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Friday(ish) roundup

Posted by Robin Abrahams  February 1, 2013 12:11 PM

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Just a couple of quickies this week --

A New York Times article on party games. Do you like them or not? I'm not a fan of mandatory participation, unless the entire point of the evening is to play poker or Cards Against Humanity. I do like it when hosts have some kind of icebreaking activity at larger parties, though: magnetic poetry kits, tumblers full of Trivial Pursuit cards strategically placed about. A friend of mine celebrated her 50th birthday with a rubber-chicken-decorating party.

I binge-watched season 1 of "Enlightened," HBO's comedy starring Laura Dern and Mike White, a couple of weeks ago (it's available on Amazon). Laura Dern plays a corporate buyer named Amy Jellicoe who, after a nervous breakdown, recovers at a New Age treatment center and returns to her old life with a vengeance, ready to make the world a better place with absolutely no concept of how to do so. Eileen Jones analyzes the show in Salon:

Picture the most blandly terrible place you ever worked, and an Amy in it, an Amy who hangs on like a limpet, a true believer who keeps saying the most "inappropriate" and unacceptable and discomfiting, and sometimes, appallingly true things over and over and louder and louder, and wondering why you don't want to go to lunch with her so you can talk more about that really informative book she lent you called Flow Through Your Rage, or that photocopied packet she put together on environmental renewability, or that pamphlet she put in your inbox for the Open Air Treatment Center which would really help you work through a lot of serious s--!

My favorite scene is from the episode "Not Good Enough Mothers," in which Amy, having manipulated herself into an invitation to a co-worker's baby shower, shows up without a gift--and during the gift-opening, takes a dramatic stand to rally the women to ... well, do something for "these children, who are born into these horrible situations, or with birth defects, awful deformities and diseases [as the expectant mother's face turns to stone] ... who's gonna do it? Not the guys, they're busy making the messes, throwing their toys on the floor like babies and we've got to clean it up!"

It's like the Platonic ideal of worst baby-shower behavior ever. I hope a real-life Amy Jellicoe afflicts this horrible woman from Dear Prudence's chat this week:

I have a friend who is 26 and has been married for 23 months. She and her husband started trying to get pregnant right after they bought their house 20 months ago and did get pregnant but had an ectopic pregnancy and she lost the baby eight months ago. Now she has decided to take the step to do IVF because the stress of not getting pregnant is too much for her to stand. My issue is that she does not have the funds to pursue IVF, so she has fundraising parties. She sells home party items and all of the proceeds are going to her treatments. The first one she hosted herself and I went out of obligation. When you checked out and paid she gave you an item total then asked how much extra you would like to put directly toward her baby fund saying the standard was 20 percent of your item total. She then asked each person who would host a party for her fundraising efforts. When I informed her that I would not be hosting a party for her she got very upset and said I was not a good friend because I would not host and I only gave the minimum 20 percent additional to help her have a baby. Am I being selfish or is an IVF fundraising party as outrageous as it seems to me to be?
Can you even?
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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