Archive | June, 2010

Party girl

21 Jun

I like parties. In particular, I really like my own parties. At other people’s parties, sometimes the only person I know is the person I came with. Sometimes the host or hostess forgets to introduce me, so I have to walk up to complete strangers, thrust out my hand and put on that overexuberant

face we’ve all come to know and love.

Sometimes, those people are confused or taken aback (or, let’s admit, genuine assholes). Once in a while, my hand gets left hanging there, in the air, alone. Cold, exposed, ashamed. This, this is not fun. And parties, they should be fun. Otherwise I’d stay home.

At other people’s parties, sometimes the host or hostess forgets to offer me whatever it is everyone else has, or doesn’t tell me where I can put my coat. So there I am, standing awkwardly in the middle of a room, coat still on, or bundled in my arms like a bulky, down-filled baby, trying to shake hands with other people whose left hands are filled with canapés, whose right hands grip cocktails, clinging to whoever had the misfortune to bring me.

At these parties, if I want a drink, I have to hunt down the host/ess and ask if I may have one, which makes me feel like an alcoholic. Sometimes, they merely wave a laissez-faire hand in the general direction of the kitchen, indicating that I am to push my way through the crowd of strangers and mix my own damn cocktail. Once there, I feel like a voyeur, almost criminal – hunting down their liquor, glasses and mixers, invading their privacy, catching glimpses of their frozen veggies and leftover casserole. This hands-off method of hostery has the added bonus of making me, their invited guest, feel like a total piece of shit. Am I just filler, invited to fill the space that would make the party look underattended?

But at my own parties, I know almost everyone. I have a place for my coat, I know where the drinks are, and I can make more food if I run out. If I get bored, I can always busy myself with hostess duties – doing rounds of introductions, pouring drinks, forcing cookies on people or fiddling with the music. I do my best to introduce new people, and try really, really hard to include everyone in the conversation. If someone looks bored or lonely or left out, I bring out the exuberant face, try to figure out what will make them feel comfortable and included, and then give them that – whether it’s a shot of tequila, a kind word or a topic, whatever it takes.

It’s a little-known fact that I have a tiny obsession with etiquette, and I think my generation could do well with a good hard lesson in the same. My obsession started young, when my grandmother and mother taught me the rigid rules of introduction – which are sort of like the rules of “usted” and “tu” in Spanish: you present the younger or less prestigious person to the older and more prestigious person. I also know the order in which to place and then use silverware, which way the blade of the butter knife should face, and the rules of who pours at a tea. I own a definitive anthology of Emily Post, updated by her grand-whoever, of which I am enamored.

I have been challenged multiple times by various constituents about my love of etiquette – “But Sarah, you are a nonconformist! Etiquette and rules are all about conformity! Why do you love rules so much?” To which I say, no, etiquette is not about conformity. Etiquette is, at its base, about creating a comfortable, safe space for everyone around you. Some of the rules are stupid and trivial, sure, but they function like the AP style guide for journalists. They enforce consistency.

My encyclopedic knowledge of table settings has never really come in handy. In fact, most of the rules of etiquette I learned as a child – how to sit like a lady, how to pronounce the word “foyer” – are complete and utter shit. But my basic grasp of etiquette’s one, inviolable rule – what forms the foundation of all social graces – I use every day, and that is this: Your job as a host/ess, and a good human being, is to reach out to other people. Help them feel at home. Make them feel wanted, loved, and cared for. This isn’t conformity, it’s basic human decency.

Saturday night cookies

20 Jun

All the cool people are putting on their skinny jeans and medically unnecessary eyewear right about now, grooving to a playlist made up of several identical bands, each with an over-privileged white boy frontman, getting pumped for a night of pretending to be bored at overcrowded bars.  Since I am certifiably Old and Boring, I have elected to spend all of Saturday making food, and will now be moving on to the baking portion of the day. I’m readying my quilted apron for these bad boys:

They call for a pound of butter, so I’m expecting to come out of the experience in nothing less than an animal fat-induced coma. The deliciousness coma of ought-10, the history books will call it. Further updates forthcoming.

Hipster parents: The perfect target market

16 Jun

The hipster trajectory has at last closed its own self-obsessed loop and birthed this monstrosity. Enjoy (or cringe, as the case may be):

A method for the meatlessness

10 Jun

Let’s begin with a tale of two movies. Actually, not two movies, just two very valiant (and ultimately successful) attempts to watch the same movie. I first tried to watch “Earthlings” after reading about it in some glossy’s interview with Ellen Degeneres, wherein she spoke of her veganism (which was news to me), and recommended the film. I added it to my queue and forgot about it.

Shortly thereafter, my sweet kitty Annabelle (pictured) died unexpectedly, which weirdly coincided with the arrival of the documentary in the mail. I made it through about five minutes before my uncontrollable sobs got so loud that my then-SO marched in from the other room, turned it off, and immediately deposited the DVD in the outgoing mailbox.

I finally made it all the way through the film a few months ago. I powered through it, and an entire box of tissues, because I felt I needed to — my strict vegetarianism had faltered over years of being worn down by the usual crap a vegetarian has to take, ranging from innocent curiosity (being asked to exhaustively explain your reasons for not eating meat gets about as old as being asked to exhaustively explain your sex life), to outright animosity: “But you need meat, c’mon eat meat, what are you sumkindahippiefreak growin’ armpit hair and eatin’ tofu and bein’ all uppity *head shake tongue wag tsk tsk*?”

In middle and high school, my friends would constantly try to get me to eat meat. Their more bald-faced tactics included shoving cold cuts in my face and chanting “eat it!” In rural Southern Oregon, I was the only vegetarian I knew of (turns out there was another one at my school, a couple years ahead of me, who now has a very worthwhile blog on just this topic!) We had to drive a long way to get to a conventional grocery store, and an even longer way to get to a hippie grocery store that sold Mysterious Things like tofu and organic spinach.

Various SOs have also served to derail my goal of eating compassionately. One insisted that the lifetime of pain and suffering animals raised for food endure was all “worth it” so long as meat was cheap; another’s steak cravings overpowered reason. ANYWAY, long story short: I had devolved into eating lots of bacon, which is delicious, but dag nab it, piglets are the cutest little things, and I needed to connect the two, viscerally, again. Get back to my hippie roots.

So I watched Earthlings. And you should too. I want you to watch this so much that, if you leave me a comment or send me an email or something telling me what you think of the movie after watching it, I will promise to send you something neat or funny or random in the mail (provided I am able to procure your mailing address in some safe manner, say, DMing me on Twitter, or e-mailing me. You also kind of deserve a cookie anyway for reading to the end of this long post and not just skipping to the video or skimming the topic sentences, which would be a fairly inefficient method here, as topic sentences are for chumps.

How do you find this movie? Well, you can watch it for free on the internets. You can also add it to your Netflix queue if you have one. Your favorite local independent video rental store probably has it, too. A word of warning: You probably shouldn’t show it to small children, unless you don’t want them to ever sleep again.

Top Six Vehicles Driven by Assholes

3 Jun

About five years ago, I was completely unable to tell the difference between different types of vehicles. A Mercedes and a Ford looked exactly the same to me. I could divine the difference between “truck” and “car,” and might’ve gone so far as to describe a vehicle as a “minivan,” or a “convertible.” But outside of those utilitarian delineations, I hadn’t the faintest what piloting a particular automobile “meant” about the person behind the wheel.

Thanks to my arduous commute, my state of ignorant bliss is, alas, no more. So, in order to provide you all with the benefits of my Significant Life Experience, I give you, without further ado, my Top Six List o’ Vehicles Driven by Assholes:

Mercedes Benz

A Mercedes is the ultimate entitled asshole mobile. Firstly, no one can figure out how to pluralize either “Mercedes” or “Benz,” giving it that unpronounceable je’ne sais quoi beloved to elitist pigdoggies everywhere. Secondly, the totems to materialism that serve as hood ornaments exist for no other reason than to serve as reminders to normal people that we are like tiny, tiny ants just waiting to be squashed by the Mercedes’ superior horsepower. Or whatever it is they have that’s worth a sticker price of about $56,000 (which, according to my Very Scientific Calculations, could keep me in portobello mushroom paninis for about 15 years). The only exception to the rule is if it is a very, very old Mercedes. If it’s rusted out, you can trust the driver. If it’s been converted to biodiesel complete with prominently located bumper sticker, well that’s a gray area.

BMW

The BMW is the jealous, bitter, aspirational younger yuppie sibling of the Mercedes. Again, the name causes problems in that no one knows what BMW stands for, except for some spurious sources that claim it stands for “Brute’s Murder Weapon.*” The Beamer deviates from the Mercedes in that it doesn’t matter how old the Beamer is, the driver will never be absolved of asshole status while barreling down the freeway in a car rumored to be built with the blood of Jews. (For realsies! Other cars too!)

Audi

The people who drive Audis are the same people who sign their e-mails with “Cheers,” or worse, “Ciao.”They’re going for European mystique and/or sophistication, but all they get are repair bills so high they end up selling their Beamers to pay for them.

Saabs and Volvos

I want to like these cars. I really do. Saab buys ad space on public radio, and Volvo reminds me of hippies. I like public radio and hippies, therefore I should like Saab and Volvo, right? Wrong. These car brands are marketing to the wrong demographic, as people who drive them are without fail unable to use their turn signals or let populist cars change lanes.

And, last but not least, the humble Volkswagen:


You’d think VW would get a bye on accounta being responsible for a cute co-opted slogan like “fahrvergnugen” and making those adorable bugs and Scooby Doo vans. But you’d be wrong! Sure, patchouli-scented old-school VW owners do not pass the asshole test. But did you know that VW was invented by Hitler? Fo’ sho’! Also, VW owns Audi, and makes Certifiable Asshole Cars like the Jetta. Unless you live in your VeeDub with your crime-fighting dog and mod posse, you fail.

While the vast majority of my fellow commuters are just normal regular humans trying to get from Point A to Point B in normal regular human cars, taken as a collective, they’re something far more sinister. The commute, after all, is more than just a commute — it’s a microcosmic representation of society, with all the preening, power struggles, and Machiavellian machinations inherent therein, all baldly displayed right there on the pavement.

*I make no claims to truthfulness, honesty or accuracy. I have performed absolutely no research for this article, and am not an expert on cars, assholes or Hitler. These are not the facts you’re looking for. Or more accurately, these are not the facts for which you’re looking.
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