26 January 2010

No Thank You

Listening to: Passion Pit, "Sleepyhead." Whiny, annoying, catchy, and uplifting at the same time. You'll miss it five minutes after you just heard it.

I discovered Jancee Dunn last year and can't believe I haven't shared her with the world yet. She's a former MTV VJ, ex-Rolling Stone journalist, and a hilarious memoir writer. I randomly picked up "But Enough About Me" at Housing Works in SoHo over the summer, read just one page, fell in love with it, and have since bought four copies to distribute to friends.

Her newish book of stories, "Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo," contains an essay about the calcifying habits her husband, Tom, has developed over time. He is against, for example, "restaurants with the words fun, factory, or eatery in its name, or anything with a subtitle ('A Pan-Asian Fusion Bistro and Wine Bar')." Other things that make his no can do list include Sunday brunches, brands of jeans with names longer than two words, and walking while eating. While at first this might seem curmudgeonly, I find myself relating to Tom. See, in recent years, I've also developed a long list of things that I simply "don't do" anymore.

A smattering: I don't do hip hop concerts, I don't do gourmet fried chicken, I don't do costume parties, holidays, overpriced breweries with crappy food, or movies in the park. I don't do airport duty unless it's within my normal operating hours, 2pm - 4am. I refuse to wear dress shoes for a club because if you're going to be dancing why the hell do you want to be in uncomfortable footwear (sorry ladies, your sacrifice is noted)? After hearing my friend say that he'll walk away from anything with a line, I've decided I don't do lines anymore either. That goes for ice cream on a hot day, midnight premieres or launches, and amusement parks. I will stand in line for Souplantation and most buffets though. Most recently I've developed an aversion to anything free. I'm not in college anymore, "free" shouldn't be a knee jerk enticement, not when it means a thousand other people will be flocking there for a likely sub-par experience.

Dunn explains it like this:

"Of course, to a younger man, choice is enticing. But an older man is acquainted with disappointment. The years roll on, the regrets pile up, and suddenly your dogged adherence to 'no alcoholic beverage that contains more than three ingredients' starts to make more sense.... After four decades on earth, time was no longer infinite for him. Those mediocre dinners and pointless films become less forgivable. And so, for Tom -- and for me -- out the window go reunion-concert tours, morning television, and invitations to events with vague dress codes like 'smart casual' and 'business festive.'"
Sure, with an ever expanding list of things I "don't do," I run the risk of being a Debbie Downer or Fussy Buddy, but hey, a man has to draw the line somewhere right? I admire Tom for the specificity of his rules and I hope to refine my dislikes into a similarly pruned temple of "no." Of course, when I'm fifty and friendless I might change my tune but for now I think it'll be okay.