A Good Party With Poetry
Readers adding value.
- The person with the birthday should be paying for everyone, not being treated. There was strong support for this view, though "Grown-ups pay for themselves" was a puzzle. KateNonymous means by this that one grown-up pays for everyone else—who knew?
- No, says another strong faction. If I invite you to the cinema, or a sports game, or a vacation, you don't expect me to pay for you, do you? By far the most imaginative variation on this was from kari9704: "Would you be hosting if you said to your friends, 'I'm going to the zoo; want to come along?' Would you be responsible for buying their elephant key chains and cotton candy during the outing?" Kari, a friend who would invite you to the zoo is a friend worth paying for.
- We don't have this problem, say some readers. It doesn't arise in other parts of the country, they say, perhaps because New Yorkers notoriously have less room at home for the suggested alternatives: a cheap party ("potluck … karaoke. Best Birthday Ever") or barbecue at home. Even then there can be difficulties—Anse told us about a recent event (a wedding, but still): "It was set up for a classic Czech-Catholic affair, except for one glaring problem: instead of barbecue brisket, sausage, and potato salad, they served prime rib and grilled chicken. There were complaints." This nuance falls into the category of inexplicable but compelling for some of us.
- "Your significant other should be the one to take you to the steakhouse for your birthday," sayshstein—oh bad luck if you don't have one then.
- Mystifying posts. Several people mentioned the Puerto Rican option (as opposed to the Jefferson Davis solution suggested in the original article)—so what was this? "Full internal autonomy within the sovereign territory of the United States"? No apparently, it's something to do with drinking rather than eating. And those of us of a timid disposition are also mystified by this description of a bachelor party.
- Posts that tell their story in the title: Server POV; Been there! Started a price cap! Now write an article about weddings.
As it happens, your Fray editor has special authority to speak on etiquette matters and knows that, in fact, everyone believes his or her rules to be best and hates to be challenged and is outraged by everyone else's (totally wrong) rules. "I was always brought up to ..." are words you can hear too many times. So it was a pleasure to read an unusually kind, charming post on etiquette from bigmac, who was talking about Emily Yoffe's article on taking offense.
Most people walk around with sharp nails and thin skin—they offend others sometimes even unawares, and then take offense to the slightest askew look. Rather than concentrate on their behavior, we need to look inward at ours. For example, when reading this article, it is easy for me to see how this subject applies to so many people. ... But I can't change them. I can only change myself (with God's help and grace) and so I should read this and examine my own head and heart. A rhino hide and velvet gloves—that's what I need to go for.
Defiinitely someone you should invite to your birthday party.—MR …2:30 p.m. GMT
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008
"Politically speaking, 'elite' just means 'just as educated and rich as us, but in the opposite party.' This was a useful definition from justicepsych but not one that was going to meet with a lot of approval. Some of us have not been able to get to the "XX Factor," let alone its Fray, in recent weeks, so it was certainly time to drop by and see which cool intellectual debates were going on there. Whoa, take that back, the word intellectual has proved to be as controversial as almost anything in Slate this election year, and cool isn't exactly the right word, either. Rachael Larimore's "Thoughts on Intellectuals and Anti-Intellectuals" in the blog was the focus of endless discussion on—well, on intellectuals and anti-intellectuals. Amazingly, apparently you can insult someone by calling them either of these names. Throw in "elitist" and you have a full-scale flame war.
Ophymirage posted a splendid disquisition on intellectuals. Naturally we're going to quote the funny bit:
When it comes down to it, Intellectual are a harmless bunch. About the worst thing that intellectuals are going to do to this country is to stage a pretentious community-theater production of "Titus Andronicus" with giant puppets.
But also a serious, if possibly idealistic, bit:
The best thing that intellectuals can do for this country is to show everyone the way to the tools that are necessary for genuine self-knowledge. And one of the chief benefits of knowing yourself is that it makes it a lot harder to hate other people.
Moira Redmond, a former "Fray" editor at Slate, is a freelance writer living in England. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.