Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Obligatory Blog Post

Sometimes, I feel like I really should put up a blog post.... but I don't particularly have a topic.

Such is the case at the moment. Then again, I seldom let a lack of coherence stop me from writing about anything else. Why change now? I have no good reason to do that either.

And there you are: People feel too compelled to have a good reason to do things.

Sure, you're compelled to have a job (most of you, I suppose) since you want frivolous things like food and a roof over your head. Some of you even buy clothes. There are a few that don't that I sincerely wish would, but I haven't the heart to tell them. Actually, it's just that I haven't found THE most snide way to put it to them, and I have my standards, after all. Admittedly, not very many and most of them are low (below the belt), but I have some.... written down.... around here somewhere.

Outside of life's necessities, and even during them, there's a remarkable tendency to do things the way people expect you to; to say what one would not be surprised to hear such an one as you say. I can't think of a single good reason for this. Where's the style, where's the originality in that? How much inane boredom can a person take? When someone asks you "How are you this morning?", is it actually required for you to give them a straight answer? Instead of saying "Fine." when it isn't true, come up with a metaphor or simile that will make them think and respect you. Something like "I'm as defenestrated as a stale bagel".

Right off, they have to head to the dictionary, because chances are good that they don't know that "defenestrate" means to throw something out of an upper-story window. It's a great word. So now, you've done them the service of stimulating their mind first thing in the morning (kudos to you if they're not a "morning person". I myself am so bad in that respect that I am immune to all vocabulary before at least 10:00) and creatively telling them that you're not so great. If you're a stale bagel, you're already feeling pretty bad about yourself; being thrown out of a window is rubbing salt in the wound. At best, someone will pick you up and throw you in a refuse container next to some dog fewmets from the park in a leaky bag from Kroger's, where someone actually, for once, cleaned up after their dog. That sounds pretty awful, but it isn't as bad as being chowed down upon by a Chow Chow, and eventually becoming dog fewmets.

So, when you tell your office mate that, in effect, you feel like you're on the verge of becoming dog fewmets, you've darn well answered the question with considerable style. Does that make you better than they are, because they asked such a normal question in such an unimaginative fashion? Yes. Yes, it does.

This is more difficult at social events, where the question may be more metaphysical, more probing, more than just a drive-by check of your existential angst. In these cases, it's a lot of fun to use what I call "The Dangling Rebound". An example: A person strolls up to you at a cocktail party, having not seen you in six weeks, three days, 8 hours and an odd number of minutes. She asks "How are things going?" You, instead of replying with some banal syllable like "Fine.", fire back "Well, you know how it is...." Of course she doesn't know how it is, that's why she just asked you. The upshot of the situation is that she cannot, without looking slightly foolish, come back and say that she doesn't, and repeat the question. Personally, I pick that ball up and run with it, and jab back with something akin to "Have you stopped taking your medication, then?" Imagine yourself on the receiving end of that one. It sounds bad if you say "Yes" because you're 1) Admitting that you were on medication, and 2) saying that you were dumb enough to stop doing what your board-certified physician swutting well told you to do. If you say "No", then you're still admitting that you need medication.

What's wrong with taking medication? Nothing at all, of course. I myself rattle when I walk due to the plethora of pills that I inhale each day. The thing is, there are rules about where you can discuss medication safely, and where admitting to taking medication is an abominable breach of etiquette. Cocktail parties are one of those places. You don't need to be revealing things about what drugs you're taking, because that vodka-kiwi juice martini in your hand is a drug, and your co-conversant knows that. At a cocktail party, it's a given that you're allowed to presume, without any justifiable reason, that the medication in question should never, never be mixed with alcohol. Thus, having pinned the poor victim down with the medication question, you can now put on an air of high dudgeon and glare at them sternly for being so foolish. Either way.

Is this necessary? No. Is it fair? Depends on who ends up hanging on the end of the rope, unable to speak further, and obliged to shuffle away and find some nice "normal" person to talk to. You don't want this to be you! Weird them out forthrightly and with panache! They'll need considerable chutzpah to try to keep up with you. This, they will be unable to do, for they cannot now answer something like "Fine." to the question "How are you doing?" because they have the same crestfallen look as a defenestrated bagel. Even a "normal" person knows the rules there; they are then entitled to kick you while you're down because you patently lied. This is a bit bizarre, considering that 88% of all conversation at a cocktail party is lies, especially where matters sexual are involved. That doesn't matter in this case. If you've made the dread mistake of picking your wife to shuffle back to, then she's allowed to dredge things back up like that time ten years ago when you washed her underwear in with some red exercise sweats and turned them pink. Never mind that she's the one who left them rolled up in there where you couldn't have seen them, never mind that nobody but you, her and Wee Willie Winkie ever see that underwear, never mind that it cost $3.09 at Wal-Mart. By law in 49 of the 50 states (in Louisiana, under the Napoleonic Code, women are forbidden to wear underwear), she is allowed to scream at you like a Gloucester fishwife, causing you more embarrassment than that time you mistakenly took the sauna at your boss's house for an unusually warm powder room.

Is there anything to be learned from all of this? Indeed, there are at least two:

1) Never get so drunk at your boss's house that you can inadvertently ruin $2,000 worth of imported cedar. Nothing good will come of it.
2) Never give your wife such an easy target. She'll bring up the underwear every time, and do you really need to have all your co-workers see you get dressed down over some now-fossilized unmentionables, which have now been ironically mentioned at the top of your wife's lungs?

In fact, the best advice may be to avoid cocktail parties altogether. The rules are terribly complex, and you can probably do without the alcohol, anyway. Besides, if you happen to run into someone such as myself, who is a terminal wise guy, you're going to wind up being that poor slob with the underwear being thrown in his face.

Knowing that, is it completely necessary that I set this tragic set of circumstances in motion?

Unfortunately, yes. Those are the rules.

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