It’s that time of year again. Everyone is out schlepping their cookies to Grandma’s house for some turkey, pumpkin pie, and lively table conversation about days of yore with the fam-bam. Only not really. No…my guess is that this day will be enjoyable to you insofar as you are not directly involved in whatever family shitastrophe is about to go down.
What’s worse is that this year is special. This year, we’re just coming off one of the most hotly debated and divisive elections in recent memory. There are going to be a lot of angry Republicans at Thanksgiving this year, so the dinner-table banter is going to be like navigating a damn minefield. There will totally be that moment where everyone is laughing, and then you say something, and then one person sort of stops laughing and says with a smile, “what do you mean by that?” and then it’s all downhill from there.
That’s just on top of the other obnoxious people you normally have to deal with at every Thanksgiving dinner. So this year, like last year, you’ll need to do some advance planning to be ready. Don’t worry: there are apps for that.
1) Angry Republican Conspiracy Theorist
Republicans in general aren’t so bad (no, really, I swear). Most of them will still be butthurt about the election on Thanksgiving, but most of them won’t be up in your face about it. When I refer to the Angry Republican Conspiracy Theorist, I’m referring to a very specific breed of Republican—the kind that has read books—actual books—on President Obama’s birth certificate. The Angry Republican Conspiracy Theorist is a tough one to deal with because he comes at you out of left field by saying things like, “yeah, work’s been good this year. I’ve been offered a promotion, but it comes with a job transfer, so we’re looking at our options. We’re going to wait a couple of weeks though to see if Obama finally stops bombing Israel so we know for sure we aren’t setting off a massive nuclear holocaust. You know the nuclear holocaust is going to start with the Muslims and the Jews, right?”
Yeah, that guy. Your best bet is to avoid that guy altogether, but if you get cornered, do not engage. I repeat: DO NOT ENGAGE. I know there’s going to be that urge to say, “I don’t think Obama is behind the fighting between Israel and Gaza,” but you can’t. I know it’s going to be hard.
But here’s the thing: you need to say something quickly. If you do what I used to do—smile politely and pet the nearest dog—he’ll keep going and you’ll be forced to listen to more conspiracy theories. What you need to do is change the topic immediately. A good app for that is Conversation Shaker. You simply choose a category, like “Family Gatherings” and give your iPhone a shake to get a new topic. You can then blindside him with a banal question like, “if you could be any musical instrument in the world, what would you be?”
2) Your slightly racist grandmother
This is another tough one because you might actually like your grandmother, but she just makes things really awkward when she says something that’s just a little racist. Like when she talks about family members and says, “Jared has a new girlfriend. But you know, he’s white and she’s black,” and then looks at you and shakes her head while making a face like she has a bad taste in her mouth. Or she might say something like, “kids these days have the strangest names—I can’t even pronounce most of them. What happened to the days when kids just had normal names, like Paul and Dave?” She’s not being openly hostile or hateful, but it’s still a little on the racist side.
I’m actually being a little racist by assuming that anyone reading this has a racist white grandmother. I should point out that grandparents have a whole arsenal of slightly offensive things to say to make things awkward. It might not be racist in the traditional sense—it might be slightly sexist, like, “Sandra works too much. She needs to cut back on her hours so she can be home to pick up the kids from school and make dinner.” Or it might be a little homophobic. The possibilities are endless.
Chances are, whatever she says will be overheard by a few people. This can be particularly problematic if you have non-familial guests who don’t understand that Grandma’s a little offensive because of her culturing growing up as a corn-fed Midwesterner, but she’s not mean. You need to get out of the room quickly to avoid the awkwardness. But you can’t just resort to the other standby of “I have to make a phone call.” You actually need to convince people that you legitimately have to leave the room to take a call.
You need the Fake Conversation app. It actually calls your phone and has a recording that you can “converse” with. You can select any fake conversation from a range of categories, including “excuse to leave” and “Grandma fail,” or you can create your own recording.
So when Grandma says something offensive, boom—your phone rings (audibly—make sure it’s not on silent), you start talking, and then you tactfully excuse yourself from the awkwardness.
3) The College Freshman Know-It-All
This one isn’t as bad as the others because we’ve all been the College Freshman Know-It-All at some point in our lives. This might be the younger brother who just went off to college and had his eyes opened in his first political science class. Now he must educate the ignorant masses, which includes you, even though you already went through that phase and know more than he does about politics, economics, and social issues.
Even if you’re a card-carrying liberal who voted for Obama, he’s not going to be satisfied, because Obama is part of the capitalist machine. He doesn’t just want the usual things the rest of us liberals want. He won’t be satisfied until all hard drugs are legalized, seat belt laws are abolished, and public nudity laws are overturned. If you have any qualms about any of those things, you’re clearly a closed-minded, frigid troglodyte.
Naturally, he’s majoring in Communications because he wants to be a sports broadcaster. But he’s thinking of double majoring in Communications and Philosophy.
You don’t really want to quash his enthusiasm altogether, but you might want to rein it in a little. Maybe take him down a few pegs. The best way to do that is to pepper your conversation with really big words that you know he won’t understand—words like “stertorous,” “approbation,” “antediluvian,” and “effluent.”
You need to start brushing up on your vocabulary now with the SAT Vocab app. Then, when he starts mansplaining the Constitution to you, shut him down with a few well-chosen big words. It won’t make him any less obnoxious, but it’ll put him in his place.
None of these apps will do the dirty work of getting you through Thanksgiving, but with a little preparation and initiative, you can use them to avoid major flare-ups and confrontations.
Image source: awkwardfamilyphotos.com