By Fred “Boomer or Whatever” Mills
Wuz listening to NPR’s usually-delightful/insightful Michel Martin NPRMichel of “All Things Considered” in the car a short time ago as I returned home from Publix with tonight’s supper – talk about First World moments, hint-hint. I could not help but be struck by the generally tin-eared (translation for the kids: “tone-deaf”) attitudes of purported “lifestyle writer” Olivia Harrison (FB handle: Vocal Fry Pan) of Refinery29, as Martin attempted to pry some “Modern-Day Party Etiquette” tips from Harrison in hopes of providing we clueless listeners/masses several musts-to-avoid as we steer towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Here’s the podcast link: https://www.npr.org/2019/11/23/782335398/modern-day-party-etiquette
My. Sweet. Lord.
At least one of these so-called “real-life scenarios” of Harrison’s navigational proposals, admittedly, rang true; if you receive an E-vite from a friend or acquaintance, reply/ Yep. Let’s text (since you already have their number) or shoot off a LinkedIn p.m. (since of course you have their LinkedIn profile bookmarked)! Waitaminnit – no word from Harrison about the wisdom of potentially clicking on a blind E-vite link when it is NOT from someone you know. But of course you would hate to offend them, lest their phishing scam falters, right? After we’re done investigating Ukraine and the Crowdstrike server, I suggest we also investigate Evenbrite and the role it is already playing in the 2019 holiday season for engaged millennials.
But what if you do get the warm and fuzzies, hit a pot-luck gathering, bring some tasty swag, and subsequently receive a Venmo bill from the passive/aggressive hostess who has just realized she didn’t line up any NPR underwriters to help her crowdfund the event? Ms. Harrison allows that “it’s really not appropriate” for said hostess to send a Venmo request if it wasn’t discussed up front in some manner, but she punts on what the hell the rest of us should do if on the receiving end of this type of entitled bullshit.
I would propose tendering this reply; “Fuck you, don’t invite me to any more of your lame lobster-roll-and-craft beerathons. You can stick your Venmo way mo’ up yo’ ass.” Sometimes the direct approach is the most efficient approach, as it heads off potential future conflicts. Not to mention future lame craft beer gatherings.
Then there’s the Martin/Harrison thinktank on what the hell to do if someone shows up all ready to toke up: This is barely worth commenting upon. Well, I will anyway. Anybody with a brain even half-formed since the Vietnam war all the way to now already knows to TAKE THAT SHIT OUTSIDE AND BE DISCREET. Even if you live in a state where it is perfectly legal to smoke/vape lung-collapsing, chemically-tainted THC products out in public, there’s a thing called “consideration of others.” And we’ve been sending smokers of ANY COMBUSTIBLE out to the back deck for as long as I can remember. Just because Elon Musk shows up at your biz-district-overlookin condo doesn’t mean you have to let him pollute your living room. (Tip to smokers: leave that shit at home and either eat some ‘boo-laced gummies or just bring some sinsemilla you got from your old dealer. It’s clearly safer than those toxic liquids currently making the rounds and putting your high-school/college kids in the hospital.)
Then the dynamic NPR duo gets into the touchy territory about off-color jokes and offensive comments that might crop up in the course of an gathering involving libations and diverse sensibilities. While I’m inclined to advise that one not invite any well-known assholes to one’s party in the first place, clowns can and do slip through security because, well, they are clowns; if they look more like, I dunno, Christian Bale and Maggie Gyllenhaal than the Joker and Harley Quinn, then you’ll be caught offguard and shit can happen. But why so serious, Michel and Olivia? “It’s really important to talk to your guests privately,” offers Harrison, in a measured voice that suggests how she deals with her 3-year old. “It’s easy… you don’t have to humiliate them.”
Bah. Don’t take ’em aside like your space is their safe space and quietly counsel them about their possibly inappropriate behavior – just kick those assholes out. IT’S YOUR HOUSE, and you don’t owe ’em shit. They are the ones who accepted your gracious offer of shared community, and they are the ones who defiled it.
Admittedly, when we’re talking your unreconstructed Great Uncle Martin who has always had an eye for the young ladies “but is just being Martin” with his comments, or Second Cousin (once removed) Florence whose late husband Bill lost his job to NAFTA and nowadays just can’t handle standing in line at Taco Bell and listening to all the Spanish jabbering around her, you should probably do a more delicate dance. (Hint: Don’t host parties involving your extended family.)
But that’s not what Martin and Harrison are talking about here. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a mini-litany of First World Problems in a single radio broadcast quite so egregious as this.
Well, to paraphrase a great philosopher from back in the ’90s – I think it may have been F.M. Cornog, aka East River Pipe, or possibly Bill Callahan, aka Smog, both terrific indie singe/songwriters – sometimes, listening to NPR is like being forced to sit in a hot tub with a bunch of grandmothers.
Water’s still warm, apparently. Love ya, NPR, and I listen to you a minimum of 3 hours per day, but, jeez, c’mon.