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Bad Dog: Shut Your Pets Up, Brooklyn

This morning I woke up to the sound of a dog barking.  Well, I guess technically I was woken up by the sound of a dog barking — super loudly, right below my window.

It went on for about half an hour or so, at which point I realized that the dog’s owner had gone into the diner downstairs to have breakfast and left the dog tied up to a signpost.

dog

It’s bad enough to hitch your dog outside, alone, barking at passersby for the length of an entire meal, but on a Sunday morning? It might have been 10:30a.m. but everyone knows Sundays in the city don’t really start until noon.

Don’t get me wrong — I love dogs, and would love to have one, which is why next time, I’m stealing the dog.

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Social Etiquette: Online Dating Edition

I think it’s safe to say online dating is officially a thing. According to Match.com, about 40% of all singles in America are on sites like Match, eHarmony, OkCupid, and HowAboutWe, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences announced last year that about 1/3 of married people met online.  A THIRD. That’s a pretty decent dating pool.

If you have yet to try out online dating yourself, I highly recommend it. Sure, I didn’t find my current beau online — he fell into my clutches at work — but honestly, that was probably the biggest fluke of my life. I on-and-off online dated for about 3 1/2 years before pseudo-settling down, and while it wasn’t always the best of times, I met some nice people and got a few good stories out of it. (Seriously, there are entire blogs dedicated to people’s ridiculous dating adventures.)

Still on the fence? I get it, it’s scary. You probably have a lot of questions (some of which you might have even if you’re an old hat at online dating). No worries — read on for the answers to some frequent e-dating questions.

1. How Much Should I Lie on My Profile?

How about NOT AT ALL? Just kidding, we both know you’re almost for sure going to fudge the truth, even if it’s just a tiny white lie. Pretty much everyone lies at least a little bit on their online dating profiles, but there are a few things you should be truthful about, such as physical characteristics, because really, what happens when you go on a date with someone? “Well I meant I’m 6′ in my work boots” doesn’t really cut it.

2. What Do I Do If I See Someone I Know or Someone I Know Sees Me?

I don’t know about sites like Match or eHarmony, but on OkCupid, people can see if you’ve looked at your profile. (Unless you make your profile anonymous, but then you can’t see who’s looked at it, and where’s the self-torturous fun in that?) So, what do you do if you accidentally click on an old schoolmate or co-worker or — gasp — actual friend’s profile and you’re suddenly overtaken by a wave of awkwardness? If you’re normal, you’ll just go about your business and pretend it never happened. If you’re like me, you’ll send them a message saying “BUSTED MOTHERF*CKER.”

3. At What Point Can I End Contact With No Explanation?

Generally, if someone messages you and you’re not interested, you can just ignore it. It may seem rude, but honestly, if you reply to every message you get, you’re going to be spending a lot of time writing “I’m sorry, but…” messages. Plus, how do you even respond to “hey gurl i like dat fat ass”? It’s an unwritten rule of online dating that you’re allowed to trash initial messages.

However, as soon as you make contact by phone, email, or — again, gasp — in person, you should really let them know if you’re not interested. (Exceptions, of course, include people who suddenly reveal a desire to have you throw on a pair of heels and stomp on their testicles. It might be sad to imagine them sitting at their computer saying “Why does this always happen to me?” to no one, but it’s just the way it has to be.)

All in all, treat others the way you’d want to be treated, and try not to take things too personally. You will send forever unanswered messages, but you’ll also send answered messages! Maybe you’ll even fall in love! It’ll be great.

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Social Etiquette: Thanksgiving Edition

It’s almost here. Thanksgiving. Turkey Day. And with it, the holiday season…

For now let’s focus on Thanksgiving. Specifically, the Great Migration Home. Going home for Thanksgiving, more than any holiday, can, well, it can kind of ruin your life. Why? There’s the whole family thing, but then there’s the Wednesday Night Before Thanksgiving. Those of you from small towns know what I mean — the evening you spend at a bar, getting reacquainted with old classmates.

WNBTs generally go one of several ways: you either listen to now out-of-towners prattle on about whatever city they moved to, you listen to townies discuss their marriages and/or children, or you are one of the townies. Either way, you’re going to do a lot of listening to people talk about things you don’t care all that much about. You might think, “I only see this person once a year, if that — what does it matter how we get on this one night?”

“I hate you all.”

And you are correct! It doesn’t matter! A.) As you’ve already pointed out, you see this person roughly once a year. The worst that can happen is they hide you from their Facebook newsfeed. B.) You’re at a bar. It’s the WNBT. If you’re normal, even a tiny part of you is dreading the family gathering, so chances are you’re good and drunk (or on you’re way there).

I’ll leave you with this interaction a friend of mine had with a former classmate: It was a typical WNBT, and my friend was catching up with “Amy”. Amy went on for a bit about mostly nothing, and when she finally stopped for a breath, my friend paused for a moment, then threw out a winning, “You’re different.”

The world didn’t end — the worst he got was a dirty look. He’s even still Facebook friends with Amy! So, go ahead. Be on your worst behavior this WNBT. It’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

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Social Etiquette: Frankenstorm Edition

There’s a storm a’brewin’, and people are likely to go a little nuts. In honor of Sandy, we’ve got a few tips for how to stay sane and not ruin anyone’s life.

frankenstorm
via singing-showtunes.tumblr.com

Grocery Shopping: Clipping your fellow shoppers’ ankles with your cart is a HUGE NO-NO. Do not do it. Don’t push, shove, knock over any little kids (unless they’re asking for it), or yank any weaves, either. Also, only buy as much bottled water as you need. Are you purchasing for just you? You and a roommate? You don’t need 8-10 gallons of water. You just don’t.

Power Outages: We all love to tweet, update Facebook, abuse Netflix, etc. Once the power goes out and our laptops and tablets and phones finally die, we’ll be left to our own devices (pun completely intended). The main thing to remember once this happens? Don’t be annoying. If you have one or more roommates, just chill out. Try to keep those little nervous habits — humming, whistling, tapdancing, etc. — under wraps.

Looting: You know how the old saying goes — you catch more flies with honey. When you break into a business or home, be polite to the person or persons inside. Ask them for their canned goods, bottled water, and electronics. If they resist, negotiate. Only if they become violent should you take out your gun or machete.

Good luck and stay safe!

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Ma’am, You’ve Got Something in Your Teeth

When is it okay to tell a complete stranger that their tag is sticking out, or their skirt is riding up, or their face is covered in food? For some reason we as a society think it’s best to let our peers walk around looking a fool, but why? I know if I was flashing a little too much leg without realizing it I’d want to be informed (probably by another female and not one of those creepy, tooth-missing guys who are ALWAYS on the subway), but for the most part people either don’t care enough or seem to be worried about offending.

“Yes, just there, in the top row… no, you’ve almost got it…”

For instance: I have a co-worker who often wears just one, long feather earring. The first time I noticed, I spent about 5 minutes internally struggling with whether I should say something, and if I’d merely be informing her of something she already knew or preventing her from spending another minute with lopsided accessories (it turned out to be the former). This particular co-worker is very good-natured and mentally stable, so she didn’t take offense.

However, some people are straight-up cray cray and might’ve been all like, “What, do you think it looks STUPID? I did this on purpose, biotch.” It’s not always easy to tell who will have this reaction and who will be normal, like my co-worker. I say take a risk! Be bold, and tell that guy on the bus there’s a booger hanging from his nose, or that lady that her weave is askew. Let’s make the world a better place!

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Where Not To Bring Your Baby

Let me start off by saying I do not like babies. At all. To the extent that at various points during Children of Men I thought to myself, I don’t see what the problem is here. They’re loud, they eat up all your time, and they bring absolutely nothing to the table — when have you ever met a baby who had anything to contribute? Never, that’s when.

People with babies don’t seem to understand that, unless their baby is a freak among its peers and never cries, whines, yells, etc., they’re done with fun for a while. Babies have no regard for the people around them, and so will bawl at the top of their little baby lungs with complete abandon.

social etiquette

So, without further ado, here’s a shortlist of places your baby doesn’t belong:

  • The Subway/Public Transportation in General. Okay, I get it. You’ve got places to go, people to see, and a rugrat to drag around. But unless you plan on whipping up a warm milk/Sudafed cocktail, you are now a constant stay-at-home parent until your child learns how to be a person. Nobody wants to hear your baby scream for half-an-hour straight, or worse, see you start breastfeeding.
  • Restaurants That Are Not Specifically Family-Oriented. There’s a reason Chuck E. Cheese exists, guys. Also, do you really want to take the chance that your baby will get wasted?
  • Bars. This shouldn’t even be an issue, but somehow it is. Drink highballs on your own time — your fellow imbibers don’t want a screaming child drowning their buzz.
  • Weddings. Whatever gift you got for the happy couple is not worth the memory of a shrieking, wailing baby interrupting their vows of undying love to one another because it’s hungry or needs to be changed.
  • The Movies. I cannot stress this enough. Once you have a child, sign up for cable, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, whatever you need to to get your cinema fix. If you bring a baby into a movie theater, you instantly become the enemy of everyone else there, and guarantee a seat for yourself in the seventh circle of hell.

There you have it. The next time you take your baby to a public arena, stop and ask yourself if its sudden and inconsolable crying would ruin everyone’s good time. I’ll give you a hint: the answer is always yes, yes, it would.

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Is It Okay to Correct People’s Grammar?

The short answer is yes. Or maybe I’m 100% biased since I consider myself a grammar nerd. Yes, I am one of those people who not only judges people on their grammatical and linguistic skills, but I have no qualms about doing so in public, on Facebook, and being a complete elitist about it. In other words, I’m that jerk. Do not emulate me. The problem with being a jerk about it is that anytime you make a mistake, people will never let it go…ever.  Instead, follow these rules if you want to have proper social skills.

  • It’s acceptable to correct someone’s grammar at work, as long as it pertains to something work-related. It’s actually rude if you don’t. Wouldn’t you want to be told if you used the wrong form of “their” in an email to your boss?
  • It is okay in a joking manner if the other person has a good sense of humor about it. If the guy is going to get his panties in a knot because he mispronounced a word, it’s just not fun. We all make mistakes, learn to laugh about it!
  • Correcting mistakes online, such as on forums, is iffy. Some users are 12 and do not know any better. Others prefer to type as though texting. Sometimes you’ll be cheered by your peers; other times you will be flagged as a complete douche. I leave this one up to you.
  • Whenever correcting grammatical errors, leave the cynicism, snark, and overall elitist attitude at the door. I know it’s so tempting, but everyone will hate you (as they do me) and will not want to correspond with you any longer. Some might go so far as to block you on all social media outlets.
  • It’s not appropriate to correct mistakes in text messages, unless it’s a Freudian slip or the like.
  • Do not butt into other people’s conversations simply to correct a mistake. It’s only apropos when you’ve been involved the entire time.

The bottom line: do it as a way to educate people so they can learn from their mistakes and not as a way to demean someone.

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The Basics of BBQ Etiquette

Yes, there is such a thing as BBQ etiquette. When you’re invited to go to a BBQ there are things you should do, shouldn’t do, and things you can gracefully walk away from. Here are some social tips to help you survive your friend or neighbor’s BBQ festivities.

Guests should always bring something to contribute. Because BBQs tend to be open to all, family, friends and their plus ones, neighbors, etc. You want to show you appreciate the warm welcome. Even if all you bring is a 6 pack of beer, some chips, or soda. Anything can help out with the effort.

And, as a communal activity, BBQs inspire camaraderie and good conversation. You’ll be outside for hours with the same people in the hot sun. Try to avoid awkward conversations, do not stir up drama, and avoid fighting.

Be cool, if you’re welcome to use the pool, bring your own towels. Don’t be a jerk, use common sense. Don’t spill beer in the pool, or drop snacks in it either. Keep it together, don’t be a slob.

Which also brings up the fact that the food is unavoidably messy. Please make use of napkins. People will excuse you with a little BBQ on your face and fingers, but try and be neat. If you’re paranoid, bring a compact mirror or ask your girlfriend for hers.

And most of all, enjoy yourself! Eat good food, make new friends, get a tan. Have a great day.

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Faking It at Work

No, I’m not talking about fake orgasms. Sorry to disappoint. Rather, I mean how we’re expected to put on a happy face when at work, despite how we really feel inside. It’s not the ideal situation by any means, but sometimes we have to hide our true emotions at work so we don’t get fired or hear calls from HR or upper management warning you to shape up or ship out.

We all go through personal problems, we all have daily grievances. However, blowing up on your coworker when he asks how you’re doing because you were stuck in a major traffic jam isn’t a wise decision. Nor is it a good idea to cry at your desk because you’re currently having problems with your boyfriend. Holding in your emotions sucks. Putting up a “front” probably isn’t good for your health, but unfortunately it’s better for your job. If coworkers see you lose your cool, you can expect a wealth of other problems at the office. Not to mention you will make others feel socially awkward around you.

It’s not easy holding your shit together for eight hours a day. Blow off some steam on your lunch break. Have a small cry in the bathroom. Do what you can and then let it all come pouring out the second you step out of the building.

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When Is It Okay To Talk To Yourself In Front Of People?

People do it, they talk to themselves. Sometimes it’s a little mutter under the breath. Sometimes it’s a hopeless sigh and a “sheesh.” Sometimes it’s a louder than expected expletive. We sometimes can’t bottle everything in. With society being so repressive of our free will, we can’t help but let out that irritated, “Psh, really?! You’re gonna walk that slow?”

But when is this acceptable as a slight aggravation, and where is the line where it becomes too awkward and borderline crazy? If you find yourself doing this too often you might want to start attending anger management or counseling for some release of your emotions, angry or sad. The reason sane people talk aloud is to release tension. Social skills aside, it’s a sign that you, just like everybody else, are human. It also means there are times when you wish everyone on Earth would disappear so you can wreak havoc temporarily and unleash the inner beast.

An occasional “Grr.” or “C’mon!” is usually ignored in a big city like New York. Hell, even if you were ranting into empty space people in New York would ignore you. It would just be extremely awkward and it might scare a few people. But the last thing you need is to get into a fight for no reason and get stitches, my friends. Maybe you should try some meditation or yoga. Or find another creative outlet that suits you and stop being the weirdo who’s constantly self-narrating the line at the grocery store as “unbelievable!”

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Social Etiquette for Boneheads