Hello Faithful Readers, and welcome to the March edition of Gothic Charm School. This month, the Lady of the Manners answers a hodge-podge of questions and marvels at some misconceptions that are floating around out there in Internet-land.
The first question of the month comes from someone going by “Draven”:
my companions tell me that i am not talking the “talk” could you email me and give me some tips they are constantly bugging me about this
The “talk”? There is some sort of Official Gothick Vocabulary List now? Goodness gracious and Deary Me, the Lady of the Manners IS behind the times, isn’t she?
Draven dear, don’t worry about it. It sounds like your friends are simply being difficult. There is no “talk” to be “talking” — slang and colloquialisms vary from town to town and even from peer group to peer group. While calling someone a BabyBat may be perfectly acceptable amongst the Lady of the Manners’ friends, it might be considered a slight or insult by other people who are in the very same city.
(Warning! Slight tangent into Ranty-land!)
Where on earth did your companions come up with this harebrained idea? “Talking the talk”, indeed. Many goths pride themselves on their vocabulary, so an Official Gothick Vocabulary List would be extremely limiting. Tell your companions to email the Lady of the Manners and let her know what words you’re mis-using, and she’ll put them in their place.
Unless, of course, the problem isn’t that you aren’t using their idea of “kewl” words, but that you’re actually mangling regular everyday language. That could be a problem, the Lady of the Manners agrees. If this is indeed the case, then go off and get yourself a “Word a Day” calendar — you could also pop ‘round to www.oed.com and sign up for the O(xford) E(nglish) D(ictionary)’s Word of the Day mailing list. Oh, and read more. No, browsing spo0o0o0o0kie websites doesn’t count. But reading is a wonderful way to improve and enlarge one’s vocabulary; that way, when your so-called companions try and tell you that you aren’t “talking the talk,” you can put them in their places with a well-worded quip.
Now our next question is a leetle less simple:
Dear Lady of the Manners,
I’ve just recently started to enter into goth culture and so far, I’m really enjoying it. But, being here in the Deep South(namely a little Hellhole called Mississippi) I get a good deal of heat ver apperance and all, especially form my mostly redneck friends, most of which have never even heard of goth. the hassle me over my dyed hair and eyeliner and painted nails and so on. Could you give me any advice on what to do about my redneck buddies?
Thank ya kindly,
Hmmm. Telling you to get new friends seems a little unkind, not to mention over-the-top. Have you tried explaining to your redneck buddies that dyed hair, eyeliner, and nail polish do not change who you are? That you aren’t turning your back on them or your friendship, but are just expanding your interests to include other things you find intriguing?
However, you’re probably still going to get hassled. Remember, to the majority of America, goths are EEEEEVVVVIIIL. Spooky, morbid, Satanists, potential psycho-killers, and just plain deviant. Many people don’t want their pre-conceived notions of what goth is to be challenged, and having a friend start showing an interest in the gothic subculture will frighten them. The important thing is to keep doing things with your friends, and show them that you haven’t turned into some sort of hell-fiend just because you wear eyeliner.
Mind you, this is a very good example of why a lot of people in this subculture tend to hang around only with other goths. It can get very tiring to be constantly defending your choice in music, apparel, or hair color to casual acquaintances. It’s only natural to want to spend time with people who share your interests; it just might seem a little strange or painful if you feel like you’re abandoning your old friends. (You’re probably not, but they might see it that way — after all, they’re not the ones doing weird things like putting on eyeliner.)
But you need to ask yourself this one thing — are these “redneck buddies” who are hassling you people you consider close friends? Or are they people you hang out with because it’s convenient? While the Lady of the Manners doesn’t want anyone to be lonely, she does remember a time when those new to the goth subculture went through a period of loneliness and angst because they couldn’t easily find other people like them. (The internet has changed that, for better or for worse, to a slight degree.) This may simply be what you have to go through until you find some people who share more of your interests.
For our final question of the month, here’s one from a friend of the Lady of the Manners who asks:
Is there any polite way to tell someone, when they run into you on the street and say “What are y’all up to? Mind if I join?”, that yes, you would mind?
Well, there isn’t a really graceful way to tell someone “no, I don’t want you to join me/us”. The best solution is to just say (in your most congenial manner and friendly tone) “No, not right now. Maybe another time?” And you MUST sound like you mean it. Sincerity is the key here.
What people need to realize is that it IS perfectly all right to tell people “No”. You just don’t get to be mean, petty, or snarky about it. Good heavens, the Lady of the Manners would never get anything done if she didn’t understand the concept of telling people No. Just because someone asks something of you doesn’t mean you have to agree to it. Of course, this idea of saying “no” has to be weighed against your relationship to the person asking (lover, friend, parent, random co-worker), what it is they’re asking of you (do the dishes, mind if I join you for dinner, want to buy some raffle tickets), and possible consequences of your saying no (you don’t get to use the Lady of the Manners as a scapegoat to tell your parents you aren’t going to do your chores — get that RIGHT out of your heads). But if you can juggle all those factors in your head quickly, you might be surprised to find out how easy saying No is.
Well, with that covered, the Lady of the Manners is going to go off and have a nice restorative cup of tea. Pop back by next month, but in the meantime, send any questions you might have about your behavior to: firstname.lastname@example.org.