altogether fun
individuals I have ever met, and in a society like that, why not let
your hair down and be the foolish irresponsible little cretin that
you really are?
that vein, I comprised a list of some of my favorite “guilty
pleasures” that, for whatever reason, I seem to indulge in only
when I’m home on Hatteras Island.
I feel like a “This should not be tried at home” disclaimer
should be applied beforehand, because, obviously, I’m not
suggesting that anyone should do or enjoy any of these things. Not by
if you do, goodness gracious, you’re going to have a grand old
let’s get started with one of my favorite guilty pleasures of a
Hatteras Island “vacation.”
I was young, I worked at a fabulously busy Hatteras Island restaurant
that always had karaoke as late-night entertainment, and, as a
result, it is a personal belief that every person should have at
least one go-to Karaoke song to belt out when he or she has had just
enough beers to feel like the best undiscovered singer in the history
of the universe.
personal go-to was always “Lola” by The Kinks, but every singer’s
deep-seated musical love can easily shine through -- and connect with
dozens of other music fans -- on a good, boozy karaoke night.
my karaoke career, I have heard some fantastic Johnny Cash
renditions, heart-felt “I Will Survive” performances, and a Frank
Sinatra “My Way” cover that gave me goose bumps. In fact, my
hubby initially stoked the flames of eternal love by doing a
fantastic rendition of “Super Freak” by the illustrious and
uncompromised Rick James.
is a guilty pleasure, for sure, but there are some basic ground
token song can’t be a downer, and country music only works if it’s
a song that everyone in the bar knows, such as “I’ve Got Friends
in Low Places.”
if you are not a great singer and / or are smashed, please, for the
love of all that is good, do NOT sing “American Pie.” Actually,
just don’t sing it under any circumstances, period. That song is
three hours long, and the bar will be closed by the time you’ve
try to avoid drinks with calories, sticking to unsweetened tea and
water instead, as I don’t want to waste my daily caloric intake on
something as stupid as a White Russian or a Coke when Ben &
Jerry’s exists. With that being said, I believe that calories
consumed in a different area code do not affect your diet, and, ergo,
when I’m at the beach -- especially in the winter when it’s cold
-- I love to indulge in beer.
I like to indulge in good, rich, dark beer that has the consistency
of pudding, and that has names like “Chocolate Stout,” “Milk
Stout,” “Oatmeal Lager,” and “Deep Fried Twinkie Porter.”
Yes, these frothy concoctions most likely have the calorie equivalent
of five Big Macs, but these extra calories can be easily avoided
simply by not Googling the nutritional information beforehand.
beer is a wonderful thing. And, in fact, this guilty pleasure
actually increases both the likelihood and the overall enjoyment of
the next three guilty pleasures on this list.
love swimming at night. My new hubby won’t ever join me because he
swears that this is prime shark-feeding time. He’s probably right,
but for whatever reason, he also doesn’t swim during the annual
“Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel -- which is a quirk that
after five years I have yet to understand -- so, ergo, I take his
shark-swimming advice with a hefty grain of sea salt.
swimming at night, and preferably under a full moon, for some reason
seems to be on everyone’s bucket list. (It’s on my dad’s list,
and he’s in his late 60s.)
honestly, it should be. It’s a little fun, supposedly more than a
little dangerous -- according to my clearly shark-expert husband --
and is the ultimate way to enjoy a stretch of Hatteras Island,
literally, all to yourself.
as my dad explained to me once, it would be way more impressive to
have “John Doe passed away during a midnight, full-moon shark
attack” than “John Doe passed away in his sleep” in your
better than swimming at night? Swimming at night naked!
be honest, like many of my “guilty pleasures,” this is an
activity I have not participated in for a sadly long amount of time –
we’re talking years here. But it’s spectacularly fun nonetheless,
and even more fun if you have friends who are just as spectacularly
stupid and reckless as you are. And, to be perfectly frank, while
skinny dipping is fun, in my experience it’s not nearly as fun as
the next guilty pleasure.
AND HIDING THE CLOTHES OF OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE SKINNY DIPPING
better than swimming at night naked? Stealing someone else’s
clothes who is also swimming at night naked!
I haven’t done this in 15 years, but the last time I did, I found
it hysterical and actually enjoyed little to no retribution. (My
victims stole my clothes in return a couple weeks later, but
unfortunately for them, at that age I had no shame and didn’t care
all that much.) Now that I think about it, in fact, I am long overdue
for a good clothes-stealing.
consider this a head’s up and a ridiculously fair warning for you
poor unsuspecting night-swimming skinny dippers. I’m coming for
SIX CARS AT ONCE ON HIGHWAY 12
the majority of items on this list, this is something you should
never, ever do. Ever.
with that being said, you know how in the summer there is always a
mile-long line of cars? And sometimes you just have to get past them
because you’re late for work, or have just a few minutes to catch a
soundfront sunset, or perhaps because the lead car is going 35? (35!
And in that stretch of the highway 12 between Avon and Salvo, no
less, where the road is literally the straightest, flattest, easiest
road in the entire state of North Carolina!)
that is when this guilty pleasure comes into play. It is the most
enjoyable experience on Highway 12 ever and boils down to trying to
see how many cars you can
before you have to get into the right lane because of oncoming
traffic, or because you’ve been going 80 mph for several miles and
that seems very wrong.
trying to see how many cars you can pass at once is the source of the
fun. It’s essentially the every-man equivalent of Evil Knievel
jumping over an ever-increasing number of buses on a motorcycle.
most of the time, drivers should certainly just relax and be on
island time. After all, there’s really no hurry on Hatteras Island,
where the beaches will always be gorgeous, regardless of time or
just in case this little guilty pleasure comes into play, it should
be known that my record is six
cars at once.
luck trying to beat it.
“guilty pleasures” list is complete without ice cream, and I have
a favorite destination for this unoriginal sin.
a little ice cream shop near my former home that doesn’t blink an
eye when I add M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, hot fudge, and Gummy Bears
to my order of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and as a bonus, they play
“family-friendly” movies outside.
a result, I have spent several nights loading up on sugar while
watching "Beauty and the Beast." And, all the while, I was
making sure my back was turned to the passing Highway 12 traffic,
lest one of my passing colleagues see me with a hot-fudge covered
mouth, and tears in my eyes because all those stupid villagers
started attacking the Beast’s castle because they didn’t
understand him. Gets me every time.
all that dark beer and ice cream in my system, you might think that I
am inherently a lazy person. You’d be right.
one of my favorite wintertime guilty pleasures has always been
stopping by Red Drum for an early Saturday morning coffee, taking the
Jeep to Cape Point, and then driving all the way to the Frisco
four-wheel-drive ramp in an adventure that I called “drive-by
beauty of drive-by shelling is that there is minimal physical
Basically, you follow the shoreline, pop out when you see a good
shell, put it in your truck, and keep on going. This makes me feel
guilty, sure, because the best shells should, for some reason, be
obtained after a dedicated hunt of some sort, which involves a long
beach walk or a bitter
battle with a local pelican.
But, still, if I can scoop up a helmet shell without missing a beat
of “The Kinks Greatest Hits” on my Jeep’s CD player, I’m
going to consider that a good day.
TO THE CUSTOMER SERVICE COUNTER TO CHECK OUT AT FOOD LION
is an action I shamefully do on a regular basis, especially on a
summer weekend. I know this is wrong, and especially wrong when I
have a semi-full shopping cart, but I swear that sometimes the Food
Lion is so scary in the summertime, that as soon as I step into the
store, my immediate and frantic goal becomes getting out as soon as
SLIGHTLY SUPERIOR WHEN YOU PULL SOMEONE OUT OF THE SAND, ESPECIALLY
IF YOU’RE FEMALE
a good story to accompany this guilty pleasure.
I was in college, I was dear friends with a guy named Al.
was one of those folks who was just awesome at life. He was an
exceptional computer engineering major, was super at athletics, had a
sparkling Land Rover that even had an underwater snorkel contraption,
and was so genuinely nice that he was impossible to hate.
Al was that guy that you were secretly and seethingly jealous of
because he was just so much more inherently awesome than you were. We
all have an Al in our lives, and we love them because of said
awesome-ness, so no big deal.
one college weekend, Al decided to visit, and he took his Land Rover
with him to drive on the beach. I tried in my most un-patronizing
voice -- which, admittedly, is still pretty patronizing -- to tell
him that he needed to let air out of his tires, but he gave me a
genuine, million-watt smile and said it was fine, as he was cruising
in a Land Rover, and as such, he would never get stuck.
he went into the soft sand just off of Ramp 38. And he got stuck.
graciously pulled him out, of course, and gave no slight verbal hint
that “I told you so!” was constantly brimming at the back of my
I must guiltily admit that I pulled him out only after doing about
five laps around his stuck Land Lover in my beat-up and neon-blue Geo
Tracker, while honking the horn the entire time.
I was young, and, honestly, being subtle and gracious has never been
my strong suit.
since that first time that I pulled a dude out -- and since I
upgraded from a Geo Tracker to a real-life Jeep -- I have a weird
little satisfaction whenever I pull other people’s vehicles out of
the sand. In
fact, I have a tow rope, shovel, and two plywood boards in my Jeep at
all times, courtesy of my father, just so I can rise to the occasion
kinda makes me feel like a superhero, but a superhero who can take a
leisurely break from saving the world in order to pull an Outback
away from an encroaching tide on South Beach.
promise, I am no longer obnoxious when this happens, and I genuinely
believe that nobody cares if I’m a woman or a man or a monkey –
so long as I have a tow rope handy. When I’ve gotten stuck before,
and I have, many times, I didn’t notice who was doing the pulling.
My concern was solely focused on if there was anybody nearby who
actually knew me and if they were taking pictures and uploading them
I still consider it a guilty pleasure because after the tow, I get to
go home and relay to Mr. Smith in detail how awesome I am at driving
at the beach. (Amazingly enough, after five years of hearing this,
Mr. Smith still married me. Good for him.)
if we’re being honest, the guilty pleasures list is just the icing
cake of the guilty pleasures that are readily available on Hatteras
Island. I haven’t even touched on the joys of eating yourself
silly, playing outside during a storm, or walking nonchalantly down
the middle of Highway 12 in January with no worry of oncoming
I think the beauty of Hatteras Island is that these surprising little
experiences will surely just keep coming, and will give folks like me
a world of stories to share with the future generations of little
Smiths and Hatteras Island lovers everywhere. But not until they are
adults, of course.
when a good guilty pleasure-related story does occur, I adore that I
can share the experience, without shame, with my fellow
debauchery-loving island friends, preferably over a grossly
bad-for-you dark beer or Cookie Dough sundae.
the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying my idle mountain living, and my
constant dreaming of my next Hatteras Island “vacation,” which,
unfortunately for you readers, now includes ingenious new places
where I can hide your skinny-dipping discarded clothes.
you have been warned.
Crist and John Smith are living on their newly purchased property in
the mountains of North Carolina, though she insists she will be back
on Hatteras one of these days to enjoy her guilty pleasures full
time. Meanwhile, she may occasionally write about island life from
her new perspective.)
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