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Moviegoing Etiquette 101

Moviegoing Etiquette 101

We went to go see Up In The Air last night.  In an effort to interact with as few humans as possible, we chose the 9:30 PM show on a Tuesday evening several weeks after the movie opened.  We arrived at the theater a solid 15 minutes early to procure decent seats, even though we figured there would be ample seats to choose from.  We were incorrect.  The place was fucking packed.

We picked seats front-middlish, one off the aisle (frequent urinators know the drill).  I noticed a small family to our right, talking loudly – a guy, a girl and a little kid, probably six or seven years old.  (Kids love dramedies about the plight of middle-aged men who haven’t anchored themselves emotionally, and they especially adore the undertones of economic plight/downsizing.)  Surely they would shut the fuck up when the movie started though, we were just in the bullshit ads, not even to the previews yet.

During the previews, they actually managed to get louder – perhaps encouraged by the hilarity of seeing The Lovely Bones trailer for the 8,000th time.   (If I see one more ad for either that or Legion, I’m probably going homicidal.  Enough is enough, I feel like I’m being subjected to “There’s Something Wrong With Esther” all over again.)  Once the movie started, they were in full-fledged conversation mode; I strongly suspect they thought they were going to see Up.  Given that my hearing sucks ass (something I will attribute to my five years of military service, not my five years of listening to Ratt way too loud) I busted out the first “sssshhhhhhhhhh.”  This seemed to incite the female to speak louder.  A woman who’d moved to the aisle seat to my right got even more direct with a “please be quiet.”  The family lady then said, and I’m not making this up, “Oh no you didn’t tell us to be quiet, mind your own damn business.”  They continued chatting and then gave the little kid a video game to play, with the sound on.

Time to call in the artillery, something I’ve never done in my life.  But we didn’t pay the unfortunate price of $12.50 to listen to a family of morons chat. (Not you, kid, it isn’t your fault.  You’ve got a tough road to hoe in life, though.  Persevere.)  It was the first time in my life (I think) that I’ve ever gone to get an usher.  Of course, the kid with the flashlight uses no discretion and asks me to point at them from like three inches away.  Which I did.  The fucking woman went apoplectic and walked out to talk to the usher, feigning as if to hit the woman next to me on her way out.

She came back in two minutes later, at which point they went back to talking as loudly as possibly and basically being fuckfaces.  Now the guy in the row in front of me went to get the usher, who this time took the male outside for a chat.  The guy in front of me added a nice touch though as the lady went into her “oh no you didn’t call security on us again” tirade, he evoked the “don’t be that guy” campaign they show at the beginning of the movie.  This didn’t go over well.

The lady to my right left about ten minutes later, probably (and maybe rightfully) afraid what this person might do as they were walking out.  The guy in front of me got into another altercation with the family after the mother (using this term loosely) kept threatening to spank the kid if he didn’t shut up – he started yelling “spank” after every time the mother said it.  This got the father (again with the loosely) involved, who asked the guy to come over there and say that and then called the guy a “pussy” since he didn’t want to get into a fistfight at Up In The Air.

These fuckheads eventually left about 15 minutes before the end of the movie.  A terrible time was had by all.  If those two asshole parents happen to read this, here’s what I’d like them to take away from this: go kill yourselves.  At least then your kid would have a fighting chance in life.

(Seemingly Unnecessary, But People Are Fucking Morons) Moviegoing Etiquette 101

1.  Shut the fuck up. They even have a commercial at the beginning that reiterates this.  Movies are supposed to provide a brief respite from the numbing grind of daily life; listening to your thoughts/comments instead reminds everyone of the omnipresence of morons.  I think getting rid of the dancing popcorn intro has led to the demise of the theater experience.

2.  Turn off your phone. They also tell you this about 20x.  (Personal revelation: when I was watching It’s Complicated with my parents, my dad’s phone went off during and he had a short conversation.  I was mortified, but at least it was about a co-worker who was extremely ill in the hospital.  It wasn’t “hey, I’m just here watching a movie, what’s up with you?”)

3.  By turn off your phone, I mean it should be unseen and unheard. Maybe taking a discrete quick glance at your messages halfway through would be okay, but holding it so the screen is in front of you throughout is purely a dickhead move.

4.  Take off your headphones during the movie. I didn’t realize this was even in play until last night: the couple behind us, who were also “sssshhhhing” the family, were having their own conversation.  They were attempting to follow social norms and trying to be somewhat quiet, but the fact that the guy kept his headphones on throughout I think bumped up the volume somewhat on insight comments such as “ooohh, he’s a pimp.  That’s Biggie style right there.”  (Personally, I disagreed.  Clooney supposedly modeled his character after DJ Quik and you could really see the West Coast influence in his portrayal.)

5.  If you are gonna smuggle in food, make sure it’s on the quiet side. The price of concessions is outrageous, so I am down with bringing in your own gear.  I’ve even been known to roll with a contraband Fresca or two.  But there is a reason that theaters don’t sell huge fucking bags of chips, they make a ridiculous amount of noise in both the “getting out of the bag” and the “eating” phases.

6.  Don’t kick the seat of the person in front of you. It’s annoying as shit.

7.  Don’t lean back a ridiculous amount and crush the knees of the person behind you. It’s annoying as shit.

8.  If you have a kid – pause, as this may come as somewhat of a shock to many – you are responsible for making sure that they abide by the things on this list, as well. Kids are the preeminent kickers of the backs of chairs.  Make them stop by – another pause as this is shocking to the anti-“spare the rod” crowd – telling them “no.”

9.  Frequent urinators: position yourselves accordingly. No one likes standing up to let your fat ass back in.

10.   Don’t look disgusted when someone sits in an empty seat near you. It’s a movie, by definition a communal event.  If they are following the rules here, it shouldn’t ruin your fucking day so ease off on the sourpuss looks.

Now, about the movie.  Was it good?  I think so.  I’ll have to rent it to confirm.

Chilly17, wasted potential on offer

Office Party Etiquette (Part III)

Office Party Etiquette (Part III)

11.  Amorousness: keep it in your pants – Some people embrace holiday parties as an excuse to reject traditional norms of discretion, preferring to act like drunk 15 year olds unencumbered by a fear of rejection.  Yes, the presence of an open bar and a buffet will elevate your endorphin levels, but not to the point where you should reveal intimate personal details or express previously repressed desires.  The alcohol, black dresses and festive cheer do not add up to an excuse to try and hook up with a first year analyst.

Life experience –  Typical stuff I’ve seen/heard/done: bragging about inter-office affairs, attempting to start inter-office affairs, lying about the existence of inter-office affairs, lying about the existence of wives/significant others.  Standard stuff.  My favorite moment was obviously when a very drunk female VP was hitting on a junior guy while simultaneously pretending/projecting that he was Latin.  “Are you from South America?”  This guy was as white, or whiter, than a leprechaun.  Maybe an albino leprechaun.

Guidance – If you are feeling any kind of romantic longings, just go home, pop Legally Blonde into the DVD player and enjoy a nice glass of Fresca.

12.  Maintain appropriate social boundaries – Fraternization rules vary from firm to firm.  In the military, officers and enlisted folks aren’t supposed to hang out outside “the office.”  It’s a little different in the business world, as – at least in finance – the senior team members are expected to take the junior team out for drinks periodically.  If the junior team members are actually more responsible drinkers than the senior guys, this can lead to some awkward moments.

At office parties, the most likely situation would be some older, more senior dude suddenly trying to get chummy with some of the younger ladies in the group.  Usually this is not for mentorship purposes.  This is always a tricky situation for the junior people as they have to fear any longer-term ramifications.  There also might be a bunch of people from other offices/countries who are tangentially related to your office but somehow get invited to the holiday party.  Definitely tell them that the after party is at Rawhide’s, that’s always a good one to pull on the folks from London.

Also, some dork MD from the group will inevitably try to amp up his Q score by taking a bunch of the junior dudes to a strip club at the tail end of the evening.  Stay far away from this endeavor – it’s kind of creepy and can come back to haunt you down the road if the PC police catch the scent.  Glitter on your forehead the next day can also be a damning sign.

Life experience –  At my last holiday party, I recall spending some time hanging with the guy who ran the copy room, since he had practically no one to talk to.  Turns out we didn’t have a lot in common, as he liked to sing hymns in some variation of English, and I was preferred to ponder who would win the NFC.  So, I tried to assuage the situation with tequila.  Then I bailed on him mid-drink when I realized people were about to leave.  Going into the copy room was always awkward after that.

Guidance –  Make appropriate small talk with the people you work with but don’t get tied down.  Have a list of excuses teed up to get you out of any conversation: “Where’s the bathroom?/I need another drink/Shit, my blackberry is going off” should all work in a pinch, but you’ll want to establish a broad repertoire.  Decide in advance (with your usual social circle) where you are heading afterwards, then lie to anyone who asks where you are heading afterward. Having a bunch of excuses handy will be helpful (feel sick/have a bunch to do tomorrow/watching the last few hours of Ken Burn’s Baseball) in preventing a full-blown groupterfuck.

13.  Avoid the afterparty, particularly if it’s named after any part of a “special massage” – Averting disaster at the party itself is difficult enough; averting it at the afterparty is practically impossible.  Especially if the club you are going to is called something along the lines of Oil.  Or Happy Endings.  Or Ballgags and Zippermasks.

Life experience –  At my penultimate holiday party, following a violation of rule #2 and stuffed full of white truffles, essentially the entire group (those under age 40, at least) ended up at a nearby bar whose name evoked sensual massage.

I’ve had many drinking experiences in my life, and this particular night was one of only two times that I think I was “slipped a mickey.”  There’s really no other explanation for my poor, poor behavior that night.  I don’t know exactly what I did, but I know it was bad.

I had planned this particular Christmas vacation brilliantly – my first day off was the day after the party and my new Playstation 3 had been delivered that morning!  Unfortunately, I woke up the morning after feeling as if I’d just had 2-3 of those adrenaline shots that Uma got in Pulp Fiction in tandem with the worst migraine headache imaginable.  I was wearing my suit pants and shoes.  I couldn’t find my blackberry or my wallet.  I had a bruised cheek – then a recalled a sliver of the end of the night: fisticuffs with the cab driver due to my having no money and him having driven me like 45 minutes across town.  (This was my second ever lost-my-wallet-so-have-to-fight-the-cabbie bout.  My career record is 0-2.)

I called the bar later as I was hoping to recover my wallet, ‘berry and maybe even my suit coat.  The gentleman who answered the phone came back after checking out their lost and found and let me know, voice dripping with disgust, that they didn’t have my wallet or blackberry, but did indeed have my suit coat and tie.  And my shirt.

Fantastic showing by me.  (Also, my brilliant plan of going from the party straight to vacation predictably got blown up as an “emergent” M&A situation arose, requiring a client presentation before December 29th.  No wonder I haven’t rushed back to work.)

Guidance –  I will reiterate the guidance from point #13, decide in advance where you are going with your friends, and then lie to the broader group about these intentions.

14.  Employing a sound office re-entry technique is critical – If you followed all, or most, of the previous advice presented here, you can just saunter into the office with your head held high, smug in your knowledge that you are not the office jackass.  If not, you are either embarrassed by something you recall doing, or are potentially going to be embarrassed about something you do not recall doing.  A different approach is required for either situation.

Life experience – I essentially had this problem every year, except that year where I took off the next day.  That year I had bigger problems, like getting a new drivers license.  (Which, unexpectedly, takes like ten minutes in NYC.)

Guidance – If you know what you did and it’s going to have long-term ramifications, like hooking up with your assistant, you’ll want to get into the office early, but looking as hungover and sick as humanly possible.  Make self-deprecating comments to anyone within earshot about what a lightweight you are and how you “didn’t know the punch was that strong, ha!”.  Vomit into your trash can if possible.  Confide in people that you were blacked out from like 7:00 PM on.  Laugh loudly when talking to pockets of friends to heighten the illusion that “drunk asses sure do stupid things – hilarious things!”  When there aren’t a lot of people around and the coast is relatively clear – make your way to the person you yelled at/attempted to sleep with/accidentally urinated upon and let them know how drunk you were, how you don’t recall anything and how bad you feel, in general – not specific to them – about anything negative that may have transpired.  Reiterate this general theme any time the party is brought up, enjoy your christmas break, and the slate will be wiped clear come January 1.   I should be a PR guy.

If you don’t know what you did, but suspect you were a complete fuckhead, you’ll want to take a slightly different approach.  Avoid one-on-ones to the extent possible.  Definitely come into the office sometime after lunch, when you can kind of blend in with the masses getting to your cube/desk/office.  Keep a low profile at your desk – you want to avoid some numnuts coming up and putting you on the spot with “man, i can’t believe you fucking did that,” when you don’t know what “that” was.

Try to recall who was the drunkest person (or next drunkest, if you were the drunkest) at the party.  You’ll want to try and get them alone – it will build your confidence when you admit not knowing what you did and they can say “I know, right, I was so wasted. LOL.”  Ask them if they can recall any specific broaches of etiquette, or local laws/ordinances.  If they recall that you did do something truly horrible, leave the building.  Go home, feign sickness and don’t come back until after New Year’s.  Everyone will have forgotten by then.  If that person didn’t recall you doing anything too stupid, continue building confidence by talking to similarly inebriated folks until you are ready to re-enter the population using a variation of the “I was blacked out from 7:00 PM on” as needed when talking to sober nerds.


Chilly17, wasted potential, yo

Office Party Etiquette (Part II)

Office Party Etiquette (Part II)

So it appears that Wall Street, at least, is gonna be cutting back on the holiday partying.  Don’t believe that hype – very few people went to the massive, company-wide parties anyway; the real action is at the smaller group parties that were largely funded by the group heads and whatnot.  Went to several bars last night and the first three were all rocking a holiday party of some kind.  So this shit still matters.  Matters big-time.  Picking up where we left off yesterday…

How To Survive A Holiday Party

6.  Avoid admins like you’d avoid a drooling, possibly armed homeless guy on the subway – As I noted yesterday, the holiday party is generally a big deal for the admins, a chance to let their hair down and dance suggestively with people they work with but barely know.  (Don’t interpret this as a disparagement of admins in general, 95% of the ones I’ve worked with were awesome people who generally made life more tolerable in corporate hell.  Their preparation/anticipation level for the annual party was hilarious, though.)  Of course, the junior bankers will invariably all vie for the most attractive assistant, that’s just science.  But those top-shelf assistants have their eyes on a larger prize (also science).  The non-top-shelf, cougarish assistants would love to make boy toys out of some of the junior folks, but they are resistant due to the potential for peer humiliation.  It’s very Darwinian, there’s some circle of life stuff going on with everyone trying to hook up with someone who’s trying to hook up with someone else, sort of like The Real World: Cancun.  (Note: this is all from a male perspective, for the three females who read this, I think the parties were pretty typical borderline-harassment for the female bankers.  Just another day at the office.)

The biggest problem with hooking up with an admin would obviously be the next day ramifications.  What are you gonna do when you wake up next to the woman who tapes your receipts for your expense reports and books your travel?  You want her to start inquiring why, exactly, you need to go to Atlanta for two days?  The common assumption is that they would jump to the conclusion that you’re suddenly dating/marriage track, but that seems unlikely in today’s progressive society.  The awkwardness of bumping into someone on the elevator who you drunkenly bumped body parts with can only be handled by certain individuals, individuals in possession of a steely resolve and a iron facade.  And the ability to take the taunting that their mates are gonna hurl their way.  Just don’t do it.

Life experience:  I know a lad, let’s call him Xmashangover, who once violated rule number one on this list (he started early).  Later that night, as he was propped up in a corner wearing a jaunty Santa hat, an older, silicone-enhanced member of the administrative pool offered to help him find his way home.  Despite having a son older than Xmashangover, she predictably attempted to take advantage of his inebriated state.  In possession of the required steely resolve and iron facade, xmho dabbled (allegedly) briefly in some juvenile form of the black arts.  Ever the gentleman, he offered her an (expired) subway card to get home.  As the story goes, he bumped into her on the elevator immediately upon arriving at work the next afternoon  (It’s cool to go in at like 4:30 pm the day after the party).  He offered a brief “hey, how’s it going?” followed by an immediate return to a scintillating game of Brickbreaker.  And things were back to normal.  Textbook – but you need the resolve to pretend nothing ever happened and the facade to never let her see you sweat.  And a sense of humor about hooking up with someone older than your own mom.

Guidance:  Ask yourself how you would deal with a face-to-face meeting, alone in the elevator with the temporary object of your affection.  If your face is glowing crimson, then just move on.  Steel resolve/iron facade required.

7.  Don’t criticize anyone’s eating/drinking habits –  Some people that you work with are actually weird as shit.  Often you won’t notice it as you probably spend most of your “leisurely” work hours with people you can actually stand.  At a holiday party you are going to see your broad group of colleagues doing some weird things – “vegetarians” eating some foie gras, morons putting campari in perfectly good glasses of red bull and vodka, overly appropriate table manners, etc.  Even if drunk, don’t focus on their shortcomings, just have another glass of wine.

Life experience:  I recall at my first ever holiday part at TARP Bank II, seeing a young vice president eating a pear with a knife and fork.  He must’ve cut the thing into like 800 pieces, like he was preparing it for a baby bird with a weakened digestive system.  I prudently drew attention to this practice by screaming “haha, this fucking guy is eating a pear with a knife and fork!  Haha, what kind of fucking idiot would eat a pair with a knife and fork!  Maybe a fork, that I could see, as it appears to be a part of a pear tart, but what is the knife for!  It’s a cooked pear!  It’s like warm fucking butter, dude!  What’s the knife for, tough guy?!”

Guidance:  Keep your head down and focus on getting the carbs up, you should be eating like you’re about to run a double marathon.  Don’t pay attention to what others are doing at the table.  During the token “senior guy sits at a table with juniors to make small talk for five minutes before moving on to the next table,” chuckle accordingly when needed, but generally just focus on the task at hand.  Ignore the odd or unhygienic practices you might see.

8.  Avoid mistletoe – Should be absent at most parties, given the paranoia that most people feel about swapping saliva irreverently (Europeans excepted).  Stay away from the office manager with the mistletoe belt buckle.  Wait, is it mistletoe belt buckle, or camel toe/pig knuckle?  Just stay away from that guy, to be safe.

Life experience:  None, thankfully.

Guidance:  See above.

9.  Don’t dance, period.  If you feel that you must dance, please keep the “daggering” moves in your quiver for BLVD – Pretty self explanatory, but quite often violated by junior folks taking a shot at one of the more attractive admins (and sometimes the attractive female bankers – it’s somewhat rare, but happens more than i’ve given the impression of here).  Given the prevalence of camera/video phones, be very aware of the fact that you are going to be on YouTube.  Fuck, this is probably important enough to be its own point.

Life experience:  None, thankfully.

Guidance:  Seriously, stay at the bar, far from the dance floor.

10.  Beware of motherfuckers with cameras – Beyond just dancing, there are myriad other ways to look like an ass: invading someone’s personal space with a lecherous grin, trying to make out with someone vastly embarrassing  (could be due to age, looks, social standing, preexisting STDs, etc.), eating a pear with a knife.  One of the admins will likely be responsible for taking “action” photos of the entire event and will strive to get a good shot of pretty much everybody, so be on guard.

Life experience:  There are some pretty stupid-looking party photos of me floating around, but that’s because I generally look pretty stupid when drunk.  And when at holiday parties, I am generally drunk.  Transitive property.  There are also about 7.3 billion pictures of people looking even stupider, so heed my warnings.  Heed!

Guidance:  My advice here is pretty much the same as in any other situation I can think of: go to the bar, order a drink and then stand around with a dour look on your face.  Go for the classic “case of the Mondays” look and the photogs will keep their distance.

Part III is coming Friday,