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