This is typically the time of year when I, Mr. Retail, embark upon the laborious task of writing a holiday gift guide for you, the ordinary woman in the street. Not this year. After a casual poll of friends and colleagues, I recently ascertained some important information: People HATE gift guides, universally. I was, in point of fact, unable to find one single person who liked them, is prompted to shop by them, looked at them or even lined the cat’s litter box with them.
Here is a random sample of the responses:
“Unless you are a complete f**king idiot you can dig around and find the s**t you need.”
“Gift guides are just a horrible reminder of all the things people can no longer afford to buy each other, or me.”
“Gift guides blow hot air up the advertisers’ skirts. End of f**king story!”
Having riled up my sample group of New York shoppers, I seized the opportunity to unearth any other current bugbears and bête noires. With little prompting, a torrent of gripes and grumbles issued forth. The range of complaints was staggering. One girl was in a raging snit about those trendy Brooklyn dudes who wear ironic fin de siècle facial hair: “When I ask them about their Edwardian mustaches and mutton chops, they snarl at me like I am totally uncool for mentioning it. Am I just supposed to kiss a big handlebar and pretend it’s not there?”
Another group member wanted to kill all the people who, having moved to the Gowanus Canal, now accuse any subsequent arrivals of malevolently trying to gentrify the place. How dare they think it was just for them?
By far the biggest ire was reserved for the new trend for manic overpraising, whereby everyone on earth is called “a ROCK STAR!” (FYI, Italian Rolling Stone has just named Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi “rock star of the year” and slapped him on the December cover.) My group was unanimous in its condemnation of this bizarre condescension. Moi aussi! Display even a minor degree of competency these days and you are bound to receive the silly rock-star accolade. Doormen, manicurists and bank tellers seem to be the main targets. The more un-rock-star-ish your lot in life, the more likely you are to be thus dubbed.
I am not exactly sure how this caught on, but I cannot help thinking it is somehow related to the self-esteem movement—i.e., everybody is a winner/rock star. The reality is that nobody is a rock star anymore, except, of course, my eyeliner-slinging idol, Adam Lambert. But let’s not get sidetracked. We need to stay on topic in order to get through all of Scoop Doonan’s significant findings.
Re etiquette: According to my sample group, there is a whole bunch of meaningless, pre-recession, old-school, counterintuitive, anti-fun, very-last-century modes and manners that are screaming to be ditched.
Example No. 1: You and the girls have scheduled a lunch. One chippy is running late. (Maybe she stopped to buy copies of Adam Lambert’s new CD For Your Entertainment for everyone, as a party favor.) Traditional etiquette dictates that you wait until the party is complete before ordering; i.e., the irate group majority, stomachs growling, sits waiting for somebody who, when he/she finally shows up, is going to feel even more turdlike than if her pals had just gone ahead and ordered without him/her. Ditch the bitch and order!
The same illogical politesse has always applied to the arrival of entrees. Example: Mine is here, it’s piping hot—hotter than Adam Lambert’s sizzling, sado-masochistic freakout on the recent A.M.A.’s—but I wouldn’t dream of touching it. I would much rather sit in front of it while it gets cold, listening to my increasingly uncomfortable dinner partners begging me to “go ahead and start.” Then, when the other platters finally arrive, I can commence masticating my congealed pasta and START LOATHING EVERYONE AT THE TABLE for making me wait, even though they tried to do the opposite. Solution: When it’s plonked in front of you, do everyone a big fat favor and just start shoveling.
My sample group had strong feelings about guest etiquette. Here is their tip for the holidays: When you are dining and carousing at someone’s house, “stay the f**k out of the kitchen.” Those anxious stampedes into the scullery to “help out” cause an unproductive logjam and deprive the hostess of vital opportunities to take a break from your scintillating company and/or to swig vigorously from the bottle of cooking sherry that she hides under the sink.
Hostess gifts? After surveying the group, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that all anyone really wants this year is a 12-pack of Brawny and/or a copy of For Your Entertainment.