Friday, October 30, 2009

How to Join an After-Work Pack and Commence Your Slow Descent in Communal Alcoholism

How many times have you watched a nature documentary and thought, “So this is how I’m spending another Friday night—watching a lion eviscerate an elk. Man, why did I ever break up with Kim? Or, more precisely, why did I ever let Kim break up with me? Why didn’t I do something? She always said I lacked initiative so this could have been my big chance to prove her wrong! I could have kept calling her. I could have kept following her. I could have surprised her with flowers or a sudden appearance in her bushes. Maybe then we’d be together instead of me sitting alone watching some big, fat cat mount another big, fat OH GOD, KIM! IF YOU’RE READING THIS THEN PLEASE, PLEASE TAKE ME BACK! I’LL STOP DRINKING! I’LL STOP GAMBLING! I’LL STOP BETTING ON HOW MUCH I CAN DRINK! JUST PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH MY THOUGHTS IN SOME VACATIONING FAMILY’S HOUSE AS I WATCH THEIR CABLE TV!!!”

So to summarize, coworkers are a lot like lions. Lions travel in a pack or “pride” (a word you’ll rarely hear during your professional years) to ensure their mutual survival. Similarly, coworkers travel in packs to bars to ensure that they just don’t go home all alone after work to watch yet another nature documentary as they silently wish that they were dead.

But like an outside lion seeking entrance into a pride, you can’t just join an employee drinking pack. You have to be welcomed into one. You have to wait for a coworker to vouch for you by saying “She’s cool” or “He’s gonna follow us anyway.” Once invited you’ll then be asked how you like working for the company. BE CAREFUL! This is not some idle chit chat. This is an incisive character test not unlike the ones G.I.’s used in World War II movies when they asked undercover Nazis who won the 1936 World series (only for the hapless spy to answer, “Herr Donald Duck.”) Respond cheerfully, “I love working there!” and the others will automatically peg you as the manager’s pet or mole (or perhaps pet mole). Respond truthfully, “If someone had told me when I was a kid that I would spend my entire adult life in marketing I never would have recuperated from Scarlet Fever” and you’ll be back on your couch watching two gorillas corner a screaming cameraman. Your best option is to find that happy middle ground and respond, “It’s a job.” Then quickly share an embarrassing anecdote about a fellow but absent staff member. After all, coworkers feast on gossip like a palsied zebra.

Having now ensconced yourself in the employee pack, you have to maintain your membership by being entertaining but not overwhelming. Catty but not cutting. Agreeable but not too pliable. And smart but not so you leave the rest of the table wondering what the fuck an “Archimedes’ screw” is. You must also be the first to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the table. Pack-wise this is the equivalent of bringing in a “fresh kill, “ thereby proving your value to the rest of the members. (Unless, of course, you return with six cans instead of six tumblers and say, “Johnny Walker Blue, Pabst Blue Ribbon, what’s the difference?”)

Once alcohol is introduced, though, self-control is almost always reduced. And once the little editor in your mind is too drunk to operate your verbal seven-second delay you may very well say something that could get you kicked out of the pack or—depending on the comment—the industry. But until then at least you won't be sitting at home another night, sobbing copiously as a meerkat is mourned to the strains of Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Things to Consider as You Search for the Ultimate Halloween Costume

You’re Already Too Late: Too late, that is, to score any of the highly ornate, exceedingly well-tailored costumes that wow associates, win prizes and wreck bank accounts. Such outfits have long been snapped up by frighteningly eager goths, professional party guests such as the Hilton sisters and the type of individuals who start greedily rubbing their hands together in anticipation of Thanksgiving turkey…sometime around April. In short, you’ve been outmaneuvered by idiots, a sobering thought to say the least.

Do Not Dress As Popular Newsmakers: Balloon Boy, Bernie Madoff, Michael Jackson, an impregnated Jaycee Dugard. Unless you want to look like part of a well-funded and poorly supervised cloning experiment, avoid them all. What you may perceive as “clever and cutting-edge” will seem less so when you’re taking the M5 bus down with 25 people dressed exactly like you (a phenomenon as known as the "You bought the pimp costume, too?"). Believe me, right now several hundred people in your town alone are at this very moment attaching a small mylar dirigible and basket to their body, practicing throwing up in front of Meredith Viera and thinking, "Man, is everyone going to be surprised!"

Think “Homemade”: Okay, so the idea of hot-gluing two pipe cleaners to your head, wrapping yourself up in several rolls of aluminum foil and going as “The Insectoid Who Shouldn’t Be Microwaved” doesn’t exactly fill your heart with the Halloween spirit. But with a minimum of both props and shame, you should have no trouble cobbling together a costume quickly and on the cheap. Why not take those yellowed bed sheets you keep in the attic for some reason and go as “The Jaundiced Ghost”? Why not switch clothes with your spouse and go as “The Couple with a Secret”? Or why not just grow a goatee and go as “My Evil Twin”? What you lack in funds and finesse your fellow guests will more than make up for with cruel, cutting retorts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Belated Online Birthday Shout-Out to My Little Brother

Though I did remember to call my little brother on his actual birthday, I wanted to make it official online (since the web is our new reality).

Happy 35th Birthday, Marcello!

Friday, October 16, 2009

On Marriage

For as long as I can remember I assumed that the purpose of a relationship--a steady one of a considerable period, that is--was to set you on the path towards marriage and children. I love kids (in that perfectly-legal fashion ) and believed that a solid coupling was based on the exchange of marriage vows.

But lately I've had a change of heart.

I do believe that one day I may want kids, a secure environment to raise them in and maybe, if I'm lucky, someone by by side. But those are no longer the driving forces in my life. That is in no way meant to denigrate anyone who has chosen otherwise, has a happy marriage and is blessed with wonderful children. You are the truly fortunate and I say that with no sarcasm or empty sincerity at all.

But I now find the ideals I kept close to my heart for so long served more like safety nets or life floaties. As long as I was married or engaged then I felt I was 90% on the way to happiness an security. But that is never the case. I'm not saying marriage won't bring one such. For some marriage may very well be the great sundae under which you place that cherry.

But people need to know themselves before they can confidently be a partner for another. I can't say I don't want to be loved. We all do, whether in or out of wedlock in whatever combination works for us. But what I want now is to be in a relationship where each person has their own thing, they're own ambition and accomplishments, and are not so intertwined. The people would certainly support and cheer the other on but it never falls into the unfortunate assigned roles of a caretaker and the cared for (barring a horrible disease or accident that would require such, since I would also have no intention of ending a relationship out of infirmity. This is about partnership, not selfishness).

I'm almost certainly rambling here. These thoughts have been with me for weeks but this is my first attempt to try and craft them as some sort of coupling canon. I want the person I love to be able to fulfill their best goals. I want the same for me. And, when the time seems right out of professional, financial but most importantly emotional stability, then the idea of children may very well become a reality.

I don't expect everyone to agree with this. I welcome all different opinions. I want to hear from people, not talk at them or just stay locked in my headspace with ideas I'm too afraid to challenge. One of the driving forces for me now is the courage to, quite frankly, fuck up. Only then can I finally figure out where my horizon line is and my path to it, alone or with another. So please, I implore you to share your thoughts.

And hey, maybe next time I address this topic it'll be in the form of a far more lucid narrative. :)