Modern Miss Manners

Emily Post for the dazed + confused NYC twentysomething

Ask MMM: Our Parents’ Sex Lives


Name: Silent Observer


Ms. Manners,
What is the best way to know whether your parent’s sex life is going okay with out seeing it yourself or asking them?
Kind regards,

My dear little weirdo, there isn’t a best way. Because there’s no way. At all.

Short answer? It’s none of your fucking business.

Longer answer: asking your parents vague, probing questions about their overall happiness is a much less jarring method of checking in on them. If you think one (or both) of your parents are unhappy, help them examine their day-to-day experiences by asking them – really asking them – how they’re doing. Often.

Then see how long it takes them to unfriend you on Facebook because they “need their space.”

They were adults before you. Cool your jets.


Voicemail Veto

Let’s talk about the general travesty of leaving a message on the person you’ve been dating’s voicemail – regardless of whether you’re doing so with good or bad intentions.

No, wait, let’s not. Let’s listen to an example of a message left with terrible intentions!


I’ll be honest: leaving the world’s most disastrously embarrassing breakup voicemail is a more effective, oddly heartwarming and generally hilarious option than a slow fade into obscurity any day of the week. Not to mention that leaving a breakup message is basically handing the final debris of your failed relationship to your ex-whatever, thereby granting them the ability to play it publicly, on repeat, at their leisure. That’s a pretty delightful goodbye gift.

However, if you’re not actually planning on breakin’ it off with someone in the pussiest of ways: do not, I repeat, do not call the object of your affections on the phone.

I’m not sure why I have to tell you this, but I just know that I do.

When someone other than one of my parents actually calls my cell, my first and only instinct is to pick up immediately and scream “WHO’S DEAD?” Not great.

I know you miss your superboo. I know you want to impress them with your roguish and/or carefree attitude. I know that calling a romantic interest on the phone and then leaving a voicemail when they inevitably don’t answer feels like something adults in a 90s romcom would do – because it was definitely something adults in 90s romcoms did. When they didn’t have cell phones.

Text or die.

Unless your mom calls. Always pick up when your mom calls.


(Special thx to Robbie Rines for calling this #relevant #dating #dilemma to my attention. Gem of a gent.)

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 7.12.06 PM

Guess Who’s Coming Back to Dinner


Comment: I’m wondering how you go about telling your friend who had once kept up a very engaging blog that she’s dropped the ball for the last 2 months and needs to get her act together…in a nice, not-so-passive-agressive way.

m-a-d-n-e-5-5:In a nice way

I have returned. I’m here to help.

Let’s do this thing.

I love you. I’ve missed you. I’ll never leave you again. Kisses.

A Man Discusses Beards

My pal Peter Kelly is a real cool dude. V together. V chill. V smart. Wearer of a spectacular beard.

With that in mind, I asked Peter to help me on my quest to tell every boy in the world how best to wear their face hairs – and every lady how to convince their manfriends to grow a perfectly-crafted set of whiskers – by writing a Beard Tutorial guest post. Take notes.


I have female friends. These female friends, they say to me, “Peter, we’re attracted to men.”

To which I respond: “Why?”

To which they respond: “Moving on: We’re attracted to men, but they let us down. They don’t seem to care about their appearance, mostly, collectively.”

And I guess I then concede that yeah, though it’s a damn near given that salary-aged females give fair quantities of thought to their outward appearance, the same can’t really be said of their masculine peers. This is like one of those things, that’s understood to be a social truth. And yet, it’s not like you ever meet the theoretical guy at the bar who’s all, “Oh yeah I definitely don’t care about my appearance.” Especially not in urban areas, where our nation’s self-mythologizing tend to wind up. The tragedy is that most guys you’ll meet genuinely think they are cool. Or passable, at the very least.

Deluded people are deluded because other people are letting them be (deluded). But the whole issue puts my aforementioned female friends in a pickle: how to get your scrubby, crappy-looking dude to do his whole look better, without hurting his precious sense of coolness.

My recommendation is simple: talk around it. Like facial hair: you don’t say, “Jesus, get rid of that ridiculous neck beard immediately.” You say, “I was thinking about if you had your neck clean, and you kept the beard shorter – you’d look really handsome.” And you’re touching to demonstrate, of course. And then there’s your guy like, “Yeah I AM completely irresistible and I WILL do that thing she said.”

Technically there’s a rational element you can toss in here, if you’re feeling cocky: beards work best as a mode of framing a face – the best ones tend to end at the nexus between the trachea and jaw because that area appears covered when you face a person directly, therefore pointing your attention to the face as opposed to the weird base thing holding it up. And this is why neck beards look like a mess, just a damn mess.

Though it is telling, that your boyfriend thought a neck beard was acceptable to begin with. Your rhetorical boyfriend, in this imagined scenario. You and I, we know there’s no such thing as an acceptable chinstrap, goatee or, let’s just be real here, mustache, either. But if you’re not willing to do the mature, responsible thing and dump your boyfriend post haste, then I’d recommend taking baby steps towards change. As ugly as it is, if you meet a guy who’s had a handlebar for years, you can’t just ask him to shave it. But expanding to a beard (a well kept beard), that’s not so hard. And from there, what’s a thin beard, or even a full shave?  You’ve opened the door to change: your boy is in the water now, he has found that it’s fine.

Because here’s a secret: men, like other human beings, are really sensitive. And egotistical. So how do you get sensitive, egotistical people to change? You don’t. You get them to enhance their preexisting, well known coolness. At least, that’s what you tell them.

Follow Peter’s sage advice on Twitter here.

Kiss Everyone


I am dead serious. Kiss everyone.

The Wingwoman

vintagegal:Showgirls from the film Happy Go Lucky. Their names are Rebel Randall, Barbara Slater, Lorraine Miller, Aileen Haley, Lynda Grey and Louise La Planche

This is the conversation that most women have with each other at bars, using only their eyes and the witchy woman bond that all chicks naturally feel: “I love and support you in everything you do, but I will drop you like a bad habit if I catch that tall dude in the sweater’s eye.”

Everybody has to be cool with this situation. It’s the most obvious tenant of (wing)womanhood. And yet – the number of basic bitches out there who are thrown into a tizzy the second they’re left alone at the bar is astonishing. Most often, those complaining were just hours earlier loudly exclaiming to a room full of people how amazing they are as wingwomen. Do not trust these ladies. They are terrified of being by themselves, even for a second.

For that matter: never trust anyone who can’t be alone. That’s not even a fully-formed person – just a bundle of weird insecurities and a strong desire to follow you to the bathroom in any social situation.

Ask MMM: Pomegranates


Name: Kim Rebetti & Bryan Davis
Comment: What is the proper etiquette for eating a pomegranate in front of a member of the opposite sex?

That shit’s sexy. Do it. Dig the seeds out with your hands. The juice will get everywhere.

JK it’s disgusting, your hands are probably filthy. Eat pomegranates at home, alone, when you can follow the YouTube tutorials required to do it properly. Or buy the seeds in bulk at Whole Foods and eat them daintily one by one, like an adorable little mouse, while staring deep into the eyes of anyone even moderately attractive nearby (this advice obviously applies only to dudes).

Notes on Slutshaming


My ladies. Let’s start with the basics: not every other lady out there has the same aspirations as you. Not everyone’s biological clock is ticking. There are ladies who have no desire to get married. There are ladies with life goals that do not include monogamous relationships – and those whose goals just don’t include relationships right now.

Point is: you don’t have a right to judge them through your own set of goals. Women who have more sex with more people than you are not “sad” or “desperate” by nature. They probably don’t give a fuck about what you have to say about them, anyhow. They’re just doing whatever they feel like doing – which seems way more fun than whatever you’re losing your shit over.

I mean, really: have you ever “worried” about how many women a dude friend is sleeping with? Or is he just “dating around?” (Sidebar: dudes, these rules apply to you as well. You and I both know you have no good reason to call us sluts, no matter what you heard we did with that guy at that party that one time. Get your shit together.)

If you just don’t like a bitch, deal with it. Figure out what’s really bothering you about her, and attack that aspect of her personality when you’re shit talking her! Way more fun! Don’t attack her sexuality merely because that makes it feel easy or valid to dislike another woman. It’s none of your fucking (sex pun) business.

Be good to your fellow ladies. Cut the slutshaming out of your life, and replace it with funny stories, coffee, hair braiding and high fives. Trust.

You Can’t Un-See an iTunes Library


It happened. In a moment of weakness, you opened that seemingly-normal-and-attractive person you just started dating’s iTunes library, and found something… distasteful.

Multiple playlists filled entirely with Christmas music? Completely empty, save for Phish’s entire (live) discography? A deep and abiding love of early ’00s-era rap metal?

You did this to yourself.

Now you’ll have to decide whether or not you can continue sleeping with a person who owns a Dave Matthews album.

Shouldn’t’ve peeked, dummy.

Everyone’s iTunes libraries are full of dark secrets. So mote it be. Amen. Et cetera.

Ask MMM: The Art of the Serenade

Name: Andrew
Comment: Is it cool to serenade ladies on the geetar?

If it’s Prince.