For Your Holiday Enlightenment

You know, posts and status reports come and go on Facebook. Sometimes I ignore them, other times I read them.

But last week’s post from New York editor Sharyn November knocked me over with its brilliance and potential. Sharyn, who’s a children’s and young-adult book editor, offered her services as an Anger Translator for family gatherings over the holidays.

As a Southern woman of a certain age, I was so out of touch with my anger and the popular culture, I’d never even heard of an Anger Translator. Sharyn immediately referred me to comedians Key & Peele. As everybody but me apparently knows, they do a routine with the cool and measured Barack Obama we’re all used to — accompanied by his wild, angry and profane id.

So … for those of us who are similarly cool and measured and uber-polite and facing down another trying family holiday, Sharyn will show up. She’ll talk back to, say, the racist family matriarch who still can’t bear to hear the words “Barack Obama” and “president” uttered in the same sentence. She’ll stare down Grandpa who can’t believe his grandson, the fashion designer, is gay and, worse, doesn’t appreciate pro football. She’ll correct Cousin Cora’s bratty kid who always grabs the wishbone.

“I’ve offered to do this for years,” says Sharyn, a committed smoker who requires frequent nicotine breaks to recharge her batteries. “Everybody always acts interested, but they’ve never taken me up on it. I don’t know why.” (Actually, she does. She’s pretty sure everybody lives in fear of a Thanksgiving food fight.)

Anyway, I think her idea is every bit as brilliant as the one created by my friend Jane Boursaw of the popular entertainment blog, Reel Life With Jane. Two years ago (but I remember it like it was yesterday), Jane realized she needed to hire someone to get tough with the health insurance industry and doctors she was dealing with — someone who enjoyed a good fight and a lethal duel to the death. Why not, Jane wondered, start a business called Hire an Asshole?

It was a sure moneymaker, I thought; after all, I spent my life running into people who needed to go mano a mano with a fellow asshole. This would even replace my heartfelt desire to be on speaking terms with a member of the Mafia — you know, just in case. If only Jane had conceived of the idea earlier, I could have taken my own, personal asshole to my knockdown dragout feud with the local optician.

As for Thanksgiving this year, I don’t think we’ll be needing an Anger Translator. If you require her services, Sharyn November will be spending the holiday with several of her cousins, along her contribution of 20 light and dark chocolate turkeys. Nobody needs to translate when it comes to chocolate.

(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Here’s a reminiscence of our first — and worst — Thanksgiving

13 comments… add one
  • Fortunately we won’t need an anger translator this year as we’ve decided to mix families and not invite the crazies. But in years past, I would have hired her in a heartbeat.

  • I could use her here. I’ve got a very difficult Thanksgiving happening this year where I will be biting my tongue A LOT. And Jane’s service is a must-have as well. I could use that to get the money a start-up stiffed me out of earlier this year.

  • Love this idea–a professional anger translator. I thought about getting trained to be a professional closet organizer but this is a much better idea. Is there certification? Is there a National Association of Professional Anger Translators? Or perhaps consider the option of a reality television show.

  • Polly Duke Link

    An anger translator is not necessary if you are properly dressed for the occasion: a t-shirt from San Antonio’s mercado that proclaims, “You are a pendejo (friend). ” They’re selling like hot turkey and dressing to unsuspecting tourists with no local lingo. I predict that from such an unlikely source Thanksgiving dinner will undergo either a ground swell peace movement, or a fresh war outbreak. Whichever, Give thanks for t-shirt humor, and pass the gravy.

  • If she’s available all year round, I certainly can give her more work than she could possibly handle…perhaps she should consider a franchise.

  • It’s very sad when there are deep family rifts.

  • I’ve got a better solution, we just quit going to our family’s for the holidays. 😉

  • I’m hoping we won’t need her this Thanksgiving. There’s a new baby in the family and who could be angry with a new baby in our midst?

  • merr Link

    How universal these issues are, even though we often feel like we’re the only ones.

  • I wasn’t aware of that skit til now, so you were not the last one. Love this concept!

  • Well, I’m concerned. I don’t think I need one. I think I are one.

  • I think Donna is right we need a National Association of Professional Anger Translators, with special certification for Passive Aggressive translation services.

  • What a wonderful post! I’m actually a great Anger Translator, though I never referred to what I do by that name. Every time a friend or colleague needs to get tough with a person at the front desk at a hotel, someone who owes them money, a collection agent or the cable company, they call me. I’ve been pretty successful so far. One time when my friends checked into a very expensive room and found mold all over the bathroom, they were afraid to speak to the front desk. I called and they ended up with a mega upgrade for free for the entire weekend!

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