Spacing out, social flypaper and being a tool

Spacing out, social flypaper and being a tool

Dear Rachel,

I love sci fi, but I’m to the point where I can no longer ignore things like human beings being able to walk and breathe on any old planet they encounter. Gravity would be different. And atmospheres would definitely be different! I just can’t suspend my disbelief anymore. Is this a marker of old age, like switching to high fiber breakfast cereal or waking up before dawn? Or have I just lost the spirit of fun?

– Intergalactic Party Pooper

Dear Sci Fi Fo Fum,

I was talking to someone recently about old-school chauvinism. Not meaning that shown by the Loser in Chief, but more like the chauvinism without malicious intent that our elders can’t seem to shake. It reminded me of “Star Trek.” The original series was undoubtedly sexist, not to mention technologically inferior, but people still go to the mat over whether it’s better than “The Next Generation,” whose inclusion extends beyond other races to all sorts of other identities. But now all I’ll think about is how they’re not wearing astronaut suits on every new planet. Thanks, pooper.

– Not logical, Captain, Rachel


Dear Rachel,

Why am I absolutely incapable of leaving a conversation? I could need to rush home to my burning apartment, and if someone says “Pull up a chair” or “That reminds me …” then I stay. Every time I try to say I should get going, or my dog needs to be fed before he dies, people just ignore it and keep on talking. So what if I don’t actually have a dog? I shouldn’t care about hurting their feelings, but apparently I do. Help!

– Exits Blocked

Dear Prisoner’s Dilemma,

Some people are made of pure social flypaper. They don’t have a clue how to read your cues, or they don’t care. Or! Or it could be that YOU are the one giving the misleading cues. Maybe they just want you to leave already, and yet you linger, and your halfhearted attempts at feeding fake dogs come off as bogus attempts at fake-recognizing interpersonal boundaries. Nothing for it but to never leave the house again.

– Get cozy, Rachel 


Dear Rachel,

I keep seeing these memes about how Millennials are worse at home repair tasks than their parents’ generation. As an elder Millennial, I am affronted. You know why I suck at home repair tasks? Because my parents didn’t teach me. Based on the representative sample of my friends, this parental neglect is common for our generation. Quit blaming us, Boomers! But for now, Rachel, any advice for the equivalent of a community college course on home repair?

– Home Unimprovement

Dear Tim the Tool Man,

Um, you don’t just do what I do, which is to listen to other people’s parents on YouTube? That’s the community college for elder Millennials, right? Or do you not even know how to do that? It’s OK, the expectations for competence (especially tied to gender roles) has shifted. The good news is that no one expects you to be any good at fixing… well, anything at all. But even if you’re a woman, go watch Cap’n Kirk and learn how to be a man.

– Grunt, Rachel

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