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Happy Early National Sardines Day!!!
+ our first advice column: "I'm meeting my partner's parents for the first time - help!" + two stray thoughts that were cut from the "far away from my parents" essays
Happy early National Sardines Day everyone!!
Always celebrated on Nov 24th, this year’s holy day of paying tribute to the underrated AND underappreciated “turkey of the sea” falls on a Thursday, which means, yes, unfortunately, we will be competing with the much more popular “Thanksgiving,” that juggernaut of a holiday honoring the one time Pilgrims were maybe nice to the natives of America (“here, have a turkey, ya goofballs”) before desecrating their land, people, and heritage.
I’ve never seen a sardine lover do anything so awful, have you?
There are a lot of people asking “what the hell is National Sardines Day?” - totally understandable given how many other bogus holidays exist around a particular food or drink item, e.g. National Eat a Cranberry Day (Nov 23), National Espresso Day (Nov 23), and National Cashew Day (Nov 21), the origin of which, according to Wikipedia, has no defined creator or origin!!
Not so for National Sardines Day which was celebrated as early as 1930 according to the wikipedia of the past, Lord Camden’s Almanack:
“Yes, believe it or not, today [11 July 1930] is National Sardine Day… motto (or slogan): “Say It With Sardines”… suggested breakfast, sardines on toast: lunch, sardines off toast: supper, sardine tails en casserole.”
— Lord Camden’s Almanack. Friday. Sunday, 6 July 1930. Page A8, col. 4.
Sardines in the morning, sardines in the evening, sardines at lunch time, when sardine’s on the menu, you can eat sardine’s any time!!
Also, that menu? Sardines ON toast followed by sardines OFF toast? Genius.
But let's get serious for a moment: due to the vitriol and persecution sardines lovers have faced since fish grew legs and walked onto the land, the date of the holiday is always changing—July 11th back in 1930, Oct 4th in the 1990s, and Nov 24th today1. But no matter what, we keep celebrating.
So when you’re sitting there with your family and ‘giving thanks’ this Thursday, be sure to Say It With Sardines.
We’ve got a great show for you today!!! First up is the VERY FIRST edition of Help Wanted, our brand spanking new advice column where we give ‘bad therapy to good friends.’ (podcast of the same name coming early next year).
And with that, babe? Let’s get into it.
I’ve also recorded an audio version of this post where I read it sorta fast and dumb and comment throughout, so be sure to check that out by clicking play up at the top of the post if you want to idk.
Help Wanted #1
Thanks to everyone who has submitted questions - keep them coming! My hope is to answer every single one of them till I can’t answer no more. If you’ve got a question and need some bad but maybe helpful advice? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form.
Our first question is time sensitive as it pertains to
National Sardines Day Thanksgiving.
Meeting my girlfriend's family for the first time over thanksgiving. How should I approach it?
— Tony B.
When Lauren first met my parents, I told her that they were really, really into giving toasts (true) and that it was Russian tradition to make intense, unwavering eye contact with everyone when ‘cheers’ing after the toast (false).
She did the eye contact thing until realizing it was a bit, but by then it was too late - my parents were so weirded out that to this day, they’ve never been able to shake that first impression off, always thinking of Lauren first and foremost as ‘the woman who made way too intense eye contact when we were cheersing’ and only distant second as the wife of their son / the mother of their grandson.
So, for starters, don’t do that.
Besides that…I don’t know dude, just don’t be a weirdo! Don’t bring your pet snake, don’t talk about Warhammer figurines, and don’t ask them to invest in your indie coming of age romp “Whoa Is Me” even if you know its a banger and truly believe the IP potential (books, theme parks) is infinite. if anyone is interested in investing in an idea like this plz comment.
Honestly the biggest thing - be curious. Ask them questions about their lives and especially about your girlfriend:
what are some early memories you have of your daughter as a toddler?
How was she as a teenager?
In as much detail as possible, walk me through the day you gave birth.
You know - classic normal stuff!
Oh also: don’t brag about yourself. Brag about your girlfriend. Think of yourself as her hype man and all you want to do is show her parents how much of a badass you think their daughter is. But not like, too much where it seems creepy.
Here’s something: a tip you’re always given as an actor is to treat an audition as if you already got the part, to think of it not as an audition but more of a meeting—you’re just going in there to hang, connect, and run the scene a few times. And in this case, you did get the part! You’re at the dinner. Enjoy it! The parents want to like you.
Drink but not too much, eat but not too much, compliment the food but not too much, fart but not too much NO DO NOT FART AT ALL!! You can first fart around your partner’s family after 6 years and 8 months and that? is a fart fact.
Oh also, don’t eat with your hands unless its a bread roll or a taco. Save that until you’re married and eating salads when, halfway through each salad you decide ‘ah fuck it’ and start eating it with your hands THIS IS JUST A RANDOM IDEA NOT SOMETHING I PERSONALLY DO EVERY NIGHT WE EAT SALADS STOP ASKING.
Stay away from politics - let the parents lead on that front. Religion too. Agree with whatever they say - tonight’s not the night for telling them why you think The Rock might actually be a great candidate for the dems to rally around come 2024.
FIND OUT BEFORE HAND IF THEY ARE HUG PEOPLE OR HANDSHAKE PEOPLE!! This is essential. I couldn’t sleep for weeks before meeting Lauren’s parents paralyzed by fear about whether to go in for a hug or a shake with her dad (I assumed a hug for mom would be okay), so I ended up going in for a hug in response to her dad’s shake and it was awkward but also sorta beautiful so honestly maybe don’t find out idk.
If you’re feeling good though, if the vibes are right, here’s the meta power move: tell them you asked this question in a hit newsletter that is taking the world by tropical storm, share my response—you can even read it out loud!, and then ask them if they agree. If you do this, make sure that they all subscribe to Both Are True like take out your computer and get them to each subscribe, stand over their shoulder to make sure they do it, people can be shifty with this sorta thing. Record the whole thing w video so I know it’s true. Here’s a button to help:
In other words: be honest. If you’re feeling a lil nervous, say that. If you’re excited to meet them, say that. If you're worried this might have all been a long con to get you in their house where they will now cook you like a turkey, RUN.
Genuinely though, the truth sets you free (unless its very weird then keep that shit inside until therapy). People, especially parents, can sniff out a liar, so be truthful and you’re golden. The very fact that you’re asking this question tells me that you have nothing to worry about. Unless it’s part of your alibi for doing some real weird shit in which case NO.
Walk into that house, start simple with “It’s so nice to finally meet you” and as long as you Say It With Sardines, you’re golden.
There was nothing that would convince my parents about the fact that Diet Coke was not actually all that unhealthy. Their opinions on this hardened long ago, much like the vocal cords that now create their accents.
This is true by the way - accents happen because the older we get, the harder it is for our muscles to make new sounds, so after a certain point around puberty, the sounds of new languages must be made with the muscles of one’s first language, hence why my parents have Russian accents when speaking English but I do not.
Don’t believe me? Here’s Betty Birner from the Linguistic Society of America which sounds so legit you’re gonna have to believe me:
We are born capable of both producing and perceiving all of the sounds of all human languages. In infancy, a child begins to learn what sounds are important in his or her language, and to disregard the rest. By the time you're a year old, you've learned to ignore most distinctions among sounds that don't matter in your own language. The older you get, the harder it becomes to learn the sounds that are part of a different language.
—Betty Birner, Linguistic Society of America2
I was gonna then end the essay with a super sweet callback about how Lauren and I have become native speakers of one particular language of life that might be called “Follow The Work, Plant Roots, Then Figure It All Out” whereas our parents speak a “Family First” tongue, meaning that when we communicate with our parents about this stuff, we have accents. But maybe that’s ok. Here’s what I wrote:
My parents speak English with a Russian accent, but they speak pretty damn good English nonetheless. So too with our lives. Whatever languages we speak with our families, they will sound foreign, with an accent, but who cares? It might sound weird but whatever, they’ll accept us unconditionally anyways, so why not try?
That’s the move, I think - to keep the conversation going in whatever language you can, having faith that they will understand you no matter how thick the accent sounds.
When describing the phone call I had with my dad, me talking about my sick baby son and he talking about his sick aging dad, I had this idea for a Matryoshka Dolls metaphor, except it’d be Matryoshka Dads!
Normally the dolls are static, one size forever, but that’s doesn’t feel right. In truth each doll is always changing—growing, shrinking, taking one another’s place in the order of who is biggest and who is smallest.
So, in terms of age, it’s:
A more realistic version, given who is taking care of who, might be something like this:
Which means in fifteen years it will look something like this, and yes I am assuming my grandpa will still be alive because I’m not really ready to stare down that particular mortality tunnel just yet thank you.
And twenty years after that, it’ll look like this. Note that my son had his own son who is a spitting image of my grandpa even as a baby. I couldn’t believe it either but the doctors said “that’s the baby alright” so we had to just go with it.
And so on and so forth ad infinitum. I asked the aforementioned doctors and they assured me that Dobrenko men would keep having sons who would each look exactly like one of the four dolls above. I said ‘wait seriously’ and they said "yea pal,that’s the science!” so I had to believe them.
That’s it for today and ugh fine I’ll say it - I AM SUPER GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF YOU—MY LIFE BECOME MUCH HAPPIER AND MORE FULFILLING SINCE CREATING THIS NEWSLETTER AND WRITING IT FOR Y’ALL I DON’T KNOW WHERE I WOULD BE WITHOUT YOU AND SO THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Sorry blacked out for a second. What I meant to say, with sardines, is simply
thanks or whatever
ps i love yall
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Comment or Vomit
How are you spending this year’s National Sardines Day?
What weird holidays do you celebrate?
What happened the first time you met your partner’s family?
What else is rattling around in that brain of yours ya lil freak?
There’s really no good words that rhyme with comment unless I’m missing one. Am I?