Overheard at a Women-Only Charity Event

“So many wedges.”

“Turn it down for what!”

“When my milk came in, I had like, porn star boobs.”

“Look at all that pasta.”

“This 50 Cent song is all for you.”

“There’s a little pregnant lady dancing. You go girl!”

“She shouldn’t have worn cream to your wedding.”

“Why isn’t this an all-woman band?”

“Why isn’t the DJ a woman?”

“Where the fuck do you smoke?”

“I know that I need to not smoke but I still need it, ya know?”

Why I Have To Be So “Rude”

“Rude” is the #1 song in America; “Rude” is a strong contender for the worst song I have ever heard. For the lucky uninitiated, I can only explain “Rude” like this: it’s the aural equivalent of a man listening to reggae for the first time in his racecar bed, slowly fucking the hole in a Kidz Bop CD.

Here, take a dip, the water’s absolutely disgusting!

Ostensibly, the success of Magic!’s “Rude” can at least partially be explained by the history of American top 40′s irregular dabbles in reggae, which have tended to appear in the form of one-offs rather than any tangible wave: “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1973, “Red Red Wine” in 1984, Shaggy in 2000. But “Rude” is a reggae song the way a gas station taquito is a formal expression of Mexican cuisine, and I think, if we’re going to situate the song in some larger context, “Rude” is most interesting as an artifact in the realm of ideas. “Rude” is like a Dorito bag that got stuck on a spike of the crown of the Statue of Liberty: it’s a pop object with no content and only as much form as is necessary to deliver brief chemical gratification, which, through an unlikely ascension, becomes newly visible as a pure expression of tragedy, degradation and American garbage. “Rude” is utterly embarrassing and radically unselfconscious, a derpfaced college sophomore defensively grunting FML as he waddles to the closet for toilet paper because he ran out mid-wipe.

The first time I heard “Rude” I thought it was a 1-800-411-PAIN ad, because Detroit radio is currently running one that sounds sort of like a more palatable version of “Rude.” The next couple of times I had the sort of physical reaction I associate with suddenly coming in contact with bees; before my mind could process what was happening, I pawed at my radio dial quickly, ahhh, get it away!

Ask a Fancy Person: First Parties, Working for Free, and What to Do When Your Gym Is Crawling with Children

Dear Fancy,

I recently started working out at a new gym at a new time (lunch time), and apparently this is when oblivious parents exercise with their children in tow. There’s a staffed day-care room for them to use, but often, there are just children wandering through the gym: an 11-year-old who messes with the rowing machine while his mom treadmills, kids that keep running away from dad on the way out, gaggles of children toddling in everyone’s way. Is this just my child-averse, selfish need to focus at the gym or should I talk to gym management?

Related: what’s your take on leaving a group exercise class early? I think it’s rude and want to tell other people to stop doing it until I’m that jerk who’s on a tight schedule and doesn’t have time to stretch out or savasana.

I guess what I’m trying to ask is, what are the infractions that really count at the gym? I know I just need to get over my issues with people who jump-rope in a minorly crowded gym, but, for example, is it worth saying something if the super sweaty guy ahead of you neglects to wipe down a machine?

-Sweaty & Steamed

Dear Sweaty,

The gym, along with public transportation and movie theatres, is among the most lawless spaces in the civilized world. Between all the grunting and the lack of sanitary procedures, it’s practically the Wild West, with Pitbull dance remixes instead of player pianos. Frankly, I’m surprised we’ve all survived this long going to them, which is why I recommend staying put in your air-conditioned living room in a maribou-trimmed bed jacket, eating bonbons. But, necessary evils, no? We’d all enjoy our time in that hellhole six percent more if everyone would adhere to four basic rules of order at Planet Swoll. I’m going to number them for ease of use. Print them out and wave them about in the faces of offenders if you like.

Ask a Fancy Person: Consignment Shops, Gendered Pronouns and Leaving the Forever 21 Zone

Dear Fancy,

I recently began working in my first Big Girl job since graduating from college three years ago, and I’m expected to wear really nice things. Add to that my boss’s casual age-ism related to wardrobe (“stop wearing that, you look like you’re in college”), and I feel self-conscious about the wardrobe Broke Self was able to keep up. But the problem is that I’m not actually paid enough to start a whole new wardrobe from scratch. So my question is this: how do I build a new, work-appropriate wardrobe without breaking the bank? And how do you budget for that kind of thing?

Sincerely, Fancy Rising

My dearest Fancy Rising,

Congrats so much on getting a Big Girl Job! That’s such an exciting move forward into adulthood, even if you aren’t yet making that corner office cash money. In my dream world, we’d all be judged by the content of our quarterly reports rather than the color of our blazers. (But then again, in that dream world, there is no Dear Fancy.) In the meantime, the best way to be valued for your ideas and work rather than superficial bullshit is to follow the rules so that you never have stained pants or sloppy email diction distracting from your awesomeness.

So how to get to there on an entry-level budget, and how much to budget for that stuff?

Taking a Bite Out of Networking Events: A Guide for Beginners

Hello, recent graduate. As you begin to progress in your career, you will likely begin to be invited to various “networking” and “schmoozing” events. Some will occur after film screenings, book launches, or discussion panels. Others will be designated “networking cocktail hours” for “young professionals.” Whatever the context, such events are very important for your launch into the wider world, and your own upward trajectory! So how do you maximize your time at these shindigs? How do you “work the room”? I’m happy to say that after 10 years of attending such events in person, I can offer you some hard-earned advice that will help you really get every crumb and morsel of worthwhile interaction out of these events. So get your pen or your iPhone ready, and be prepared to memorize a simple checklist for networking success.

1. When you enter the space, scan the room.

Ask yourself two questions: The first is whom do I know here, and the second is where is the cheese table? Good. Now combine these two questions: whom do I know here who is closest to the cheese table? After you approach that person and begin to chit-chat, slowly position yourself, shifting your angle while you talk, until you’re within arm’s range of the cheese. Then put that arm to work. Eating cheese.

“What’s In Your Handbag?” Submission Rejects

What’s in your handbag, Freyja, Norse goddess of love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death?

Gold eyeliner that a friend gave me because she’s a mortal and she wasn’t sure she could pull it off, empty containers of skyr, that strained Icelandic yogurt that I’m super addicted to, an overdue Comcast bill, Garnier bb cream and SO many treats for the nine magical grey cats who pull my chariot, (gluten-free ones for Helga who has a sensitive tummy). I love these creatures, but they’re useless when they have low blood sugar.

What’s in your handbag, Louka, female Tapir recently relocated to a French wildlife park to pair up with male Tapir Thakeray?

Oof, way too much, I always overpack when I travel! I mean, the usual fruit, berries, and leaves, particularly young, tender growth, since I eat like 40 kg of vegetation a day and I wasn’t sure what they’d have on offer here in France. Plus, some calcium chewables which are super important to keep my chisel-shaped incisors healthy so they can process all the leaves I eat. Also, a little Pantene pro-V since I tend to get split ends in hot weather—I leave it on while I’m checking email over coffee and then hop back in the shower to rinse it off. Works like a charm! 

The Prom King on Instagram, 10 Years After the Party

When I was a junior in high school, I decided that I wanted to become popular. Fortuitously, my scientist parents were about to make the one wanton decision that they would ever make in their lives: leaving me home alone for a weekend, along with my little brother.

Normally ones to frown upon any vacation not spent in a tent, my parents made this special exception for Maine, a place where they could remain on their rigorous work schedule. They’d planned a quintessential rise-at-dawn, sleep-by-dusk experience: stilted breakfast conversations with strangers at inns, jaunts to folksy outlet stores, and long walks along punishing rocky coasts. Lost in their excitement, neither my mother or father seemed to realize that leaving an ungrateful teenager home alone with a car, a finished basement, and over $3,000.00 in personal savings was a formula for total disaster.

Ask a Fancy Person: Occasionless Gifts, Chemo Baldness at the Office, The “Thanks For the Birthday Wishes” Anomie

Dear Fancy,

I am a woman in my 30′s undergoing chemotherapy. As a result, I’m bald. It hasn’t been so bad (well, the chemo sucks, but fashion-wise, I mean), because my friends have lent me many colorful headscarves to wear. I’m also fortunate to have a nice wig to wear for special occasions, but I prefer not to wear the wig all the time.

Sometimes, though, I’d just like to be bald, especially in the summer when it’s so hot outside. Do you think it would be unprofessional for me to go bald sometimes in the office if I still dress well and pay attention to my makeup? I’ve only done it a few times in public and I’ve liked it, but I’m worried about working in the office bald.

Thank you!

Baldie

Dear Baldie,

First, let me say on behalf of my real self, my alterego Fancy, and all the ‘Pinners, we’re rooting for you and are completely positive you’re going to deal cancer a humiliating loss, akin to the one the Mighty Ducks dealt Iceland in D2.

But you didn’t write me to give you Gordon Bombay-style pep talks via the internet, so onto your question. Feel completely and totally free to do whatever you want. It’s dandy if you want to wear colorful scarves and a wig, and it’s peachy to go without, too. Professionalism doesn’t even enter into that equation. Cancer aside, if you chose to buzz your hair, you’re still presentable in a business setting. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, that’s unacceptable and you can tell them I said that. There are some kinds of styles that aren’t appropriate in all settings, but this just ain’t one of them. Looking the part of the teacher/sandwich artist/graphic designer/nanny/lawyer you are is more about not distracting from your work with a Pikachu neck tat, not about the specifics of the length of your hair. Dress like you’re at work, put on a touch more makeup than you might otherwise to play up your best features, and wear some pretty earrings and people will forget that you aren’t choosing baldness as A Look.

This Is The Day Before 40

“July 18th” read the email that appeared a couple of weeks ago at the top of my inbox, so bold-faced and full of promise.

Ah, the day before my 40th birthday, I thought; Josh must have something fun planned for My Big Middle-Aged Moment. Dinner at State Bird? A weekend in Big Sur? Ooo, a Billy Joel concert?

Back when 40 sounded as far, far away as 50, I had all sorts of plans, too. Oh, by 40 I was supposed to have been a New Yorker staff writer; a Kenyan-level marathoner; an unselfish mother. (I mean, if a mother at all, which was not so much on my “To Accomplish List” as it was on my “To Put Off Until the Last Possible Moment and My Husband Makes Me List.”)

I was supposed to be the mature adult I’d always avoided being, but by the time I actually turned 40 presumed I’d just naturally, you know, be.

But now here I am, a day away from the birthday every female dreads—despite Tom Junod’s recent backhanded ode to women even two whole years older—and I’m 0 for 3:

The New Yorker once paid me $1,200 for a short piece, but then it never ran. I haven’t run 26.2 miles since the year 2000. And as for the unselfish mother thing… weeeell, I just took a two-week solo trip to Bhutan, the other happiest place on earth, and left my two little kids at home.

Which brings me to my less, shall we say, lofty goals. You know, the stuff I just expected to have gotten around to by the dawn of my fourth decade. Like, learn to ride a bike. (Yup, pathetic, I know. 0 for 4.)

Preexisting Conditions

My husband is at the DMV taking both the written and the behind the wheel portions of his driver’s test. I am not married to a 16-year-old; rather, this is happening because my husband’s been driving our family minivan without a license for the last four years.

We had planned to go hiking and grill out with our two young daughters today. We both work full-time and the two of us rarely have a free day that aligns. But he told me over breakfast that he had to go handle this—previously, we’d both found out at a court date for a previous traffic violation that his driving privileges had actually been suspended at the time of the incident—and I just nodded and took another enormous swig of coffee, scalding my tongue. None of this surprises me anymore.

When you choose someone with a spotty past as a life partner, you become accustomed to getting strange and unwelcome things in the mail. I dread hearing the dull metal thud of the post hitting the box, the mailman on his bluetooth bickering with his girl as he hops off our stoop. Sometimes it’s a notice from the city treasurer that there’s a lien against my husband from unpaid property taxes a few years ago; other times it’s an invoice from his stunning and extremely expensive attorney, who has thus far managed to minimize his legal woes. The most devastating by far are the tearful handwritten letters from his estranged mother who is by turns livid that she hasn’t met her grandchildren and wistful to reconnect with the man whom we both adore. Every ninety days or so, we get a check from a production gig he completed months ago: enviable, exhilarating, exhausting work that takes him all over the country and is as feast-or-famine as any other job in the music industry. In the meanwhile we stretch every dollar I make at my regular-person job to make ends meet. Sometimes we fall short. The mailman brings a fair number of “final notice before service interruption” correspondence, too.

Most of my husband’s issues stem from severe financial irresponsibility and personal negligence in the years following his tenure as a young serviceman. Upon returning to civilian life in his early twenties, he had expert knowledge of Marine Corps aircrafts and had logged thousands of hours of survival and crew chief training, but had never paid a utility bill or a written a rent check. The newfound lack of structure coupled with crippling bouts of PTSD proved to be a toxic combination for him, making reentry a rocky process. As far as I can tell, for about six years, if he didn’t have money to cover a bill, he tossed it in the trashcan.