Cultural Appropriation is Like Crashing a Party?

Before I begin… This metaphor might be too lighthearted for a serious subject matter. It is my privilege* to be able to talk “lightly” of cultural appropriation. I intend to leverage my privilege (for justice, I hope!) in this instance; I have the emotional energy to write on this subject without deep personal distress and I can offer a blog post that is easy enough to read and a might be place to get the conversation started with newbies, etc.

Still, since I’m always thinking about partying and I also “sometimes” think about important social issues, I thought to myself: Cultural Appropriation Is Like Crashing A Party…!

This birb of Australian descent appropriates "Christian" culture which originally appropriated pagan culture..?

This birb of Australian descent appropriates “Christian” culture which originally appropriated pagan culture..?

Maybe this makes sense to me because of the almost holy respect I have for crashing parties the right way. It is an honor to be a stranger at someone else’s party (and an honor I certainly don’t want to fuck up by being an asshole). Some party crashers choose the “nothing to lose” mentality and swoop on all the drinks and food with no consideration for their hosts, and to them I say, you are ungrateful and terrible. Let’s pretend we don’t want to be ungrateful and terrible, and move on to being appreciative and thoughtful…

How do you know you are crashing a party? Easy, you were not invited. How do you know you’re crashing a culture? Same answer. Is it always bad to crash parties? No, there’s some situations where it’s acceptable, or even welcome. Is it always bad to borrow from other cultures? Refer to previous.

Imagine I’ve crashed a party. My senses are heightened. I observe the local party customs. Do people freely reach into the cooler, or do they ask around before opening a beer that might not be theirs? Where are cigarettes smoked? Who’s allowed to change the music? Since I’m not invited, what extra etiquette precautions must I take to demonstrate I am willing to be a respectful and easygoing guest?

This ordinary keffiyeh is worn for comfort and fashion and (as far as I can tell) is fine to borrow, as opposed to the Palestinian keffiyeh which holds significant political meaning and should probably be researched before choosing to wear.

This ordinary keffiyeh is worn for comfort and fashion and (as far as I can tell) is fine to borrow, as opposed to the Palestinian keffiyeh which holds significant political meaning and should probably be researched before choosing to wear.

Sometimes party etiquette is not about what you don’t do, but how you do participate. If I’m the only one not dancing, I might be making the dancers feel vulnerable, judged. Being a respectful party crasher means trying to defer to the way others do the party thing. You must find the appropriate spot on the spectrum between hot mess and party pooper. You can’t be the only drunken disaster, because you’re stepping all over someone else’s party (and being oppressive), but you also can’t be a total wallflower in a room full of rockstars because you’re going to come across as lazy or stifling or a cop or worse.

And you know what you do when you really don’t fit in at a party you’re crashing and you might be making others uncomfortable? You leave.

Here’s where I’m reaching, but I think cultural appropriation suffers from the same inappropriate levels of participation. People will put on a war bonnet (or a “feather headdress”) because they think it looks cool, but they won’t bother to learn about the meaning of the bonnet (low participation = disrespectful). Or, in the other direction, you might be invited to partake in a customary food, but then you go too far and put on all the makeup and try to lead the sermon (overbearing participation = oppressive).

I think borrowing from other cultures primarily begs one to ask, “Am I invited?” Or, more deeply, “In what ways am I invited (or not)?”

If you choose to ignore your lack of invitation, then how far are you willing to crash? To what consequences? Now, if the cultural item is religious, to what extent am I willing to apply my personal ideology that nothing is sacred? If I’m rebelling against an institution? What if my actions hurt someone’s feelings? What if I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about? Is it really that important to me to wear a white keffiyeh with a black fishnet pattern, or could I choose a more neutral gray one because I really have no personal connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

So, at the end of the day, I would ask my friends and others to remember that they might be culture crashers. Being actively aware that you’re crashing a party you weren’t invited to is the first step to being a better guest.


*As a white person & as a person comprised mostly of cultures that tend to do the appropriating rather than be appropriated from, I acknowledge my privilege and my lack of personal insight. My heritage is a bit Swedish, for example, of the Viking variety. Vikings pillaged and stole (and raped) so much that they are actually known for it. That’s pretty shitty, and it’s shitty that assumption tends to raise a hand to the mouth to stifle a yawn rather than red flags or even a single eyebrow.

I do subscribe to some aspects of “gay culture,” so I guess I have felt some stings of appropriation in that regard (Macklemore = pls stop). It’s an intersectional issue, for sure.

RSVP Etiquette in the Age of Facebook

From the Desk of Miss Sammanners.

Some of you may say that I have already written on this topic, to which I say, thank you dear readers for your precious attention. My previous post, however, may have taken an unfriendly tone in the name of levity. I might go so far as to accuse myself of hypocrisy for decrying rudeness while committing the very same. I thought I might redress the issue with more compassion and decorum (and absolutely no humor)!

this is your party host

The Ideal RSVP

Let me posit the idealized behavior before supporting it with historical context and arguments.

When a friend invites you to a party using not traditional letter-post, but the machine called, “Facebook,” and you are unable to go — stop, careful! Pause before the bold box imploring you to submit your regrets. Do click, “no” to inform the host of your lack of attendance (and your friend can know to labor over one less macaroon). Then, wait until after the event has passed* and send a private message to your host letting them know you much regretted missing their delightful soiree, that you are thinking of them and your friendship, and you would not have neglected their invitation for quite anything, save your prior engagement or sudden emergency.

*In cases for a much planned in advance event, for when you haven’t seen the host in a long time, or for a more intimate gathering where your presence will indubitably missed (as you are quite popular), it might be useful to offer your regrets (in private message, still!) before the event so that your friend can either attempt to convince you to change your mind, or gossip with, I mean inform, the other attendees about the reason for your absence.

blab on the entire event page for all to see that you have something more important to do NO

Some “Historical” Context

Now, manners are really only a means of fostering the most amount of comfort for the most possible people. They work especially well when they are commonly understood and can be performed like a choreographed dance, and thus we oft memorize them. Our kindly parental units raised us to have the good manners to RSVP, since traditionally, an RSVP is a boon to the host who needs to know how large of an event to expect.

send private message letting host know you still love them even though you couldn't go YESRSVP served another function: reminding a host that their friendship is valued with the supposed invitee. (Also, that the absent attendee still very much exists — don’t forget me!) Now, as shown in the idealized example above, both the qualities of headcount and social acknowledgment can be met without publicly announcing your regrets on the event page.

Unintended Insults

If this neat solution isn’t enough to persuade you, let me offer the stick rather than the carrot. Manners should not be superseded by common sense. Not to call anyone dense, but failure to heed my advice leads to many a consequence…

Example: “Sorry I can’t make it.”

Beware leaving this seemingly innocent note for the masses to read on the Facebook event page. You of course are modest about your social influence, but your host may become nervous that your absence will dissuade others from attending. Too many similar sentiments in a row, and the event can appear unpopular. Better to not draw attention to the fact that your delightful presence will be missing and only privately inform your host.

“Sorry, I have to take my cat Cynthia to the veterinarian that evening.”

This may be helpful information to include in your private message, as it implies to your friend that you are unfortunately stuck but would otherwise love to go. This amount of detail can backfire, however, when it causes your host to imagine a myriad of other arrangements that would allow for you to both heed your responsibility AND attend their event. It may leave your friend wondering why you didn’t care to expend the effort to imagine the same arrangements.

this is your friend trying to host a party SAD

“Sorry, I’m going to this other party / event!

Forgive me, but I feel this one is quite obviously rude. Someone posting this message implies that they have more important and/or exciting things to do than spend time with the host, and they are doing this where everyone can see it. Does this not seem like a bit of a social snub?

“But this is the same weekend as a much larger event!”

What might someone posting this information hope to achieve? Do they think the host is not well informed enough on social engagements to already know this? Did they not pause to consider that the host already chose the best date possible for the event, and after weighing many factors, decided to accept the drop in attendance that competing with another event may cause? Perhaps the entire event should be rescheduled. Perhaps the host is clueless and daft. Perhaps the host forgot they must magically meet the needs of every attending guest, regardless of the usual scheduling trouble and their own chores.

i knew that I don't live under a rock

A Conspiracy…?

Finally, perhaps a sort of conspiracy might cause this matter to stay in your mind. Facebook, dear friends, cares not about manners (except when profitable). Their only effort is to increase your interaction with their web domicile in any way, such that you spend more time on the site, such that they can ply you with advertisements. Facebook quite insistently presents you with a box to post your regrets, because eliciting such a response causes a cascade of notifications. The host is notified. People following the event page for updates may be notified. The event page is busier and busier and more enticing. The opportunities multiply to comment, like, love, wow, angry, sad, burp, fart, heave a sigh of existential dread…

Let not thine eye follow the conventional crook, and leap Facebook’s fences by refusing to keep to the box. Send a private message instead, and be free to graze greener pastures (of friendship and compassion). Yay manners!

 

 

Don’t tell me why you can’t come to my party :D

Memo: from the desk of Sami

emotion-sensor-sad-pink-hairOk, I am nervous about posting this. Maybe I am a terrible person for not wanting to know you can’t come to my party because you are having a bad day (but you hope I have fun anyway). Or! Maybe! Maybe you are a terrible person for making me evaluate your excuse — AND during the tender emotional time of preparing for a kickback with friends. “That’s ok,” I text back. “Take care of yourself!” I text back. Oh, yeah, why don’t I make you feel better for ditching me? Why don’t I tell you it’s okay and we’re still besties and I still love you even though you are abandoning me in my time of need?

Ms. Manners or your mother or that pre-printed invitation you got in 3rd grade told you to RSVP, yes. But are you really all such polite little angels that you just think it’s the right thing to do, to send me a personalized regret? Or (hmmmm) do you think the party will crumple like my resolve not to eat another Reese’s Mini out of my Halloween score-bag next week, if you don’t show up? Or do you just WISH it would? Hmm hmm are you trying to SABOTAGE my party with your depressing laments??

I am NOT talking about those of you who ghost my invite, then text a day or two later with a sweet, “Sorry I never made it! I actually fell asleep lololol.” You are exemplary human beings. You get that the only humane thing to do is 1. Quietly not show up  2. Fluff me later by tricking me into thinking you rue missing my shindig (so that you could stay in bed and eat bagel bites and binge-watch the L Word). I adore you. You understand me.

And yes! Yes there are exceptions. Maybe if I wanted to bang you and you are kindly letting me know not to expect your lovely presence, I’ll miss you, xoxo, feel free to have fun without me, wink.

Or, a head-count is useful (hmmm Facebook has that covered if you just click the “can’t go” option…) if I’m serving dinner or if I’m meticulously crafting favors for each attendee. BUT THINK ABOUT IT. I have moved on from such laborious methods of revelry. I have streamlined my socializations such that I can name my theme “Messy House Party” and I don’t even have to vacuum for you fools!! HA I trick YOU into making all the crafty favors and the dinners AND YOU LOVE IT.

Ahem. The following is a generalized example that happens every single time, yet you will think it is specifically about the time you *did the thing* — because it IS this predictable:

I send out an invitation, via Facebook for once (normally I text), to 40 or so friends.

Blow #1: You post on the party wall (where everyone can see!) that there are too many parties this weekend. Implying that you won’t come to mine. Implying that you are going to a better party.

I make a joke and you make a joke so it is funny so it’s worth it. For the Sake of All Things Party, I allow this. Then my nice friend tells me I am still popular and I feel OK.

Blow to my fragile ego #2: In the tender hours post-official-start-time, while I am waiting to see if other people will arrive or I will just be drinking Popsicle & Malibus with Kevin this fine evening, I get 2-4 text messages from wont-shows. The reason is they are tired and sad, although they give me other reasons. I know you are just tired and sad. I should probably respond “Noooooooo please come my happiness depends on youuuuuuuuu!!!1!” and maybe you will rouse your butt on over…but I can’t pressure you into making good decisions; I am not your Party Mom. I am your Party Teacher. Read the blog, learn the lesson, or flunk out.

Blow #3 K.O. You text me that you can’t come to my party tonight because your dog died. Your. Dog. Died. This is the most depressing thing. I do not need to hear this right now! I am trying make Party! Now all I can think about is dead puppies and I want to get drunk in a sad way and not a fun way :( :( :(

So now I am on the floor pathetically calling for Kevin to refill my disgustingly sweet yet fabulously novel drink made of melted dessert and that one bottle of liquor that no one wants to drink. The spirit of Party is skewered. This show can’t go on…

Except, honestly, it does. Worse case scenario, I am getting drunk on Friday night with Kevin. It’s really, really, not a rough deal.

kevin-is-the-improbable-pinata

How to Get Rid of People

1. How to get rid of people I want to hang out with

Depression!

2. How to get rid of people I don’t want to hang out withfrazzled post burning man

A friend I’ve been close to since the fourth grade (and want to hang out with 5ever) moved back to San Diego recently (because you can neverrrr leave this place! told you!) and, as we mused over our life events in the duration of her separation from our finest city, she observed that she’d, surprisingly, not yet been to Burning Man.

“Well, why don’t you go to the San Diego regional?” I said.

Tickets sold out the next day, hers among them. (I’m so excited she’s coming!) She’s now been asking prudent questions in preparation for her first “burn,” including this adorable inquiry:

“How do I get rid of people I don’t want to hang out with?”

Um, well, you…

  1. have to pee
    Or
  2. insist “wait here,” leave them, and never come back!

Well, we discussed the obvious “have to pee” trick first. Then, my friend pointed out that the kind of person who involves you in an unwanted conversation will often be the same kind of person who will follow you to the port-o. Wanting to avoid a potty entourage is precisely why I ghosted out of conversation circles in middle school. Good practice for my later life, I’ll say.

shark-costume-sami-burning-manIn a prolonged “camping vegas” experience that is a burn, often you may enthusiastically promise your new “friend” that you will return, and you absolutely positively must have them wait in place. Whereupon, they will be swiftly distracted by some magical adventure such as discovering a space-time fracture in a dilapidated tent, or meeting a giraffe. And if they, perchance, wonder whereabouts you wander, they will assume you also found camp art or introduced yourself to a furry.

Or…

“I’ll come with you!” they might shout. Oh no, oh no it’s time for serious survival tactics.

  • Use your superior local knowledge of Poison Oak to dart quickly through the bordering chaparral until they are so dissuaded by the many leaves of three that they just let it be
  • Sit down on the ground and lock your face in your arms until they quit prodding you and go for help
  • Stop saying anything except for, “Charmander”

Or, and this is merely a hypothesis, you might say, “I’m so sorry, I’m not enjoying myself right now. I need to go. Take care!”

Of course, I can’t confirm the efficacy of this theory because no one on the history of the planet has ever done this; it’s too terrifying.

Wait!

I’ll be back, I promise.

;)

 

Not pointed at me, not a problem

statue-sculpture-male-roman-marbleKatie Seibert’s friend (mine now as well, I hope!!), Chris Fawkes, instinctively apologized to his lesbian entourage for the ubiquitous penises around the bar. Specifically, he indicated the ones in a revolving slideshow on the main TVs, though many more peckered peppered our surroundings in graphic statuettes, wall paintings, additional cathode-ray tube televisions mounted face down at us from the rafters and showing man-on-man porn videos, and a line of greco-roman orgy murals across a steel beam that I had missed on my survey of the room.

Katie dismissed the apology. “I really don’t have an issue with them if they’re not pointed at me.”

“Not pointed at me, not a problem;” Fawkes made the catchphrase.

I agreed, as did Katie’s girlfriend. I’ve had a rant developing for some time now on the shaming of genitals that occurs in the gay community. I don’t often miss an opportunity to express my dismay for the way we insult the bodies of the opposite sex.

Gay men, for example, sure seem to love the “C-word” and talk about vaginas like they’re steaming snot pockets.

From a post of mine in 2014:  I hear the most misogynistic crap come out of the mouths of gay men.

Part of me wants to give them a break. If the world has been trying to force-feed you women on a platter like they’re juicy delicious burgers (every Carl’s Jr ad, ever) and you finally want to express your right to want something different in life by proclaiming, “ewwww vaginas,” who can blame you, right?

Gay women tend to pair the adjective of “gross” with many aspects of men, penises not excluded of course. Considering the great lengths to which I am forced to fend-off presumptuous men (e.g. with dicks), I don’t begrudge a lady her need to generate an electric fence of penis-hatred to keep out her foes. Our (reality-based) fears of sexual harassment and assault give us negative reactions to the male body, sometimes if not always.

Side note: I wonder what it feels like to have a part of your body, e.g. the naked and aroused penis, inherently seen as aggressive? (Powerful too, to be true.) It makes me a little sad for the gentle, consent-loving, yet desire-having men out there who have to live with this perception which is largely out of their control.

There’s also another aspect to our squeamishness that is more personal, more complex, and related to the force-feeding I mentioned before. Despite my diatribes of body positivity, I very recently squicked out beyond self-censorship when I touched an (extra-soft) “packer” for the first time. A packer, or a facsimile flaccid male member that is meant to be worn inside clothing, can be found at many LGBT-friendly sex toy shops, which is where I was. “Eww eww ew,” I whispered loudly to my compadres, my eyes squeezed shut and my hands wringing.

When the prevailing narrative expects you to enjoy the bodies of the opposite gender, and you do not, you will feel the pressure in the moment of now and you feel the pressure from all your memories through childhood and beyond. You might feel or have felt a vague discomfort, a dissonance, you might have tried to entertain the idea for some time, or you may even have had sexual encounters or long term relationships. For me, my revulsion is the remnants of having to renounce this original heterosexual programing. It’s like growing up and remembering you used to eat boogers. Eww eww ew.

Still, I find it off-putting when I go on a date with a woman and she over-emphasizes her distaste for dick like it’s a guaranteed fact that I’m going to agree with her. First thing that comes to mind — I date a lot of bisexual women. I imagine them listening to my overzealous date ramble on like penises are pestilence which infect everything they touch. Insulting men’s bodies can transgress into insulting the women who love them. Next, we have the problem of we’re now talking about men on our date. If our lesbian date fails the Bechdel test, I’m out. But, most importantly, I am bummed out on body shaming.

We are talking about people’s bodies, here. Their parts which they carry with them, which are used in daily life, which they use to love others. I think of the hate we have for our own bodies, and imagine someone else hearing mine for theirs on top of that. Okay, sure, many of us will be able to shrug it off, thinking, ha, that lesbian thinks penises are gross how subversive and yet obvious. At the same time, I’d rather we see each other with more humanity. I’d rather we didn’t resort to pinning a slew of complicated personal and societal issues onto the type of genitalia or sex characteristics a person happens to have.

So, please, think about the language you use. Are all beards universally gross, or are you just reaffirming your own sexuality after years of being told the wrong thing as a child? Are vaginas inherently disgusting and scary, or are you disgusted by the way the hyper-sexualization of women is pushed onto you and scared by the intensity of this pressure? And dicks — are dicks a problem if they’re not pointing at you?

Why do Straight People Pretend to Be Gay?

First of all…. WHOAHHHH GUYS!! I AM LEGAL NOW!!! I JUST WANT TO YELL THIS AT EVERYONE I SEE!  I AM SO HAPPY AAAAAAAAHHHH RAINBOWS POURING OUT OF MY EYES LIKE TEARS.
*****************************************************************************

Anyway.

Now, I don’t mean straight men and women are committing to a daily lived performance of “being gay” in the way that I survived my own closet for countless years (and sometimes re-enter in certain professional and public contexts). I’ve never met a real-life “Lisa” (of the L Word) and anytime a man has told me he’s “actually a lesbian” I know he’s not confessing that he’s trans and he’s definitely being annoying.

Instead, I see straight men and women momentarily pretending to be gay, often on Facebook. Sometimes it’s a one-time comment in the context of an argument or a joke, other times it’s as elaborate as a fake relationship, maintained for several days or even months. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of responses by my straight “allies” to the Supreme Court marriage equality decision that are more or less, “Now I need to find someone to get gay married!!”

Photo courtesy of Katie Seibert

Photo courtesy of Katie Seibert

I didn’t know right away how I felt about this, but I knew something was wrong. First of all, these folks are making the distinction by calling it “gay marriage” so I’m not sure they’re imagining something significantly different than just “marriage” — maybe something with extra rainbows — but that much is immediately off-putting. So is the idea that “gay marriage” is something you just off-and do on a whim and not a right that was hard won after years of violence and oppression.

My friends and loved ones who attended SF Pride this year are reporting the sense that there were a lot more straight people in attendance than years prior. An article about this is unsettling in its flippant headline, When, Exactly, Did Pride Become A Party For Straight Teens?, despite touching on the recent and possibly related violence. That’s right, shots were fired at SF Pride.

So, I find myself wondering with increasing urgency why exactly do straight people pretend to be gay and how exactly should I respond to that?

With no initial judgement either way, I present the cases I most often see:

  1. Because women are objectified as sexual objects, lesbians are seen as less threatening and often sexually desirable to straight men. Some straight women borrow this objectification and perpetuate fake encounters or even entire relationships in order to enjoy the attention and to feel desirable. Because they are straight, however, they maintain control over this interaction, unlike me — I can’t choose to retreat from this objectification and it permeates my life.
  2. Some straight women may or may not do the above while also perpetuating a loving “advanced” friendship, calling a woman “wifey,” and elevating a particular best friend. These women may also or merely be enjoying the intimate and affectionate closeness possible between two women that is less possible between men due to male homophobia, without trying to overtly attract men. They may be filling a void due to inability to find the relationship with a man they desire, or they may actually be avoiding relationships with men by appearing “taken.” It can be a placeholder or a replacement for romantic relationships. Facebook posts might avoid any sexual implications, but there is certainly enough PDA in the form of “loving” wall messages to suggest there are external social motivations.
  3. Straight men and straight women will momentarily pretend to be gay in the context of a joke. If it’s supposed to be funny because it’s so improbable, I’m not amused. If it’s supposed to be funny because two people of the same gender have an uncommonly close friendship and love each other a lot, I might think it’s cute, or I might think it’s shitty for people to think it’s not normal to love your friends. Daniel Tosh is funny because he might actually be gay or bi, but he’s toying with the fact that it is not actually any of our business and we may never know.
  4. Straight men and straight women will momentarily pretend to be gay in the context of an argument. If my dad was dealing with a bigot he might feel like pretending to be gay to personalize the argument and hope to make the bigot feel like an asshole. He feels an enormous amount of pride for me as a human being, but he also enjoys laughing in the face of people who think their “ideological” arguments are so important but can’t do more than sputter when it comes to actually applying these arguments to me, a real (and adorable) person. Straight men and straight women leverage their relative safety in order to “borrow” a gay perspective in arguments and force their opponents to recognize their targets as people.
  5. Straight celebrities will pretend to be gay for notoriety and attention (Tosh not excluded). Writers will pretend their characters are gay for the same reason. It’s called queerbaiting and we hate to love it and love to hate it. Seriously though, Hollywood, can you just put homoerotic tension in everything (or how about just homoerotic)?

…You might have picked up my preference for the even numbers in this list.

I can’t say definitively that it’s never appropriate to “pretend” to be gay. Sometimes it even seems to help push along the conversation. I only caution my friends who are used to making the “I need to get gay married” joke (and any similar faux-homage, or should I say homoge?) to reconsider making it in the upcoming months. There is already a dangerous and hateful backlash to the Supreme Court decision and it will probably continue to worsen. It is hurtful for anyone not affected to make light of something that is so serious for the people who are affected. Even if we don’t want to get married, there is something legitimizing about knowing we are recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States. Most of the time, I feel ready to dare anyone to defy me because I can tell them love has won.

But sometimes I feel less safe in my “acceptance,” because I see so-called-allies using this acceptance to entitle themselves. I see a guy at Brass Rail last night videotaping a female go-go dancer on his phone, and returning to videotape her even after another patron told him to stop, and resisting my efforts to also make him stop. Someone I care about sees a straight guy actually fucking ask where he could “see some boobies” at her pride parade in SF last weekend. I see straight men lurking at gay clubs for the straight women who have always tried to find a safe place to party (and have been welcome for years), straight men waiting for the end of the night when women are drunk and tired and trying to get home. I see people who earlier this month insisted calling Caitlyn Jenner “Bruce” now “celebrating” this “LGBT” victory. And then I have to see straight people on Facebook with a rainbow filter say they’re going to get “gay married.”

Forgive me if I don’t think that’s hilarious.

How to Throw a Passive Aggressive Notes Party

10153710_10203537055131676_771742438_nIt’s nearing the second anniversary of the Passive Aggressive Notes Party (actually, it’s almost exactly two months late for that but it turns out no one cares) and boy am I excited. Last year, my ma and pop were out of town and I wanted to use their sweet digs to throw a rager. They didn’t exactly say I couldn’t, but they didn’t say I could, either. I recalled the helpful notes around the warm and welcoming home of the Pu’uhonua family during one of their Splash Up events, and I wanted to the theme I chose to incorporate instructive notes on how to not trash my parents’ house. With an evil chortle, I went over to www.passiveaggressivenotes.com for inspiration.

1173803_10203537246096450_1083177518_nThis theme is not only a delightful excuse to encourage your friends to be mean to each other, but it is also convenient to organize. For supplies, you will only need sticky notes and/or construction paper with tape (painter’s, as to not take off the house paint — your guests are going to leave cheerful little messages in the strangest places, which you will not discover for many days), and markers/pens. I also got a lot of joy out of a stack of self-stick name-tags. My friends gave out charming monickers such as “Jizz Wizard,” and “Unwitting Hipster.”

I enjoyed posting notes on the proper use of the stereo, such as reminders that household pets might not appreciate loud music the way we do (It’s ok, the birds don’t mind if you increase the volume to INHUMANE levels <3) or not to play music that I hate (You know what this party NEEDS? Some top 40s bullshit!!). My guests delighted me with a note on the mirror that read, “That used to look so good on you!” and a thank you note written on a card stolen from my mom’s stationary set: “Thank you for sending your parents out of town, but instilling so many rules it feels like they never left anyway…”

thank-you-passive-aggressive-note

Many of my friends, however, struggled with the concept. Adorably, these kind kids could not grasp how to mimic passive aggression. We discussed formulas to generate notes. One consistent combo is to tell someone to do something you obviously don’t want to them do, and add “please,” hearts, or both. “Please throw your trash all over the floor, thank you.”  Another pattern is to explain a simple concept as you would to a three-year-old. “GUESS WHAT? It turns out if you tap on the glass it stresses out this pet snake and she doesn’t want you to do that. Let’s be nice to the snake, ok? :)” You may also just rely on the passive aggression inherent in leaving a note rather than confronting someone about a problem. Extra points for anonymizing yourself or your target. For example, we kept a ledger on the fridge of money owed by friends to others.

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If you didn’t get an invite, don’t worry. You don’t have to miss out on the fun. Simply leave me a passive aggressive message in the comments!

(P.S. Ok, jokes aside, if you didn’t get an invite, it’s because I hit the population limit. Out of respect to the people I live with, I’m going to have to wait for some more “no” RSVPs to come through before inviting additional people. For some reason, people think it’s hilarious to say “maybe” instead of “yes” so it is making it a bit difficult to do my party math this time around…)