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THE CURE FOR WHAT AILS YA

An inebriated inquiry:

I have small dinners at home with some frequency – me, my partner, two close friends and then two newer friends – people we’d like to get to know and who we think everyone would get along with.  I take a great deal of care creating a new menu for each dinner, and choosing a good wine to pair it with.  We’re not fancy, but we do use our good china and inherited silver – what’s the point of having it if it just sits there?  

Well, two weeks ago the new friends my partner invited showed up and just about got thrown out of our house.  They criticized the size of our house, saying it was too small.  They didn’t like our dog, they called the china kitschy, and said how nice it must be to show off the silverware.  And then, to top it all off, they criticized my cooking and the wine.  Not only did they say it was bad, but they drank it all and complained when I said there wasn’t any.  I just wanted them to leave!  Nothing was good enough for them.  My partner was mortified, saying he knew the guy but this was the first time he met the wife, and that the guy was usually very cool and laid back.  

What is wrong with people?  And what could we have done to make them stop?

LISTEN:

Wow.  Just – wow.  OK, let’s start at the top.

First of all, I completely agree with you about the silver.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said to people who are lucky enough to have it that they should use it.  Not just for special occasions, but every day.  “Oh, but it doesn’t go in the dishwasher,” they whine, “Who wants to polish that all the time?”

Well, let me tell you – life is too short to complain about the five minutes it’s going to take you to wash some flatware, and if you’re too lazy to do that, then please pass the set along to someone else who will bother with it.  Or sell it or something – silver longs to be used – and you’ll notice it doesn’t need polishing much if you actually use it on a regular basis.  Properly stored, washed and dried, silver will keep its shine for ages.

So as long as you’re not all like – “Oh, my, look at my silver, blah blah blah…” – good on you.

Oh, and you can totally put china in the dishwasher.  Please…it’s been in a kiln for Christ’s sake.  Just – not the little gold or silver rimmed kind…that shit washes off.  Sadly.

Second – what is wrong with people is that they are people.  These particular ones are boorish, poorly raised and truly awful people, sure – but the fact is that we all have our own little foibles, as Ms. Bartlett can (and will) tell you, and theirs seems to be displaying their massive character flaws.  Truly appalling.

What could possibly make people think this is acceptable behavior is your unasked question, and the answer to it is multi-dimensional.  We have decided somewhere along the line that every stupid little thought we think is valid just because we think it, and therefore is acceptable to announce out loud without further vetting by intelligence and experience.  Hurt feelings, anger at the expressions in question, simple indignation – these are all viewed as poor responses when someone, oh how I hate this phrase, when someone was Just Being Honest.  Why can’t you Just Be Quiet?  I’ll tell you why – because the same mindset not only said your stupidity and the expression thereof was valid, but virtuous to boot.

But it isn’t.  It’s a disgraceful quality that will bear the fruit of a lost generation of children with no manners whatsoever, and turning these little wolves out onto the streets is going to spoil a lot more than charming little dinner parties.  Say good-bye to civilization, folks; go ahead and paint The End Is Near on a sandwich board and wander around shouting, because it is indeed.  It is indeed.

Sigh.

Finally, how you make them stop.  I will address this in two ways – these particular people and people like them you may have the misfortune of entertaining in the future, and society at large.

These people are silenced and the whole evening averted with the sudden appearance of a migraine headache.  No disrespect to actual migraine sufferers out there, but your activism and awareness have given all of us a new excuse – no – a reason – to call to a halt the terrible nights like these before they get worse.

The rules go like this:

1st insult is a joke, the sense of humor of which you fail to grasp.

2nd insult is a challenge, a boundary pushing you shouldn’t have to deal with, but you do because you’re a gracious host with a difficult guest.

3rd insult is the premature ejaculation of dinner parties, the abrupt ending to a chapter that failed to print, the interminable buffering of your downloading porn.

It goes like this: “I’m sorry you aren’t enjoying yourself – I was so hoping to give you a pleasant evening.  Please, don’t let us keep you.  Good night.”

Stand up or take their drink, hand them their things, and close the door on this entire situation.  Sit back with your close friends, mock the departing horror show mercilessly, and figure out what went wrong with your internal invitation system.  Laugh it off as a hysterical story you get to tell, send your good friends home with leftovers, and hey – you get more wine!

But where did the migraine part go, you ask.

Silly question – you sent it packing before it took hold.

An ounce of prevention is the phrase, yes?

Yes.  OK – now let’s deal with society at large.

Oh, fuck it, I need a drink.

We’ll deal with that tomorrow.

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