Saturday, November 15, 2008


This afternoon my friend Amanda called me and asked, "What are you doing tonight?" This is pretty much the worst question ever after "Does this make me look fat?" and "Is she pretty?"

I hate answering this question, because if your answer is "I'm staying home", then it is assumed you are free and eager to accept any social invitation. Somewhere along the line, it was decided by the People That Decide Things that:

  1. Staying at home alone is the least desirable way to spend a Saturday night.
  2. Staying at home is not plans, but a lack of plans.
  3. The company of others is a priori preferable to spending time alone.
  4. Pursuant to (1), (2) and (3), any social invitation, no matter how boring or unpleasant, is to be immediately accepted if there are no conflicting social engagements.
  5. Pursuant to (3), failure to adhere to (4) is considered rude and a personal slight.

Predictably, when Amanda heard that I was staying home she invited me out to see a play written by one of her co-workers. I do not like plays. Most especially, I do not like plays by novice playwrights that are performed in 99-seat theaters by drama students and Starbucks baristas. They invariably remind me of Ingmar Bergman films without the levity. In this case, not only would I be required to watch the play, but because Amanda knows the writer I would be required to meet him and tell him how much I enjoyed his play. I do not need to tell you why this is unacceptable.

When Amanda called, I had already prepped a Cornish game hen that I was planning to cook for dinner and was looking forward to having a nice meal and watching my new Netflix arrival. To me, those are plans, even if no one else is involved. I knew that this reasoning would not work with Amanda, though. On a previous occasion she had called me at about 6pm asking if I wanted to get some dinner, and when I replied that I had already begun cooking dinner she asked why I couldn't put it in the fridge and have it another night. So that's what we're dealing with here.

As soon as she asked me to go to the play, I knew I was screwed no matter what I did. I was either going to ditch my plans and go do something I really didn't want to do, or I was going to decline and look like an asshole. I audibly hesitated as I told Amanda that plays weren't really my thing. She said, "But you're not doing anything else. You're just going to sit home instead of going to the play with me?" I really wanted to object to her dismissive use of the word 'just', but this was no time for pedantry. I sort of declined again, and then she - a woman who never misses an opportunity to talk about how independent and strong she is - played the helpless woman card. "Are you going to make me go to Hollywood alone at night?" I knew she was half-kidding, but I knew she was also definitely trying to guilt me into going. I wasn't having it. She finished with, "Well, I have to leave by six. Call me if you change your mind."

Amanda is Canadian, and is here for just a few months for work. I am the only person from Los Angeles that she knew before coming here, so I - the introvert - have assumed the responsibilities normally divided among an entire social circle. Not two weeks ago I spent 12 hours in the hospital with her when she had minor surgery because there was no one else to do it. I feel that I should be able to say no sometimes without making someone mad. I feel that if I want to stay home then it should be considered the same as if I have plans with another person.

I also feel that this entry started out funny but wasn't so funny by the end. So let me just say...POOPY!

18 metawords:

Red said...

Dear WWW,

Plans with yourself are as important as plans with other people and no one should make you feel guilty about that. Ever.



words words words said...

OMG! Borpo is in my blog! Just for that I'm going to buy you a sweater cape.

~E said...

So...about that game hen you were gonna eat. You can send it to me instead.

I know this comment isn't funny but dammit it's all I got!

BeckEye said...

Man, you JUST stayed home tonight? Dude, I had the most killer night involving copious amounts of laundry and a stop at the grocery store. Can you say raaaaaaaadiiicallllll????

I am 35. I LIKE staying in. I don't need to party and spend all of my money every weekend. You are older than me, so it stands to reason that you like staying in even more than I do.

Also, you need to learn to become a better liar. Put an "excuse list" by your phone, like Jerry Seinfeld did, if you aren't good at thinking quickly.

words words words said...

I'm a terrible liar. I don't even try most of the time. I like going out, and even raising a ruckus...but only when I want to. And even then I don't get crazy like you do. Laundry AND grocery shopping? How do you hold down a job?

Dr Zibbs said...

This is so weird because my excuse for when people asked if I had plans was always, "Sorry, I'm brining a cornish game hen."

Fancy Schmancy said...

My idea of plans usually involves taking a nap so I can stay up to watch SNL. People know better than to ask me to do anything, the answer is always NO.

Jon said... was the play?

Poobomber said...

It's hard out there for us introverts.

I can't think of anything better than staying home and watching a movie and eating cornish hens on a Saturday night. Why is that unacceptable to people??

Did you at least invite her over AFTER the play? Sounds like an opportunity for boingboing.

Rebecca said...

Your attitude is perfectly reasonable and I wholeheartedly back your decision to do whatever you want so long as it never conflicts with my plans for you.

Falwless said...

Yeah, how was the play?

ÄsK AliCë said...

There are some nights when staying in is the only thing you want to do. You have to stay strong. Or tell them that you don't feel good or that your mom flew in from Florida or something equally believable*.

And uh ya, how was the play?


words words words said...

You are all hilarious. Or rather, Jon is hilarious and the rest of you are shameless plaigarists. But I actually didn't go see the play. STRONG LIKE BULL.

momcat said...

Next time you plan on staying in....don't answer the phone! If you have family phoning get them to use a coded ring.

SouthernBelle said...

Just get yourself a spouse. Then you can blame them for not being able to go out. "Oh, he's not feeling well / has to work tomorrow / is an unsociable grumpy bastard etc. etc."

: )

words words words said...

Momcat: Usually I don't answer my phone. But this was the second time she called that day, and the first time she left a message that it was really important. Dirty tricks!

Southernbelle: That is a fantastic idea. Truly. If anyone would like to be my spouse/excuse, write me c/o this blog.

pistols at dawn said...

I'd just like to say that it's always time for pedantry.

Also, I've found that there are two ways to put off these people, especially when they come offering one-man shows in black box theaters that inevitably end with the performer screeching about their childhood abuse while banging pots and pans together: 1) inventing fictitious relatives who "came into town at the last minute" or 2) boldly saying, "No. There is no way I am doing that, and if you were a real friend, you wouldn't ask me to jump on that social grenade."

And wait - you're in LA? Just use the distance as an excuse, since everyone understands that. "It's too far to come over the hill/from the Westside/I'm busy having gay sex in WeHo" always works.

Shar said...

Hey, what does her being Canadian have to do with anything?! :P