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The DOs & DON'Ts Issue

100 Extra Dos & Don'ts

Had enough? No? OK, let's get The Onion's Amie Barrodale to pump out 100 more.

Had enough? No? OK, let's get The Onion's Amie Barrodale to pump out 100 more. 1. Do joke around with immigrants and toddlers the same way you joke with your friends. Generally, this is a private kind of fun and nothing more, but when it's 4 a.m., and you're screaming and yelling to your friends in back, and then you get a hold of yourself, square your face, lower your voice, turn to the cab driver and say, "I'm just riffing," and he understands you, the heavens open. 2. Do admit it when you don't like people. I know Dale Carnegie told you not to and you're trying to get the band off the ground and you're working out the whole dress socks question, but just stop it. Look me in the eyes and tell me the guy in the McSweeney's shirt doesn't suck. 3. Don't dress like it's some other era when men wore suits and women wore hats and you're a baffled tourist who just hopped out of a dust-filled time machine that stained your left breast pocket and frayed your shirt cuffs. 4. If you're the low-status individual in a situation, don't make faux-angry jokes. You know, like the one where, if someone accidentally bumps into you, you say, "I was standing there." It's bad because in addition to not being funny, everyone can tell that you're pissed off, too cowardly to say so, and too lacking in self-restraint to keep quiet.

Picture this: it is 3 or 4 a.m. during finals time at the library, when all is quiet, snow is falling, and there are Entenmann's boxes everywhere. A Chinese man enters the room. He is about six feet tall, and he wears a white tracksuit that swishes with every step he takes. Additionally, he's listening to music on headphones loud enough so he fills the room with tiny tinkling sounds. And while it may not be true, let's say that his shoes (white Nike Air Jordans) are squeaking as well. When you're trying to get someone in bed, keep this in the front of your mind: My motivations have the subtlety of that Chinese man. 5. Giving that man a piece of paper that read: "Everyone can hear your headphones" was the cruelest thing someone could have done. Keep this in mind when someone is trying to seduce you. 6. If you are an advanced philosopher type, you don't ask questions you know the answer to. But if you're like me then be like me: once you go ahead and ask those questions, accept the answer you get. 7. If the question is a pushy one, like "Are we dating?" then the answer, if it's "No, we're not," will come in the form of a lot of elaborate backpedaling and grimacing and flattery, not in the form of just plain old "No." Don't act like you never got a straight answer. 8. In the above situation, have some dignity and take the person out of their misery. Change the subject. 9. Don't talk to the girl you want to bone about the fabulous women you want to bone. It doesn't make you seem like a connoisseur or a guy who's tough and knows what he wants and often gets it. It's just wounding. Not because it should be, just because it is. 10. Wounding the people you want to bone doesn't pay off in the long run. In the short run, neither here nor there, probably. 11. Don't be a wussy about fooling around. Once a man told me to crawl out from under the covers and put my butt in the air. I don't know why he thought of that, nor do I think that it could be recreated, but it was funny and amazing. My advice is to go ahead with those impulses when you have them. Oh, but don't pretend to have them. That's really awful. It's like, ugh, some monster who just saw that movie with Nick Nolte or Bertolucci or what's-his-name? Marlon Brando. You know the one. 12. Don't talk slowly. I hate that. 13. Don't always be going on and on about your fabulous prospects and how you're just about to hit it big. It's depressing. Get a hold of yourself. 14. Unless you're looking in your mirror, don't make your My Little Pony pretty mirror face. 15. If you're a man and you're growing out your hair, don't pull it back into one of those Samurai half-ponytails. 16. Some people don't understand what sympathy is. It isn't, "I'm sorry to hear that you're sad." It's, "Begin at the very beginning, this man you're in love with now's job is he delivers leaflets around F.I.T.? Ha-ha-ha! No, I'm sorry, tell me. I want to know." It's not, "Geez, that's awful," it's, "How did she even get her feet down onto the pedals?" Put another way: unless you're a genius prodigy Bobby Fischer of feeling, it's kind of an intellectual endeavor. 17. If you think that such a thing as cool, expensive sunglasses exists, you are not allowed to wear cool, expensive sunglasses. 18. If someone invites you to a party you've already been invited to, the correct answer is, "Thanks, I'll try to come." 19. If I eat your food out of the refrigerator, shut up and quit being such a baby. 20. A good bar game: try to make someone laugh without saying anything. Puppy-dog eyes—like those faces 11-year-old girls learn off TV—are good. Drooling isn't funny. Drinking all your drink in a lot of sips without taking a break might be, if you do it well. 21. Hey baby blue, that's awesome you remember I like large iced coffee with milk even after four months I wasn't in this Starbucks. (Re-read that sentence.) 22. Don't make fun of the crazy old people who audit your classes and always raise their hands to talk about Derrida. Just let them be. That's low fruit. That's beneath you. You make fun of the girl up front who's got her outfits. 23. Hey Progressive Dentist: No. I don't want a pair of wireless headphones so I can listen to "Turn the Beat Around" while having my teeth drilled. 24. Do refer to things that are messy as "Dresden." Coming out of the bathroom of a messy boy's apartment: "It's like Dresden in there." 25. Do, if you're Chinese and don't speak English and are a man, get one of those junior-high American boy haircuts where it's sort of spiked at the part and a little bowl-ish on top. 26. Witty urbane thespian who the DJ went down on you in a cab last night: that's awesome. But we're at Cosi now, and I'm just on the other side of that trash can, so can you please, please lower your voice? The DJ? A cab? 27. Hey comedian who hasn't read a book for twenty years: don't put down Catcher in the Rye or people who like Catcher in the Rye. I can promise you don't remember it right. 28. Do use the bathroom if you're at a club where the bathroom is up by the stage. It's fun, you can sit there and pretend you're the shitting King of Sheba and the band is your personal bathroom entertainment and the crowd is all your minions. 29. Do say, "Bless you" after someone sneezes. Unless it's your friend, in which case it's really not necessary to say, "Bless you." You can hiss, "Disgusting," but that's really only funny once. 30. Do, if you're a man and you have to go into a dark hallway or a scary basement or an abandoned alley, say you almost got raped and murdered when you get back. That never stops being funny. 31. Don't, if you're going to be a businessman alone at the Olive Garden, be the one at the bar listening to his headphones while he eats. Not that you would ever do that, but yesterday I sat beside someone doing that, and oh, I wanted to cry. 32. Okay so when you're on Friendster and you've bookmarked someone… I can't go on. I just puked. Right here, sitting at my desk, typing that, I puked a little. Do I have to spell this out? 33. Do, if you know how to write snappy emails, stop doing that. 34. If you're going to make amusing indefensible assertions, don't then turn around and defend yourself laboriously, endlessly, when, inevitably, some dim-bum Carl doesn't understand what you're talking about. 35. Just because you were able to add "cut from" to the end of some sentence about "Matthew Paris's map of the forest where the tree from which the boards from which the crucifix was constructed was" etc., doesn't mean you know Latin. This is hard to explain—I'm saying, very simply, don't act like you know more than you know just because you're quick witted. 36. When your ex-boyfriend who was mean to you gets mugged, you have to stay at his house. If his DVD player is broken, you have to get him a new one. If it stinks like blood because he bled all over his sheets, you have to throw those out and go buy him some sheets from the K-Mart. 37. Hey pretty lady, don't date high-status disgusting individuals. 38. Don't, even though it feels like nothing at the time, say stuff like, "Wow boss, I don't know why you ever worry, you're so talented." It will eat at you later. 39. Don't, right before the waiter brings out the food—and this really happened—talk about your dad's funeral when your uncle raped you and you had an orgasm for the first time. It's awkward. 40. Don't interrupt yourself with, "And this is a true story." You're not in front of a microphone, this isn't the Tonight Show. 41. You know those expensive designer pants where it's like, just to squeeze into them is to be a member of some exclusive beautiful fashionable Italian lady club? It's actually a lot harder to get into that club. 42. Boy or girl, nothing beats messy dirty short growing out fucked-up boy hair. 43. Either give your change to homeless junkies or don't. Both are fine. Just don't tell me your reasons. Your reasons are stupid. 44. Do moan and say, "Somebody pooped in my drawers." 45. Do moan and say, "I pooped my desk." 46. Hey Mr. Bitter And Pissed Off, quit modulating your voice. "Yeah. So, I was talking to this guy the other night, and, at the local bar I go to, my wife and I, and, wow, lotta hostility." You sound like a psychopath. 47. Don't, if you've gone through a lot of family therapy or whatever, expect me to say, "I don't like it when you," when I mean, "You always." I'm not the one who dragged you into an office by the freeway every week because your mom got old and your dad didn't, and I'm not going to say, "I don't like it when you." 48. Do talk about books, your dad who never got old—all the things you're not supposed to trot out. I mean, not exclusively. What I mean is don't have a knee-jerk rejection to certain topics, because, fuck it, man, that's not in the moment. 49. If you're a short man, don't wear those high-heeled man heels. 50. Do have knock-offs of your favorite shirt made. A good tailor is—I know this name is dumb—Jenny Couture. She's this nice black lady on the sixth floor of this building. 51. An apology should never have the word "dewd" in it. I would have thought that would be self-explanatory but just this morning, there it was in my inbox: "Sorry about the misunderstanding, dewd." 52. If you notice some weird subtle social dynamic that most people wouldn't notice and you want to point it out, you might as well begin your sentence: "That person and me both" etc. 53. One day, when I was doing laundry, the usual attendant wasn't there. In his place was an Eastern-European man who struck me as the sort who would be a doctor specializing in seashells back in Bulgaria, but here he washes my shirts. He was tidy, wore socks and sandals, and had a serene manner. When was taking my clothes out of the dryer, he didn't realize I was there behind him, and he casually dropped two quarters he'd found in a pair of dress pants (he was sorting for wash-and-fold) into his own pocket. As the quarters clinked, he realized I was standing close by, and he started—actually jumped two inches off the ground. I just tell this story to break up all the Do's and Don'ts. What did I do? Obviously, I acted like I hadn't seen. 54. Hey Whistling Johnny, that's some whistle. Don't whistle in public. 55. Don't make a show of your discretion. Like don't say, "I'm having a hard time due to troubles with my girlfriend, troubles of which I'd prefer not to speak." If you're so very classy and old-worldy, then why'd you bring it up at all, Gatsby? I sort of think in almost any case, it's ridiculous to even use the word "discretion." It's an idea—like "shirtwaist" or "spats"—that doesn't really exist anymore. 56. Aren't the best relationships those ones with the silly throw-down wordless games that involve pantomiming and, like, you both pass the urologist and don't have to articulate why it's funny? Or that one time that dog was going into the headlights like an alien abduction? Right? Don't pretend that you're in one of those when you wake up with a one-night stand. 57. Do learn how to prat fall. You'll get hurt a little at first, but it's a good skill to have. 58. Do make that joke where, while someone's talking to you, you start rubbing your butt on the wall behind you. Not in a sexual way, but in an autistic kid way. 59. Don't diagnose yourself with autism. Christ. 60. If you're one of those short men with hypertrophied arms, what on earth are you doing going around insulting women you don't know for having big noses and ugly sweaters? You're acting like there aren't nuclear warheads of personal appearance insults directed right at your chest, at the ready, every moment of your life, for any person with eyes to detonate. 61. Do play dumb. 62. Don't talk yourself out of stupid, generous impulses. 63. Don't hire someone to hold a guest list at your Soho loft party. Don't buy a leather couch. All around, on every count, just quit being so proud of yourself. 64. Hey, dumbass! This isn't Dead Poets Society, and even if it were, you'd be cast as the groundskeeper, so take off the tweed coat. 65. I heard from this lunatic teacher—one who, to illustrate some finer point of ancient Greek grammar used an example sentence about Said and politics and post-modernism—that the best answer to any question is always the most rudimentary. I think that's a nice idea, but I had to include the source. 66. This is golden wisdom. When I was 22 or so, I was all into this thirtysomething-year-old who used to come over and we'd talk about whatever. When I finally professed the whole thing he said, "Oh I know that. I mean, nothing doing—you're way too young, it's disgusting, but don't you see? What we have here—it's the best. You just want the caress. What's that?"
Now, I've tried saying this to people when I've meant, "Not interested, not at all, not in a million years, I loathe and pity you," and it didn't work. But when it is in fact the case, like say you're into someone but you can't do it for whatever cinematic reason, keep that speech in mind. 67. There was another story this same guy told me. He was a TA and this girl student came to him the second week of class and professed her affection. He said, "Well, hmm. Do this: wait until the end of class and I'll tell you how I feel." So class went on, she wrote engaged papers and tingled with anticipation, and so on, until on the final day when she came to him, and he said, "Ah, nothing doing." 68. Don't ever write a note like this, "I'm off to work now—just wanted to let you know that I would most definitely be interested in more activities of that nature. With you. And stuff." Either allude to, or preferably don't, all the dirty stuff that went on, but don't under any circumstances describe it with a State College honors dorm word like "activities." (Don't say "beverage" either.) But, primarily, don't make your writing voice sound like that of some wide-eyed corn-fed musical dreamer from Menudo or Idaho. I know all about what you're like (remember?), so that whole "Um, uh" business makes you sound schizoid at best. Also, I hate to say it, but spare me the letter of intent. 69. Don't worry about balding. I know it may be weird to lose your hair, but, as it's not something that happens to girls, it really doesn't even phase us at all. If you're gay, I guess you should worry. 70. There's always some don't about, "Don't put your hands on the girl's head when she's doing the you-know-what." I guess that is a good rule of thumb, but whenever I read that… well, draw your own conclusions. 71. Don't correct anyone's grammar ever. 72. In general, just don't correct people. If the guy at the antique store tells you all about the "terracotta cord" on the toaster, you don't need to tell him he means—whatever the word is for that old fashioned rubber material. Not Bekelite. It sounds like terracotta. 73. If you can afford bespoke suits and shirts and those little handkerchiefs in one pocket, and you wear cufflinks, and you teach ancient Greek and Latin and play piano and review music for the Hoo-hoo and so on, don't describe yourself as "eccentric." You might try narcissistic boy genius stalking insane "I have cancer" liar, but "eccentric" doesn't really cover it. This one applies to all of us. 74. Is it always this way with you? Would it kill you to eat a salad? Would it kill you if you did your dishes right after? 75. This is so familiar and tired: Don't spray air freshener everywhere after you poop at work. I'm not going to trot out the business about shit and roses (which is exactly what it does smell like) but I do wonder, bone-thin girl who works up front, why does your shit smell like dust? 76. Would it kill you to not live like depressing Satan? Pedestal ashtrays piled with butts and a roommate named Andy who lives in a diaper he folded out of his curtain are totally unacceptable. 77. If you offer something to someone, like all your leftover Vicodin from the ghetto dentist or $20 for yelling "Mexico," you have to give it, even though you don't want to, even though you don't know why you offered it to begin with. 78. If you're able to eat gracefully and say hello politely and make pleasant small talk, by all means do so. You're living the dream. Do you think we act like savages on purpose? Yeah, and black people would shake hands that way if they were able to do it normally. Come on. 79. If you've been planning for weeks to ask someone out on a date, at least have the decency not to try to act like it all came up at random. "You were mentioning, a moment ago, how you like to treat yourself. Speaking of treating oneself, would you allow me to treat you to dinner?" Oh my god, and this really happened. 80. Once you have the person sitting across from you at a bistro you like to treat yourself at, please don't start talking about how writing is a liberating exercise. Also, don't drop your fork on the floor several times. 81. Don't go around the streets like happy-go-lucky all is right with the world brow lifted weird ocular "beaming" muscle engaged, light in the tip of your toes, hey look at him, hey look at me: I'm a fucking fraud leprechaun. 82. Hey, Mr. Famous Author: How about we shut up about how criticizing books is bad. Failing that, let's take this whole line of argument to its logical conclusion and replace the nation's editors with a one-eyed, one-armed geriatric in a wheelchair. His job will be he points. Yours will be you publish the manuscripts he points to. 83. You really can't beat that chummy ironic Nabokovian mien. The guy who gave me my root canal was like that, and I swear to you I loved him. I came out of there, face swollen, trembling from that numbing stuff, cotton wadded in my cheeks to absorb the blood, giggling and beaming. 84. A week ago, I was buying iced coffee. I buy it from this abandoned gourmet deli, the type with all the different sorts of cheese, but it's odd, because it, the deli, is sort of in the middle of a black area, and so seems under-shopped. The man who works the deli counter resembles an older, more Italian singer from Blues Traveler. So, the other day, while he was over getting my coffee, he started singing. My first thought was that he had a beautiful voice. I wondered if he sang in jazz clubs one night a week. I got a picture of him at some sort of jazz club, wearing a Mexican wedding shirt, singing. I then started to think, I don't know, that I should get some salmon. I drifted off, and when I snapped to, I noticed he was still singing. It was just he and I in there, and he was several phrases (as in stanzas) into a song now. There was something self-conscious and oppressive in it, because it continued, on and on, he was really singing it, really giving it his all. I don't know how long he sang, but it was so long, I felt I was going to vomit. I felt like I was being molested. When you are trying to seduce someone, say this to yourself: I have the subtlety of that man from that deli. 85. Don't tell people about how the guy on whom Charles Swann was based is your cousin seven times removed. Do you hear that? Look at yourself. 86. Do say "asshole" when you mean "jackass." 87. Do imitate your family members for me, even though I've never met them. 88. Do be good at giving massages, but not creepily, complicatedly, I-read-books-about-this-in-high-school good. If you've already read those books, just conceal that knowledge. 89. Do grab the butts of strange attractive ghetto creatures in such away that it appears your quiet overweight friend Robert did it. 90. If you should earn the nickname "Butt Grabber [your name here]" and you are a girl, then you have done well. 91. Do smile at women on the street if you're a woman, or if you're a man, sure, but nothing warms my heart like a girl my age who smiles at me first. 92. Do call Mattress Mac of Gallery Furniture in Houston, TX. (713) 694-5570. Ask for Mac. He's this recovered coke addict who runs this discount furniture store in Texas. When I was growing up and he was on cocaine, his commercials had him jumping around like a maniac waving handfuls of hundred-dollar bills in the air. Now they have him slowly easing out of one of those old-guy mechanical-assistance-getting-out-of-your-chair chairs, murmuring about savings. 93. Do be the type where, if you're forced to go to a stupid puppet show and people are paying too much attention to the puppets, you break your shin afterwards showing everyone how you can jump over a stick better than the puppet did. 94. Don't take pride in your shitty work. You're like that Curlis Cue redhead my mom was dating who gave me a Curlis Cue toothbrush and windily explained how the curled bristles stimulate the gums. 95. Do, if you're going to be a psychologist at a women's college, wear one of those drugstore foam neck braces for an entire year. This will save countless women from entrusting you with their mental health. 96. Do, if you're a big turtle-shaped Russian man who just had heart surgery, stop strangers on the street to explain the whole process. Bonus points if you gesture with your hand up your left arm to your heart and say, "They go through like this." 97. Hey, picture a burro. Those little horses. OK. Sorry. I thought something would come. 98. Is this too urbane, I can't tell: describing a magazine as more read than respected? I like the reversal. More read than respected. Oh, funny stuff, funny stuff. 99. Don't read like, say, Nabokov on Literature and then come around parroting him and acting like you had the brains on your own to recognize Crime and Punishment as a potboiler. Besides, that's not even true. 100. Do go look up the word "poshlost" in Nabokov's book on Gogol. Sorry, but it's worth it, honestly, and I'd just make a hash of it here.