Hello Faithful Readers, and welcome to the December edition of Gothic Charm School. This month, the Lady of the Manners is presenting you with a sort of hodgepodge column; a couple of different questions to be answered, a quick restating of one of the Lady of the Manners’ pet peeves, and then! A handy Holiday Gift Guide for all of you to try to get your nearest and dearest to read, in the hopes that the enticingly-wrapped box you receive isn’t filled with a pastel green fuzzy sweater. Clip and Save! (Well, more like Copy, Paste, Print, and Save, but you get the idea.)
The first question up for answering is a simple one: what should a person do when someone in their social circle is throwing a “if so-and-so is going to be there, I WON’T be!” tantrum? (The Lady of the Manners was quite surprised to hear that people above the age of 12 were still using this tactic, but there it is).
The answer is simple. Don’t listen to this sort of demand. Yes, you want to promote harmony with everyone and WHY can’t everyone get along, blah blah blah. However, people who throw around this sort of ultimatum shouldn’t be humored (and the only time they SHOULD be humored is if the person being objected to exhibits the sort of behavior that leads to a restraining order being filed against them). For normal, run-of-the-mill social interaction (which includes inter-clique spats, flame wars, and break-ups), just ignore that sort of dramatic grandstanding. If someone gets huffy and storms out because their dearest enemy (or whomever they consider their dearest enemy that week) is at the same party/nightclub/concert as them, then that is THEIR problem. If they want to appear childish and unstable , then let them.
Next on the list of Things to Address this month is the question that some dear friends of the Lady of the Manners’ asked her one evening at the goth club — how to approach newly-single friends (with romantic or dating-like intentions), and not take part in the inevitable “mob” that happens when someone becomes single again.
Oh, goodness. The mobbing of the newly-single in the goth scene. The Lady of the Manners isn’t sure what really causes it, since she KNOWS that individuals are capable of chatting up someone they’re attracted to without behaving as if their brains have dribbled out their ears, but as soon as someone in “the scene” is newly without romantic attachments, the feeding frenzy starts. Guess what? The person who is the focus of the feeding frenzy is probably being made to feel VERY uncomfortable. While it’s nice to feel wanted, and the ego-boost from people paying attention to you is a Good Thing, becoming the target of that sort of attention from LOTS of people is disconcerting. Not to mention that it can give a person the impression that others in The Scene merely have some sort of checklist for people they need to date, which isn’t the most flattering of reasons to be flirted with. (The Lady of the Manners is sad to report she has even heard someone say “just put me on the list for when you get around to dating again,” which has to be a new low in flirting.) If the Object of Your Affection is someone who is newly single, the best thing to do is to take a restrained approach to flirting with them, and DON’T get all huffy if they say they don’t want to even CONSIDER dating for a while. That part is important — do try to remember it, no matter what your rampaging emotions might say otherwise.
“Is it time for the Gift Suggestions?” the Lady of the Manners hears you asking. No darlings, not yet. Not yet, because the Lady of the Manners has to stomp around and rant a bit about one of her Pet Peeves. This is a warning — if you wish to skip the stomping and ranting section, just scroll down until you see the line of asterisks. Now, on with the ranting!
The Lady of theManners realizes that she holds strong views about Proper Behavior at Goth Clubs AND that she will break into passionate diatribes about those views at the drop of a hat — however, some people still haven’t gotten the message. So, the terse and to-the-point rundown goes something like this:
1. If there are coats/jackets/purses left at a table and/or seats, those places are TAKEN. Do not plop yourself down, and DO NOT move people’s belongings just so you can take over their table.
2. DO NOT take cigarettes onto the dance floor. If you need the nicotine that badly, then don’t dance. If your dancing style hinges on having something glowy to wave about yourself, become a raver. It is inexcusable to burn other club patrons, and glaring at people who object to being singed by your cigarette is even worse. DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING ON FIRE ONTO THE DANCE FLOOR. (*sigh* The Lady of the Manners is going to start snatching cigarettes out of the hands of clueless folks on the floor and give them a shiny quarter in recompense if this sort of thing goes on much longer — not because she wants to give random strangers her money, but because if she’s going to steal and throw away their lit smokes, she should probably give them something in return. Hopefully the Lady of the Manners won’t be driven to such unseemly behavior, but it’s getting to be a near thing, boys and girls, a near thing indeed.)
3. For that matter, don’t dance with a drink in your hand. If you are (understandably) worried about someone tampering with your drink, either have a friend watch it for you, or don’t dance until you finish the drink you are holding. See, isn’t that a simple idea?
4. Making a public nuisance of yourself will most likely result in your being asked to leave. Shouting at, being rude and being belligerent to and/or at people and then trying to pass it off as “they just don’t know how to have fun” falls under the heading of Making a Public Nuisance of Yourself. And for heaven’s sake, don’t expect your friends to think you’re terribly cool and funny for having gotten kicked out of a club, because it’s neither.
5. If you wear elaborate clothes or large accessories to the club, be sure you know how to manage them. If you wear enormous wings or a skirt with a 4-foot train it is YOUR responsibility to make sure they don’t bump into people, get tangled underfoot, and so on.
Whew. The Lady of the Manners feels better for that, but also remembers why she’s been going out to the clubs less and less. But look! A whole row of asterisks! You know what that means…
The Gothic Charm School Guide to Presents for Goths!
(for parents, relatives, and well-meaning but confused friends of Goths)
Don’t buy them clothes. Unless you know FOR SURE what size the intended recipient is and what style of clothing they prefer, don’t take the risk. Sure, you could say “well, it’s black”, but there are nuances to goth fashion that many people aren’t aware of and which aren’t necessarily obvious to outside observers.
Books are good, but again, make SURE you know the literary taste of the person you’re buying for. Some Goths will read anything with “vampire” in the title, while others will turn up their little pale noses at such. The same goes for music — and put down that Marilyn Manson CD, please. They Are Not Goth. Sure, they’re terribly funny and put on a wacky fun-filled stage show, but they aren’t goth, no matter what the media say.
As boring as it seems, gift certificates are good. If that sounds a little too run-of-the-mill and distant for you, then make the offer to go to whatever store they prefer and let them pick something out (within whatever you budget for). Not only does this let you spend some time with them post-holiday frenzy, but it will allow you to see what sorts of things they like, thus allowing you to gather information for next year.
Another good idea is giving things that will allow the gift recipient to pamper themselves. Gift certificates for a massage, facials (usually for the girly-goths, but there are gothboys out there who would like a facial just as much), or a nice meal out at someplace interesting are all things that let you provide them with a treat they might not normally get during the course of their everyday life.
If none of these sound like tempting suggestions to you and you’re absolutely certain you’ll find something appropriate at the local mall, then fine and good luck. However, you might want to hang on to the receipt — Just In Case.
(A quick word or two of advice for Goths who are given presents which aren’t quite what they wanted: smile and say thank you. Do Not throw any sort of fit, even if the gift is something that someone living under a rock would realize wouldn’t suit you. Being given a gift is not actually about getting goodies you want — though that’s usually a nice side effect. Someone giving you a present is about the idea that they were thinking of you and wanted a way to express that. So smile and say thank you. If you can’t bear to keep the item and don’t think you could get away with asking the gift-giver where to exchange it, that is what consignment shops are for.)
With that last bit of advice, the Lady of the Manners feels her work for this month is done. What will January hold? Who knows? But do send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, just in case.