Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Op-Ed: Pardon Moi?

By Amber Sutherland

Do you always have to say hi to acquaintances?

Maintaining relationships with your social circle fringe is time-consuming and prohibitive to your autonomy. If you must endure regular run-ins with everyone you’ve ever met in your life, you will likely be tardy to other engagements and preclude real introspection into your relationships.

Few things are worse than taking a leisurely stroll through the Village, perhaps sipping a stimulating beverage and enjoying your anonymity, only to be disturbed by the piercing call of your name from across the street. Suddenly you’re ripped from an internal monologue that was only moments away from a breakthrough—for instance, about which of the unholy trifecta of Brooklyn writers named Jonathan is worse—and seduced into a good old-fashioned round of “What are you up to?”

If a would-be pal approaches you, it is generally recommended that you indulge them for a moment, lest you endure the dreaded “he used to be cool” the next time you come up in conversation. Exchange pleasantries and politely excuse yourself. A warm smile and a jovial sock to the arm will punctuate your camaraderie. Just remember: every time you are excessively social, J. D. Salinger gets a chill down his spine.

Is it OK to renege on a suicide pact?

Your co-conspirator will be understandably miffed that you want to dissolve your contract. Be sympathetic about the obvious inconvenience you are causing. Explain to him or her that your life is on an upswing right now and the idea of ending it all has lost its initial charm.

Rationalize your exploitation of the escape clause very precisely to avoid any appearance of poor follow-through on your part. If you stand to inherit a large sum of money in the foreseeable future, for example, be honest. Do not merely claim to be in a different place now/have found Jesus/want to see how this season of American Idol turns out.

But do not leave your former partner high and dry. Provide recommendations of anyone you know who might be interested in taking your place. As always, send a note a few days later, preferably something with a somber tone. Handsome Devil Press, for one, has a greeting card inspired by Morrissey. This is a great way to say, “To die by your side, the pleasure, the privilege is mine,” without, you know, making the commitment.

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