She: I knew it! All of you people who’ve been telling me what a useless emotion that guilt is have finally been proven wrong.
Z: Now I feel bad.
She: I read a story in Pacific Standard that says, “According to newly published research, the guilt we feel may make that decadent treat taste even more delicious than it otherwise would.”
Z: Guilt makes things tastier? Does that explain why Jewish food isn’t better?
She: You joke, but this is science. It’s in an article by Tom Jacobs. “When succumbing to temptation, ‘people who are primed with guilt subsequently experience greater pleasure than people who are not,’ reports a research team led by Kelly Goldsmith of Northwestern University.”
Z: So the more you know that eating that double-fudge mocha brownie is bad for you, the better it will taste? Wow. Guilt really is useful. It’s almost as though they cured cancer.
She: The study found that when people were reminded about healthy eating and then given chocolate, they liked the candy significantly more than those who had not been given any guilt messages about it.
Z: That’s delightfully messed up, on so many levels.
She: I find it vindicating.
Z: So now I’m supposed to tell you how bad everything is for you before you eat it? Will that help you enjoy it more?
She: I don’t think you understand science.
Z: I understand science and you, which is why I don’t really think that will work out that well. For me.
She: I stand corrected. You do understand science.
Z: What if I go out and kill a man. Will food taste better?
She: You’re missing the real potential. Christmas is almost here and I know how practical you are, how frugal, how careful you are with every little thing you buy. You would never waste hard-earned money on something frivolous like whisking your wife off to Hawaii for New Year’s Eve.
Z: Would Hawaii taste better if I did?
She: Think how guilty you would feel for doing something impulsive and sweet and romantic like that. It would be delicious.
Z: Until the Visa bill came.
Z: When did our column turn into your Christmas list?
She: Good plan, don’t you think? Don’t you feel guilty for not buying me those things?
Z: No. But I am craving a chocolate chip cookie.
She: I know it’s way, way too expensive and completely frivolous, but wouldn’t it be fun to buy the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Dinner?
Z: I’m feeling guilty already.
She: Four of the culinary world’s most notable chefs — Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jérôme Bocuse and Richard Rosendale — prepare a feast for you and nine of your nearest and dearests. Plus it includes a Casa Dragones tequila tasting with Bertha Gonzalez, the world’s first female Maestra Tequilera.
Z: How much?
She: A mere $250,000.
Z: You could almost put a down payment on a house in Santa Barbara for that much.
She: Exactly. How guilty would that make you feel if we spent $250,000 on a dinner?
Z: Given that I’d have to rob a bank to pay for it, I’m guessing I’d feel pretty guilty.
She: But it would taste amazing.
Z: Yes, dear.