Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: All About Farts. Seriously.

So I’ll be honest. We got a super sincere last minute question in our inbox yesterday. But I’m holding it until next week, because I didn’t want anything to distract from the glorious edition of AP(A)A I have prepared for you today. ‘Tis Thanksgiving week, after all. So let’s give thanks for short advice columns, silly questions, and most of all — for flatulence.

(Reminder: send all your stinky questions to advice@pajiba.com and we’ll take a whiff. Don’t feel self-conscious — if we’re willing to address THIS question, we’ll probably be able to handle whatever you’ve got brewing up inside of you. And yes, if I could have come up with more fart quips to put here, I absolutely would have.)

So here it is, the question that frankly I’m shocked didn’t make its way to us sooner:

Who is the worst?

My partner and I are very comfortable with each other. So comfortable in fact, that farting is just part of life. However, we are two very different people when it comes to gas. My partner farts ALL THE TIME. It is constant and loud. It is so loud that I have been woken up by the sound of his farts. They are sometimes so gross sounding that it makes me a bit nauseated. On the plus side, they don’t always stink. Sometimes they just sound gross. Mind you, he is human, so they do smell more often than not.

Now I don’t have gas as often. When I do, it’s bad. Often silent, but oh so very deadly. It’s the kind of smell the has weight and lingers. When I stand up 10 minutes later, often the fart has hidden a piece of its soul in the seat. It’s released on the world one more time to wreck havoc.
So here is the question: which one of us is the biggest monster?

Thanks,

Toots McGee

First off, let me assure you that farting already IS just a part of life, Toots. Comfort has nothing to do with it. Jodi pointed out this lovely little poem, courtesy of Her Madgesty, which may help put things into perspective:

«A fart is a chemical substance
It comes from a place called bum.
It penetrates through the trousers
And lands with a musical hum.
To fart, to fart, ’tis no disgrace
For it gives the body ease.
It warms the blankets on a cold winter’s night
And suffocates all the fleas.»

That said, some members of staff are of the belief that even when things are natural, it doesn’t mean you should acknowledge them publicly. We all know that we, as humans, are disgusting flesh piles. And yet we have a highly developed sense of shame to help mitigate our essential foulness. Think of it as akin to the public bathroom policy: what occurs in a public bathroom stall may as well occur on a separate plane of existence. It’s not reality, no one can hold you accountable, and as soon as you exit you feign total amnesia of whatever might have happened there. You heard nothing. You smelled nothing. And for the sake of all that is right in this world, you DID nothing. NOTHING HAPPENED, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? NOTHING.

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Following this logic, the answer to your question would be: you’re both monsters, and we’re glad you have found each other, but everyone else needs to continue to pretend that bodily functions are an urban myth for the sake of a civilized society. And also, what’s a «fart»? See — AMNESIA.

Or perhaps I am now the worst, just for having such intimate, detailed knowledge of the fart patterns of two strangers lodged in my head. Your unique brand of extreme honesty has now stripped me of my ignorance. No matter what happens, I’ve lost.

On the other hand, the sheer chutzpah is takes to tell strangers about this stuff IS perversely impressive. And that you chose THIS forum to share the tales of your flatulence is both inspiring and disappointing in equal measures. We’ve attracted you here. So it’s on us, in a way. Is Pajiba, in this case, «the worst»?

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But look, you asked us to engage in a game of (thankfully) long-distance «whose farts are the worst» so of course it comes down to you or your partner. And here’s what we think: You are truly lucky to have found another person to be so comfortable with, and who is so comfortable with you. Your love is strong. So strong that you are able to share… all of yourselves openly and without shame, not only with each other, but with complete strangers on the internet. And we’re happy for you! Specifically, we’re happy that you’re together in a place that hopefully has good ventilation. And so in the spirit of this love, I propose that we let the question of whether the louder farter or the smellier farter is «the worst» slide, and instead be thankful that two people of such differing flatulence found each other in the first place. Neither of you is the better or the worst. You simply balance each other out. Together, you form one complete(ly awful) fart.

Or, to put it another way: together, you’re the biggest monster of all.

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That’s it for this week! I hope that this answer gave you all something to keep in mind as you go for that second helping of turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and pie. May you each spend the holiday with loved ones who balance out the effects of your bodily functions. Or barring that, may you at least luxuriate in your own shameful flatulence alone — without writing to tell a bunch of strangers on the internet about it.

Pajiba

Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: How To Avoid Holiday Obligations, The Pajiban Way!

As I write this, it’s actually snowing outside my window. Snow! From the sky! Which is a pretty good indication that it’s time to start contemplating the holidays. Yes, those food-stuffed celebrations with loved ones are almost upon us. It’s time to haul in those jack-‘o-lanterns and turn them into pies (or just smash them for fun and use the canned shit, it’s easier).

Most of us are looking forward to gorging on Grandma’s apple pie and covering the rest of the offerings in a liberal coating of gravy. And of course spending quality time with friends and family (but seriously — GRAVY TIME). Or, if you’re like the readers who wrote in to us this week, you’re specifically looking for ways to get OUT of awkward Thanksgiving festivities. I wonder why, though?

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Oh right, because shit gets WEIRD. Or worse!

(Remember: You can send all your gravy-coated questions to advice@pajiba.com and we’ll rally to provide dubious solutions. All we ask is that you trust us. Or, realistically, that you ask us stuff anyway because we love talking amongst ourselves about your problems!)

Our first «get me outta Thanksgiving» quandry is… complicated. Take a look:

I have been a pajiba reader for about 2 years now, have devoted most of my time keeping up with new posts on your website and devouring them fully. I have been struggling with a dilemma for quiet some time and I think it is time that I ask random online strangers.

But a history lesson first; My family and I moved here 20 odd years ago and went into business partnership with our family here in USA. Now this US based family is all white (hello marrying outside one’s cultural background). Now in public we do not tell that we are related but privately it has now become a joke like ooh hahaha so & so did not know that we are related and look how they said blah blah blah. Most of the jokes are pointed towards us (brown people here). Now this was pretty harmless psychotic trauma for us kids until the fateful event of last year.

I knew that the senior members of that family are staunch republicans, but now my cousin’s kids were running the junior republican campaigns in our city. It hurt even more when I would confront them saying that what the «he who will never be named by me» has acted in ways that directly and indirectly hurt their brown side of the family these kids would simply shrug and walk away. I stopped meeting them purposely after 11/7/16. But then Thanksgiving 2016 happened, we pretended nothing has happened.

Now here is my question, Thanksgiving is happening soon and again. I have literally volunteered to work that night, but the issue is that the senior member (biz partner remember) has the sway of making sure that I will be off that night and thus attend the family dinner. I do not have it in me anymore to simply «ignore» their thoughts and views without going up in flames. Help me give them a solid reason to avoid this meal.

Thank you

Brown and waiting

Ho. Ly. Shit. Well, first off: this is a great reason why one should never go into business with family. How tied to your job are you, Brown? Because here’s the thing: You shouldn’t have to ignore or choke down this behavior from your supposed loved ones. And your reasons for not wanting to endure another family meal with them are «solid» all on their own — you don’t need us to concoct anything else! Just say, «Look, I can no longer tolerate a group of people who don’t have my best interests at heart, have never acknowledged me as family in public, and who campaign for politicians whose policies are harmful to me and mine. Frankly, the thought of pretending that your views are anything other than disrespectful spoils my appetite.»

But since your job IS tied up in this, and since they ARE family, we understand that the nuclear option may not be feasible. Because of that, we’ve come up with a list of alternative options that don’t involve brutal honesty, because if there’s one thing the Overlords agreed on, it’s that you absolutely should NOT endure another Thanksgiving with these people.

So, here’s what we came up with:

1) Say you’ll go, then suddenly «catch» the Norovirus RIGHT before Thanksgiving. It’s a relatively short-lived, disgusting, and highly contagious bug. They won’t want you there, they won’t want to check in with you, and you can turn up right as rain come Monday without it being suspicious.

2) Use the holiday distraction to seize control of the company from the inside, then show up to dinner and announce your new ownership. To be fair, I’m not a businessperson, so can’t give you any specifics on how to accomplish this one.

3) Do you have a partner? Go to their family celebration, or at least say that’s where you’re going.

4) Claim you have friends who have invited you to visit them for the holiday this year. Those friends are out of town, and have some compelling reason why you really need to see them more than your family this year. Like pregnancy, or terminal illness, or… I dunno, babies or sickness cover most of the bases I think. Then it can suddenly become a «tradition» and you can continue to «visit» these «friends» for years to come (though in that case, go with the baby excuse rather than terminal illness, obviously — and start photoshopping pictures of the «baby» growing up).

5) Extreme, dangerous, and unlikely, but: Can you give THEM the Norovirus, so the whole event gets cancelled?

6) Volunteer! It’s a great way of turning them down while also securing the moral high ground… and, you know, helping people.

7) Ok, this is antithetical to the «get out of Thanksgiving» premise but hear me out: Go to the dinner, be super duper fucking nice, take a LOT of selfies/group photos, and then post them on social media in the most faux-loving way and make it very clear that you’re all one big culturally-mixed family. Tag them if you can. And start speaking openly about these relatives from now on. Break the rules, burn it down, and do it with a smile so they can’t tell if you’re being vindictive or not.

The thing about this situation is that you’ll need to get out of the family dinner this year, AND in future years — because I’m assuming they’re not going to suddenly become less reprehensible. So either you need one hell of a good excuse that can last, or a lot of excuses you can string out over time… or you need to find a new job and then be honest with these assholes, and see what happens. Because here’s the thing — they have spent over 2 decades with your family. Hell, you’ve even confronted some of them! So deep down, we’re willing to bet that they know you’re uncomfortable, and why. The question is how hard would they really push you if you told them that you didn’t want to attend Thanksgiving. How would they respond if you just said «Honestly I don’t feel comfortable» or «I don’t feel welcome» or «I don’t want to listen to political talk because your views hurt me»?

So maybe this year you go with the Norovirus, because time is getting short. But next year? Start expressing your feelings early so they’ll see it coming when you suddenly have places you’d rather be than with them. Or better yet, they’ll just stop inviting you. The best way to get out of a social obligation is to engineer it so that invitation is never extended in the first place! It’s basically the Pajiba way.

And seriously, try and find a new job if you can.

Ok, what’s next? Oh, another person wants to get out of a Thanksgiving meal! Jeez, everybody’s turning down free food this week:

I’m getting invited to holiday meals. I am a single man who does not have family around here so people are inviting me to Theo family gatherings. I’m pretty okay with just declining. I dread several things involved in going to these events: being the outsider, chitchat, knowing what to bring, being around booze (first year sober here), meeting new people, knowing when to arrive/leave, can I bring an iPad to entertain myself, children, saying the wrong thing, are there presents invoked, I don’t eat beef or pork there’s bacon in everything, I can’t cook. So I guess I need advice and perspectives on avoiding feeling obligated to go to one of these. And maybe advice on how to gently turn down offers.

The Overlords had a few questions of our own after reading this particularly inquiry. It sounds like you have some nice, welcoming friends who have invited you to their gatherings. So is the problem that they are twisting your arm about attending, or is the issue that you feel awkward in these sorts of situations and don’t want to participate?

Look, we get it — sometimes people can be pushy when they care about you and worry that you might be *GASP* alone for the holiday. Mostly because THEY hate being alone on holidays and they’re projecting. But that’s on them — you don’t need to feel obligated. Just say you have plans! You don’t need to be specific — «plans» can consist of staying home and binging Netflix for this free National holiday rather than dealing with someone else’s family full of strangers. Or say you’re taking some time for yourself over the holiday, which is true! Also, depending on how open about your sobriety you are with your friends, I think that explaining that it’s still hard to be around alcohol is a genuine and honest way of letting them down without getting into issues of food, iPads, etc.

But if the issue is that you feel uncomfortable at other people’s family gatherings… well, you can still just say «No, thank you.» Because no matter how much someone cares about your wellbeing, if they are hosting a big to-do they will probably be secretly thankful to have one less place to set at the table. Hell, I’m delighted whenever anyone cancels plans with me, and that’s without me having to prepare a big family-style meal for them. They are probably more worried about Grandpa saying something racist in front of the kids than about you turning down their invitation. In fact, they may have invited to you to make themselves feel better… KNOWING THAT YOU’D PROBABLY DECLINE. It’s their way of showing that they give a shit without really having to give a shit. So don’t worry about it too much — there won’t be hard feelings if you decline. Just tell them how much it means to you to be invited, but that you’re looking forward to taking some «me time» this year.

And then TK… well, he had some detailed thoughts. And I quote:

«It’s Thanksgiving, so just eat turkey instead of pork or beef. If you can’t cook, bring something to drink. If you don’t drink, buy a nice dessert. Or bring nothing, they’re not REALLY going to care because there’s going to be more than enough food anyway. Children typically don’t interact with strangers so whatever with that. THEY WILL TELL YOU WHEN TO ARRIVE and you leave whenever the hell you want. If your friends are there, then just stick by them and don’t sweat chitchat or «saying the wrong thing».

Basically, just be a fucking grownup and if you don’t want to go, then be a fucking grownup about that too. Jesus.»

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TK’s speaking from a very biased place, because he LOVES holidays that involve giant gatherings of friends and family (Friendsgiving is the best!), but he’s also onto something. Look, if you’re honestly considering bringing an iPad to someone else’s gathering as a distraction, then yeah — you shouldn’t be attending. But there are ways to cope with the other issues. Don’t know what to bring? Bring flowers. Those will always be welcome! If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, then take your time to consider what you’re saying before you say it. If you need an easy out, explain that you have to leave at a given time when you agree to attend — and that way your departure won’t offend anyone.

The issues you raised aren’t major roadblocks, but you said they cause you «dread» and THAT is what jumps out at me. Sadly it’s too large an issue to tackle in a random internet advice column, as we don’t know the causes, but one thing I can tell you from my own experience is that sometimes the things I dread the most are the things I most need to do. I gain confidence from conquering them, and usually walk away with a special experience, one that prepares me for the next time I’m in an uncomfortable situation.

So sure, you may not need to share Thanksgiving with someone else’s family. Nobody needs that. But perhaps it might open you up. Maybe you’d have a good time. Maybe those people you don’t know would be really cool if you met them. Maybe not being alone on Thanksgiving might be a good thing for you.

That’s for you to judge. But to get back to your questions — they will be fine if you say turn down the invite. They have plenty of other shit to be getting on with. And you shouldn’t feel obligated just because they tried to be nice. But if being honest about your reasons for not attending feels awkward, or if you don’t think they’ll buy that you have firm plans with your couch that day, you can always say you’re volunteering instead. Or, I dunno, you have the Norovirus?

Phew, holidays are HARD. Let’s see if we have any last questions stuffed up inside this big advice bird, shall we?

Oh yes, this is a good one!

So in bed the other night (IT’S NOT THAT KIND OF QUESTION. WAIT. DO YOU TAKE THAT KIND OF QUESTION?) my cat did that cat thing where she suddenly jumped up and stared at something in the corner. Then there came a scratching sound. She chased something around for a bit, but I never saw anything and she came up empty. So basically I’m wondering — should I just burn the place down and start over somewhere far, far away?

Sincerely,

Trying To Dream of Kate McKinnon But Can’t Cause Weird Shit is Happening (But Just the Once)

Dear Trying,

Yeah, I think we DO take that kind of question, actually! I mean, I assume we do. I check the email inbox, and nobody has really tried yet, but if they did I’d probably share it ’round the ol’ Slack watercooler. But also the most extreme sexual experiences I’ve had are less kinky and more horribly embarrassing, so if anyone is planning on writing in with sex questions just know you’ll be relying on the other Pajibans for input. Unless your questions are all about receiving oral sex from dudes who get spontaneous nosebleeds, because THAT is a topic I can speak from experience on!

Annnnyway, maybe you should get a better cat? Because your cat sounds broken. Also I hear from the cat people on staff that sometimes cats are just assholes who troll their humans by going batshit at nothing. Like, it could have been a shadow, or dust, or a feather from your duvet, or the voice of Satan in their own vicious little cat brains. I wouldn’t know — I have a dog, who barks are traffic lights for no reason. But one Cat-jiban recommended investing in more cats, so they can troll each other and/or better protect you in the long, dark nights.

On the plus side, that scratching sound could have been from your cat, scratching at nothing. Or, you know, you might have to accept the fact that you have mice or cockroaches or chipmunks or something. In which case the reason it only happened once is because your cat ISN’T broken and did it’s job scaring the beasties away. Hooray for kitty! Or the critters just got smarter and are regrouping, quietly plotting a household coup.

There is a slight chance that you don’t have a normal infestation, and instead there’s a ghost-demon in your wall. In which case burning the place might work, if we take Supernatural as canon on all things ghostly (AND WE DO, WE REALLY DO). If you do nothing, you can rest assured that it will have to go through your cat to get to you, in which case your cat will have served a noble purpose, buying you time to make your escape. Be sure to memorialize it appropriately. Alternately, the wall-ghost-thing could possess the cat, in which case you’re extra screwed. Keep some fire handy.

You know what? Just burn everything. We’re in the death-throws of 2017. It’s time to burn it all anyway. And if anyone asks what happened, just blame your broken cat!

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Pajiba

Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: Crap Co-Workers, Life Essentials, And Irrational Hatred

Gather round, friends! It’s time for another weekly helping of advice, served lukewarm by a bunch of people who can’t agree on what a sandwich is (seriously, we just fought about it on Friday). This week the Overlords tackled a question that divided us, a question that united us, and a question that basically described us. Confused? You won’t be, after this episode of Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything!

Yeah that’s right, I referenced a 40-year-old sitcom in the intro because I’m current AF. What? WHAT?

(Remember: you can email us at advice@pajiba.com and we just might answer you in a future installment! Just know that even if you don’t see your question addressed in a column, it doesn’t mean we didn’t read it and/or discuss it. We read all your emails. Even the weird ones soliciting business from my boss that I definitely don’t forward along…)

Any-whoodle, let’s get advisin’, shall we? This inquiry is getting top billing today because it’s a great social conundrum, and also because the person who sent it proclaimed their Chris Evans allegiance. It’s like they just get me, ya know?

Greetings, almighty Overlords!

I don’t know if this falls under silly or serious, so take it as you wish. My husband is currently working a shitty job with a Commute From Hell (aka min 45 minutes one way, usually 1.5h). Normally, he uses this time to decompress by, in the morning, calling me up to wake me slowly with a mostly boring recounting of what his schedule will be for the day (this is actually a really nice, gentle way to wake up). On his drive home, he calls his parents (they’re the best and he is a MUCH better son than I am daughter).

Anyway. He has this Fucking Guy at work that literally everyone hates. Aggressive dude with low self esteem that he makes everyone else’s problem sort of dude. Gets angry when you ask him if he’s ever going to put a door on his car (answer: no), or get his oil changed (answer: no). Well, since Husband unfortunately has charisma flowing out of his goddamn ass, this dude, like literally everyone else, has attached himself to him.

And then he (surprise!) destroyed his car. So Husband, being the magnanimous person that he is, offered the guy a ride that day till he got a new ride. That was 2 fucking months ago! Two months without my alarm, without him getting a chance to debrief with his folks, and he’s too damn fucking nice to tell this Fucking Guy to shove it up his own ass (something about professional courtesy and it being a small profession where everyone knows everyone). This guy is clearly now just relying on Husband for transportation (which stresses the shit out of Husband because when you’re in a car with a continuously, angrily anxious person for 2 hours a day instead of talking to people you like or listening to music has that effect). He has even said that he apparently can’t afford a new car right now so he’s not sure how long this arrangement that Husband did not actually agree to will last (note that he’s making near 100k and has no dependants).

So, Overlords, is the only solution not to murder him and hide the body? How does Husband get this Fucking Guy to leave him the fuck alone without creating bad blood?

Yours truly,
Sleep Deprived Spouse
#Evans4BestChris
#ItsNotOverTillItsOver

First Slack response, from TK: «Ugh, that’ll teach you: Never be nice, people. No good can come of it.» He’s right! (but, like, don’t tell him I said that)

This was actually a very interesting question, one that divided the Overlords into two neat groups: the ones who know how to establish firm boundaries, and the ones who will bend over backwards to avoid social awkwardness. And before you ask — yes, those impulses are absolutely at odds. Let me explain.

My first reaction was to recommend breaking the cycle somehow. Take a vacation, or lie about the car being in the shop, or say you and your husband have couples counseling right after work — anything to get out of giving this asshole a ride for a week or so. Presumably he’d need to find a new ride to work. And then… just don’t check back in with him about it. Avoid him. Make excuses. See what he does. In an ideal world, dude has found someone else to take advantage of — or barring that, he takes it personally and yells at your husband at work, giving hubby an excuse to report him to HR (or at least be offended and say he won’t be talked to that way, allowing him a way to get out of future rides while making the asshole freeloader the bad guy).

And several Overlords went along that vein with me, coming up with bigger and better ruses to get out of this situation. Start playing self-help audiobooks in the car, or leave food to spoil under the seats, or remove the passenger seat entirely — anything to make this free ride an endurance test. Hell, fake a DUI! Can’t drive if you’ve lost your license, right? Or get a motorcycle! Take the bus! Quit the job! Fake an emotional breakdown behind the wheel, causing you to drive erratically!

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And then those OTHER Overlords chimed in, with their reasonable solutions and «just act like a fucking adult» attitudes. Have your husband set firm boundaries. Maybe he tells the co-worker that he feels taken advantage of (ick!) or maybe he just picks a date after which he will no longer be able to provide free rides. Don’t justify, don’t argue — just state it with a smile (who argues against friendliness? MONSTERS, THAT’S WHO). It’s not rude to put your foot down like that, it’s informational.»Glad I could help you, but just wanted to let you know that after next week I’m not going to be able to give you a ride to work anymore.» Seems easy, right? But since this is a co-worker, and since the dude sounds fucking AWFUL, and since your husband is literally trapped in a moving vehicle with him for hours on end, your husband probably WILL need to offer up a reason. So have him blame you. «Hey sorry, can’t give you a ride anymore — I have to do [insert something] for my wife after work, for the rest of forever.» The thing about marriage is that it trumps everything else. It’s the perfect smokescreen. There is no wheedling when the wife-hammer comes down — because even if your husband had a great relationship with this guy, YOU ARE STILL MORE IMPORTANT. And what goes on between partners isn’t the business of anyone else anyway. Just make sure you, as the living excuse, are prepared to deal with this asshole should he corner you about it at a work party or something.

And if he does approach you like that, have your husband report it to HR. Getting this asshole fired ALSO gets your husband out of chauffeur duty. And if none of this works? Yeah, fuck it, go with the third option — MURDER.

(To be clear, though: if the choice is between having one honest, direct, and potentially uncomfortable confrontation or coming up with a never-ending stream of passive aggressive plots and outright lies, I will avoid confrontation EVERY FUCKING TIME. Which sucks, because I’m also a terrible liar.)

Next up: the question that proved the Overlords have their priorities straight.

My wife and I just got married, and also moved into a new house. We’re a little flush with cash from wedding presents after all the dust has settled, but not so flush as to be able to make more than one insanely expensive purchase.

We need a new couch, as the old one has not held up nearly as well as we had hoped. Sure, it holds people, but it’s probably falling apart faster rather than slower. We would also like to get a dog, and we can’t rescue because my wife’s whole family is allergic and I don’t like the idea that they will never be able to come to our home. In our city, putting our name down with a breeder for hypoallergenic dogs costs about as much as couch. Finally, we want a new bed. The old one is fine, but it’s small (a full, that I’ve had since 2012, and is definitely older than that). It’s been on my wife’s kill-list since we moved in together a year ago, and we should finally get a real bed frame and a mattress that won’t require the constant intervention of a pad to make it comfortable.

We can probably only afford one of the three, right now. The other two might come over time, but it will be at least 6-10 months before another large purchase of this scale. So, what comes first: New couch, new dog, new bed?

Best,
Trying to Prioritize

What comes first, you ask? The Overlords all agree: BED. Get a new fucking bed! Why are you even asking us this? How did you get married AND get a house, all while sleeping on a busted-ass, used, full-size mattress? Your wife wants the bed, and besides — a good night’s sleep is the gift that keeps on giving.

Ok, let’s unpack this a little more, so you’ll see why we’re extra super duper right on this. Dogs and couches are things you can get for free (perhaps, in terms of furniture, it’s not advisable, but still — YOU CAN). However, you almost never want to get some random free bed. So it’s a good thing you don’t have to! There is a pretty fascinating history around mattress retail markups (which we covered here), but the salient point here is that it’s not hard to find a mattress on sale. Whether you’re walking into Sleepy’s during a President’s Day 50% Off Sale or using a podcast discount code on a Casper mattress, you can find something to fit your budget. One Overlord pointed to the steep discounts some retailers offer on on mattresses returned during the first 120 days (and which are bug-free).

You can sometimes find financing through retailers, or you could sign up for a credit card with 0% APR during the first year or so. This might allow you to afford a bed AND a couch, if you know you can pay it all off before the interest rate kicks in. Seriously — do not do this unless you know you can beat the deadline, because the interest will be a killer. But it’s a handy option for big purchases if you’re responsible, and it’ll improve your credit rating to boot!

If you’ve researched hypoallergenic dog breeds, you can always reach out to local shelters and ask to be notified if any dogs that fit those particular breeds come in. It’s not a sure bet, as often the shelter doesn’t know for sure what breed the dog is, but it might be a place to start while you wait until you can afford the breeder. You never know, you might luck out. And if you’re serious about getting a dog, you’ll want to hold off on getting a new couch anyway — just in case you end up with a chewer or something. But you’ll be real glad that you already got that fancy bed:

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We think the couch is a low priority, mostly because people can sit on almost anything. You can find a decent sofa at a yard sale if you try, or just drive around a fancy college campus around graduation! The rich kids are in such a hurry to get out of their dorms that they leave behind a LOT of good shit because, duh, why bother moving it when mommy and daddy are buying them a fully furnished new apartment anyway? I’M NOT BITTER YOU’RE BITTER!

I’m also a big fan of the cheap couch purchase — the affordable, short-lived thing that tides you over until you can invest in the pricey one that will last forever. It’s wasteful, but c’mon — we can’t all afford leather chesterfields on the first go. And if you wanna be REALLY cost effective: why not a sofa bed or futon? TWO BIRDS ONE STONE, BABY!

And finally, a reader wrote in with a question after our cold, dark hearts:

Is there a word for when you hate something stupid (say, the Minions from Despicable Me, ugh) and you know it’s stupid to hate the minions for real, but you hate the minions anyway, and it’s with a burning sun level of hate, like with all of your deep dark heart, but you also know that it’s stupid to put real energy into hating the minions so the hate manifests as a rageful GHUHAAA every time someone else mentions the minions and if someone likes the minions, it is definitely a deal breaker in any sort of relationship, and when someone asks you why you hate the minions so much your brain can’t even come up with a reason why anyone would even like the minions so you just hate them and they look at you like you’ve lost your mind?

Just asking for a friend.

Dear Just Asking,

You’ve come to the right place. We totally get your hate. In fact, you feel about Minions the way I feel about Daniel Day-Lewis. And if you had asked what the word was for BLOGGING about that feeling of intense, stupid hatred, we’d have told you it was «Pajiba.» But since you’re literally just asking for the best word (or phrase, we’re gonna expand this question a bit) for that hatred on its own, it got our team brainstorming.

And this is what we came up with.

«Irrational»

«First World Problems»

«Reasonable»

«Exhausting»

«Justifiable»

«Unattractive» (or «Attractive» — this is a subjective term)

Genevieve looked up some expressive German words for you, and found:

Fuchsteufelswild, which is «fox-devil wild» or, you know, «ragey»

Backpfeifengesicht, which means basically a face that’s begging to be slapped

But the winner, hands down, is Dustin — WHO FOUND THE MINION TRANSLATION!

Turns out «I hate» in Minionese is «Tatata bala.» So when you want to express how much you loath those little yellow fiends, why not do so in their own language?

But remember, the Despicable Me minions aren’t the ONLY minions out there. The Monarch has his henchmen, who are, let’s face it, basically minions:

Or there’s Professor Chaos, whose minions are hamsters wrapped in tinfoil:

chaosminions.png

You, ah, don’t wanna see what he does with his minions in the new South Park video game…

Point is, don’t hate the minion. Hate the game.

Pajiba

UPDATE: Disney Caved! Related: Pajiba 10 Will Be Open To All Hot Chrises Once Again!

Well, that didn’t take long. Earlier today, the New York Times joined the growing list of media outlets boycotting advance press screenings of Disney films, in solidarity with their colleagues at the Los Angeles Times. In retaliation for a two-part investigative article the L.A. Times had published last month detailing the complicated business ties between Disney and the city of Anaheim, CA (home of Disneyland), Disney had instituted an media blackout on L.A. Times film critics, barring them from press screenings starting with Thor: Ragnarok. And nobody, not even Disney’s own directors, felt good about that shit:

Now, the NY Times reports that Disney has lifted the ban, amidst growing and vocal backlash from the industry. In a statement, Disney said:

We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.

Well alrighty then. I guess everything is ok, and nobody will ever remember this little «freedom of the press»-suppressing episode. The good news is that Pajiba can now announce that, in light of the L.A. Times getting their press access reinstated, we will be opening up next year’s Pajiba 10 rankings to include Disney talent once again. Will Chadwick Boseman take the top spot? Be sure to vote next summer, assuming Disney doesn’t commit anymore fuckery we need to take a stand against.

Admit it. It was that Pajiba threat that really made all the difference.

Pajiba

Warwick Davis’s Reddit AMA Reveals Which Side He Stands On in One of the Great Pajiba Debates

British actor Warwick Davis is a bit of an institution. He has built an illustrious career in film and TV ever since being cast as the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi ’83. He popped by Reddit HQ earlier today for an Ask Me Anything, during which he provided an answer to a very important question around these parts…

You can check out the full thread here, but below you will find some highlights as well as his position on the aforementioned matter…

Hey reddit, Warwick Davis here. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some of the greatest sci-fi, adventure, and fantasy films of all time, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Willow and Labyrinth.

I am currently hosting ITV’s quiz show Tenable on every day at 3pm, as well as producing a new musical called Eugenius!

Alright, I think that’s it! Ask me anything!

blushing_fae
You played three different roles in Harry Potter, how easy was it to keep all the characters distinct when playing them? Were you familiar with the Harry Potter universe before taking on the roles?

You have to approach each character differently. it starts with the way they think, then add body language and posture. They become distinct and different automatically, it wasn’t a conscious effort.

AneiraKaterina
Hello!!! If you could adopt any fantasy beast or creature from the various universes you’ve acted in as a pet, what would you choose?

I like the look of the Porgs in The Last Jedi.

GurvHD
Hi Warwick, How different did it feel working on the newest Star Wars films to how it was back in the 80s?

It’s really not that different. I find it just as exciting as I did when I was 11 and many of the techniques used have not changed at all.

sonofaBilic
Hi Warwick, what’s with the name Warwick? Is it ‘cos you were conceived in Warwick Castle?
Also, do you refer to your own house as Warwick’s castle? missed opportunity if not.
All the best.

My name was seen by my parents as graffiti on a train station wall. It turns out it’s a good name for an actor as it’s quite unusual.

I often refer to my house as Warwick’s Castle on my quiz show, Tenable.

vagabondhermit
Favorite sandwich?

Cheese salad.

thebeautifulellen
Hello Mr. Davis, out of all the prosthetics and makeup you’ve had to wear, which was your favorite and which was the most difficult to have applied?

The Griphook make-up in Harry Potter was the most challenging. It was very heavy and restrictive but I think it looked incredible. I have so much respect for Nick Dudman and his team of artists.

KngHrts2
Mr. Davis, what’s it like being part of two of the biggest franchises (Star Wars and Harry Potter) of all time?

I feel incredibly lucky.

TheRealShnozberrys
Which Leprechaun movie was your favorite, and if you could pick any setting for a future movie, what would you choose?

Lep 3. I think it would be fun to do a Leprechaun / Pirates hybrid movie.

mgoyoda
What’s your favorite song?

Thanks for doing this, and for all of your work!

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. I had so much fun performing the song in the musical, Spamalot.

cademd
With well over 30 years of acting under your belt, where would you like the next 10 to go Mr Davis?

I’d love to host a TV talk show. I have a title… ‘Small Talk with Warwick Davis’

brusty
What are your favorite TV shows right now?

I am absolutely loving Stranger Things 2. I have resisted watching the whole series in one sitting, instead savouring one episode each evening. If they do make a season 3, I will personally travel to and camp outside The Duffer Bros. house to get a part.

fr4gge
What is your dream roll in a movie?

A spy like James Bond.

HillsHoistRepresent
Hello. Forgive me if this comes out offensive, none is meant.

I really love your work and think you are a great actor. Sometimes I feel like you are somewhat typecasted into rolls inherently designed for little people. Is it hard or even possible to get major roles that are open and not little specific? It’s an honest question becuase i would love to see you just act in a position. I feel like every time I’ve seen you do this its in an project of your own device. Anyway, would love to hear from you mate.

I am very happy with the roles I have been getting throughout my career. They have all been interesting and I am constantly being pushed creatively and learning new skills. I have a new quiz show called ‘Tenable’ on ITV in the UK and I can honestly say I love hosting it even though it is more difficult than playing a character in a movie, for example.

Sepherocky
Warwick, if you could cast any spell only once each day, what would it be?

An anti-discrimination spell.

WarpedLucy
Life’s Too Short is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. Would you like to do more comedy?

Thank you. I love doing comedy even though it’s often harder than doing drama.

SpookyLlama
What role would you like to be remembered for?

Not sure which role but as an actor who just happens to be short!

TheCrashTheory
What was it like working with Val Kilmer?

I think Val is a brilliant person and actor. We got along great, and still do. He is often misrepresented in the media, which is a shame.

chillkiwi85
Hi Mr Davis, I have been a fan of yours since I was very young, I spent many days pretending to be Wicket playing in the forrest near my home. But without a doubt Willow holds the closest place to my heart — do you have any stories about Val Kilmer from your time on the film and do you do any magic tricks yourself? Thanks and never stop being awesome!

Val Kilmer once broke my pair of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses on purpose. Waited for me to get annoyed, then gave me 2 pairs of real Ray-Bans.

I learnt magic for Willow but don’t practice any of the tricks now.

corsair1617

I absolutely love Willow. I killed my vhs as a kid I watched it so much. Would you be willing to do a sequel even after so long? It would be cool to see you ask the next generation what finger holds the magic to change the world.

An older Willow would be interesting to explore.

Then there’s this glorious moment when talk of a potential Willow sequel brings Val Kilmer (himself an active Redditor) out of the woodwork:

redditwarwickval.png

But now, finally, for that Very Important Question…

TheDrCharlie
Mr Davis, if you could choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?

—CAKE OR PIE, WARWICK?! PAJIBA MUST KNOW!—

Pie.

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Well there you have it. Even Warwick Davis can be 100% wrong.

——

Petr Knava lives in London and plays music

Pajiba

Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: Music Snobs Are Just The F**king Worst

It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means — it’s time to answer some questions while eating all the candy we bought for trick-or-treaters, because HAPPY HALLOWEEN, YA’LL! In this week’s spooktastic installment of Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything, we’ve got a spectrum of relationship issues. Namely, one person hates their partner’s taste in music, and another person needs help being supportive to a partner who struggles with mental illness. So why is this so spooky? Because they came to US for help. How scary is that?

(Remember: you can email us at advice@pajiba.com and we just might answer you in an upcoming column! Entertain us with your wackiest questions, and we’ll entertain you with our most thoughtless responses.)

First up — this music snob:

I work from home/don’t really work and listen to music all day long. My husband has an office job so he can only listen to the music in the car. We drive around a lot together, which means I listen to a lot of the sh!t he likes.

What sh!t is that? Pop. Brain-dead, formulaic pop. I could put up with it if it disappeared when I got out of the car, but instead I find ear worms are stuck in my head literally every moment I sleep. Sia, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons, all those fake Irish bands that hit their guitars with their hands and chant «Oh-woe!» … I know all of the hits. I recently spent three months humming, nonstop, Despacito, which I think is Spanish for «Abandon all hope when this song gets in your head.»

Any ideas? Taking the bus and wearing earplugs are my top two solutions.

First off, your question brought to mind an old Winchester family saying…

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Look, as you admitted yourself — you get to listen to whatever music you want all day long, if you care to. Maybe you just need to find your own ear worms. You know, music that you DO like, that will get stuck in your head. That way it won’t matter what your husband listens to — you can drown it out by singing Radiohead to yourself or whatever. Or work out a compromise where you alternate on who gets to pick radio stations or something.

But if you expected us to be sympathetic to your pop music meltdown, you came to the wrong place. Ain’t nothing wrong with pop music! The Beatles were pop music, for fucks sake! DO YOU HATE THE BEATLES?! Granted, not all pop music is as good as Carly Rae Jepsen (LET ME GUESS YOU HATE HER TOO?!), but there is nothing «brain-dead» about pop. In fact, the formulaic nature that you condemn is an art form all its own — something that isn’t as easy as you think to reproduce. I’m not saying I enjoy every song that comes on the radio, but there is room to appreciate the talent it takes to create an ear worm. Something that actually DOES stick with people, long after they’ve heard it. In fact, there’s a whole podcast called «Switched On Pop» which is dedicated to analyzing chart-topping songs from a music theory perspective — breaking down the styles and influences and showing how complex popular music really is.

However, just like your husband is entitled to love his Top 40 shit, you’re entitled to be a giant music snob. And really, neither of you has a right to hold the other one hostage to your music tastes. So either buy each other headphones or find music you can BOTH tolerate as a compromise. Start building an acceptable playlist that appeals to both of you. And let’s be honest: there ARE pop songs out there that are impossible to hate. Ones that even the snobbiest of music snobs will appreciate. Like, find me one fucking person who doesn’t sing along to Britney Spears’ Toxic when it comes on. FIND ME ONE. And don’t say Petr, because he admitted that even HE jams out to that song if it starts playing.

(On the other hand, not one Overlord would stand up and defend the Chainsmokers. Our reactions ranged from «Who?» to «The lyrics the fucking lyrics are so fucking bad I hate hate hate literally dies.» Actually, to be honest, our discussion of this whole question devolved into an extended rant about the Chainsmokers.)

And if this is all a little too «reasonable» for you, one Overlord might have a rather more dramatic solution to your problem: «Go down to the car late one night. Grab the tire iron. Smash out the window so it looks like a robbery and take the stereo and whatever loose change is in there. You know, make it look real legit.»

Next up: A nice person.

So you’ve probably answers some fun and silly questions at this point. Let’s talk real for a minute.

How do you date someone who struggles with mental illness? [feel free to rephrase to make me look like not a complete dickhead]

I’ve been dating a girl for about two and a half months who, though I don’t know for certain, has insinuated that she’s been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She also has medical issues that can cause debilitating pain for a few days at a time every few months. Lately, she’s been struggling with anxiety about her new job and another episode of her medical condition.

She has told me that lately she feels like I’ve been trying to be a hero or savior. I’m cognizant of the fact that I can’t «fix» her (thank’s You’re the Worst!), but I’m trying to be supportive. I’m trying to be the least difficult person in her life, someone she can be sad or angry around without judgement or having expectations, and I’m totally okay just sitting on the couch with her while she watches Law and Order reruns. Am I an asshole for encouraging her to go for a walk to get out of the house for a little bit after she recovered from her medical episode? How can I be supportive and encouraging without being season 2 Shitty Jimmy?

I love that you think we’ve gotten silly questions. HAVE YOU READ THIS COLUMN LATELY? Everyone asks us serious shit. Feminism, racism, bullying. I’d fucking LOVE it if people would ask us fun things for a change, like «Are flip-flops the greatest or an abomination?» I have thoughts on that! I could share those thoughts! But instead, ok let’s talk about your relationship.

Good news — it sounds like you’re doing a great job. Honestly, I think that every partner should try to be the least difficult person in their significant other’s life, just generally. And trying to keep things low pressure while allowing your girlfriend to be herself without judgement or expectation seems like it’s exactly the right instinct in this situation. Because you really CAN’T fix her. In fact, the «fixer» mentality is something to be wary of.

Look, it’s early days yet. Only two and a half months into the relationship, and already you’re thinking about how to be the best partner you can be given her conditions. But I’m also not surprised that you don’t have a full rundown of exactly what your girlfriend has been diagnosed with, or what her history is. Insinuations plus what you’ve seen with your own eyes isn’t a lot to go on, but the fact that she’s let you in as far as she has is meaningful. Because whatever her diagnosis is, it’s a part of her. It’s just one part of who she is. And it’s her story to tell. While you’re still getting to know her, it’s important that you learn to accept her — without jumping to conclusions. And by that I mean that she isn’t defined by her mental illness, or her physical illness. They might contribute to her emotional reactions, but they also might not. She could be having a bad day because she’s having a bad day, not because of anxiety or depression or anything else. So unless she’s talking to you about her mental state, don’t speculate. Be open and nonjudgemental, and trust that she knows herself well enough to clue you in to what you need to know, when you need to know it. Be supportive by simply being there if she needs you. But don’t assume that she’s always going to need you.

The fact is that everybody has issues, whether they’re medical or mental; whether they’re diagnosed, or temporary, or due to circumstances beyond our control. We all have our ups and downs. Life happens. People are complex, and learning to navigate another person’s complexities is the main challenge of any new relationship. And while her ups and downs may be harder for you to learn to navigate, it doesn’t mean you necessarily need to approach this very differently than you would any other relationship, with the caveat that it’s even more important that you learn to just listen to her. Don’t do. Just listen.

Not everyone likes to feel like someone is hovering over them, worrying. It can feel patronizing, or suffocating, or just irritating. Which may be why she’s already saying that she feels like you’re trying to be a hero or something. While I’d say your instincts are great, I don’t know how they are coming across in practice — that is something you need to pay attention to. When you mentioned trying to get her out of the house, I can see that it might come across as being a little too hands on, because it is clearly a suggestion for HER benefit. But what if you instead decided that YOU wanted to go on a walk, and invited her to join you. And if she says no, you go anyway on your own. Because taking the pressure off of her is key. You aren’t doting on her. You aren’t structuring your activities around her. You aren’t codependent. You are inviting her to be a part of YOUR activities, because you like her company. It’s just normal. And if you get more concerned, and start feeling like she really should be getting fresh air or whatever — try talking to her about it. Because she may have reasons for not wanting to leave, and it gives her an opportunity to understand your thought processes, so instead of getting annoyed with you later on she can appreciate what you’re going through.

Another thing to be mindful of is that it is easy to become so concerned with her mental or emotional state that you ignore your own. Everyone in a relationship needs to vent, to talk things out, to gain perspective from friends or loved ones outside of the relationship. So don’t lose sight of the fact that YOUR feelings, needs, and mental health are important as well. And that means learning how and when to address problems in your relationship with your girlfriend. Because just as you’re concerned for her, she should be for you as well. A healthy relationship goes both ways. It’s finding the right balance. So you’ll support her if she has to cancel on plans at the last minute, but you’ll also need to find the right time to tell her how that made you feel. Maybe it’s after the moment has passed, but don’t be so concerned with protecting her that you shove aside your own feelings forever. That isn’t healthy. Relationships are built on communication, and now is the time you start figuring out how to communicate effectively with each other. And if you’re lucky, you’ll continue to figure that shit out for years to come. BECAUSE IT NEVER FUCKING ENDS.

And yes, some days she may need to wallow. Some days she may push you away, or take things out on you. Some days you may do the same to her, for your own reasons! But as long as you aren’t judging her or blaming her, you’re in a good place. I can’t say for certain that you’ll never need to push her or urge her to do something, but for now that shouldn’t be your concern. You are still in the get-to-know-you period, so just focus on getting to know her. Not her illness, just HER. And make sure she is getting to know you as well.

That’s all for this week, folks. May your evening be full of tricks and treats, may you all practice the appropriate level of jack-o’-lantern fire safety, and remember: those masks could be hiding ANYTHING. Trust no one.

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Pajiba

Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: Is This Guy Too Feminist To Marry His Girlfriend?

Welcome back to the gift that keeps on giving… advice! This week on Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything, we’re doing a deep dive on one single question, because it turns out the Overlords are chock full of feelings about marriage… and men who use the phrase «my feminism» with a (presumably) straight face. And this question is a double whammy of those exact things!

(Remember: you can email us your biggest/smallest/most pointless questions at advice@pajiba.com and we might just answer you here, in a future column! Or we might not. You don’t own us.)

Ok, so — here is the question that set the Overlord Slack channel ablaze with opinions:

Hey Overlords,

(Insert preamble about name we decided to change anyway). Wanted your thoughts on something my girlfriend of 3 years and I have been discussing lately. First, some background. We met working in Democratic politics. We’re both very liberal and very feminist. We split the cost of almost every meal we’ve ever had, rent, utilities, etc. We try our best to avoid patriarchal bullshit.

She wants to get married and have kids. I don’t find marriage to be all that important, partly because of its ties to patriarchy but also I just don’t care about how society views my relationship. I’ve actively committed to being in this monogamous relationship and intend on staying. To me, that should be enough. But hey, relationships are about give and take, finding common ground. So because it’s important to her I’m fine with getting married. No big deal.

But the problem is everything surrounding and leading up to the marriage. We’re all familiar with how it works. The guy spends a ridiculous amount of money on an engagement ring, plans an event where he asks her (possibly after asking permission from her father, *insert extremely exaggerated eye roll here*), and then the planning of whatever type of ceremony you can afford (which again, usually involves a ridiculous amount of money).

We both got laid off from the jobs we met at. I just recently managed to find a mediocre-paying job after 7 months of unemployment while she went back to school to become a teacher. We don’t make much money and don’t come from family money. Even if I could scrape it together, wouldn’t that money be better spent saving for a down payment on a house in the ridiculously expensive Nashville housing market (because fuck apartments)?

Putting finances aside, what bugs me the most about the engagement ring (Which, honestly, I was kind of surprised she wanted. She’s not big on jewelry and doesn’t like diamonds) and proposal is the unequal aspect of it. A foundation of our relationship is that we’re equals. So it feels wrong that I bear the burden of the proposal and ritualistic gift-giving. Am I missing arguments that justify this stuff that don’t rely on the tradition of sexism? Is it just me being selfish that I don’t want to be the only one proposing and giving gifts (why a gift at all)?

We actively talk about this stuff. This isn’t something I’ve come to you with first. But I wanted to get an outside perspective on this because I can get locked into my ideals, one of which is to not waver on something I think it very important. I don’t think I should leave my feminist ideals aside here. But I realize that even though ideals come from a good place (equality, justice) that doesn’t automatically lead to the right solution. And I realize my feminism is always a work in progress. So I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks,
Super Chill Guy Who Totally Sounds Like An Ideal Husband In Every Way

First off, Guy — Let me just thank you for sending us your question. We’ve been getting a lot of serious, heartfelt queries which are, you know, fine I guess. But THIS? This shit right here?! This gave us something to sink our teeth into.

Our initial instinct was not to address our response to you, but to pen our advice directly to your special lady friend instead. Spoiler alert: it would have mostly centered around not getting legally and emotionally attached to someone who seems more concerned with satisfying his personal politics than seeing to the happiness of his partner. But you’re the one that took the time to write, and angry knee-jerk reactions aside, there is something valid at the root of all this: namely, can marriage ever be a process rooted in feminism and equality?

Short answer: duh, of course it can. Look, nobody needs to get married in order to have a meaningful long-term relationship. And not all marriages have to be rooted to tradition. If a couple wants to enter into a legally binding partnership for whatever reasons, they should examine the rituals and traditions and pick the ones that are most meaningful to them and mold them into something special — or discard them and make up their own. A feminist marriage is anything you decide it should be. And we’ve got loads of tips for how to have meaningful, non-traditional engagements and weddings.

Before we get to all that, however, let’s take a moment to do a close reading of your email. You made it abundantly clear that you’re feminist, you’re into a very literal definition of «equality,» and you don’t like «patriarchal bullshit.» Cool. But here’s the thing, and take it from a bunch of married Overlords: perfect split-straight-down-the-middle equality is impossible in a relationship. That’s why there’s compromise! Sure, you guys share bills now. That’s great. Maybe you keep a ledger of every coffee run, and make sure you reimburse each other at the end of each month. Whatever floats your boat. But even based on your description, it sounds like you’re bringing in more money than she is, as she’s gone back to school. Are you nickel and dimeing each other, or are you working together toward a future, knowing that in the short term that means that one of you may be contributing less to the finances? And speaking of the future, you said she wants marriage AND kids. So are you going to split that whole pregnancy thing with her? Are you going to share the labor pains? Fuck no, you aren’t. You’re gonna be emotionally supportive as all hell and she’ll still be the one pushing a human being out of her body into the world, because that’s how it goddamn works. Perfect equality may be unrealistic, but compromise is key. Because if you communicate on your priorities, and are both satisfied with the divisions qualitatively, if not quantitatively, then that’s all that matters. You’re the ones who decide what your partnership is all about.

And on that whole marriage and babies thing — you said that SHE wants it. And that you’re fine with it. «No big deal.» That… is the least romantic thing I’ve ever heard. Look, nobody wants their partner to be «fine» with marriage or think that taking that step is «no big deal.» IT IS A VERY BIG DEAL. The fact that she’s asking for this means that it matters to her. So is she dragging you into this unwillingly? Are you just shrugging and going along with this because you decided to be monogamous with her, or are you doing this because you love her and want to make her happy by taking this step? And what about kids? Are you just «fine» with those too, or do you want them with her? Just flagging because even if you’re gonna shrug your way to the altar, do NOT shrug your way into fatherhood.

As far as marriage being rooted in patriarchy, let’s first acknowledge that people have been getting married far longer than feminism was even a thing. And in that grand history, there are many societal traditions from around the globe. Some of them sucked for women, true — but some didn’t. Weddings aren’t a one-size-fits-all process. They are rooted in the culture and the time period. And furthermore, people have been getting married while broke, and busy, and liberal. So there is precedent for making YOUR wedding something that fits with YOUR politics and beliefs. And as far as caring about how society views your relationship, yeah you’re right. Don’t do it for that. Do it because it seems to be important to how your girlfriend views your relationship.

Also, not for nothing, but when you said «I don’t think I should leave my feminist ideals aside here» — did you stop to think that your girlfriend, who is the actual woman in this relationship, doesn’t seem to have any conflict between HER feminist ideals and the concept of marriage? If this isn’t a problem for her feminism, why is it for yours? She would appear to have a lot more riding on the whole female empowerment thing. In all your discussions, have you addressed why this DOESN’T bother her? Because I have a feeling she knows exactly how to reconcile marriage and feminism. Just saying.

You seem concerned with the process of getting engaged and planning a wedding. Which is fair. It can be tedious and daunting. Based on your email, I’m not clear how many of your concerns are rooted in your girlfriend’s expectations or just your own concept of what «marriage» entails, but assuming she DOES actually want the whole shebang, let’s walk through it.

The Ring

You said your girlfriend doesn’t like diamonds, so does she actually expect a diamond ring? Because the concept of the «traditional» diamond engagement ring is a fairly recent invention, but the idea of a ring in general can be lovely. Think of it an an instant heirloom, something that can be passed down through generations. It’s something to show off, and talk about. It’s symbolic — representing whatever you both want it to. And it doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. Buy vintage! Buy a toy ring! It can be any stone or design that is meaningful to you both. My husband bought me a pearl ring from Brilliant Earth. I dunno if it was designed as an engagement ring, but he proposed with it and now it’s MY engagement ring.

And do you know what? I gave HIM an engagement ring too. Because for MY feminism, it made me feel better to not be the only one in our relationship walking around with a ring on my finger like a giant «CLAIMED» sign. Now, in terms of cost our rings weren’t equal. I just gave him an old thumb ring of mine that had sentimental value. But he cherished it, because of the meaning behind it. Because engagement rings, like any gifts, aren’t about money or ritual. It’s the thought that counts.

If money is an issue, however, perhaps you can talk to your girlfriend about skipping the engagement ring and focusing on the wedding? You don’t need a ring to be engaged, as long as you both agree that you are, you know, engaged. You can always give her a rock to wear later, if it matters.

Planning an event to ask her to marry you

Um, it’s not like you’re really popping the question here. She’s kinda already asked you. If you wanna surprise her because you’re genuinely on board with proposing to her and taking it seriously, again — do something meaningful. Cook her dinner. Walk in the park. Whatever. Not all engagements involve hot air balloon rides and flash mobs dancing in the streets. Set aside your expectations of what’s «traditional» and think about what is meaningful to you and your girlfriend. The only person you need to impress is her. And honestly — is it un-feminist to want to hear the person we love tell us that they want to spend the rest of their lives with us? If THAT feels like too much of a one-way street, have her propose to you as well. But honestly, if you can’t be bothered to do even that much then I’d question just how in love with this woman you really are.

Asking her father for permission

Yeah, that tradition can feel uncomfortable. But if it’s important to your girlfriend and her family, try to think of it as a courtesy. We all know your girlfriend is capable of deciding for herself whom she should marry, but if you DO get married, her parents will be your in-laws. Asking permission isn’t about a transfer of ownership, it’s about treating the family you’re going to be entering with respect. If it helps, speak to both her parents, or the whole family if you want. Maybe that will feel less patriarchal to you.

Planning that big wedding

The amount of time, effort and money people invest on a single event in their lives is insane. But are you sure your girlfriend actually wants a big, costly to-do? Because while it CAN be pricey, getting married doesn’t have to cost the same as the down payment on a house. Go to city hall! Elope! Get your friend to become a justice of the peace and do the ceremony in a park! There are so many options. Not to sound like a broken record, but again: IT ALL COMES DOWN TO WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU BOTH. You wouldn’t be the first people to get married while broke AF.

And if buying a house is important, work together on a savings plan to accomplish both. Set targets to work toward, and timelines. Compromise is about aligning your priorities so you both are on the same page. A dollar in the wedding account, a dollar in the house account. Or do a civil ceremony on the cheap, and re-affirm your vows on your own lawn with a big party once that house is purchased.

If you’re talking with her so much about this, you’ll know just how seriously she wants to take these traditions. Now you need to examine your own feelings, rooted as they are in your feminism and those ideals you don’t want to set aside, and see how you could approach marriage in a way that feels meaningful to you. Don’t worry about history or society. Think of it as a symbolic way of affirming your commitment to each other. The starting base to build a future on. Focus on that future that you both want, and then you can start to really work with her on a compromise that will make you both happy as you make that future a reality. In fact, Kristy recommended you both read The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil Their True Feelings about Getting Hitched to help with your conversations.

And yes, Mr. «I can get locked into my ideals» — you will probably have to make some sacrifices. Maybe you get her that ring. Maybe you rent a tux. Maybe she doesn’t take your last name, or you call her «lady husband» instead of wife (a thing that one Overlord did!). And maybe you get her to wait until after you own your own home. Just make sure that there are elements to the proceedings that are meaningful to you, and your ideals, and how you want to move into the future with this woman. And remember that even the things you don’t agree with, you’re doing for a good cause: because they’re important to the person you love. Sometimes that’s all it takes. And if you focus on that? The things that are important to her may start to be important to you too.

Because the thing is, marriage WILL alter your relationship. It’s easy to think it won’t. To imagine that being committed is the same regardless of rings or licenses or vows. But there is something powerful about affirming that commitment, in front of your loved ones, or a judge, or a fucking sea boat captain. There is something powerful about knowing that once you sign that paper, only a lawyer can end your relationship. It just feels more permanent. It makes you accountable. And it means that you put each other’s needs first. It means you think «we» before «me.»

It sounds like she’s ready for that — but are you?

I have to wonder if you’re getting so hung up on your objections to the «rituals» and costs of marriage because, deep down, it’s the larger meaning that might be upsetting you. Are you using your politics as a smoke screen? That may be part of the self-examination you need to go through. But if there truly is nothing about the institution of marriage that in any way speaks to you and you’d only be doing it for her — just don’t do it. Because that way leads to resentment. If you can’t come to a compromise about getting married, or not getting married, then don’t force it. Free her to find a man who will marry her with a smile on his face, and find someone for yourself who doesn’t see the point of marriage either.

*Image courtesy of my own damn wedding, because we paid for those fucking pictures and may as well use them for something, amirite?

Pajiba

Pajiba After Dark: Salmon Sex Can Move Mountains

Sex: it’s what’s on the brain. Even if you’re having plenty of mind-blowing, bed-shaking, neighbor-annoying sex, you’re still probably thinking about how to do it even better. But you may as well give up now, because when it comes to earth-shattering sex acts, salmon have us beat. Literally. Turns out, salmon sex can move mountains.

But not, like, immediately.

If you’ve been keeping up to date on Geomorphology (a journal I’m sure you all read religiously), you may have noticed the new study that quantitatively shows that salmon can impact the shape of the land. By, you know, mating. As covered by IFL Science, the study, led by a Washington State University researcher named Alex Fremier, focused on the way female salmon «fluff» the gravel on the river bottom as they prepare their nests.

Not THAT kind of fluff. Gawd. Get your minds out of the gutter.

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Anyway, the loosened sediment in the river caused by the nesting is then more easily removed by flooding, which THEN leaves the bedrock open to erosion.

«The salmon aren’t just moving sediment,» says Fremier. «They’re changing the character of the stream bed, so when there are floods, the soil and gravel is more mobile.»

Fremier and his team modeled the effects over 5 million years and saw that streams with spawning salmon had lower elevations over time, while the land alongside them was more prone to erosion. Different types of salmon have different effects on their environments, and their impacts on the stream environment can in turn give rise to new breeds of salmon.

The point is that even a single organism can influence the environment around them. Even sexy salmon.

Also, for what it’s worth, apparently watching sockeye salmon spawn is a big tourist attraction. Because pervs.

Pajiba

Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: Cults, Bullies, And Peak TV

Hello, and welcome back to this week’s installment of Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything. You wanted free advice from unqualified people on the internet, and by golly — you’re gonna get it!

(Remember: email us at advice@pajiba.com with your burning questions, be they great or very very small. Seriously, someone emailed to ask us «Does it smell like ham to you,» which is a totally legitimate question we loved receiving! And yes, stranger. It does smell like ham. It ALL smells like ham. Always.)

Let’s kick things off with a topic that fascinates all of us (especially Ryan Murphy): CULTS. Take it away, Person Whose Name I Changed Because You Used Your Real One:

Dear Pajiba,

How do you join a cult? From the news it seems like they’re everywhere, trying to lure people in, but I never get invited. I tried to google «join a cult nyc» but got nowhere.

Thanks!
Doing It Wrong

Look, before we begin, let me just acknowledge that being in a cult and escaping from a cult is a serious business. Not all cults end like Heaven’s Gate, and there are many stories of people who didn’t even realize that they were a part of a cult until they left — if they left. Cults prey on belief and a need to belong. They may be defined by a shared devotion and worship, sure — but they also are often authoritarian, secretive, and exclusive. Anyone who isn’t a member, who doesn’t share the same beliefs, is wrong.

And it’s with that definition in mind that I’d like to answer your question. If you really are serious about joining a cult — which we TOTALLY DON’T ADVISE — it shouldn’t be that hard! Have you considered opening your mind to some of the more pedestrian, everyday groups that may qualify? There’s Scientology, of course, which I think starts with an e-meter reading and ends with an appearance on Leah Remini’s show.

Other options, if you’re so inclined, include:

— CrossFit
— Bikram Yoga
— Spin Class
— Veganism
— Improv comedy class
— Diets (such as Slimming World, which actually calls naughty foods «syns» so you have to, um, «count your syns»…)
— Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) schemes, also called pyramid selling, network marketing, and referral marketing. You know the stuff. They sell a way of life, make you feel like you belong, get you on the hook and prosthelytizing to friends, and can make leaving a financially ruinous endeavor. (*coughLulaRoecoughcough*)

Last week’s episode of TED Radio Hour on NPR featured a convincing argument that technology, the internet, social media — all of it is manipulative and, basically, cult-like.

And speaking of of the internet: PAJIBA! Ding ding ding — you’re already a member! Kool-Aid’s on us.

Basically, cults aren’t hard to find if you expand your definition to include things that don’t require visiting remote compounds. And if you still can’t find one you like? Just make one yourself! There are plenty of poor saps who’ll join you, especially if you include free cupcakes and booze in the proceedings. I mean, I’d sign up.

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Ok, next question! Here we go, another serious one…

I have a beautiful and intelligent granddaughter whose parents recently had to relocate to Washington DC, She is quite short for her age (9) and grade (4) and finds herself teased and told by «mean girls» in her school to go to the baby bathroom downstairs. She is a gentle and sensitive girl who loves to read, Her parents are wonderful at trying to help and make her life feel good about herself but it is not enough. Can you think of any age-appropriate come backs or responses?

Dear Random Grandparent,

First off: Is there even such a thing as a «baby bathroom» at her school? If not, can she just respond by pointing that out?

Look, we can DEFINITELY think of comebacks for your granddaughter. Are they age appropriate? Sure, if you swap out some of the saltier language for terms like «jerk.» But here’s the thing: feeding lines to a kid almost never works out. We’re adults. We’re just not on the same wavelength anymore. And if we try to be, it’ll still read false. And sometimes even if a kid comes up with the comeback themselves, it won’t help — it will just help reinforce to the bullies that they’ve struck a nerve, and to continue.

When I got picked on as a kid, I usually laughed it off. Mostly because I had a weird sense of self that was impervious to wisecracks about the size of my nose or whatever (in fact, one time I literally responded with «Really? That’s the best you can come up with?» and walked away). But not every kid can do that — and frankly, if she wasn’t getting teased for her size it might be something else. Kids are mean. And bullies in particular seem to sense and target weakness. So anything you can do to build her confidence and help her not take the teasing to heart (or at least not take it to heart in front of the other kids) may help them lose interest in her. Ignoring them and walking away, however hard, is a good response. Bullies hate it if they aren’t getting to you.

But it’s also important to teach her that, while she may not want to show it in the moment, it’s ok to feel hurt and to come home and talk about it, because words matter. And learning what it feels like to hurt can help teach her not do the same to someone else. If she does feel insecure about her size, regardless of the bullying, it may help to find other ways to show that size doesn’t matter. That there are plenty of successful, talented people who may be on the short side, or that there are even advantages to being small! Dustin recommended the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, to help put this all in perspective for her. It’s also being made into a movie soon! Here’s the trailer, if you’re in the mood for some spontaneous crying:

It might be useful to point out that kids who tease are usually insecure and have low self-esteem themselves. She may be new to the school, but she might be able to start identifying the insecurities these bullies are trying to mask by lashing out at her — and it may become easier to ignore them if she realizes she can sympathize and that we ALL have flaws. They may be assholes, but it might be harder to take them seriously if she can see them for what they are. And let’s face it — to a certain extent, getting picked on can (sadly) be a useful learning experience. We are all going to deal with assholes in our lives, so learning how to cope with them early isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s hard to look a kid in the eye and say «get used to it» because that’s not really the point, but this could be an opportunity to look a kid in the eye and say «this might not be the last time in your life you have to deal with a jerk, and how you handle it says a lot about you. Who do you want to be?» And remember that it’s ok for her to make a mistake! We may know that walking away is the best, but maybe she needs to try a few bad retorts first to learn that for herself.

Of course, this is all assuming there isn’t a physical element to the bullying, in which case ignoring is harder but violence is still not the answer. Trust me, I heard about some serious schoolyard brawls from various staff members, involving getting bullied and retaliation, and they all agreed that it’s the worst. And sometimes all you can do is endure it. Whatever form the bullying takes — verbal, physical, even getting excluded from social groups — it’s ok to talk to teachers or administrators to make them aware of the issue. Maybe it isn’t severe enough to warrant a meeting with the other kids and their parents, but it could be enough to have a teacher more closely monitoring the situation and stepping in if need be. Your granddaughter can also go and get help in the moment, or find friends to stick around with in a sort of buddy system. There are a lot of studies showing that bullying is a problem for younger kids, like your granddaughter, and can have far-reaching impacts as they get older (here is an article that might help). And that’s even without factoring in social media! So I think you’re right to be concerned, but there are other options to explore before you go soliciting scripted retorts on the internet.

Ok, we’re almost done! I’ve saved this final inquiry, one that is near and dear to my heart, for last.

Dear Overlords,

I typically have a lot of free time on my hands. I used this free time well by watching all of the TV. Well, not all of it. I still haven’t seen Westworld, but by and large I was able to keep up with most of what pop culture demanded of me.

This all changed last month when I started teaching twice a week, began an evening MBA program, started several projects that actually require me to get work done while at work, and found myself no longer in a long distance relationship due to the second party in said relationship moving a mere hour away from me, thus increasing the amount of time dedicated to that. To top it all off, my friends remain as demanding as ever.

Needless to say, my television viewing has been slipping. What do I do? Quit my job(s)? Quit school? Dump my boyfriend? Ditch my friends? I’ve already taken grocery shopping out of my weekly routine but that only gives me enough time to keep up on You’re the Worst and Better Things as I eat takeout. How do I fit Peak TV into my radically altered life?

Thanks for the help,

NoTimeForOrville

First off, NoTime — congrats on having a life! I don’t know what that’s like, but it sounds… you know, fine I guess? To each their own, etc. etc.

Basically, fuck Peak TV. Don’t let the insane amount of television programming get you down! If there are shows that you personally enjoy staying up to date on, you’ll find a way. There’s DVR, and Apple TV, and all sorts of methods to catch up on shows at your own leisure. Watch as you go to sleep, during meals, at the gym, or on Saturday mornings. And if you’re curious about new shows, maybe give the first episode a shot. And then check back in a few months down the line to see if it still seems worth it. But don’t feel beholden to staying on top of everything unless you’re genuinely interested in something. This could be your opportunity to cut ties with mediocre «maintenance» viewing of shows you’ve kept up with just because, well, you’ve already stuck with them thus far.

If you’re concerned about missing out on some sort of cultural zeitgeist around a particular new show, then spend a few minutes reading episode recaps or looking it up on Wikipedia. There are plenty of programs I haven’t watched but know enough about to fake it in a conversation. Hell, there are shows I actively don’t watch but LOVE reading recaps of (Riverdale).

And this may sound like a dick move but I’ll say it: maybe plan viewing parties with friends/loved ones to knock out two birds with one stone. Or ditch your friends for some «me time» — that’s ok! And advised seriously by several staff members! If they care, they’ll understand that you just need to unwind in front of the TV with your pajamas on. And if you’re teaching, maybe you can fit an episode of something relevant into your lesson? Or plan a project around a series you want to watch so you HAVE to watch it?

Also, I’d like to share this handy viewing guide, created by our esteemed boss:

«THE ROWLES SLEEP TEST: You can watch all the television, or you can sleep. PICK ONE. If you’re willing to sleep 5-6 hours a night, you can fit most of it in.

Also, you save the stuff you are least looking forward to until around 1 a.m., or so, and if you persistently fall asleep during it, then that’s the show you quit.»

Look, the only show that demands immediate attention is Game of Thrones, simply because it’s virtually impossible to avoid spoilers. Everything else you can binge when you have time and the desire to do so, as long as you’re a little careful about what you read online.

But all of this advice is moot, because you STILL HAVEN’T WATCHED WESTWORLD. WTF are you doing reading this shit? Go watch robot cowboy fights!

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Pajiba

Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything: Socks, Muggles, and Racism

As some of you may recall, we are experimenting with our own advice column here at Pajiba. Your friendly (?) Overlords are putting our heads together each week to formulate the most perfectly dubious answers to your questions. Provided, of course, that your questions are ridiculous and you aren’t deeply invested in free advice solicited from strangers on the internet. It’s a win-win for everybody!

We asked you to write in, and boy howdy, you all did NOT disappoint! Let’s kick things off on the right foot with this question about socks:

Dearest Pajiban Overlords,

I have a fairly large collection of novelty socks. They’re inexpensive, they’re fun, and my feet stink if I don’t wear them with my shoes. Socks.

I fear I may be addicted to them, though. Socks. Just this week I bought THREE pairs; pink & white striped Star Wars Stormtrooper, narwhal, & unicorn. Socks. Is this a problem? Socks. Should I restrain myself? Socks. Can I? Socks. How? Socks.

Eternally grateful, socks,

Sockssockssockssockssssss

Thanks for reaching out, Socks! Is it ok if I call you Socks? I’ma call you Socks.

So this was a surprisingly divisive topic amongst the Overlords. The feedback ranged from the eminently practical («Exercise self-control and set limits!») to the radical («Anyone who puts this much effort into socks is an Enemy of the Revolution!»). Some amongst us may have even suggested that only cleansing power of fire can free you from the grip that wacky novelty socks obviously has on your soul. And honestly, I have a feeling that «burn it!» is going to be a common theme in our advice columns moving forward.

But in the end, the Overlords largely came to the consensus that you might not actually be addicted ENOUGH. Indulge yourself! Excess in all things! Are you mixing and matching your socks to create quirky new pairs? Are you still only using these socks on your feet? Did you know that there are a plethora of other uses for socks, from mittens to decorative planters to (I shit you not) DIY humping pillows for male iguanas? How can you say you’re truly addicted to socks until you’ve found a way to incorporate them into every aspect of your daily life?

Write back to us when you reach THAT level of sock commitment, and then we’ll see what we can do to help. Though I’d be willing to bet our advice will be to, you know, burn it all down and start over.

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Next up we have a question about how to handle the roaming Harry Potter n00bs in our midst:

Hi there! Longtime reader here.

I need some advice. What am I to do with a co-worker who is of the correct generation (mid-thirties) and has never read or seen Harry Potter?! Seriously, how can someone of our age group have grown up without it? Shall I and another co-worker peer pressure him into watching? Won’t that ruin the joy of watching Harry see Hogwarts for the first time? Should I convince his family they need a Harry Potter movie night? Help!

Best wishes,

Hufflepuff4Life

Dearest Huffs — I’m going to give you the easiest, quickest response to your question, and then we’ll dig into it in more depth. Ya ready?

«Don’t be that person. Just don’t.»

Do you know what I mean by that? Don’t be that overbearing, pushy friend/colleague/whathaveyou who insists that this ONE THING that they love and grew up on is something that EVERYONE must love. Nobody likes that person, because nobody likes to be told what to do! In fact, you may think you’re doing this co-worker a favor, but if your coworker is anything like 99% of the Pajiba staff, all you’re doing is making him more certain that he DOESN’T want to ever explore the magical world of Harry Potter. You’re making him entrenched in his ignorance. Besides, is it possible that your/everyone’s affection for Harry Potter is rooted to where/when we first encountered it? I’m in my mid-thirties, and I started reading the books as a teen. But if I tried to start them now, in my mid-thirties, would they still be as impactful? Who knows!

This isn’t to say that recommending a good show, movie or book is a bad thing. Hell, if you’re a reader of this site, then you’ve probably read one of our reviews of something. Maybe it convinced you to check that something out, or it made you avoid that something at all costs. If nothing else, perhaps it made you aware that «something» existed in the first place. But here’s the thing: there is no way this guy is «unaware» that Harry Potter exists — and if he hasn’t experienced it yet, that’s almost impressive! He’s like an endangered species. Don’t destroy his habitat, conserve that shit.

It’s also a pretty big leap between a friendly, «Hey, this is a really good movie, you should check it out!» to active peer pressure and/or conspiring with his family to force him to watch it. The thing with peer pressure is that it makes your relationship with the person feel contingent on his appreciation of that thing you like. Sure, he could watch the movies and/or read the books. But what if he didn’t like them? Would you hold that against him the way you obviously hold his ignorance of Harry Potter against him? What is YOUR goal in all of this?

Basically, you’ve recommended Harry Potter. If your opinion matters, or if he’s interested, maybe he’ll check it out. And maybe he won’t. Don’t let it come between you. And remember: even in the Harry Potter books/movies there is an entire world full of Muggles who don’t know about wizards. It’s a thing. Accept that this dude is one of them. BOOM!

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And last but not least, shit’s about to get real. We’ve got a question that is completely serious and thoughtful. So serious and so thoughtful, in fact, that we answered it in kind. And when I say «we» I mean TK. The rest of us were stunned into silence, basically.

Hello,

I understand that this may be the wrong place to seek this answer, but the question has been keeping me up at night. My wife and I have four beautiful foster daughters, one of the girls happens to be African-American. How can I teach my daughter to be safe in the world?

I am at a loss, I can’t find the words. How do I teach her all that she needs to know when dealing with people in stores? With police? With people who will hate her just because of her color? How do I teach her what I do not understand?

Scared and worried,

FosterDad

Um, wow. Right? But how could we NOT attempt to answer that? So I’m going to turn things over to TK, who has put together a pretty thorough guide:

The first thing is to wait until she’s at an age where it’s an appropriate and useful lesson for her. Teaching a five year old about prejudice is fine. Teaching a five year old to be careful around cops and shopkeepers is probably not a good idea, because when you’re five, you need to be able to trust certain authority figures. But that said, you should teach your kids starting fairly young what the bad words are, and what they should do/who they should tell if they hear them.

In terms of how to be safe in the world, I’d say… age 8 or 9 is probably when you should start having the conversation. Put it this way — I grew up in Apartheid, but I didn’t _really_ understand what it was until I was about that age, because there was no real use in teaching me about it any younger than that. At 8 or 9 you can start teaching your kid that yes, people are sometimes going to look at them and think about them and treat them differently than others because of their skin. It’s when you can start teaching them the history behind it as well. It’s not a deep dive into it, but it lays the foundation.

Age 10-12 is when shit starts to get more real. You’re spending more time out on your own, you’re probably going to have more isolated interactions with authority figures that you don’t know and your parents don’t know about. That’s about the age I was when I started getting followed around in stores, started having cops give me a second glance when I was walking down the street. And bear in mind, I’m relatively light skinned, so it could be worse for your kid (though in some ways easier because she’s a girl — people don’t trust black kids, but they REALLY don’t trust black boys). Anyway, that’s when you have to start telling kids that authority figures are to be treated with respect at all times… but also they need to be more careful. They need to be better and smarter than their white friends and siblings. They’re going to get singled out, and need to be aware that they’re under a microscope. That’s not to say they should hide who they are or become a mouse — they just need to learn awareness.

This is not an easy lesson. And you need to make kids understand that most of all, this is NOT THEIR FAULT. That sometimes the world is unfair, and they, because of who they are, will need to take steps to keep themselves safer.

Age 13-15 is hard. That’s when they’re gonna start looking old enough to be treated as trouble. That’s when cops will start addressing them directly, when they’ll get yelled at for things like jaywalking or loitering. It’s also a common age for kids to try shoplifting, if that’s a thing they might do. Pro-tip: kids busted for shoplifting are treated RADICALLY differently based on race. I was once caught with a white friend and they literally threw me into a storage closet and called my parents, and then let my friend go. That is literally a thing that happened.

So your kid can’t do shit like that, because if/when they get caught, it will be infinitely worse for them. So tell her to be smart.

Age 16+ is where it becomes bad. That’s when she’ll look like an adult, meaning she won’t get much sympathy from people. That’s when she’ll REALLY need to start paying attention to her surroundings. She’s gotta be the first one to ghost if a party gets broken up, stuff like that.

But.

Despite all of this, you also need to teach your kid pride about who they are and where they come from. You gotta teach them to be honest and not take shit from other kids, and to accept that they might get into trouble, and that YOU have their back if they do. Even if they fuck up, you HAVE to teach them that they can rely on you, and that they should never ever be ashamed of or hide who they are. Teach them it’s OK if they have white friends and it’s OK if they have black friends, because that is going to be a very difficult aspect of this particular case — being black in a white family (similar to me being mixed race in an all-white suburb when we moved here). Don’t try to blend in just for the sake of blending in. Black kids in this sort of situation are going to face a certain amount of identity crisis, and it’s important that their parents embrace whichever end of the spectrum they end up on. They need parental support just as much as they need guidance. But yeah, you have to teach them to be smart, and you have to start early.

And finally, don’t be afraid to teach all of your foster kids these lessons. I think it’s a combination of one-on-one talks with ALL of them, from different angles, and also talking to the siblings as a group. I didn’t have white siblings, but I DID have white friends, and they never understood a lot of my issues because no one ever explained it to them. They may not be treated equally in the world, but you can still reinforce that they ARE equal and have a responsibility to be smart and aware and watch out for each other.

We hope that was helpful in some way, and thank you so much for your question, FosterDad. In fact, thanks for all the weird and wonderful questions we’ve received so far! We couldn’t answer all of them this week, but we’re only just getting started. If you’d like some personalized Pajiban wisdom, send us your inquiry at advice@pajiba.com and we’ll see you next week with some hot, fresh, questionable advice!

Pajiba

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