Every fall, the inebriates and reprobates at The Stranger — Seattle's Only Newspaper™ and the proud home of foulmouthed superhero Dan Savage — put out an issue of advice for college students on everything from what majors to avoid (cough, sociology) to how to do drugs without freaking out/dying (carefully) to how to come out of the closet (ASAP!).
This fall, the best of our collective wisdom has been assembled in attractive book form, along with tons of new material and Dan Savage's best college sexytimes advice. Lindy West, our erstwhile colleague, current Jezebel writer, and World's Funniest Human™ (you may remember her single-handedly putting an end to the Sex and the City cinema franchise or her complete taxonomy of humanity), put lots of words in a certain order for the book, and that worked out really well. Stranger editor-in-chief Christopher Frizzelle wrote, among other things, a chapter entitled "How to Write Good" that is really good (e.g., "There is no secret to being a good writer. You have to read until your eyes bleed, write until your hands fall off, get new hands and eyeballs, and get back to it..."). And gems from the staff of the Stranger may be found throughout, like the section "Different Sexual Positions You Need to Try in College" by books editor Paul Constant, which has made me laugh out loud each and every time of the 11 times I have read it.
Apropos of nothing, here is one of the more obscure sections from the book, written by me (though unbylined in the book — Mom and Dad, if you're reading this, sorry about the cursing, but let's be truthful: I learned it from you).
When It's Okay to Yell at Someone About Politics
Let's say you're at a party, and that it's a party for Christians, put on by a Christian video game company, and Jesus Christ himself is there. (TRUE STORY! How do you get yourself into these things? Answer: free drinks.) Jesus is wearing a long white toga-type thing and a special Jesus sash, and he has lustrous long hair — not like dirty-unkempt-hippie-guy hair, but beautiful, shiny, wavy brown hair. It cannot be denied: Jesus is hot. "JESUS CHRIST!" you say. "Yes!" he beams. "So, wait: Are you really Jesus?" you say, testing the waters. "Like, do the people here, and/or you yourself, believe that you are Jesus? Or are you just a guy hired to be dressed up as Jesus?" And Jesus leans in and says, "Totally the latter. I don't even believe in God!" So then you talk to Jesus while you finish your drink, and then you dance with Jesus for a while. Jesus is such a good dancer. You get your picture taken with him by the professional-photographer-guy, because: It's Jesus!
You're swept up in the magic of the nearness of Jesus and free drinks, so you say to the professional-photographer-guy who's taking your photo with Jesus, "So, are you Christian? Or were you just hired to take pictures here?" You're thinking you and Jesus might have a new friend. But no! Professional-photographer-guy is a believer. He conveys this in a humble yet still somehow self-satisfied manner. Again, you've had a few drinks. "But what about the gays?" you say. "I believe Jesus loves and accepts everyone," Christian-professional-photographer-guy says. "So, then, you support gay rights, like gay marriage?" you say. "Oh, I'm really not educated about it enough to have an opinion," he says with vacant sincerity. "What the hell does that mean?" you say. "Denying gay people their rights is a political platform of your entire religious institution — the institution that you've entrusted your soul to," you say. He says again that he believes Jesus loves and accepts everyone. You say again that it's his moral responsibility to develop a point of view about one of the current political tenets of his faith. "Oh," Christian-professional-photographer-guy says. "I just really haven't given it much thought." "MAYBE YOU SHOULD GIVE IT SOME MOTHERFUCKING THOUGHT," you suggest. You're rarely so combative, but his ignorance — real or feigned — makes you incensed.
Christian-professional-photographer-guy remains empty-eyed as he offers more empty words. You're cursing freely; you're close to berating him. You realize there's no point. "There's no point to this," you say. Christian-professional-photographer-guy touches you lightly on the forearm and tells you he's glad you talked and that he's really going to think about it. "LIKE HELL YOU'RE GOING TO THINK ABOUT IT! IF YOU WERE CAPABLE OF CRITICAL THINKING WE WOULDN'T BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION!" you shout. "FUCKING FUCK!" you shout, and you reel away. You will still be mad when you wake up the next day.
The moral of the story is this: It's often pointless to talk to people about politics, and in general it's very rude to shout at people at parties, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do.
Today is Labor Day, so we hope that you are floating in an inner tube with a cold beer as we are, not yelling at anyone about anything. That is all for now. Buy our book! It is good! We'll be here all week.
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Bethany Jean Clement — the Stranger’s restaurant reviewer (and managing editor) — eats food. Her work has appeared in the Best Food Writing anthologies, Food & Wine, Town & Country, Gourmet.com, Beard House, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., and elsewhere.
Books mentioned in this post
Bethany Jean Clement is the author of How to Be a Person: The Stranger's Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself