Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: A longform piece on Pride merch, a red button in the Oval, and the pity party president.
There are two kinds of people: people who walk through their homes telling you exactly how much they paid for everything, and people who vex me because they are not walking through their homes telling me how much they paid for everything. I have nothing against the latter category--do what you want--but I am that person who is not even all the way through your doorway before I'm pawing at a vase and turning it over to find the label and complimenting it again in hopes that you will feel compelled by my pleasantries to fill the silence with the one piece of information I truly crave: the price.
One time we went over to a couple's house and one of the two spent 30 minutes pointing at things in the house, telling me their price, and then exclaiming "Home Goods! Coupon!" It was my idea of heaven. Not only did I find out what everything cost and from whence everything came, but I also got to experience the vicarious thrill of someone getting one over on a corporation by using a coupon. (Do I understand that coupons are built into every business's model and are usually just reductions of an already inflated price? Yes. Do I ignore the facts and present a coupon like it is the stolen code to the vault? Also yes. I am pivoting from aspiring gay icon to aspiring gay con. I am leaning into a Scamosexual identity this season.)
I really find it thrilling when you tell me how much you paid for things and then tell me what a great deal it was. It makes me so happy. This is odd for me because I am very uncomfortable talking about money. I have asked for a raise exactly two times in my life and neither went well at all and I am still traumatized. I firmly believe that people should always ask for raises and employees should share their salaries with their co-workers but I almost never do it unless explicitly asked because I am very weird about money. And by very weird I mean I literally never had any and have an unhealthy relationship with it. If you asked me how much money I made, I'd tell you in a heartbeat, but I'd rather set myself on fire than even acknowledge I receive a paycheck. I am ELLE's first volunteer. I'm interning like Chandler Bing. I'm actually paying Penguin Random House to publish my book. Truly, insanity inside my head.
I am always thinking about money, which is very annoying for everyone around me including our tax prep person to whom I am constantly sending emails that read "Feel free to do something illegal if it means I get a refund. Delete this email after you get it lol." And that's why it's a particular joy for me to walk into someone's house, find myself beguiled by the mis-en-scene and then get the backstory on the price. It lets me know that I could also have this life (or, in some cases, I could definitely not have this life and I can barely afford to look at it.) It right sizes possessions, which can take up even more mental space than the concept of money. And, if there is a coupon involved, it lets me know that you are a fellow scammer traveling these fraudulent roads, presenting slips of paper to unthinking cashiers and then hightailing it for the getaway car before the 5-0 arrives.
In this week's newsletter, a National Coke emergency, the whambulance, but first, rainbows everywhere!
How much more corporate cosigning can Pride withstand before the rainbow starts to mean something else? In St. Petersburg, Florida, the annual Pride parade is being sponsored by Tech Data and organizers have actually renamed the event, like it's a stadium. The new "Tech Data St. Petersburg Pride parade" sounds like something out of a Simpsonsepisode or George Saunders short story, but it very well might be the future. Some see the targeting of LGBTQ+ consumers as a sign of progress; others as a cheapening of a social movement. I set out to investigate. And by investigate, I mean fill my house up with rainbow stuff like a Lisa Frank fever dream. [READ THE FULL ESSAY]
It's the button that's really got me messed up. First of all, isn't there some other button that presidents supposedly have to release the nukes or summon the Avengers or something? I feel like bringing a second button into the mix is a recipe for hijinks. Can you imagine, all you wanted was a refreshing zero calorie thirst quencher and all of the sudden Dr. Strange is making his little Burning Man fire circles in the air all over the place? I'm just saying, could this meeting be an email? [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Congratulations to ABC News's George Stephanopoulos who was recently freed from a 30-hour imprisonment with U.S. President and clear and present danger, Donald Trump. ABC News is billing the reporter's captivity as being "embedded" which is a fascinating way to describe being trapped in the White House while a madman rants at you. Silence of the Lambs is about a woman who is embedded in the home of a lotion connoisseur. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Help My Mom!
Once a year I ask friends, readers, and enemies to help support my mom and an organization she's devoted to called Hopewell. Hopewell provides support services for people who've been diagnosed with cancer and their families and when my mom was diagnosed with skin cancer a few years ago, Hopewell's free group therapy changed--and in many ways I think saved--her life. She's cancer-free now and in a much better place mentally and physically and a huge part of that is thanks to Hopewell. They're doing their annual fundraiser from now until June 30th and my mom is trying to raise of pledge of $2,500. She's over halfway there! Any amount--really, a dollar, 50 cents--that you feel led to give will be greatly appreciated and a huge help. You can click here to access my mom's donation site or search for Judith Thomas on the leaderboard if the link leads you astray. Thank you!
Random Thing on the Internet
A Twitter user made a Choose Your Own Adventure game out of the concept of being Beyoncé's assistant and made it playable through clicking tweets and it's the best application of the wretched site that I've ever seen. It's so fun, even though I keep getting fired by Beyoncé.
Home Goods! Coupon!