Girl News

Girls' Guide to Etiquette, or, Shut Your Cock-Pocket and Listen to Me You Heinous Miniature Hellmouth-Dwelling Beasts PS I Love You

By Kate Carraway

Did you ever get asked to leave your parents’ country club because you wore jean shorts there? Maybe. But did you wear jean shorts (jorts!) to your parents’ country club strategically, so that you would be passive-aggressively scolded by a manager and could then build a strong legal case to stay home and do Nintendos (yes) the next time you were supposed to go with your parents to their country club? I did.

That move is an inversion of good manners and etiquette—it amounts to the same thing, which is doing and saying what needs to be done and said to make the people around you and the situation you’re in nice and bubble-bath-y for everyone, which in my case meant not eating chicken in a dress in a room with several olds and a classical pianist—but gotten to backwards. Usually, for less advanced girlies, I’d advocate the value of being super-super-super conscious of what mood (Sensibility? Vibes?) you are imparting just by hanging out and doing your thing, so that you maintain control of yourself and what happens around you. Shirt-and-tie wearing shit-destroyer Trace Crutchfield summarizes this ethos with “You can’t wreck the party if they won’t let you in.” The coolest, most fun, most ridiculous humans are always the ones who know how to shake hands. (Firm grip, make eye contact, keep it short.)

This is like almost the 50th edish of Girl News. (I didn’t count, but I think so.) I think we’re at a pretty advanced level now, agree? Except, boys should read and absorb this one the most because the crustiest hobo girl has nothing on your average suburban goon when it comes to, like, not forcing your own cummy, fecal-speckled ignorant existence into other people’s day.

GOOD SPOILED AND BAD SPOILED

Here is why I reject everything about, like, Girls being a dumb show because the people on it are spoiled and get money from their parents and have fake jobs: they are good spoiled. They are spoiled in a way that makes them anxious, that makes them want, that makes them consider (and consider and consider and consider) their own circumstances and statuses and futures. The right way to be spoiled is to know that you’re spoiled, to make your dad laugh when you are asking for a raise in your allowance, to pay for ice creams and cigarettes for your friends who are legit broke or legit poor, to exist with a hot little fireball inside you (my anxiety has anthropomorphized into a whole separate character, but I’m 31 and next-next-level) that serves to make you work hard and want all of that stuff on your own. That is good spoiled. That is Stella McCartney spoiled. (Paul McCartney—do you know who that is?—said that he gave his kids piles and piles of presents on birthdays and at Christmas but otherwise they didn’t get shit, which is obviously the way to do it.) Spoiled gone good, is the result.

Spoiled gone bad is an heiress who calls herself an “heiress” and is satisfied with that. Spoiled gone bad are those legions, legions of girls (I SEE YOU, fashion babies and inexplicable summer interns and charity foundresses) who don’t acknowledge that their money isn’t theirs, that assume that when it’s given to them they’ve earned it, that anything has happened to them that has anything to do with them. It’s totally fine and good to live off your parents if that is where you are in your life and that is what is happening and everyone is OK with it and it’s not a forever-thing, but don’t be like “I’m buying an apartment!” Not just saying “This was given to me” or “My dad bought it” is verra, verra opposed to Extreme Realness, which is a central tenant of Girl News. If you’re not going to abide, probably just hop into a sleeping bag and zip it up and suck your thumb for a couple hours until you can find a way to be comfy owning up to everything. Also what is the POINT of not?

GOOD GIRLS AND BAD GIRLS

Related: reject the narratives of the Good Girl and the Bad Girl because these are agendas. Not yours, not ours. Nobody is either and it’s not fair of you to assume that you are (you’re not) or anyone else is (they’re not). Girls are the most complicated machinery ever forged; contend with this fact in all of its fun-ness and grossie-ness (think: we are sooo, soooo pretty but also vaginally shit blood clots and children and post-jizz dicks, all wet and soft. If that doesn’t offer a useful analogy nothing else will). This is why it’s important for all of us to like put down our popsicles for a hot minute to work out what part of us is badddd and what of us is fairy-god-angel goooood: maybe you are a vicious mean girl cunt to your ex-boyfriend? To his friends? That’s totally fine but where is your balance? Did you fold your sister’s laundry today? Like, it’s easy to create a self-mythology of badness, rudeness, realness. But what about when you are having cotton-ball feelings and have nowhere to put them? It’s also easy to consider yourself a good person and neglect to remember the various ways in which you are cruel to your bestie. I’m saying, don’t. Know all of it.

A TIP

Here is how you know if you are using your manners: do you know the effect that your words and actions are having? Again, you don’t have to be nicey-nice-nice, but when you are acting like a fucking bitch you should definitely know you are.

SHOWER SEX

Cum on the face is not actually a big deal. The amount of attention paid to face cum is very “???” like when Balky is confused about something on Perfect Strangers. It’s summer now; that should be on a cable channel somewhere.

If you remain squeamy about this scenario, lead your fox-boy into the shower so that after you can just stand up and swoooooosh, clean. Seriously, cumming on faces is just nice. It’s like a couple of little kisses that are sort of wet and dry in a funny glue way. Calm down.

INSTINCT

A test: go to your Instagram and screencap the feelings you have when you see a photo of another girl doing some girl shit. Like, mirror-shot outfit photos; glitter-nail close-ups; grainy band shots taken from somewhere low in the pit; UES elevator weirdness; a tableau of a pile of books plus snack plus gold post-racism hoops; vaguely-sort-of-maybe cute anonymous boys in a huddle; a funny license plate; off-center snaps of blocks of text, poetry or from the newspaper. That’s a sample from this morning, because I decided that waking up to a stream of filtered shots is a nicer, gentler way to wake up (even in a teddy-bear-plush California king hotel bed; especially on a day in a life marked by anxiety, and even more anxiety in short moments of no anxiety), nicer and gentler than Twitter which is like a really masochistic thing to do to yourself at 6 AM. OK, 7. OK, 9.

So, about those feelings: what are they? Are they enveloping and likeminded, patriotism for Girl Nation? Do you see other girls doing their things and feel warm, even if your critical mind can parse and tear gaping assholes in the scrolling exhibition? If you do, that’s good. That’s the best. Because if you look at so many packed-in representations of what other girls are doing with their days and nights and shoes and nails and even though you don’t like it, or are jealous or resentful or judgmental or straight bored by them, first knowing them as your brethren who are just trying something is really, really important, and the basis of being a not-terrible person even though you/I/we definitely do a lot of terrible shit.

It’s like how the best, most transgressive, most batshit-shithouse-crazy artists went to art school and learned how to sketch, first. Before you can rip through something you need to know what you’re doing.

EMAILING ME

“How, as a writer, are you comfortable writing once a week knowing that you are going to get shit on?” This is an email sent by a “fan” or whatever. Maybe I will do a little segment in every subsequent Girl News for the particular dynamics between a trolling turdlette with a MacBook and the stranger-human that they/you are emailing instead of saying your prayers. It’s just an example; I have about eleventy-jill versions of the same thing in a special file on my MacBook. This is my survey-sample of knowing that most of y’all are too occupied with like how to manage the tongue on your Converse to know how to talk to someone you want to say something to. I blame your mom.

UNFOLLOWS

You’re not allowed to have an opinion on this. L’internet is not real life; your friend is allowed to unfollow you; it can have no bearing on how you act with them after; being pissed about your number of followers is probably topping the list of the best ways to be a total, unequivocal sack of shit human being. I got a court order that I can use “douchechills” just this one time because there is no other way to explain the sensation of seeing someone throw a mini-hissy about such a non-thing. Like, have you ever been hurt, but really? Get hurt.

RUNNING YOUR MOUTH

Have you ever ordered steak tartare, and then they present you with the little clipboard and the pen on a beaded chain to sign a waiver before you can eat? They should have that before you run your fucking mouth about shit you don’t know about, like the way you know you do, just talking to talk. Talking just to talk is bad manners, BAD MANNERS! You cannot get into the party to subsequently fuck it up if all you’re doing is saying… things. The waiver is like “X understands that everything she says about a topic outside of her area of expertise is pure unfiltered bullshit.” How about, read a ‘lil, go to a museum a ‘lil, try a ‘lil. Listen to what that weird dandruffy genius is telling you at a party instead of eyeballing your future face-jizzer. Sign your X with a flourish.

TABLE MANNERS

Who gives any fucks? Elbows on the table are sexy if you have those baby elbows and hold a cup of coffee in the middle like it’s someone else’s heart.

But then there are the basics of it, like, if your chosen lifestyle is one of being gross, how are you translating that to a meal? Like, conscious terrible manners are fine, like, if you are so moved to rub icing in your buddy’s hair just because that would make him look like he is wearing a really shitty hat, then, yes. But how about keep your mouth closed when you chew?  

Kitchens are terrible places. Why do people want to hang out there? The floor is cold and the chairs are hard. Hot coffee gets so cold. You can’t bring your little plate of baby carrots and peanut butter to a room that has a pillow?

EMOJIS

Emojis are beyond etiquette, manners, standards, rules, and mores. The best is when someone doesn’t have Emojis at all on their phone and you know and you persist in sending handfuls of communicative pictures (“WAVE WAVE WAVE BIRTHDAY CAKE DOLPHIN DOLPHIN DOLPHIN SEASHELL AIRPLANE AIRPLANE AIRPLANE AIRPLANE AIRPLANE AIRPLANE MONEY ROCKETSHIP MONKEY ROCKETSHIP MONKEY ROCKETSHIP BROKEN HEART BROKEN HEART BROKEN HEART RAINBOW RAINBOW RAINBOW RAINBOW RAINBOW RAINBOW THUMBS UP AMBULANCE BOWL OF SOUP RAINBOW RAINBOW”). That means “Hi.”

WEDDINGS

When you turn 22, 23—younger if you grew up rural—you have to start going to weddings. And you have to go. Under the right and ultimate circumstances weddings are the best version of a birthday party, where you are so into the person or people in the middle of it that you try to give a speech and end up saying something insane and retarded, where you enter a new party-realm where it really is more about dancing and screaming than drugs and sex, where you and your pals in your silkies and suits become a strange, skinny tribe acting out and appreciating someone else’s rites. All of that is really great, espesh if we are talking open bar. (Etiquette note to myself five years ago: open bar indicates but does not actually mean sneaking back there for several bottles of wine that might go well with 4 AM beach-times later on.)

BUT anyway under any other circumstances weddings are an impossible collision of family subcultures and sexual-predator-ing third cousins and having to like navigate a strange town and quiet hotel and the entire outfit/gift/money/RSVP continuum even though nobody thought to train you.

Once I was dating (that’s code; I never saw him outside of my apartment) this dude and one day he woke up and was drinking coffee and then realized his very good friend’s wedding was that afternoon and what should he wear, should he get a suit? Where can he get a suit? That’s when I decided that my junta-level tendencies toward “control” were no longer compatible with, literally and figuratively, fucking punks.

SPLENDA SWEET

Let’s meditate for a moment on a conundrum: what is “nice” and what is “fake”? Is it like porno, like you know it when you see it? I feel like, hmm. I feel like Americans think I am soooooOOOOOooooOOOOOoooo nice (brag or self-deprecation??) because I say “Thank you” instead of “G’head” or “Mmhmm.” I felt like that when I was 14 and would bring a hostess present to a sleepover. (Having two genuinely very nice and also Old ‘n’ WASPy peeps for parents will either make you desperate to please and emulate them, or make you actually fucking crazily lonesome and alienated, or in my case, will send you flying like an arrow that splits the first idea and the second idea in half, and you will spend your life rolling between prep-culture blogs that you really relate to and collecting gnarly scars from misadventure.) So, anyway. What do you think? Where is the difference between being a nice guy and being a caricature of a nice guy? I think if you say what you mean you are safe, but I really do mean “!!!!!!!!!!!” all of the time when I say it, but it probably looks and feels fake, and that plagues me. Plagues me. Going to cry now.

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway

Previously - Girls and Fucking Off

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