Have you ever been at Thanksgiving and had a distant aunt grill you about your dating life? How about an uncle who demanded to know where you worked, how much you made, and what exactly you did all day in that office? It's the worst!
And women have had enough. So they are starting to make brochures and pamphlets to hand out to family members at gatherings, with the express purpose of avoiding those awkward conversations. It's a brilliant move that manages to both solve the problem and make it known to their family members that they are a problem at the same time.
One of the first examples of this we saw was from a comedian, Mary Beth Barone, a couple months ago. She had scheduled a date while she would be on vacation with her family, and she, understandably, didn't want to hear it from them. So she printed out a pamphlet that answered every question her family could possibly have about this little outing in an effort to not actually have a conversation with them about it.
It was brilliant. It had a Frequently Asked Questions section that included gems like, "Who is this guy?" ("My friend Sam's brother."), "Are you dating?" ("No, we're just getting to know each other."), and "What's the parking situation in Miami?" (I'm not sure but it's going to be OK.). You know, all the questions overly concerned and nosy parents would definitely ask... if they got the chance.
Mary Beth's pamphlet blew up, went completely viral, and evidently started a new trend because another woman, Melissa Croce, has concocted a brilliant brochure to hand out to family members when she attends her cousin's wedding.
It's called "So You Haven't Seen Melissa Croce in Several Years: A Primer" and it has everything: a FAQ about her job, a FAQ about living in New York, and a very impressive "Choose Your Own Adventure" flow chart for anyone who wants to ask why she's single.
It may have started out as a joke, but Melissa was "too committed to the bit to quit," i.e. she realized how incredible the idea actually was, and she had to do it. It starts with a cover page, complete with a picture of Melissa, in case any of her family members get confused about who this is about.
"She's beauty and she's grace. She'll say it to your face." This is so genius because have you ever been stuck at a family reunion type get-together, spilling the same details of your life over and over to different people? You feel like you're going crazy! It's much more efficient and better for your sanity to get all the information out at once so you can move on to talking about other stuff. That's exactly what Melissa's brochure accomplishes.
"What do you do again? Something with books?" begins the "Job FAQs" section of Melissa's brochure, and honestly, do we have the same family? Because this is exactly what they sound like. I love that she explains her job in terms that even old people who don't understand words would comprehend.
"Do you just read books all day?" Well, no. That's not a job. If it was, sign me up! Family members can be so condescending when they really don't need to be.
I have a story for you. It was one of the most humiliating moments. At Thanksgiving one year (which is huge in my house), an old family friend that I had not talked to in maybe a decade found out that I was doing standup in LA, and he implored me to tell him one of my jokes. When I explained that it doesn't really work like that, they were more like stories that were woven together, he was like, "Come on, tell me a joke!" I said no and he, a grown man, asked again.
I had to say no about five or six times, considered busting out a childish knock-knock joke just to shut him up, and eventually walked away from the most silent, awkward room I'd ever been in. This is exactly the type of situation brochures like this are successful at avoiding.
Melissa's "New York FAQs" section so perfectly neutralizes the judgmental, awkward, and cringeworthy questions she gets about living in the city. I wish I had Melissa with me for that fateful Thanksgiving Day that will continue to haunt my memory forever.
But she's not done yet. Her true masterpiece is her "Why Is Melissa Single?" flowchart.
The top row provides four distinct and completely valid reasons that Melissa is single right now. She's busy with work, she doesn't meet a lot of people and dating apps are horrible, it's just not a priority, and men are trash.
With reasons like those, she shouldn't have to explain herself further, but she went ahead and put in the emotional labor of providing an acceptable response and an unacceptable response for each reason. The woman is literally teaching her family members how to be better people with this flow chart! She's a legend.
Especially for ending the brochure with, "Thanks for coming on this journey!!! Let's never do it again sometime." That's how it's done, folks.