There are a few things in life I know to be certain: death, taxes, and that every Sunday, without fail, my Instagram feed will be flooded with pictures of newly engaged girls in jean jackets.
But this isn’t your typical jean jacket. It’s a ~cool~ jean jacket: usually the classic, slightly ripped blue style, but embroidered with “Mrs. ,” and embellished with a handful of fake pearls. You know, for good measure.
Some visual aid in case you’re living under a rock and have no idea what I’m talking about.
It’s not exactly a new trend—if anything, it’s actually turning into somewhat of a rite of passage for the newly engaged. But betches truly love this almost as much as they love their Stephanie Gottlieb engagement rings.
Here’s how it goes down: A friend of the bride-to-be will secure the goods ahead of the big day. You can definitely get a custom one on Etsy, but everyone knows the best ones come from word-of-mouth designer referrals. What, did you think the soon-to-be-fiancé wasn’t texting 20 of his girlfriend’s closest friends to make sure they were on standby for the engagement party? I mean, someone’s gotta make sure she has her nails done.
Once they’ve had a minute to process that yes, this is actually happening, the future bride will take approximately 342 pictures highlighting the back of the jacket and the new rock on her finger. Her friends will all likely post similar variations of the exact same photo on their Stories, tag each other, rinse, and repeat. Bonus points if it’s a boomerang, although truth be told, I thought we left boomerangs at Loopy Doopy in 2016. But I digress.
And look, I’m not trying to completely call out the jackets. If anything, I’m actually pretty fascinated by them—to say nothing of the fact that we’ve been noticing this trend since *checks notes* June 2017. It’s unclear when and where the trend originated from, but what I do know is that if whoever started it got a dollar for every time a bride-to-be wore one of the jackets in question, they could pay for a wedding at The Plaza without a second thought.
Ultimately, it’s your party and you can cry or wear the same jean jacket everyone else does if you want to. All I’m asking for is just, like, a *hint* more creativity and originality. I’m certainly not trying to be the voice of my generation here, but maybe, just maybe, it’s time we switch it up a little bit. There’s a list of things we’re leaving behind in the pandemic—hello, sourdough bread—and I don’t know about you, but I think the jacket should be on it.
I also hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s only a matter of time before The Engagement Jean Jacket™ falls into the cheugy category. And while we’re certainly not going to start taking fashion advice from the generation that ate Tide Pods, I think we owe it to ourselves to not look like every cookie-cutter bride on social media, don’t you? Our skinny jeans and Chevron prints are typing…
Here’s my proposal, no pun intended: Let’s try out a bomber jacket, or a crewneck sweatshirt, or even a puffer jacket by the time it’s too cold out to feel your face again. Y2K fashion is also obviously making a major comeback, so imagine getting your future last name embroidered on a Juicy Couture tracksuit instead. Pretty sure you could break the internet with that one, although whether that’s for a good or bad reason is up for debate.
If you love the jacket, though, you have this random stranger on the internet’s blessing to go full-speed ahead with it. It’s cute and probably pretty practical, even though you’ll wear it approximately one time. Just don’t come crying to me when all of your engagement photos look identical to all the other girls who read this website.
Images: Hollyedwards7 / Shutterstock.com
One day, instead of war stories, we’ll tell our grandchildren that 2020 was a year in isolation where we became dependent on video chats, TikTok, and making homemade bread. With bars and restaurants closed during quarantine, our lives stood in purgatory with strict stay-at-home orders that even celebrities couldn’t escape. Artists such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish sadly (and rightfully so) canceled or postponed their shows until further notice (without a new date to plan an outfit for). With social media recently flooded with videos of crowded clubs and sporting arenas at full capacity, it’s looking like the end of the pandemic is in sight. This also means that my FOMO is making a swift return.
I took my first flight in over a year to Florida (which could be a whole other article), where my hotel, the AC Hotel Orlando Downtown, had its grand opening during the pandemic. Their rooftop bar has been selling out $1,200 tables (not including drinks!) and the sight of girls sorority squatting to snap that perfect rooftop Insta means that nature is healing, my friends.
The first night of my trip I went to a COVID-safe Foreigner concert and NGL, it was certainly an ~unprecedented~ experience. For one, the sitting area looks a bit like pig pens. Yes, I’m talking pigs on the farm swarmed by flies on a hot summer day, packed like sardines within metal bars. If you got too drunk at the show you won’t have to worry about losing your friends since you — like these piglets — are confined in a metal pen. I’m actually squealing, because I low-key loved being in this pigpen.
This contactless experience was a stroke of genius that really addressed the pain points of a pre-COVID concert. This should be happening everywhere, IMO. Let me explain why we should embrace the pig pens at outdoor shows and festivals post-pandemic.
Pushing Your Way Through Sweaty Crowds Won’t Be A Thing
While I do low-key miss the too-close-for-comfort crowds at a concert and scrubbing profusely in the shower when I get home, that soon will become a distant memory. When you purchase your tickets online, you get to select the location of your pod—which contains five seats and a small table. A lot of outdoor concerts and music festivals are usually standing room only, so it’s a game-changer when you can pick your seat before the show, and not have to worry about showing up hours before to stake out a spot.
Forget Waiting In Long Lines For A Vodka Soda
It’s about f*cking time that venues got with the times. Instead of waiting in line while missing your favorite song, you can download an app to order food and drinks that will get delivered directly to your pod. This is organization at its finest; whoever had this idea this clearly understood the assignment. So go on, buy as many beers and vodka sodas as you want… we’ve got lost time to make up for, and you don’t have to worry about juggling them back to your seat.
You Won’t Lose Your Friends In A Drunken Crowd
In the pre-COVID era, going to a music festival was a true friend test. Why? Because when the crowds rush in, that’s the moment when you find out who is going to stick with you and who is going to leave to push their way up to the front. Being sober (or not drunk enough), when everyone around you is sloppy and spilling drinks, is basically its own level of hell. With each pod numbered, you won’t have to worry about losing your friends. Guests aren’t restricted to staying in their pod, but a mask is required to go make new friends out in the wild.
There Won’t Be A Random Tall Guy Blocking Your View
There’s no buzzkill greater than when you get situated in a crowd (or have your lawn chair set up at an outdoor concert) and then some tall dude plants himself right in front of you. Like WTF man?! Then you’re left watching the jumbotrons, which is better than nothing—but if I wanted to watch a concert from a TV screen I would have stayed home. With the pod seating elevated off the ground, even people walking by won’t get in the way. It’s great to pick where you sit beforehand, and you definitely should splurge for that amazing view.
This pod philosophy obviously works and should be here to stay—long after the pandemic subsides. The new ‘make out with random strangers’ will be inviting them over to your pod. Will the opening line be ‘Pfizer or Moderna?’ Yikes. Maybe not. One thing that will make a comeback? Blurry IG Story concert videos. This is the one and only time we’ll give it a pass.
Image: Ibai Acevedo / Stocksy.com
Every single day I wake up, open Instagram before my eyelids are even operating at full functionality, and am cursed to find yet another Reel of a millennial in tie-dye sweatpants comparing the TikTok famous dance moves for “Savage” to the routine from N*Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” to demonstrate just how different teens are now than they were back in the early 2000s. It’s not much, but it’s honest work.
While I understand that those who were forced to face their middle school years armed with nothing more than a chunky layer of Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mousse foundation feel they are entitled to compensation, I am begging you to stop taking your millennial anger out on choreography. I’m pleased to share that there’s a new place to direct that rage, and no, it’s not at Olivia Rodrigo for committing the unforgivable crime of *checks notes* writing a complete banger of an album too many years after you graduated high school. Let me introduce you to a show called Cruel Summer.
Cruel Summer is Freeform’s latest teen thriller. Produced by Jessica Biel, it’s centered on the mystery a fictional small town in Texas faces when Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt), the most popular girl in school goes missing, and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia), your stereotypical “just got her braces off” baddie, seemingly takes her place. Despite the fact that this show is oddly addictive, you need to pay attention to it because Cruel Summer is coming for the sanctity of the decade you can’t stop reviving.
Set across the years 1993, 1994, and 1995, Cruel Summer is about as authentically ‘90s as the faux-vintage Friends merchandise that has been licensed to every major retailer as of late. And the fact that this ‘90s drama is extremely un-’90s is even glaringly obvious to me, a person who had not yet lost a single baby tooth by the turn of the millennium. Sure, each episode begins with a note explicitly telling you that the episode takes place on a specific date in the years 1993, 1994, and 1995… but that’s about as much effort as went into it. Whereas recent throwback shows like Stranger Things, Pen15, and Derry Girls clearly went to painstaking lengths to ensure not a single gel pen or rollerblade would expose the fact that the series was actually created after the dawn of the iPhone, Cruel Summer basically just crimped a few strands of hair and called it a day. With a soundtrack full of covers of songs that are widely accepted as ‘90s classics, but weren’t necessarily released in the years in which the scenes takes place (shout-out to “Wonderwall,” which came out in 1995 but appeared in a scene set in 1993), it’s seems like Cruel Summer’s research budget pales in comparison to what the average individual shelled out for unused streaming subscriptions to boutique fitness cults companies throughout the pandemic.
The music could maybe be overlooked (how many of us know the exact year a song came out without having to Google it), but there are even more glaring issues. As Reddit users have pointed out, the use of technology is inconsistent with what high schoolers would have experienced during the decade. Unlike what we see on the show, teens didn’t really have their own computers in their bedrooms (the computer room erasure…) and weren’t yet fully obsessed with checking email or instant messaging. FYI, AIM didn’t roll out until 1997, and even though there were earlier instant messaging platforms, the dramatic away messages are really what encapsulated the era of virtual chat.
It’s just pretty bizarre that a show whose entire personality rests on taking place in the early ‘90s does such a bad job of… taking place in the early ‘90s. The home interiors are suspiciously neutral; I simply refuse to believe that any kid who had their own bathroom in 1993 didn’t also have a fish-themed shower curtain. How am I supposed to be transported back to the past if the bathroom doesn’t look like something an independently wealthy young couple on Fixer Upper would immediately gut? I simply cannot. I’d believe you if you told me that the wardrobe department solely sourced everything from Charlotte Russe’s 2017 collection—you know, that year in which we all wore clothes covered in checkered prints and embroidered roses. A few black velvet chokers and oversized flannels does not a genuine vintage outfit make!
Besides the dodgy attempt at creating a period drama, there are also plenty of other things that simply make no sense in Cruel Summer. Admittedly, my knowledge of Texas stops at The Real Housewives of Dallas and Sandy Cheeks from Spongebob Squarepants, but it does seem peculiar that only like, one character (Kate’s mother) bothers to speak with a Southern twang. I won’t throw any major spoilers at you, but there are also some pretty huge red flags in regards to the way the media covers a court case that are used to drive plot but are just straight-up illegal and would never happen IRL… outside of maybe Fox News, that is.
With that said, Cruel Summer is still definitely worth a watch if you’re into dramatic thrillers full of plot twists—just don’t expect it to accurately reflect your childhood or adolescence. If you’re looking for epic Levis and iconic Calvin Klein dresses, just rewatch Friends or Full House. But if you’re down for a cheesy mess that’s inexplicably binge-worthy, Cruel Summer is where it’s at.
Image: Freeform/Bill Matlock (2)
One of the saddest parts of becoming an adult is realizing that all your hard-earned money goes directly to bills and gifts for other people. Do not pass go. Do not use that $200 to buy yourself something nice. Why should I spend all my money on my friends’ weddings? It’s not like they’re chipping in for my therapy bills when yet another date goes awry. Talk about a one-sided relationship!
There’s got to be some other way. And there is! It’s called simply not having any friends past the age of 25. That way, you don’t have to portion out every single paycheck to ensure you have enough money for Kayleigh’s housewarming gift and Jessica’s bridal shower gift (which seems slightly unnecessary, given the engagement gift you already got her, not to mention her forthcoming wedding gift, which, by the way, you’re flying from out of state for) and Jenna’s baby shower gift, and, oh yeah, the roof over your head.
With these tried-and-true strategies, you won’t have any friends left to buy gifts for. Now you can actually spend your money on the person who deserves it most: you!
Always Show Up Late To Everything
Is there anything worse than being forced to wait around awkwardly because your friend failed to show up at the agreed-upon time, and now the hostess is looking at you with pity because she thinks you’ve been stood up? No! And can you imagine, people used to wait around awkwardly without phones? I shudder at the thought. Anyway, one easy way to lose friends is to consistently be late—and I’m not talking about a respectable 5-10 minutes. You want to be so late that people start lying to you about what time various events start, and even then you’re still strolling in after the start time. Say it with me: Time is a construct and reservations are merely a suggestion.
Leave Early With A Dumb Excuse
The equally evil counterpart to the person who can never show up on time is the person who leaves early because of some half-baked excuse that boils down to “I’ve got somewhere better to be.” So why not expedite the process of friendlessness and be both people at the same time? This requires a certain level of finesse to pull off, because if you play your cards wrong, instead of being the friend who never wants to be there, you’ll cast yourself as the mysterious, aloof friend who does nebulous cool things. Which is why you need to make it clear that, when you inevitably Irish exit after gracing the group with your presence for no more than 45 minutes, you are doing so in favor of something objectively worse than what you’re currently doing. Some examples include: watering your plant, a “dusting emergency”, wanting to be home in time to place your Seamless order (for the following day). The goal is to make your friends ask each other in the group chat after you’ve unceremoniously left, “does she even want to be here?” Once they realize you can’t even get over yourself long enough to sit through a “congrats on your new job” happy hour, there’s no way anyone’s wasting the money or spot on a wedding invitation.
Bring Everything Back To Your Significant Other
You might be reaching a point in your life where a lot of your friends have significant others and fiancés. This will make the threshold for annoyance higher, since your friends all likely bring everything back to their S.O.s, to an extent. So the question is, how far can you push the extent? It’s time to get inventive and think outside the box. Ordering eggs Benedict at brunch and remarking that your boyfriend’s favorite brunch dish is eggs benny? That’s amateur hour. Look around you. Does the waiter’s jawline remind you of your beloved Kevin’s? That’s a good place to start. Are the walls painted his favorite color? (So his favorite color is beige? That’s weird.) Perfect.
If you don’t have a significant other, don’t fret. In fact, it works even more to your advantage. Turn every conversation point back to your dog—or, better yet, your plant. For maximum impact, you’ll want to refer to said pet or plant by name, and only through multiple rounds of questioning, reveal that Teddy is, in fact, your ficus. If your dwelling is completely devoid of any living thing (respect), your only choice is to redirect all topics of conversation to your astrology app.
Don’t Forget To Take Way Too Many Inappropriate Instagrams
It goes without saying that at any given group meal, you must force everyone to hold off from taking a single bite for as long as humanly possible while you treat the restaurant like your personal jungle gym in pursuit of getting the “perfect shot” that you aren’t going to post anyway. But we’re not just talking restaurant outings. If you really push yourself, any gathering can become a photo opp—the more socially inept, the better. Like, yes, I know this is technically your late aunt’s shiva call, but the lighting here is unreal.
Never Offer To Cover The Bill
This part is key. Odds are, if you’re friends with people you know and trust (basically the definition of a friend, I hope), you probably all take turns covering the bill. When your turn comes, have an absurd and not-at-all-plausible excuse at the ready:
“Teddy ate my wallet.”
“I put all my money into Dogecoin.”
“I was carrying a magnet in my purse that destroyed the strip on my credit card. (Yes, I really do carry around a magnet. I legally can’t say for what.)”
“My WiFi is out.” (No further explanation.)
Venmo Request Everything
Going hand in hand with having the kind of relationship where everyone takes turns paying for each other is the unspoken agreement that nobody is going to be that friend. You know the one. The friend who nickels and dimes everyone over the most minute purchases. Yes I do care that your drink was $1.50 more than mine. No, it’s not good enough to just have you pay more in tip. Brush up on your math skills, because you’re going to have to do some minute division. I’m talking down to the pennies.
By practicing these tips, you’re guaranteed to be so insufferable that nobody will want you present at any significant life events. You’ll never look at another registry again. Congrats to you!
Image: Addictive Creatives / Stocksy.com
Once upon a time, the concept of leaving your house and actually doing something — anything — seemed absurd. Sure, we used to be well-versed in the art of rallying all weekend, our false lashes hanging on for dear life. But once the pandemic hit and everyone and everything shut down, we got realllll comfortable with the fact that not going anywhere was kinda… nice?
So, for over a year we’ve all just been sitting inside with our vibrators, ordering way too much food and begging our exes not to change their Netflix passwords. Other than that week or so when the world seemingly discovered Zoom and you had to go to virtual happy hours with everyone you know, plans were just a far-off, abstract idea. We agreed to anything because honestly, it wasn’t like it was actually going to happen.
Except now that more and more people are getting vaccinated, seeing friends and family once again is becoming a reality. Which is great… except for the fact that you made a lot of bullsh*t plans with a lot of bullsh*t people that you have absolutely no intention on keeping. Here’s what you agreed to, and a few ideas for getting out of this mess:
10. Drinks With Your Coworkers
For over a year you’ve been working on your couch, but after the company-wide email went out saying everyone was expected back in the office, the invites started rolling in. Happy Hour! Team Building! Draaaaanks! Whether you like your coworkers or they’re pesky annoyances you try to forget exist after you log off at 5pm, the barrage of “let’s go out after work” invites are a given as soon as the world opens back up. Back when you replied to those requests while sitting at home with acne cream on your face, it didn’t feel like they would actually happen. But now that the time is here here, you’re realizing you might actually have to interact outside of work with these people after not physically seeing them for over 12 months.
How To Get Out Of It: You can’t really. You work together. You sh*t in the same room. You can put it off as long as possible, but eventually, you’ll have to give in and go out with them. Sure it sucks, but out of all the “plans” you made, it’s the least offensive. Just make sure to schedule it on a day you have a time restraint (“one drink because I have to help my neighbor? with her printer??”) so you can down your vodka soda and peace TF out ASAP. It’s that or quit your job, so like, the choice is yours.
9. Brunch With Your Frenemies
Did you love them pre-covid but after seeing their idiotic IG posts for the past year you’re over them, or have they always been a little sh*tty? Chances are you have a few toxic friendships that need to be scrubbed, but that didn’t stop you from making “when the pandemic is over” plans with those a-holes. Now that things are “normal,” they expect you to join them for carbs and complaining. It’s not that you hate them, it’s just that you realized life was maybe better without them?
How To Get Out Of It: Unless you’re ready to cut this group loose, they’ll eventually guilt you into brunching. Wear your biggest sunnies so they can’t see your eye rolls and chose a spot with bottomless mimosas. If you’re going to endure a few hours with the friends you low-key despise, you might as well be wasted for it.
8. Dinner With That One Annoying Couple
Whether you’re coupled up or expected to third wheel, you keep getting invites from that one couple you can’t seem to shake. Perhaps they’re college friends who turned corporate or your friend and her obnoxious boyfriend, but the duo just won’t take the hint that the idea of breaking bread with them makes you want to die. Sure, you could just keep bailing, but if there’s any part of you that wants/needs to keep that relationship afloat, you know it’s only a matter of time before they choose a pretentious restaurant and expect you to give them a bite of your entree.
How To Get Out Of It: It’s honestly kind of embarrassing that they haven’t figured out you don’t want to hang, but that’s a prime example of why they’re so frustrating to be around. Still, if they’re true friends who turned lame, a coworker you can’t ignore, or a pal you love with a partner you hate, you don’t want to totally jeopardize things. Luckily, claiming to be on a strict diet might be the key to getting out of a meal. Say you’re working with your doctor and can’t eat X, Y, and Z, so dinner is out. Promise to reconnect once your cholesterol (wink) is at a healthy level (wink, wink), and just make sure not to post your drunchie food the next time you have a fry craving.
7. Partying With Your Old High School Pals
When you were stuck in your tiny apartment with no one to talk to other than your house plants, you found yourself reconnecting with your old friends from school. Ancient pictures resurfaced, memes were sent, and after your ten-year high school reunion got canceled, you all agreed that you needed to get together ASAP. Now that ASAP is here, you realize you’d rather leave the past in the past and keep those relationships where they belong: in high school.
How To Get Out Of It: Unless you live in your hometown (my condolences), timing and scheduling are on your side here. I mean, what are the odds that all of you will agree on a weekend, book flights, and get together? Slim. So the only real option is to meet up around the holidays, but after a year of family events were canceled, your parents are officially your “get out of plans without looking like a total dick” card. Say you’d love to get together and then once you’re in town, throw your family under the bus with “my mom keeps guilting me” or “grandma forgot to tell us she was coming by for dinner.” It sucks but, you know, they’re family *humble shrug.*
6. Coffee With Your Internet Friend
Whether she’s a friend of a friend who slid into your DMs or you connected in a Facebook group and started chatting, you’ve officially landed yourself an internet pal. One thing led to another and a few casual conversations became a passing plan of meeting up IRL after Covid. Which means you agreed to go awkwardly hang out with a stranger whose messages you sometimes ignore because the idea of actually being able to leave your house someday sounded less ludicrous than going on a platonic first date with a social media rando.
How To Get Out Of It: It really sucks to be ghosted, but that’s the beauty of social media. If the person has no ties to you, stop answering/opening their messages or even go so far as to block them. There’s probably a reason you don’t actually want to meet up with them. If, however, they run in your circle or there’s the possibility of seeing them again, you might want to be a little less bitchy. Keep putting off the actual coffee date until they get the hint, or destroy their spirit and tell them you’re not that into an IRL relationship with them. The truth hurts, but at least then they’ll stop sending you TikToks you’ve already seen.
5. Shopping With An Acquaintance
Is she a friend? Sort of. Do you know her middle name? No. Do you genuinely enjoy spending time with her? Also no. But again, she’s sort of a friend and somehow you both landed on the idea of getting together to go shopping. Like, in public. Back when you agreed to the idea, the thought of perusing shelves instead of Amazon sounded so absurd, you said yes without thinking because it wasn’t like it was ever going to happen. But alas, stores are open, you’re both vaccinated, and she’s trying to schedule a time to get together. Even though you’ve never hung out with her 1-on-1 (and never really had the desire to TBH), she seems determined to spend an afternoon shuffling around stores and making forced small talk.
How To Get Out Of It: This is a tricky one. On one hand, you don’t want to go shopping with this person. On the other hand, ghosting feels like a non-option, especially if they’re friends with your other friends. Say you’re trying to save money, turn the shopping date into drinks, and drown out the awkwardness with shots and sh*t-talking. Everyone knows the pathway to a new bond is paved with bottom-shelf liquor and newfound mutual hatred.
4. Manis With Your Mother-In-Law
It’s been a long year, but one of the very few perks was getting out of those obligations with the in-laws. Unless you love the family you married into (liar), the thought of spending some extended 1-on-1 time with your MIL is probably causing you some serious angst. You’d humor her calls and texts and gushed about how you couldn’t wait to get together with her, but now that she’s vaccinated, it’s clear this wasn’t idle chitchat. She’s sending you nail design Pinterest boards, photos of cats in salon chairs, and is continuously asking your S.O. why you won’t call her back. Did you not get her seven-minute voicemail?
How To Get Out Of It: I don’t think there’s anything worse than getting your nails done with someone you don’t like chatting with. You’re just sitting there for a very extended period of time with nothing to do other than talk. You can’t bring a book or scroll social without looking like an asshole, but you’re 100% certain you’ll run out of stuff to talk about before the clippers even come out. The only way to get out of this is to say you’re not visiting the salon due to health concerns (Mold? Germs? Covid still? You decide), and would rather just paint your nails the next time you get together. Grab a few bottles of the fastest dry polish you can find and tell you S.O. to stay in the room while you give your MIL the sloppiest mani ever. She’ll feel like she’s getting that mother-daughter bonding moment and as long as you have some polish remover to get rid of the lime green mess she made on your hand, you’ll be set.
3. The Cross-Country Visit To See The Friend You Talk To Once A Year
Around the time when everyone was Zooming each other for happy hours, game nights, and *gasp* virtual bachelorette parties, you casually reconnected with an old friend who went MIA after moving away post-college. When she left for work (or was it to follow her boyfriend’s work? Wait, does she still have a boyfriend?) you both promised to keep in touch, but that quickly went to sh*t when real life got in the way. With covid, however, you had the chance to drunkenly DM, and now she’s wondering when you’re going to come see her and her new baby, whose name is escaping you at the moment.
How To Get Out Of It: There’s nothing worse than being roped into an expensive trip you don’t actually want to take (looking at you, bridal showers, weddings, and baptisms), but luckily, this one is fairly easy to get out of. There’s a good chance she doesn’t actually expect you to pack a bag and take a four-hour flight to see her, but if she does, hit her with a “times are hard, sh*t is expensive.” It’s not technically a lie because last I checked, times are hard and sh*t is expensive. If that doesn’t work, offer to host her at your home instead, and hope to God she too, decides to flake.
2. Toxic Weekend Retreat With Your Estranged Family
Awww! Your aunts, uncles, and cousins were so sad you didn’t see them this year, but they get it! You’re just a liberal sheep who believes in science. Even though they all masklessly got together numerous times, you were easily able to opt out. Now that you’re vaccinated and slowly starting to post bar pics on Insta, your family is making it clear that they’re dying to see you so they can ask you probing questions, question the validity of your job, and gaslight you into oblivion. You know, like the good old days!
How To Get Out Of It: Extended family is super tricky because, on one hand, they’re family. But on the other hand, you disagree with them about everything, and you honestly don’t even know how to spell half of their names. The problem is, no matter how sh*tty sitting around a cabin with people who still call you “kiddo” sounds, you kind of have to go unless you want to
get written out of the will look like a dick. The only way to get out of it is to fake a work trip or wedding and make it clear how sad you are to be missing the big reunion. Sure they’ll talk sh*t about you, but what else is new?
1. Accomplishing Those Lofty Personal Quarantine Goals
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Sure, you made a lot of plans with a lot of people during the pandemic, but what about the plans you made for yourself? You know, the mission to really concentrate on your health during quarantine? Or what about the novel you were going to write? Or that new job you were going to get? Weren’t you supposed to have abs by now? You made a lot of promises to yourself and now that the excessive amount of “you time” is coming to an end, it’s clear: You didn’t accomplish sh*t.
How To Get Out Of It: Letting yourself down is the worst, but if you think about it really hard, did you actually think anything was going to change? I mean, after doing that ab video one time, did you ever try it again? And you went on LinkedIn once, but quickly left after seeing all the thirsty DMs from old men wanting to ~connect.~ Sure, you bought a lot of cute note pads to write in, but did inspiration ever strike? Nope. And while everyone else might not understand, at least you can cut yourself some slack for flaking.
Images: Autri Taheri / Unsplash; Giphy (9); betches / Instagram
This is hard.
We’re more than a couple weeks in now.
The allure of eating Cheetos and Pop-Tarts has worn off.
Your cat officially hates you.
Going to the grocery store feels like something out of The Walking Dead.
And you’re worried. About how hard it is for your family to co-exist when you’re crammed in the house together and no one can leave. Or how you lost your job but the bills just keep coming. Or because someone you love is an essential worker and you’re scared they might get COVID-19. Or someone you love already has.
I’ve been thinking about that worry a lot. Especially on the days when it rains and not being able to go outside nearly makes me have an existential crisis, or the days when I miss my mom’s hugs with a longing that feels bone deep. And I’ve been thinking about what gets me through it. And this is going to sound like something about of My Little Pony, but honestly, it’s female friendship.
I guess it’s not that surprising—my girlfriends are what’s gotten me through just about every hard thing ever. But something about our friendship has shifted. I can’t say exactly when it changed, but since this pandemic started, we’re talking about the hard things and the important things all the time now, openly and bravely and more. So much more.
I’ve always been fascinated with female friendship, and wondered what it is that makes it feel so extraordinary.
Is it because the experience of being marginalized as women causes us to band together more tightly? There’s a young adult novel I love, Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Lemon, that says, “We’re friends because when girls—women—are alone in this world, they’re easier to pick off.” And maybe that’s it. Maybe we need each other to survive, and so we wrap ourselves around each other like armor.
I was talking with my friend, Mayra Cuevas, about a children’s book author group she’s in called Las Musas. She calls it her “Latina tribe—a group of amazing women, who understood the magic of abuelitas, the absolute bliss of a guava pastry and the pain of a chancletazo.” At a retreat a few weeks before the pandemic, she told me the group “shared our fears, cried through grief, and laughed at the absurdities of life. We even burned away our self-doubt in the most amazing fire ceremony, while praying for our collective hopes and wishes. It was pure magic. Enveloped in the arms of this sisterhood, I felt seen, accepted, and appreciated. Their love and compassion gave me courage and strength. This is the function of female friends.”
Is it that men simply don’t form these types of friendships as often or as easily? I’ve read that men report spending less time with their friends and that they don’t consider their friendships to be as important as women do. That women are more likely to treat their friends like sisters.
I worry about my husband during this time. (Possibly because of that seminar I attended in grad school where I learned that women are more likely to report feelings of stress and depression after trauma, but men just die earlier. Burying your feelings: it’s even more dangerous than we thought.) It seems like it’s so much harder for guys to make friends after college. He has these amazing friends from high school, and they nerd out playing Magic and video games whenever they come to town. But does he have people that he’s leaning on emotionally?
It seems like it’s harder for him, and for men, to make new friends. And full disclosure, I’m super shy, so I almost swallow my tongue every time I meet someone for the first time.
Maybe it’s that initial awkward bubble, the space between politely knowing someone and telling them terrifying truths like I’m scared I’ll never figure out what to do with my life or I’m worried I can’t be the kind of mom my kid needs or I have a crush on this guy in accounting even though he wears jorts. Maybe it’s harder for men to break through the bubble than women. And make no mistake—it’s hard. If we’re thinking about undervalued strengths that women have, the extreme bravery it takes to form a new friendship goes at the top of my list.
But could there be something about women’s neurobiology that makes us friend differently? Okay, this is an extremely complicated topic to talk about because people have tried to weaponize the idea of brain differences against women and other marginalized groups for years. But there is a ton of cool brain science behind friendship, and I got to talk all about it with Dr. Sara Freeman, a neuroscientist who studies social behavior, and with whom I once made a friendship pact in a bathroom during our grad school interview.
It turns out the same systems in the brain that are involved in pair bonding (or falling in love) are also involved in female social behavior (friendship!!). The hormone oxytocin drives all kinds of social bonding—love, friendship, familial—across a bunch of different species. We talked a lot about one particular scientist, Dr. Annaliese Beery, and her work on oxytocin in voles. There are a lot of animals that mate for life (swans, termites, fennec foxes), but meadow voles are not about that life. They’re so promiscuous they don’t even form a male-female bond for a single mating season. But you know what they do form? Female friendship!!! (Well, the vole equivalent of a female friendship.) These furry little rodents aren’t thought of as being the most social creatures, but they actually make really critical social bonds that help them survive the winter by huddling together for warmth. (Adorable.) I think huddling together for survival is exactly what we’re doing when we send takeout to a friend who’s having a hard week or share a roll of toilet paper with a neighbor.
Another cool thing about the science of friendship? Our brains are similar to our friends’ brains. When scientists had college students watch short videos while scanning their brains, they found that people who are friends had startingly similar neural responses, showing reward, boredom, and attention at the same parts. It could be the scientific reason behind why sometimes you meet someone and just click.
Regardless of why women are friends, I’m convinced it’s critical. Every time a friend tells me, “It’s okay that you’re not okay right now. I am not okay either. But we’re not okay together,” it feels like they’re giving me life.
Having a group during trauma makes you more resilient. A lab at Instituto Universitário in Portugal did this research with zebrafish where they exposed single fish or fish in groups to a chemical stressor, and the fish had a lower fear response if they endured the stressor together. It didn’t even matter if a fish was in the same tank as the others. As long as it could see the other fish through the glass, know that they were in the tank next to it, the fish wasn’t as scared. This gives me hope that all the FaceTime and Zoom meetings are working. (Hell, even TikTok.)
This phenomenon of feeling reduced fear when you’re in a group is called social buffering. And just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we have to stop social buffering. I believe it makes a big difference, whether we’re talking about people and COVID-19 or zebrafish and chemical stressors. For now, my connections with my friends are keeping me sane.
Sometimes it’s opening a book I set down a couple months ago and having the most perfect Galentine’s Day card fall out and bursting into happy tears.
Sometimes it’s group texting with my neighborhood moms about how exhausted we are while plotting a socially distanced happy hour in a nearby field that will totally make us look like a coven of witches.
Sometimes it’s a Marco Polo from a friend talking about the importance of perspective as she shows me her chin from different angles.
Sometimes it’s my friend Terra Elan McVoy telling me about how she was watching bees that day and thinking about how “the bees didn’t all freak out when they started dying from Round Up, they just kept being bees. And that’s kind of what we’ve got to do is keep being bees. Make macaroni n’ cheese. Play music. Cry. Freak out. Get some sleep. But keep being bees together for as long as we can.”
And sometimes it’s live posting with my besties while swilling wine and watching Love Is Blind together because WE ARE CLASSY PEOPLE, OKAY?
So, play Jackbox or leave silly Marco Polo messages while wearing old Halloween costumes or reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time and tell them you’re thinking of them. Because I really do think things like that, and like friendship, are going to save us all. I think it’s what will keep hearts and minds and humanity intact for when we come out the other side of this.
I dream of the day when I can hug my friends again and go on girls’ trips and sit on a patio sipping margaritas. I hate that all of those things have been taken away. But the part about how we’re talking about the important things so much more because this pandemic is forcing us to? As much as I can’t wait for the day when we don’t need to shelter in place, that closeness feels really special. I don’t want to lose it. When this is all over, I’m going to figure out how to keep it.
Rachael Allen is the winner of the 2019 Georgia YA Author of the Year Award, whose books include 17 First Kisses, The Revenge Playbook, and A Taxonomy of Love, which was a Junior Library Guild selection, a 2018 Book All Young Georgians Should Read. Her most recent book is The Summer of Impossibilities. She lives in Atlanta with her family. Visit Rachael at rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.
Image: Simon Maage / Unsplash
Anyone who knows me knows that I think Gossip Girl is the holy grail of terrible TV, and in these times, it has brought me a lot of comfort. Seriously, when I’m down and feeling blue because I haven’t seen another human being IRL since mid-March, just got laid off, and have been subsisting on DiGiorno for way too long, I think about that episode when everyone found out that Blair boned Nate and Chuck, and even Jenny didn’t want anything to do with her. Like, what’s a pandemic compared to Blair Waldorf’s slow and painful demise in the first season??
Anyway, if it isn’t clear, I re-watched the entire series over the course of the last two months and am blown away by the fact that none of the characters are bothered that everyone hooks up with everyone’s exes! Like, am I too old-fashioned for not wanting my best friend to f*ck my ex?? This got me thinking: GG definitely isn’t the only show whose cast is horny af for each other. So join me in taking a walk down memory lane.
I obviously had to start with the messiest show of all time. In the first and best season, the couples kind of make sense since the characters are all supposed to be juniors in high school and the writers have lots to work with. Nate and Blair have allegedly been dating for 10 years (which means they started seeing each other when they were six, k) and Dan and Serena start dating. Again, this all seems normal. I stan! But then, the rest of the seasons happen and it is very clear that the writers were just kind of like, “idk whatever.”
Without going into too much detail because I have a word limit, I’ll just say that pretty much all of the guys in this show are eskimo brothers. Dan and Nate both hook up with Blair, Serena, and Vanessa; Jenny hooks up with Chuck and Nate; and Ivy, a random character who doesn’t matter, hooks up with Dan, Nate and Rufus (!!). I’m not necessarily judging because everyone on this show is disturbingly attractive, but still, it’s a little crazy. These people are supposed to live in New York City and can’t find anyone outside their social circle to hook up with? Unrelated, but after season four, everyone just stopped going to college and no one acknowledges it.
There is definitely some cross-contamination here even though it’s more subtle than that of GG. On a show with 10 seasons, it’s easy to forget who hooks up with whom, but luckily, I remember. Obviously, the two main couples are Ross and Rachel and Chandler and Monica, but there’s some overlap I haven’t forgotten about. Yes, I’m talking about Rachel hooking up with Joey. Let’s not forget that Phoebe also kissed Joey, although they never ended up together, even though Joey did propose. I’m also convinced that Monica and Chandler only got together because the writers didn’t feel like bringing in a new character crazy enough to date either of them.
There obv aren’t so many inter-cast relationships on Friends as there are on Gossip Girl, but there are def a few instances of the Friends dating the same people. For instance, Joey and Ross both dated the hot science lady, Charlie, and Joey and Chandler both dated Kathy. Ugh, come on, you guys!
I truly believe this was one of the best shows literally ever. If you haven’t watched it because you were too young to understand what was happening when it was on TV, give it a watch now. It’s on Hulu. Anyway, as its name implies, the main characters are all married, but there is one singleton who I absolutely live for. Edie Brit is the Samantha Jones of Desperate Housewives, and she has loves to f*ck her friends’ ex-husbands. Is it just me or does that sound like an intro on a Bravo show? She dates Gabby’s ex, two of Susan’s exes, and makes out with Bree’s ex. Yikes! Even though I love Edie as much as I love this show, which is a lot, I always thought that plot line was kind of weird and pointless.
There were two really weird love triangles in this dumpster fire of a show: Adam/Jessa/Hannah and Ray/Marnie/Shoshanna. First of all, the whole premise of Girls is that, at least for a little while, they’re all bound by their strong female bond, so why are they all so quick to date each other’s boyfriends? Also, I’m confused why two gorgeous, cool, impressive women are both so into Old Man Ray. We’ll never know.
‘One Tree Hill’
Unlike my experience with Gossip Girl, I watched this show when it was on television and have not thought about it since, so my knowledge of inconspicuous details is pretty unimpressive. However, one thing I’ll never forget about this iconic mess is the love triangles. First we have Lucas/Peyton/Brooke then we have Nate/Peyton/Brooke. Uhhhhhh. Brooke and Peyton are the Blair and Serena of the early 2000s, so I guess it makes sense that they’re both down to hook up with each other’s boyfriends. The Nathan/Brooke situation was never super serious, but Lucas and Peyton got married! After she seriously dated Nathan! What! Does that make them the Dan and Serena of this show?
What did I miss? Are there any other shows where the cast loves to bang each other? Let me know in the comments!
Images: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com; Giphy (5)
We’ve all got a lot of time on our hands right now to ponder life’s greatest questions, like “how long can I go without washing my hair?” and “am I only going to hang out with people through Zoom for the rest of my life?” But there’s one major question that’s been on all of our minds: “how would the characters of Friends handle quarantine?” And as someone who started watching Friends at six years old (was I way too young to be watching it? Yes. Did it make me feel 1,000 times superior to all the other first-graders? Absolutely yes), I feel particularly qualified to carry out this task.
For the sake of a consistent timeline, we’ll assume they go into quarantine sometime around season 6, after Monica and Chandler have moved in together and Ross is living in the apartment across the street from them, and we’ll also assume that they’ve decided to all quarantine together. But also, if the timeline doesn’t 100% line up let’s just all try to remain calm. This is an imagining of a TV show that ended 16 years ago, so maybe just have a glass of wine and keep that in perspective.
Rachel started dating a guy right before everyone went into quarantine and is freaking out that he hasn’t called her yet. She insists on keeping the phone line open at all times in case he calls, and to distract herself she has started trying on all of her clothes and asking everyone what she should get rid of (correct answer: nothing, Rachel Green is a fashion icon). After realizing she has such great taste, she’s decided she should start a fashion blog.
Phoebe has been reliably informed by her psychic that one of the Friends has coronavirus. In order to figure out who has it, she’s trying to read everyone’s auras because, according to her, that’s as good as an actual test. She’s also lighting an absurd amount of incense (it’s “healing”), putting crystals in every room, and writing songs about literally everything everyone is doing, and it’s driving them all absolutely insane.
Naturally, Joey is eating through all of the quarantine food like it’s Thanksgiving dinner and he’s got his eating pants on. And as we all know, Joey doesn’t share food, so this is kind of a big problem. He’s also always trying to break quarantine to go meet up with a girl, but because no one will let him, he’s instead trying to flirt with girls he can see in the building across from them or on the street through the window. To no one’s surprise, he’s so successful he has a new girlfriend every week.
Ross is the only one who didn’t make it to Monica’s apartment in time for quarantine, and as Monica’s already got the place on full lockdown, she’s refusing to let him in. Whenever he tries to call them, Rachel immediately hangs up the phone in case her date calls, so his only option is to try to communicate with them through their window.
Chandler only has two coping mechanisms: sarcasm and smoking. While his sarcasm is certainly no secret, the fact that he’s started smoking again definitely is. He keeps making trips to the hallway and the balcony for a smoke break but is ultimately caught because like, the smell, duh. Could he be any more obvious?
A global pandemic is Monica’s worst nightmare because it’s not something she has any control over. So obviously, she’s making everyone to wash their hands every hour on the hour and trying to clean the apartment 24/7. The only problem? Joey got rid of most of their cleaning supplies to make room for more quarantine food, and she already ordered Amazon’s entire stock of cleaning supplies. So instead, she’s baking constantly to relieve stress. She started the banana bread trend.
Devastated by the fact that he likely won’t see Rachel again for months, he’s started writing fan fiction about how she will eventually fall in love with him (as if he wasn’t already doing that).
Janice decides to serenade her neighbors from her balcony and ends up having dozens of noise complaints filed against her because of her voice.
Images: Giphy; Paul Smith / Featureflash via Shutterstock.com