Party Non-Sequiturs: 2014 Edition

There you stand, slightly sweaty in your summer best, summer cocktail in hand, amidst a crowd of strangers at a summer rooftop party. You’re ready to meet and greet. But what to say? How to make that crucial first impression? In an ideal world, we’d just talk about the weather, a source of endless interest and fascination germane to all. But the world isn’t perfect, and we’re left with small-talk tropes like “what do you do?” or “where are you from?” and other banal and overdone borers. Or you could turn those conversational tropes on their heads and be the firework you want to see in the sky. All you need is a party non-sequitur.

Beloved former Wheelhouse writer Sarah Davis inaugurated the tradition in summer 2012, updating in spring and back-to-school 2013. As the world turns, so do awesome party conversation topics. Here are the non-sequiturs of the moment that will dazzle strangers and mystify acquaintances. Read them, print them, memorize them, put them on little post-its on your bathroom mirror and then go forth to your barbeques, picnics, rooftop parties, weekends in the Hamptons, beach vacations or any other venue for summer socialization to shine!

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Reflections on the Isla Vista Shootings


The UC Santa Barbara shooting has left me spinning and at a loss. Is this an issue of misogyny? Is this an issue of rape culture?  Is this an issue of what the culture defines as manhood? Is this an issue of misplaced priorities and disordered loves? Yes–to all.

I watched a couple of minutes of Elliot Rodger’s video and I had to stop. Here was this good looking boy in a BMW threatening a “Day of Retribution” because he was 22 and had never had sex or even been kissed. Sure, the first response is “well of course you haven’t because you’re kind of a jerk.” But it’s also incredibly heartbreaking to see how someone who seemed to have such a bright future, snuff it out because of a massive lie and twisted thinking.

It’s undeniable that Rodger had mental problems–you don’t do any of the things he did if you are healthy. And yet, not calling into question the cultural assumptions and values that were at play is to do him and his victims a disservice. As a woman, my gut reaction is “yes, I’ve been there and thank God that none of the creepy guys who were persistent tried to murder me.” My gut reaction is to see this as evidence of misogyny and the way our culture objectifies and commodifies women and turns us, as Arthur Chu deftly writes, from the protagonists of our own stories to supporting characters at best and props at worst in some guy’s.

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The Jobs I Don’t Put On My Resume

Tap Dance Teacher
It was May in Chicago. I was about to start the 4-5-year-olds tap dance class. In the lobby, a woman was reading I Know a Rhino to a little girl named Ruby, whose mom usually brought her to class. I noted that in her bag were the most tender, sweet little flowers. They looked like bitty bells attached to a thin wispy stem. “What are those beautiful things?” I asked. The stranger Ruby-related woman was enthusiastic to answer as I was enthusiastic to wonder: “Lily of the Valley!” she replied.
She explained that Lily of the Valley, which I always expected to be some grandiose, melodramatic sort of flora, is actually the small bit of beauty that grows alongside peoples’ lawns. She told me that if you cut just a couple stems and put them in a bud vase, they will smell your entire apartment up with fresh ambrosial abundance.
“This is your reward for hellish winters,” said the woman. “I’m Ruby’s aunt, from California–we don’t get these. They only grow in extreme temperatures, after a harsh winter.”
Business English Teacher

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Literary Limericks, Continued

Summer is here (unofficially) and that means that you may want to pick up some books for the beach or park. While we once again offer some summer reading picks courtesy of Tuesday columnist, Alison Lytton, here are five more summaries of classic books you might like, in limerick form–but you don’t have to take my word for it… (For the first batch, click here.) Continue reading