The Hocus Pocus 2 trailer dropped and our reproductive rights have been taken away, so now it’s official: forget “hot girl summer,” this year I’m having the summer of the witch. I’m not going tanning, taking a “bikini body bootcamp” class, or paying for a trip to Cabo (who can afford it with inflation, amirite?). No—this summer, I’m embracing my inner magic witchy nightmare girl. This summer, I’m becoming a witch.
As an actor, I learned that you can create a character either inside-out (how does the character think?) or outside-in (how does the character look?). I’m going outside-in. Famous witch Daniel Day Lewis (The Crucible) would often wear his character’s clothes all the time to help him get into the character’s headspace. Since I fell off my hairdresser’s schedule due to having no childcare in the summer (thanks, again, America), my hair is getting wire-like and gray. My wise friend told me that since she was in a similar situation and gave up dying her curly locks, letting it assume its natural white, she has only grown more powerful, so I have decided to do the same.
Does it even need to be said that we are no longer bothering with body hair removal? Unless there’s a heat wave, of course. Or if you don’t like it. And while skin care is a must, makeup is purely optional. Hard pants are banned forever. No exceptions.
While your witch-forward fashion icon might skew more Fairuza Balk in The Craft, I take my 90s inspiration from Practical Magic. I don’t go for Sandra Bullock’s tragic beauty, though, and certainly do not emulate “hang onto your husbands, girls,” top-of-her-sexual-prime Nicole Kidman, either. I don’t even want to be sweet-as-pie Dianne Wiest. I’m going full Stockard Channing. Give me a thick smokey eye made from the ashes of the patriarchy and big floppy hat. Let my hair curl with the salty sea air and let me wear my full Victorian garb as I tend to my voluptuous garden. I will more likely utter a chesty tequila-laden curse than a compliment any day.
Now to the witchy behaviors. Did you know that crows are very social and smart creatures? I’ve started leaving trinkets for the crows in my neighborhood—shiny objects—so they are attuned to me and will do my bidding, Moira Rose-style, when the time comes. I have a couple neighbors who I think might not like me and I have some ideas of how the crows can help my cause. Don’t worry about it. Nothing illegal.
May I also suggest you stop speaking to the cats that frequent your doorstep in such an infantilizing way? Give them the respect they deserve and carry on a normal conversation with them. Soon they will become your familiars and can sneak into all sorts of places you cannot and tell you secrets.
Call up your “hot girl crew” and form a coven. Instead of a traditional book club, learn some basic spells. Dance naked under the full moon to your Spotify Witchy Woman playlist (mostly Stevie Nicks) and howl with the urban coyotes that live in the woods nearby. You’d be surprised how freeing it is.
You don’t need to give up men altogether. If, like me, you are cursed with wretched heterosexuality, you can still date, love even, but guard your heart, precious witches, and keep a non-digitized journal recording your moon sickness dates. If you do get possessed by an ex or deceased lover, be stocked and ready for an exorcism or at least an emergency appointment with your therapist or astrologer.
I know there was some talk of Golden Girls summer, and respect to those ladies, but it’s not enough, holy ghost of Bea Arthur, and times have changed. In order to enact some real change around here, we need to get our sexy boooooook (spoken in Bette Midler’s voice from Hocus Pocus), consult your tarot cards, and start hexing. Also please make sure you’re registered to vote and it wouldn’t hurt to call up or write your representative. Curses optional on that one.
Take care out there, witchy wonders.
Image: Laura Herrera / Stocksy.com
How is it that I’ve happily been to dozens of parties that celebrate the result of two people fornicating, yet no one has once thrown me a bash for all the sex I’m having?!
Our calendars are consistently stacked with events dedicated to those procreating or creating a new life together, but what about those of us creating in other ways? Child-free and spouse-free people have already started to take matters into their own hands—registering for home goods for milestone birthdays or throwing themselves parties for career achievements—but what if we normalized invitation-worthy affairs, disconnected from marriage and children? Here’s a look at a long-overdue rebrand of beloved traditional celebrations (i.e. engagement parties, gender reveals, wedding receptions, etc.) into playful, poignant, plausible shindigs everyone can dig.
The Aunt-iversary Party
Everyone under 12 is obsessed with you. You bring the best gifts. You tell the best stories. You roll in ready to toast the 3-year-old’s sippy cup with a canned cocktail, and roll right out after 52 rounds of peek-a-boo. You’re a crucial pillar in any group’s dynamic—always prepared to entertain and protect. (Unless, of course, you’re hungover from the date with the Bumble match who also had a picture captioned “not my baby.”) The aunt-iversary party is a celebration of the cool, fun, wild aunt’s freelance commitment to all their nieces and nephews (honorary or hereditary), and the perfect pregame before your next date.
Party tip: Let your tiniest fans invite their friends, but only the ones with available single dads.
Sure, it’s better to give, but it’s also incredibly satisfying to receive. And look at that—you just received life-changing career news, an award, a degree, a raise, a promotion, an acceptance, a clean bill of health, a book deal, a giant check, or the best “yes” of your life, so it’s time to revel in your ascent to the next level at the coveted reception-reception. Order the champagne fountain, the queso fountain, the regular fountain—any kind of fountain, really—and tell the DJ to turn it up, because we’re celebrating you making moves on and off the dance floor.
Party tip: In the spirit of a classic reception activity, toss a copy of your latest achievement behind you, then watch as friends and family hurl their bodies in all directions to catch it, in hopes of being next.
The (Social Media) Engagement Party
Your latest selfie got 527 likes. Your tweet about happy hour went viral and six enemies from high school messaged you to say, “You’re famous!” A celeb shared your amusing article, emotional essay, tipsy TikTok, or poignant photo. All you can think is: This is what it must feel like when a Kardashian soft-launches a new boyfriend. Offline milestones are pleasing and paramount, but you’re crushing it online, so let’s crush some cocktails to memorialize your mentions. Send out the engagement announcements now!
Party tip: Register for a gift certificate to a relaxing, remote retreat for a brief respite from your retweets.
The Sex Reveal
Oh, boy—another gender reveal? No way, baby. This is a Tinder reveal! While married friends assume you’re having bad luck (because there hasn’t been a boyfriend reveal), you’re actually having a lot of bed luck. At this illuminating and risqué soirée, guests won’t find blue smoke from a monster-truck pipe or pink explosions that might set a small town aflame. You’ll simply be delivering a rousing report about your recent fruitful sexcapades, showcasing some of your brutally attractive, intimately-acquainted right-swipes, and eating cake while astonished attendees applaud your provocative prowess.
Party tip: Maybe don’t invite grandma to this one.
The Therapy Shower
You had a breakthrough, breakdown, or breakup. Your therapist declared you her funniest client. You finally did the challenging action the doc suggested—and it worked! You’ve been feeling yourself and feeling your feelings, and you deserve to feel appreciated and showered by your most trusted companions for the palpable progress. Fun games include: Guess My Co-Pay, Never Have I Ever (Told My Therapist…), Truth or Truth, and Attachment-Style Charades.
Party tip: Since you’ll be spilling some positive mental-health gossip (even though your therapist suggested you stop oversharing), the only reasonable theme is “tea party.”
The Literal Bachelorette Party
Why is it that soon-to-be-married people get to have bawdy bashes for being bachelors and bachelorettes when that’s kind of your thing? It’s time for your crew to celebrate you saying, “I do!” to… well, you. Get on board the party bus, fill up your Solo cup, and secure the novelty dick straws, because you’re feeling cocky about unmarried bliss. Being single? In this economy?! Truly a feat that deserves a fête.
Party tip: Update traditional bachelorette signage like LAST FLING BEFORE THE RING and ONE PENIS FOREVER to JUST AN AVERAGE SATURDAY NIGHT and AS MANY PENISES AS YOU WANT.
Image: Lucas Ottone /Stocksy.com
*You’ve been added to the Group Chat “Holiday Ho-Ho-Hos”*
Danielle: I finally get to see my girlies!! So, where are we drinking?
Natalia: Hold up, there’s a few spots we need to avoid
Rachel: Pour House!!
Natalia: ugh, that’s one we have to avoid
Natalia: I slept with that one bartender that one time and that creepy guy from high school is always there
Rachel: Which guy?
Rachel: fuckin Stephen
Rachel: But for real, i’ve always had good luck there
Danielle: define “good luck”?
Rachel: free drinks!!
Natalia: oh, haaha
Natalia: speaking of, where’s our patron queen of drinks, Andrea?
*Andrea has been added to the Group Chat “Holiday Ho-Ho-Hos”*
Andrea: ooh, hey everyone! We’re all going to be back in town? (except Danielle who lives there, of course, haha)
Natalia: we’re goin to get weird….everywhere except Pour House
Andrea: cuz of Stephen?
Rachel: cuz of Stephen
Danielle: ANYWAY, I only do classy these days, so how about…rooftop beach bar? Hello Betty???
Andrea: Hahahahhaa, clASSy….clASSic Dirty Dani!!
Rachel: Dirty Dani!!! what a throwback!
Danielle: FUck off
Danielle: no dives
Andrea: that means no nose-dives into skate-rat trash either, Danielle
Rachel: Danielle loves her skate rats
Natalia: I mean, Travis Barker types are all the rage rn…
Rachel: I mean, Danielle does think she’s Kourtney Kardashian, so it tracks
Andrea: @Rachel are you saying she’s the least interesting to look at?
Danielle: ugh, FUCK off
Danielle: that was my thing, like, 10 years ago
Danielle: just because I still live in SoCal still doesn’t mean I’m just stuck in a shitty rut singing karaoke at Larry’s Beach Club and fuckin shitty psych rock guys who bite their fingernails, think trucks were meant for grinding, and live in a cheap shithole apartment but never add money to their savings account cuz “life’s a beach!!”
Andrea: So…..how’s Larry’s Beach Club?
Natalia: They have good karaoke
Danielle: It’s a dive, though, for sure
Andrea: I’m down for a dive, honestly
Andrea: it’ll be nice to be in the laid-back beach vibes. NYC is crazy.
Rachel: omg, DC is nuts, too!! I feel you!!!!
Natalia: San Francisco has been pretty chill
Danielle: it gets wild here…
Andrea: YOU get wild there, hahaha
Rachel: so, what are we going to sing for karaoke??
Andrea: Sk8er Boi
Danielle: FUck you
*Danielle has left the Group Chat “Holiday Ho-Ho-Hos”*
Andrea: But seriously, didn’t she get a urinary tract infection like 12 times from different MGK lookalikes?
Natalia: I think that’s on her for not peeing???
Andrea: whatever. I’ll see you at Larry’s on Christmas Eve
Rachel: I really am gonna sing S8er Boi though cuz that song rocks
Images: Studio Firma /Stocksy.com
Are you tired of being alone during the holidays? Do you wish your life was like a made-for-TV movie? Full of love, laughter, and Christmas magic? Well, you’re in luck! Follow these foolproof options to live your life like a rom-com and you’ll be Decking the Hallmark as the klutzy main character in no time!
“Christmas Inn Love”
Step 1: Inherit an old inn from a long-lost relative and move to a small town with big Christmas traditions.
Step 2: Butt heads with a rugged, flannel-wearing stranger at the local diner.
Step 3: Begrudgingly accept help from said rugged stranger after learning that he is the only handyman in town. As the two of you work to restore your inn together, he’ll also “restore your heart.”
Step 1: Buy a small bakery in an ambiguous urban city.
Step 2: Have your sassy best friend/business partner enter you both into a local baking competition.
Step 3: Get off on the wrong foot with a fellow sexy and single baker in the competition. Reluctantly team up with the aforementioned sexy baker after each of your respective sassy best friends get food poisoning right before the semifinals.
Step 4: You’ll be “baking love” before your cake has a chance to cool!
“Return to Santa”
Step 1: Be a high-powered businesswoman who cares more about her career than Christmas. Your holiday tradition should include eating Chinese takeout while you work late at the office, crunching numbers, and avoiding phone calls from your sister who wants you to spend the holiday at home with her kids.
Step 2: Go into work on Thanksgiving Day even though your office is closed.
Step 3: Realize that the files you need are in the back filing room on the very top shelf. Discover that the step ladder is broken and make the terrible decision to climb the metal filing cabinet by pulling out drawers strategically and scaling the wall. When you reach the top shelf and find the file you need, lose your balance and fall 10 feet into the arms of the building’s sexy mail guy who happened to also come in on his day off and heard the commotion.
Step 4: Shaken up, you let the gallant mailman make you a cup of hot cocoa. You find out his name is Nick and you’re instantly attracted to him. As you sip on your perfectly made beverage, the two of you work together and clean up the messy filing room, laughing all the way.
Step 5: He invites you to get out of there and have a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner with him. Uncharacteristically, you agree. There’s something about his twinkling eyes and button nose that you just can’t resist.
Step 6: As you walk the streets of your nondescript metropolitan city together, you realize that you’ll never find a restaurant that’s open on Thanksgiving. So you grab a bag of chips and a bottle of cheap champagne from the only store that’s open and go back to his place, where he makes a feast out of leftovers and junk food. You laugh, drink eggnog, and share a romantic kiss by the fireplace before excusing yourself to use the bathroom.
Step 7: Get lost on the way to the bathroom and stumble across a room full of mail. Check the envelopes and realize that every single one of them is a letter addressed to Santa. Confront him about it and get him to confess that he’s not just “Nick the Cute Mail Guy” he’s actually Nicholas Clause Jr. aka the Son of Santa AND his official mail carrier.
Step 8: Tell him that he’s delusional and say that you’re leaving. As you try to storm out of his apartment, he throws himself into the crackling fireplace. You scream as you watch him disappear through the chimney. Moments later there’s a knock on the door. You open it and there he is, dashing as ever, completely unscathed by the fire. He asks if the two of you can talk…Numb, you open the door and he takes your hand and sits you down on his knee. He tells you of his life and about his magical childhood in the North Pole. How, when he got older, he needed to go out and explore the world, which is why he became his father’s official letter carrier. He says he’d always dreamt of living in your Unnamed Urban City (which is actually Vancouver) and working in a vague corporate environment which is why he decided to base his operation out of a magical mailroom in your company’s generic office building. He explains how he uses chimneys to transport himself around the world, collecting letters to Santa. He asks if you’d like to come with him. You do. Together you travel via chimney across the globe. Along the way you fall madly in love—not just with his spirit, but with the spirit of Christmas.
Step 9: Go to his parents’ house and be proposed to in a romantic mail-themed way on Christmas after Santa’s back from delivering presents. The elves will sing and you’ll live happily ever after with your sexy mailman husband and the world’s best in-laws.
Warning: If he proposes to you on any other day besides Christmas, you can forget about getting a wedding sequel. Remember, the Hallmark of a good relationship is one that revolves entirely around Christmas.
Step 1: Be born and raised in a small town in Middle America where everybody knows each other. It’s important that you’ve spent your entire life in this town, so if you’ve ever moved, I’m sorry but this advice isn’t for you. Why don’t you go back to “Baking Love” where you still might actually have a shot at love, spinster.
Step 2: After a lifetime of small-town Stars Hollow bliss, you decide to reopen your family’s old bookstore. Ideally, your name is something like Paige Turner, but I’m willing to be flexible if you name the bookstore something equally kitschy.
Step 3: Get roped into helping your best friend since childhood throw the town’s 100th anniversary Christmas Eve Ball.
P.S. If your town doesn’t have a tradition dating back at least 100 years? Good luck finding love.
Step 4: Discover your dead father’s secret manuscript hidden in a stack of old books at the back of your impossibly quaint store. Read it from front to back in one sitting and dramatically wipe away a single tear as you whisper, “It’s a masterpiece, Dad. A masterpiece.”
Step 5: Send it off to the top publishing house in New York or London and then receive a phone call that your dead dad’s book is a hit and that the fancy publishers want to rush to get it out by Christmas. They have a few notes, so they’ll be sending one of their very best agents down to you so you can make the final edits by their Christmas Eve deadline.
Step 6: Butt heads with the impossibly handsome big-city publisher, preferably named Read, with whom you have undeniable sexual chemistry.
Step 7: Deny that sexual chemistry. Fight him on every single edit he tries to make to your father’s book. Tell him that he doesn’t understand the book because he doesn’t understand the meaning of Christmas.
Step 8: Resolve to show that city slicker the true meaning of Christmas. Tell him that if he wants you to approve the changes to your dad’s book he has to help you with your volunteer duties for the town’s Christmas Ball. You’ll develop the feels as you deck the halls and soon you’ll share a steamy kiss followed by a brief commercial break.
P.S. If you don’t get him to understand the true meaning of Christmas by midnight on Christmas Eve, you will be cursed from here until eternity.
Step 9: Receive a troubling call from the publishing house that leads to a simple misunderstanding between you and your bookish beau. You’re left in the lurch when he leaves town with your book and your heart.
Step 10: Star in a melodramatic montage of you looking sad as you sell books to your attractive and happy customers while a jazzy Christmas song plays underneath. Your best friend will bring you hot cocoa and tell you to forget about the book and the boy, but you just can’t.
Step 11: Depressed but dressed, you show up at the Christmas Eve Ball to fulfill your volunteer duties. Stare longingly out the window at the town gazebo.
Step 12: Be swept off your feet when your publishing paramour appears at the coat check with the first edition of your father’s book and it’s everything you wanted it to be and more. The reviews are in and they say it’s the best story ever written about Christmas since the Bible. With the misunderstanding solved and your father’s legacy preserved, yule head straight for the mistletoe and live happily ever after.
Disclaimer: If your dead dad’s book isn’t about Christmas, you will die alone.
If none of these ideas worked for you, well sorry but you just don’t have main character energy. Don’t worry, though. You can always throw yourself down a flight of stairs in front of a men’s class at Equinox! I’m sure you’ll get invited to a Christmas or two!
Images: Jovana Rikalo / Stocksy.com; Giphy (4)
In case you somehow missed it, pop superstar Taylor Swift just casually released her re-recorded version of her Red album in the name of being honest. The 30-track album of course has the classic songs from the original 2012 album—but also brought out some never-before-heard tracks, and along with that, never-before-heard lyrics. In doing so, she basically gave her fans a Mad Libs level assignment, matching lyrics to moments in Taylor’s life with one J*ke G*llenhaal. The song that has taken over the majority of everyone’s life? “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)”. Yes, it is over 10 minutes long, so it may be one of the longest songs with one of the longest song titles.
While Taylor’s relationship with Jake is at the forefront of most of the dialogue, there is a third party who is taking up an almost larger amount of the cultural conversation. They’ve been talked about on-and-off in the past, but this is the first time they seem to also be taking back their narrative, and more importantly, sharing their side of the story. I was beyond honored to sit down with them for their first interview in this exclusive conversation. Sure, Oprah just chatted with Adele, but ladies and gentlemen—enter Taylor Swift’s scarf.
Betches: First off, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me—I can only imagine the whirlwind of these last few days.
Taylor’s Scarf: You have no idea. I mean, literally last week I had nothing to do. Not only was “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” not out then, but also global warming has really hurt my career. It’s November and people are barely wearing scarves—it’s a tough business.
B: Ah, I can only imagine. So this really came at the right time for you. What was your involvement with the re-recordings?
TS: I mean… real fans know that while I haven’t been in contact with Taylor in almost 10 years, we’ve definitely emotionally stayed in touch. And it’s funny, people seem to keep saying that Jake Gyllenhaal inspired this entire album but like, hello… It’s me.
B: 100%. Everyone seems to be talking about you, have people reached out about their own scarf stories?
TS: My favorite thing about music is that it brings everyone together. Like, the people who have been reaching out to me, oh my god. Like, I just got this DM from someone who left an infinity scarf that they really liked on a United flight a few years back and even after calling 15 minutes after they got off the plane, they couldn’t find it? Heartbreaking. But they were happy to know that they weren’t alone, cause even Taylor Swift loses scarves.
B: Missing scarves really is a pandemic in its own way. Now, I have to ask, since you were there—what was Taylor and Jake’s relationship like in the moment?
TS: It’s so funny you ask that. Obviously she was there and remembers it all too well, but for me… I had so much going on in 2012. Like, between Kony 2012 and the final Twilight movie coming out, I was super distracted to say the least. So I can’t really recall how they treated each other, but they definitely were obsessed with me, if that answers your question.
B: That sort of doesn’t answer any question I asked. Anyway, in their infamous paparazzi shot, they seem to be carrying a bag from Union Market. Now, as a fan of that grocery store, can you tell us what they bought?
TS: I’m sorry, is this interview about me or them? I took time out of my day to talk with you and you’re asking me about grocery store orders and Twilight.
B: Well, to be fair… you brought up Twilight.
TS: Wow. Okay. You’re truly just like Jake. And I should know because i’ve been on-and-off with his neck for the past few years. I honestly wish Jake and Taylor the best, but I’d really like to focus on my career, my busy season of winter coming up, and my announcement.
B: Oh! What announcement is that?
TS: I am going to be on the next season of Dancing with the Stars! I am both excited and blessed for this new journey, and I’m ready for America and the world to see what this scarf really is capable of.
B: Well, congratulations on that—I’m excited to watch you. Any last words you want to say to the Swifties or anyone?
TS: I’d much rather take this time to show support to the real fan group in my life, the Scarfies. You guys don’t know how much you mean to me, and I love that we are able to reconnect like this. Okay, I have to hang up now, Jake is going out on a coffee run and has to wear me—he’s wearing me around his face now though, for you know, obvious reasons.
Images: Brian Friedman / Shutterstock.com
Everyone’s back in town for the holidays, and you know what that means: ex sex texts. Exsexts, if you will. But even if you don’t receive the preemptive “You gonna be in town?” messages, that’s no guarantee you won’t end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and then doing the wrong thing, naked (or not), in your childhood bedroom. And it’s hard to think of something more wrong than that.
How will you navigate the treacherous Turkey Day time, toeing the line between drinks and dick, bars and bros, nostalgia and NOPE? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Avoid Your Local Haunts
This may seem like a given, but when you’re three rum and cokes deep and your best friend says you should “Drop by the Golden Tee, for old time’s sake!”, you’ll probably forget your old haunt is the graveyard (dive bar) where your ghosts (of partners past) get ghoulish (shitfaced). And it’s not Halloween anymore, hun, so stop starring in your own hangout horror show. Unless you think these ghosts are buying—apology appletinis are definitely “of the season.”
Change Your Instagram Photo to nEXt with the EX Crossed Out
This will send a clear message and not make it seem like you’re considering sleeping with your ex at all, no matter how many apology appletinis he purchases on your behalf. It also doubles as a cute homage to the MTV show your hometown friends will remember fondly and your Chronically Online™ younger friends will pretend they didn’t binge watch when they were home sick from school. It will also provide you and your girlies’ attitude for the evening: next drink, next bar, next awkward encounter with your best friend’s ex, reminding you that everyone is someone’s ex.
Only Wear Sky Crocs
Not only will you appear blasé, unconcerned, and unfuckable, you’ll be walking on air—literally (metaphorically). If you haven’t committed to being 100% undesirable, you can opt for the high-heeled version, but remember: you will be drinking and you will fall down. Just try to make sure you don’t fall into your pick-canopied childhood bed with your ex who probably won’t have a condom because he “hasn’t been excited about anyone since you” and “can pull out without ruining your pink bedspread.” Right.
Oh, Boy, What Else… Maybe… Start Your Period?
Doesn’t the body have a natural response to shutting down your ex or something? Won’t you just start bleeding so you have no choice but to deny your ex the back-in-town booty? Oh, wow, you were on your period last time you were in town and that’s where the giant stain on your childhood sheets came from? Because you… oh — you fucked your ex while on your period in your childhood bed. Well, disregard this, then.
Y’know What? Fuck It—Fuck Him
Look, you’re an adult. You know the repercussions and if you’ve been thinking about doing it this much, well, then, why deny yourself? You’re rarely in town and it doesn’t have to turn into “a thing” if you don’t want it to. You’ve been going to therapy and establishing healthy boundaries in the other sects of your life, why can’t you do it here, too, Janelle? Are you afraid it will turn into “a thing”? Or are you more afraid it won’t? What do you really want here? Do you want him to take responsibility for his wasted life puttering around your hometown and the way he discarded you for greener pastures, a.k.a., younger pussy, because he hasn’t dealt with his traumas and is afraid to delve into the core of his problems and instead regressed into a 24-year-old (literally)? Well, uh… just know he’ll probably never change. And he’ll probably recognize the stained sheets in your childhood bedroom. So.
This holiday season, enjoy your old stomping grounds, even if you do end up fucking your ex in your childhood bedroom. Hopefully it wasn’t as dry as your dad’s turkey dinner or as sour as your sister’s cranberry sauce.
Images: Boris Jovanovic /Stocksy.com
Sometimes, being single feels like a 24/7 scarefest—like you’ve been given a free ticket to the most terrifying haunted attraction on earth (where the attraction isn’t even mutual). If solo and dating experiences were inspiration for a nightmare-inducing display, what would it look like? ENTER IF YOU DARE/DATE.
Blind Date Hayride
The torture begins on a daunting and uncomfortable hayride around the property. You’re alone, until a curious mystery man arrives—the nephew of your aunt’s best friend’s brother’s cousin. Since you both are still alive in 2021, they thought you’d be a great match! You quickly learn he is 24, thinks the earth is flat, and can’t stop talking about his “crazy” exes. You reluctantly contribute to the troubling dialogue by saying, “I guess finding a good partner is like finding a needle in a haystack.” He doesn’t get the idiom. Your aunt texts you 15 times in a row on Facebook Messenger to see how the date’s going, sending chills down your spine. Watch out! Despite your apparent lack of interest, he still goes in for a kiss. You jump up and find a spot on the hay bales furthest from him. As you sit, something sharp stabs you in the back of the thigh. Congratulations, you’ve found the needle in the haystack. Sorry, no refunds.
The Interrogation House
As you walk into this dark, cacophonous den, you’re immediately confronted by frightening friends, grim family members, and gruesome internet strangers who have teamed up to hurl hideous questions at you from every direction. “How are you still single?” they scream. “Whatever happened with that one guy?” they hiss. “But what if you die… alone?” someone resembling your mom whispers creepily from the corner. Then, like footage from a Netflix cult documentary, they surround you and begin to chant: “Are you even seeing anyone right now?” It is evident they want to adopt you into their posse of procreators, future divorcées, and people who fight about leaving the toilet seat up. You have to do something now or they will perpetuate the interrogation. “Yes! I am seeing someone!” you shout. “A therapist!” The haters gasp and scatter away like roaches. Whew, that was close. Unquestionably, you have made it out alive. This time.
The App Trap
The ding your phone makes when you get a dating app match blasts through the halls at a deafening level. As you cautiously step into a large theater, you’re immediately bombarded with seizure-inducing flashes of distressing profile pics and devastatingly cursed bios. Beware of the barrage of hair-raising suitors—the horrifyingly dull Jim looking for his Pam, the astounding sophistication of someone who’s fluent in sarcasm, the “bad boy” who is literally just bad at everything, and, most disturbing of all, an onslaught of unsolicited fish pics. Then, out of nowhere, thousands of small nieces and nephews appear, lost, searching for their owners after being used for a photo. What in the Children-of-the-Corn is happening right now? Be prepared to be assigned a compatible match whose bio says nothing except: “ask me anything”! (Here’s a question: Why?) This is actual hell. You may think it’s time to go when you see an EXIT sign that reads: “No one new around you!” but you cannot leave until you update your settings and lower your standards. Shudder.
The Domestic Dungeon
You enter an apartment that appears similar to yours. For a moment, you feel at ease—then, in the spot where you get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, you notice the eerie silhouette of a body. The large, dark shape is on your side of the bed, hogging all the sheets, making an evil noise (a “snore”) that makes you want to scream. You run to the bathroom to hide, but the door is locked! Nooooo. Someone is on your toilet right this second—using your Squatty Potty! A loud noise clammers behind you. The mystery shape appears in the kitchen and starts pounding your variety pack of White Claws, leaving only the grapefruit ones behind. The horror. You have lived alone for too long to handle this wretched invasion. You ask it to leave, but the six-foot-tall (well, probably closer to 5’10”) monster claims you’ve been dating for five weeks and this is fine. Hurry, end things now—before it uses your toothbrush or makes an ass imprint in the couch!
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If you’re not one who could be described as “extremely online”, you may have missed the past week’s worth of discourse over something called “Who Is The Bad Art Friend?,” a New York Times piece that detailed a years-long back-and-forth, culminating in lawsuits, between two writers. Without going into another multi-thousand-word investigation, the gist is that a writer named Dawn Dorland decided to altruistically donate a kidney to a stranger, and in the process leading up to her donation, made a Facebook group and invited some friends, colleagues, and family to update them on the process. One of the people in that group was a writer by the name of Sonya Larson. Sonya didn’t seem to respond to Dawn’s news, and Dawn reached out to find out what the deal was (as we all do when the certain someone we’ve created a public social media post specifically for hasn’t liked our Instagram). Sonya took a while to respond, only for Dawn to later find out that Sonya had written a short story about a woman who donates a kidney to a stranger. Feels familiar… The kickers? In early versions of the story, the kidney donor character was named Dawn (Larson later changed the character’s name to Rose). The other kicker, because if you’ll recall, I said plural? Also in an early version of the story, Larson copied portions word for word of one of Dawn’s Facebook posts in the kidney group. A cease-and-desist, plagiarism allegations, multiple lawsuits, and a New York Times piece later, and it’s all anyone’s been talking about for the past week.
Again, if you’re not extremely online, you’re probably asking, why does anyone care? Well, the same reason anyone reads r/AmITheAsshole — this was an ethics question for the ages, mixed with the type of self-absorbedness only professional creative types can give. The question at the center was, who is being the “bad art friend?” Dorland, for trying to take down Larson’s career? Or Larson, for basing a story off someone she knew, not telling her about it, and ripping off one of her Facebook posts?
If you’re still asking, no seriously, who cares about this? Let me put it into perspective for you. Even if you’re not an ~artiste~ you can still relate to having a bad art friend. These are the types you’ll encounter in your 20s.
The IG Sniper
This sneaky little operative will volunteer to be the group art director, helping everyone pose for shots and giving the group photographer instructions on the proper angles. You think she’s looking out for everyone and doing the whole group a service, but really, she’s looking out for herself. That’s why she’ll ultimately post the photo where she looks like a model and your eyes are midway to blinking — not even fully blinking, which would actually be better! At least then you wouldn’t look high off your ass. And she totally could have blurred out your forehead pimple —you’re 99% sure she whitened her teeth in post — but she just left you in all your glory, blemishes and all.
The Rogue Tweeter
Despite having max 1,000 followers, your friend pulls decent numbers on Twitter. Every so often, they’ll go viral. But then you’ll look closer, and—wait. Wasn’t that some shit you said at your last group dinner that made everyone crack up? And, wait, that other viral tweet is totally from something someone else put in the group chat. In fact, the Rogue Tweeter is not actually funny at all, they’re just good at packaging everyday funny statements for Twitter. Nobody else in your friend group is really active on Twitter, so it’s not like this person is taking any likes away from anybody, but still, it would have been considerate if they asked.
The Group Chat Boomerang
The only thing worse than having your group chats subpoenaed and printed in the New York Times is — ok, you’re right, there’s nothing worse than that. But also perilous in the group text dynamic is the Boomerang, the person who brings every topic of conversation back to themselves. It’s good to be active and not a total ghost, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. Can you stop talking about that one time your dog ate a piece of chocolate and you had to rush her to the vet? Jessica’s great-uncle just died, and this really isn’t the same.
The Podcast Promoter
They feel like there’s a real hole in the dating/advice/general millennial opinion podcasting market, so they bought a mic during quarantine and started ranting about various unrelated topics into said mic. That’s whatever; the problem is they don’t just passively have a podcast. In fact, they have less of a podcast and more of a compulsion to tell you about said podcast. The times they’ve brought up the podcast outweigh the number of episodes they’ve put out. Which, by the way, they barely even edit because the audio sounds like it was recorded in an echo chamber inside a tunnel, their dog barks throughout it, and they’ve made a few yikes comments that you’re all going to pretend to ignore when they inevitably bring the podcast up again.
The Know-It-All Memer
This counts as a bad “art” friend in that memes are our generation’s art, probably, and I can’t wait until Crying Lindsay Lohan ends up in the Louvre. But anyway, your friend group might have a friend who’s very online (maybe the same friend who put you onto Bad Art Friend in the first place). Maybe they work in social media management, or they just don’t care about keeping their job. Either way, they’re on Instagram all day, every day. So when you send them a meme, they always reply back with some version of “saw that already”. This might as well be a criminal act. Nobody gets points for having their eyeballs glued to the Instagram app. Sharing a meme is not about who saw it first. Just double-tap the message with a heart like every normal person and be grateful your friends think of you at all.
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