Monday, April 17, 2017

It used to be you couldn’t talk about sex, money or religion in polite company. Now you can add Trump to the list.

Some may find “blunt talk” a cherished relief from political correctness. But unlike you, most blunt talkers don’t plan to live and vacation on the same small islands, with the same people, for the rest of their lives.

Why couldn’t “The Donald” have stayed in the semirespectable space he had carved out for himself in New York society: Trump Tower and “Not-the-Hamptons”?

Now, faster than Putin can poison a journalist, someone who inexplicably voted for the wrong person (i.e., either 2016 presidential candidate) is seated across the table from you at lunch or dinner—or both. Or tragically, at the breakfast table in your own home. I am speaking here to Trump supporters and detractors alike.

Even if you confine yourself to dining with friends and associates in Manhattan, odds are you’re going to get a side of Trump du Jour you didn’t order. And you have to deal with it. Which metaphorical fork are you going to use?

That’s when you need Trumpiquette.

Trumpiquette is the practice of good manners in the age of Trump. (Not to be confused with a “trumpiquet,” which is a bandage used to temporarily prevent a person, or nation, from bleeding out following a tweet storm.) While the topic should rightly be a book, the principles here are abbreviated, just like the Trump healthcare reform bill.

Trumpolitik means never having to say you’re sorry. That’s why it’s important to keep a polite conversation positive: The stock market is up 2,700 points: what’s not to like? Without Trump my kid would have grown up without memories of ice skating in the snow at Wollman Rink. The Williamsburg Bridge might still be under repair—closed to traffic and subways. Millennial Brooklyn might never even have happened. What would we do without plaid shirts, work boots, beards and fixed-gear bikes?

Trumpiquette is based on the simple rule your parents taught you: no matter where you came from or your social position, “think before you speak.” Regrets are rarely for what you left unspoken or untweeted (or undeleted on your computer’s hard drive).

To that end, after months of painstaking research, I can now reveal the top four secrets of people who successfully maintain friendships in Trump-challenged relationships:

A. “We avoid the subject entirely.”

B. “We ignore it.”

C. “You get used to pretending.”

D. “I act like I’m deaf.”

Of course, you can’t control what someone else blurts out at a cocktail party, but you can be well-prepared. If someone says, “Donald Trump is nuts” or “Obama engaged in nefarious activities,” you might respond with a neutral statement like:

A. “No kidding?”

B. “You just never know.”

C. “Well, I’ll be.”

D. “You don’t say?”

E. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

F. “Isn’t that CeeLo Green at the bar?”

No matter how hard you try, sometimes polite conversations turn ugly in seconds. After which of the following statements should you change the subject abruptly?

A. “Steve Bannon and I really get along.”

B. “Lock her up.”

C. “Can’t someone shoot him?”

D. “I’d vote for Hillary again even if she did kill Vince Foster.”

ANSWER: All of the above.

How to salvage a polite conversation: delicately interrupt with an interesting new topic from the “safe list” you carry around in your pocket. For example:

A. “If you were one of those seven new planets, what would you name yourself?”

B. “Wait till you hear all the tricks my cat can do.”

C. “Before dinner, let’s all join hands and pray for the president.”

D. “What do you think about opioid-induced constipation?”

How do you reduce anxiety when polite conversation takes a fictional turn? Remind yourself that an American citizen on U.S. soil is least likely to be killed by:

A. Heart disease

B. A toddler wielding a gun

C. Falling out of bed

D. A refugee or illegal alien terrorist

ANSWER: D (No risk data is available on following Trump’s twitter feed.)

Things not to bring up in polite conversation:

A. The weather (invites climate change discussion)

B. Big League baseball (invites “bigly” quips)

C. Trump Tower Baku, Azerbaijan (invites fake news jabs)

D. The most powerful man in the world (invites World War III)

Always have an exit strategy like:

A. “I forgot to feed the fish.”

B. “I have to breastfeed the baby.”

C. “Do I smell smoke?”

D. “Ohmigod, that IS CeeLo Green at the bar. I have to say ‘hi’ before he leaves.”

Who knows how long the Trump presidency is going to last? He may be president four years, eight years, dictator-for-life, or it could all be over tomorrow. But Trumpiquette will be here for as long as you need it.


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