Drinking at a Work Function: Is it Okay?

I don’t give out a lot of advice. If you have a problem, don’t come to me. Sure, I’ll listen and sympathize and maybe even empathize, but I’m not going to tell you what to do. I don’t want to be responsible when you take my advice and your life turns to shit. Plus, I am not qualified to help you. I just realized I’ve been using a laptop lock as a bike lock for the past six years, I have literally no idea what a monkey wrench is, and I absolutely do not know why anyone trusts me with a credit card. I don’t have my life together, and moreover, there are tons of counselors dying for work. Google one in your area.

That said, I’m here to give you unsolicited advice on a subject you probably don’t care about in an overly aggressive tone. So shut up and listen; this is important.

Open bars at work functions. We need to talk about them.

Unless you’re a monk, at some point in your professional life you’ll undoubtedly go to a work event where your company has generously provided an open bar. That means you can get all the alcohol you want without paying a single penny. Bottoms up, right?

NO. Put the vodka soda down right now.

Open bars are delicate situations. In most scenarios, it is probably acceptable to have one or two drinks. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if it’s okay to partake:

  • Are any of my superiors drinking? If they are, then proceed, but remember, this is not a backyard keg party. They are allowed to drink however much they want. You are not.
  • Are the majority of people here drinking? Monkey see, monkey do. Try to behave for once in your life.
  • Am I on an interview or in a position where my standing within the company is at all unstable, in jeopardy, or to be determined? Just don’t.
  • Do I say things like “turn up,” “get lit,” or “ya buddy!” after two drinks? Lock it the fuck up and do not drink.

So let’s say you’ve determined that it’s acceptable to drink and that you aren’t risking your job or being judged by your colleagues. That doesn’t mean it’s a hall pass for you to get crunk and hyphy, okay?? This probably seems like common sense, but I’ve seen a lot of people get drunk at work events and start saying stuff that really shouldn’t be discussed with coworkers or acting in ways that shouldn’t be seen by the VP of your company. If you are going to drink, you can choose one of the following:

  • Two glasses of chardonnay;
  • Three beers;
  • Two martinis;
  • Two gin and tonics;
  • Or one whiskey.

These are the maximum number of drinks, and should be spread out over the course of the event. I shouldn’t have to even be saying this, but again, you’d be surprised how many former frat bros I’ve seen drinking at work functions that start retelling their bachelor party glory days at the strip club. When in doubt, just be sober for like two hours. It’s hard being a professional sometime, but it’s also like really annoying to get fired.

And remember, just because it’s free, doesn’t mean you don’t pay for it. You pay for it with your reputation.


XOXO, Gossip Girl

I’m not a badass. Last week I had to psych myself up for literally 7 minutes to do the monkey bars (traumatic for me after a rocky history of playground equipment and broken bones). The monkey  bars. You know, those things kindergartners play on?

I don’t take risks, I’m not adventurous or spontaneous, I hate gambling and most hard liquor. I’m deeply pragmatic at heart. I blame in equal parts growing up in a family of German engineers, and being immersed in a creative field full of starving artists self-righteously following their passions in lieu of putting food on the table.

But in a life full of pizza-wedging my way down ski slopes and throwing up at the top of Thunder Mountain in Disney World, there is one badass thing I have done. Some may even say it was heroic.

My tale begins when I was in fifth grade. I was the new girl in my school. To make matters worse, I had just gotten glasses and had recently become obsessed with horses. I wore my hair in a long, low ponytail like a home-schooled girl and I had no athletic ability. Like, none. Things weren’t looking good for me that year.

Well, as most girls know, the way to make friends is to talk shit about other girls. So I recruited 3 or 4 equally hopeless girls, also on the awkward cusp of adolescence, and together, we wrote the most sensational gossip newspaper Gilbert Linkous Elementary School has ever seen and probably will ever see. (That was the day my career truly began, a path that would eventually lead me to become editor of my high school newspaper, a journalism major, an esteemed university-paper humor columnist with hard-hitting pieces on things like janties (jean panties), and then later do nothing related to writing in my professional life.)

Anyway, we co-wrote several juicy exposés revealing people’s crushes, which playground kickball team was hotter, and who was flirting with whom on the field trip last week. We used initials instead of names (I’m not Hitler, okay?), but all the stories were thoroughly fact-checked and all that jazz. I specifically remember one about two of our classmates “hooking up with each other.” Even as a fifth grader, I knew sex sells, although I didn’t know what sex was, exactly. I mean, I had an idea…

Our newspaper was what I can only assume is the precursor to today’s diss track. We went to press on a Tuesday night with plans to distribute the next day at recess. The clock struck 1 and let me tell you: shit hit the fan. Recess that day was BESERK. Tears flowed and friendships died, but the truth hath been revealed.

Well, there’s a snitch in every crowd and it only took her about 5 minutes to run to the teacher and point her grimy little fingers at my brave band of whistle blowers. We were escorted to the principal’s office and threatened that if any of our classmates’ parents called about the incident, he would have to in turn tell our parents.

I never told my parents what I did, and no parents ever called and complained about what came to be known as The Gray Lady of Gilbert Linkous. Either no one gave a shit, or, more likely, everyone was too scared of my wrath to tell their parents.

I think the lesson here is clear, but I’ll spell it out for you just in case. Always be nice to the nerdy girl. She has eyes and ears everywhere. Her weapons may be but Microsoft Publisher and an inkjet printer, but that is all she needs to destroy you. Also, don’t be a fucking narc.

Bon Voyage and Bon Appétit

For the two and a half years I’ve lived in Arlington, I had been begging my boyfriend to take me on a dinner cruise on the Potomac River. Christmases, birthdays, and anniversaries passed with no Save the Date for a nautical evening. Countless trips to the waterfront ended with me stuck on land and staring vindictively at the happy couples aboard their elegant vessel, ready for a magical night of dinner and dancing. In the time I’ve been asking to go on a river cruise, I’ve acquired two nephews, received three promotions, changed houses, and gotten a cavity filled. Needless to say, my life was passing before my eyes and my sea legs weren’t getting any younger.

Well, Tyler must have really gotten into the holiday spirit because this Christmas I finally got my wish. We were finally going on the adventure of a lifetime (that is to say, down the Potomac a few miles…or shall I say “leagues,” and then back up again), but first we had to wait until DC Restaurant Week so Tyler could get discounted tickets. To me, a river cruise is worth any amount of money, but to him it is apparently only worth $160, so that was what he paid – no more, no less. I didn’t care though; I was just happy to feel the wind in my hair and the salt on my tongue, with nothing but the open water in front of us.

Well, it wasn’t open water. The week prior, DC had been hit with a blizzard and the Potomac was completely frozen. As I drove over the bridge on my way to work the day before we were to set sail, I uneasily eyed the river below, which was very much solid. Now I’ve seen the Titanic a few times and I knew that ice and boats don’t usually stop, collaborate, and listen [Ice is back with a gaping hole in your boat]. Still, I had complete faith in the competence of our captain and crew (who knows why), and on the Saturday night of our cruise my excitement was palpable. (Tyler was as enthused as he usually is, which if you can imagine is similar to a cat being bribed over to its owner by promise of a treat only to find out the treat is a piece of cardboard.)

Naturally I had told everyone I encountered about the cruise. It’s a pretty popular attraction in this area and most people had been on one before. I was told unanimously that it would be “fun,” but it was said in the same tone you would use if you were describing a wedding with a cash bar. I took that to mean that you were supposed to get good and drunk beforehand, which we did.

As you board the boat, you and your date are given a life preserver to clutch among yourselves as you pose for a picture that is taken about three seconds too soon. At the end of the trip, they try to sell you this picture in a $40 package that includes eight printed copies and a CD of you looking slightly worried with your hair in your mouth. I found the prop choice slightly ominous, but took comfort in the fact that women and children are always saved first.

It was a dinner cruise and they wasted no time getting that part over with. We were brought two of the three courses before we even cast off, but eventually we left and before you knew it, we were gliding along the water, enjoying the type of romantic atmosphere only produced by sitting across from your loved one and about eight inches to the right of a table of four 60-year old black women that hadn’t seen each other in years. It truly was exactly as I imagined.

But the moment didn’t last. The enchantment was over. Maybe it was the drinks starting to wear off, or the questionable food beginning to move around my stomach like the contents of a lava lamp, or the biting wind hitting my bare legs when we decided to go up on what I was relieved to find out was a poop deck (you didn’t think I was going to miss an opportunity for a poop deck joke, did you??). Maybe it was all of those things, or maybe it was the fact that when we went outside to take in the view, we found that our captain was trying to ram through the five-inch thick ice by reversing the boat and quite literally going full steam ahead. After several screeching minutes of ice scraping against steel, a man who I can only assume was what one might call a “boatswain” radioed the captain (who was also standing like two feet away, but that’s beside the point) and finally announced that we were unable to go through the ice. Well, no shit.

The next few hours I’m fairly sure we just went in circles up and down the same 300 yards of the river, but I didn’t care because I was busy on the dance floor as our on-deck entertainment led the charge through the Electric Slide, the Cha-Cha Slide, the Wobble, the Cha-Cha Slide Part 2, the Cotton-Eyed Joe, and the Whip/Nae-Nae (the last of which I refuse to take part in because that’s embarrassing. The others are perfectly fine.). With the exception of some poor woman getting proposed to by her misguided boyfriend (Tyler, if you’re reading this, don’t propose to me on a dinner cruise), the rest of the night passed rather uneventfully and as we pulled back into dock I was ready to be back where I belonged: on dry land and away from the large, intoxicated, and strangely scantily-clad Filipino family that made up about 98% of our fellow passengers.

Each passenger was given a warm cookie on his or her way off the boat, which was in stark contrast to the frankly awful service and terrible food we had the three hours preceding, and I think it largely contributed to Tyler’s almost-satisfactory opinion of the evening. I’m not saying I won’t do a river cruise again, but if I do it will probably be in ten years and I’ll probably take hallucinatory drugs before boarding.

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Trust Me, Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Want Whatever Crappy Gift You’re Giving Him

The holiday season is upon us, and while I’m one of those people who firmly believes it’s better to get than to give, not everyone shares my philosophy. As such, I do attempt to buy gifts for a few select loved ones (namely, my niece and nephews).

Most of the time, I’m pretty good at picking out gifts and I would say my win rate is a crisp 90%. But there are a few people who are really difficult to shop for, like my dad, who this year is receiving a Shrinky-Dink key chain because, hey, he seemed to like those 15 years ago, surely his tastes haven’t changed that much.

But at least my dad has to love me. My boyfriend is a different story.

At first, I was EXCEPTIONAL in my gift-giving. We’re talking brag-worthy gifts, thoughtful gifts, sexy gifts, stylish gifts, unique gifts, funny gifts, inside-joke gifts. While other girlfriends were wasting money and time on stuffed animals and DIY date nights, we were enjoying court-side seats and sports car test drives.

But eventually, you run out of ideas. For me, it was our third Christmas together and I was so desperate I was browsing Etsy for gifts. To give to a man. A heterosexual man who uses shampoo and body soap interchangeably. Read the signs, ladies, and stop yourself before it’s too late.

At first I was disappointed in myself. I didn’t even make it three years before resorting to cakes decorated to look like basketballs and engraved rocks. But it’s hard out there for us girlfriends. You can’t rely on Google for this as you do for life’s other important matters like how to scramble eggs or how tall Kourtney Kardashian is. A quick “boyfriend gift ideas” search results in more than 8 million utterly useless ideas. A $150 shaving kit? He has a beard. Wall art that expresses an *unhealthy* love of bacon? Timeless. A toaster shaped like Darth Vader that burns the Star Wars logo on your bread? (Well…actually…)

Fear not, baes of the world, because here’s a little secret: this is the best thing that can happen in a relationship. Only after you’ve run out of all your good gift ideas do you really see each other’s true character. He’s bought all his previous girlfriends sterling silver bracelets from Macy’s, but what will he come up with when he has to dig a little deeper? That’s for your eyes only. When your options are an electric back hair shaver and a T-shirt that says “Property of a Hot Girlfriend,” necessity becomes the mother of invention.

If you’re stumped, here are a few ideas that I’ve found to be particularly helpful, through firsthand experience and third-party observations.

  1. There’s no present like time: instead of gifts, why not just spend time with each other? It may sound like the easy way out, but this has worked remarkably well for us on smaller holidays. The pressure is off of you, and you don’t have to deal with whatever craptacular Valentine’s Day gift he comes up with. Cool, right?
  2. Agree on a joint present. Put the money you would have spent on gifts towards a vacation or concert. It gives you something to look forward to, and remember, memories are worth more than a thousand Michael Kors watches.
  3. Begin a tradition. Last year, my dad gave my mom a new piece of silver (in her chosen pattern) to add to her collection. It was a very nice and shiny gift, and guess what? She’s also got a piece of silver the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that. One salad server and platter at a time, my dad has successfully turned what may seem to the novice like one gift into THIRTY YEARS WORTH OF GIFTS. He does the same thing with: Willow Tree figurines, cookbooks that are updated annually, pictures of their kids/grandkids, Hokie football season tickets, and that year’s vintage from their favorite winery. He did his legwork 20 years ago and has been reaping the benefits ever since. Pass go, collect $200, see you next year, suckers.
  4. Buy your own damn gifts. My mom buys everything she wants for Christmas in July, wraps it up with a pretty tag that says “From Steve,” and guess what, on Christmas Day everyone is surprised and happy.
  5. In the same vein, buy your own damn gifts and give it to your SO under the guise as a gift. My boyfriend already had a Chromecast, but I didn’t, so I gave it to him and guess what? “Whoops, sorry babe, I forgot you had one! Guess we can keep this one at my house!” Now I have a Chromecast.

I hope these tips help. Happy shopping, merry Christmas, and may you receive everything on your Amazon wishlist.


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The Worst Types of People

While I hate mostly everyone, there are a few types of people that I collectively hate more than most. Remember, I don’t hate you because you’re fat, you’re fat because I hate you.

In general, most people who exercise regularly are pretty pretentious. I get it: yoga poses are cool, you just summitted a mountain, your booty is poppin’ after some squats. By all means, carpe those photo ops. But what I don’t need to see is how many miles you ran on MapMyRun. No, I don’t want to donate to your 10k and I sure as shit don’t want to run it with you. There are very select times that I choose to run. The bus is pulling away from the stop? No thanks, I’ll wait 20 minutes for the next one. It’s raining and I need to go to the grocery store? Grubhub, fucking duh. My ass is on fire? Maybe, but probably not.

People Who Say Running Is the Best Exercise
I’m sorry, what? I haven’t run more than two blocks in the last three years. I have a resting heart rate of 50 bpm, my blood pressure is decent enough to where the nurses don’t remark on it, and I no longer lose my breath when I go up the stairs to my room. I’d say I’m doing juuuuust fine.

Runners make the mistake of thinking that everyone else wants to run, too, but that they’re just out of shape or they “can’t.” Well listen here, not only can I not run, but I also don’t want to, so save your breath for your elevation training mask.

I’m a firm believer that exercising should be enjoyable, and if you don’t like what you’re doing, you should find a different activity. Sure, my exercise regimen is better than everyone else’s, but if you want to take spin classes or pilates then you should! So, if running is what you love, that’s fine, but just know that endorphins, alone time, competition, cardiovascular health, or any other reason you love running can all be experienced either silently, away from me, or through another outlet. Also, I still hate you.

Men Who Tell You to Smile
If we’re being honest, I really hate anyone that tries to talk to me unsolicited, but especially people who berate you for not smiling. I have a bitchy resting face and I like it that way. I don’t need anyone telling me when to smile, especially when it’s coming from some old creepy man. I get that men are used to telling women what to do with their bodies, but last time I checked they also didn’t have to wear tights and heels and bleed out of their vaginas for 5 days every month. Maybe when wages become equal I’ll use all that extra money to get a permanent smile fixed on my pretty little face.

People Who Won’t Pig Out With You
Have you ever subtly hinted to a friend that you could really go for a Dairy Queen Blizzard, only to have her say “I’ll go with you but I don’t want any.” What kind of satanic move is that?? I’d rather watch my boyfriend play Fallout for eight hours straight than have you watch me eat two Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches by myself. If you’re going to be friends with me you need to be down to eat whatever, whenever. “I’m fine with just water.” Fuck. You.

People Who Try to Make Friends on Planes
Honestly there is nothing inviting or friendly about my face or persona so I still don’t understand why people try to make friends with me on planes. Like oh, you want to get to know each other for three hours and then never see each other again? (Actually, that sounds like a pretty ideal friendship…) The only way to survive these people is to  go in to a coma, scratch your head vigorously and cough constantly, or order more wine and take a sip for every iPhone photo they show you of their grandchildren.

People Who Tell You About Their Dreams
I am neither a therapist nor Professor Trelawney. Unless your dream has me in it I don’t want to hear it, and even then it’s questionable. Every day idiots across the globe wake up and start blabbing about dreams that no one else gives a shit about. Kindly cease and desist.

Middle Schoolers
Stop being twelve. Ew.

Fit People on Instagram
I’m glad that leg day is your favorite day, and that you “rise and grind,” and that you feel the need to post a picture of your ass while you sit on your bathroom vanity because it’s Wednesday, and that you’re part of the #igfitfam. I’m glad about all of that because it just reassures me of why I hate you.