Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's My Livelihood

A few weeks ago, my friend Claire had a party at her house for Open That Bottle Night. It was mostly close friends, but one girl brought a friend along and that friend brought her boyfriend. The boyfriend was a complete d-bag and kept making all of these snobby comments about the wine, which made me roll my eyes so much it hurt. Finally Tameka said to him, "Dude. You're being really intense about the wine." He looked all shocked that we would say such a thing, looked at us like we were knuckle-dragging, Franzia-drinking heathens, and went on to explain, "Well, it's my livelihood." I tuned out pretty quickly after that dumb statement, so I don't remember what he said his job was, but based on his d-baggy attitude, I'm sure it was less like vineyard owner and more like bar back.

The story of this guy came up this past weekend when I went with a big group of friends out to Arizona for Spring Training. "It's my livelihood" became quite the saying between the group of us who drove together, and with a high school teacher, a YA writer, a DUI attorney, and a prosecutor of sex offenders, well, you can imagine the vast array of topics we were replying to with "Well, it's my livelihood!"

Friday night we were out with a big group at a dive bar in Scottsdale. A bunch of the guys in this group are super pumped about The Hunger Games, and we were making plans for the movie. Then one of the guys, someone I have met many times but don't know super well because he doesn't live near us, starts talking smack on HG. Well, maybe not talking smack, because he did say he enjoyed the books. But he said the series was a direct ripoff of Brave New World and that it read like it was written by a 5th grader.

I think it goes without saying that I took offense to this.

I launched into my spirited defense of YA, but this guy was relentless. He kept saying he looked and looked for a sentence in the first book that was longer than seven words and couldn't find one. He said the prose read like "I shot an arrow. Arrow hit him. He died. I'm sad." And any time I tried to say anything, anything, he looked at me with this confused expression and said, "Jess, I don't know why you are so upset about this."

Um. Uh. Well.
It's kinda my livelihood.

Oh man. I realized pretty quickly that I was being that guy. I was being the d-baggy wine guy from Claire's party over this book, and over YA in general. Ugh.

I realized as I sat there all red in the face and worked up that I wasn't going to change this guy's mind. I haven't read HG recently, and I didn't have my copy of the book with me in my back pocket at the bar. (I know, what was I thinking?) And I've never even read Brave New World. So I wasn't going to be able to prove anything to this guy. And even if I pulled out my book right then and there, he didn't want to listen to me. He just wanted to go on his little rant. I know the last thing he expected me to say was, "Actually, I'm getting so upset about this because I write YA novels myself," but even that didn't make him stop to hear what I was saying at all.

I ended up apologizing for being so defensive, and I said I didn't want to be d-baggy wine guy. (I didn't apologize for my difference of opinion, only for being so defensive and a bit of a tool about it.) We laughed about it. He didn't really ask about my writing, but that was fine. I didn't want to be talking to him anymore, so I walked away and hit up the jukebox with the people I came with. And I let it go.

Later, though, my good friend (this guy's bff) came up to me and told me I shouldn't have apologized. That the guy was being a total ass about it and he's like that all the time and I should have ignored him and stuck to my guns. I felt like sticking to my guns would have turned me into the "It's my livelihood" guy of the YA world, and I wanted to punch that guy in the face, not emulate him in conversation. But at the same time, I hate that my apology for being defensive sort of comes off like a concession, like I'm saying that Katniss really does say things like, "I shot him. Now he's dead. I am sad," and that that's the sort of brilliant prose to which I aspire.

I can't let people talk smack on YA, right? I mean, it's my livelihood.

But I also can't be a d-bag, right? Because...ew.

I guess we all have to pick our battles, and arguing with this guy I don't know all that well who I knew would be unwilling to listen and when I didn't have a book or anything to back me up while out at a bar drinking beers, well, that wasn't really a hill I was willing to die on. Just like showing up to a party where you know no one and getting all snobby with them about their perfectly acceptable wine isn't exactly a way to make friends. I wasn't going to let this guy at the bar turn me into the intense wine guy who no one likes, even though intense wine guy probably thought he was educating us and not being a complete douche.

I don't know...am I the only one who gets into fights about YA at bars on Friday nights? I can't be the only one.

40 comments:

  1. Can't say it's happened to me, but the kind of people that hang out at the bars around here don't read. Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Well, this was someone I knew, and not just a random bar parton. The random bar patrons I run into aren't really readers. :-)

      Delete
  2. Same as Miranda for me.

    I cannot believe he was trying to insult the book though. I have never read Brave New World either, but it's a YA book, just because it has the same idea doesn't mean a person cannot write about it for a younger reader to get into and maybe one day want to read Brave New World.

    People can be real douches!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? Lots of books have similar ideas. I bet these are the only two dystopian books he's ever read. :-\

      Delete
  3. Can't say I've argued about YA in a bar, but I've argued about plenty of other things (usually feminism; never ends well).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I can see that going the same route. I had a feminist argument in a bar that didn't really end well. I think I need to start shutting up and just drinking my beer. Haha.

      Delete
  4. was he insulting the book or the movie. if the books then rest assured he's the d-bag and i don't read much YA. you did the right thing ti apologize for being defensive especially in a bar. rather that then joining him in looking like a first grade A***.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Books. He SAID he liked them, but then he had nothing good to say about them. *sigh*

      Delete
  5. You didn't apologize for your opinion really so I think everyone gathered that. I also think people wanted to see the argument unfold somehow and kudos to you for not being the d-bag wine guy. All in all, he's a consumer to your craft and his opinion is just that. If he's looking for lengthy prose tell him to pick up a Jane Eyre book. He seemed to just try to make himself look smarter by referencing prose. Who does that in a bar? He was total d-bag wine guy made worse since it isn't his livelihood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, some people just like to hear themselves talk.

      Delete
  6. I haven't argued about YA in a bar, but I did argue about it in that writing class I took last year. I think I told you about that--the older woman in my class said more adults are reading YA because they are dumb. I was offended by that since she knew I read YA and want to write a YA book (I talked about it every week!)

    That guy from the wine party sounds annoying. I think it was rude of him to go to a party and make snobby comments about the wine. ugh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That writing class you took was the weirdest thing ever!

      Delete
  7. What a GREAT post! Yeah, I find myself alwawys defending YA--mainly because most people I hang around only know about Twilight, so that's what they compare all YA writing to. Instead of getting flustered, I now just get quiet and change the topic. That's probably a cop-out, but there's no point in arguing with clueless people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are SO right. There is no point arguing with clueless people. I can do my best to try to inform them, but if they aren't willing to hear me then it's like beating my head against a wall.

      Delete
  8. I'm probably not in the position to ever have these kinds of discussions about YA since my world mainly revolves around my computer, my dishwasher and my washing machine. (Not sure if you noticed...but those are all inanimate objects. I was sort of jealous of you even being OUT around wine and at a bar.)Or I'm shooting a wedding, and sometimes I see bridesmaids have a YA book tucked into their stuff and that makes me squee a little inside and want to talk to them...but I can't because I'm working.

    I digress.

    Some people just want to argue. They want to be heard and they want to stand out and disagree with everyone. I can't stand those people. Yeah, some people legitimately may have a point, but it's usually their inability to see anyone elses point of view that pisses me off.

    For what it's worth, you didn't become annoying wine guy...he was. Two dbags...ew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA! The good thing about the inanimate objects is that they don't try to argue with you!

      Delete
  9. You've inspired me. Love every one of your posts, Miz Love. You know why? Because they're honest. Refreshing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks Lori! I always try to have honest posts.

      Delete
  10. Some people just get a big rush from being "the contrary one" and finding the right things to say to push others' buttons. I am not confrontational enough to get into an argument with someone like this so I usually just stare silently at them until they feel uncomfortable and shut up. Though I'm not sure that "silent weirdo" is much better than "intense wine guy."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm SO not confrontational either, but I have my hot button issues. When you bring up one of them AND add in a few beers, well, I turn into that loudmouth no one wants around. Something to work on, I guess. :-)

      Delete
  11. Haaaaahahahahaha. This reminds me of a guy my sister knows who ALWAYS has to be right, and if anyone uses a different phone from him, or drives a different car, or lives in a different neighborhood, well, they are JUST WRONG.

    It's tooly. I would have backed down, too, simply because you're never going to win against that kind of personality!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope. Never. But MAN I wish I'd had my book with him so I could have proved him wrong.

      Delete
  12. I was in this situation recently at a party with people talking about The Hunger Games saying that despite the books being written for teenagers...they were still really well written. You cannot imagine the heights to which my dander flew up.

    I think your behavior was not in any way similar to douche-y wine guy. It seems more like the guy you were talking to was the jerk and more focused on being right than listening to your side. That makes him a capital D douche as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if I told you how much I loved that you called wine guy out. <3

      Delete
  13. LOL! This whole story is hilarious. I love that a bar back crashed your party-what a toolbox!
    Your guy from the bar reminds me of the d-bag from Good Will Hunting-you shoulda busted out a "how you like them apples?!" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh man...that would have been so perfect!

      Delete
  14. Nope. You're not the only one. I get into discussions/arguments about YA all the time! Most people think that writing for young adults means that the quality is somehow less-than or that the themes are dumbed down. Which is simply not true. And as far as this numskull goes, since when does short sentences mean stupid sentences? Does he think Hemmingway is stupid? I try not to let too much of it bother me. I like to think I'm let in on a not-so-secret-anymore secret. Young Adult books are amazing and those that are not truly reading or respecting it are missing out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your way of looking at it, Melissa! It's their loss, and if they don't want to see that, then more for me!

      Delete
  15. Dude was totally a bar back btw he was just getting certified through some fancy pants restaurant to be a wine expert or something like that. He even mentioned he might do a wine program through UCI. **shrug** :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha. I'm so glad you were paying attention. I TOTALLY tuned him out.

      Delete
  16. English major me is really confused by the comparison between Brave New World and THG. The only thing that really links them in any remote way is that they're both dystopias. Other than that, there are seriously zero similarities.

    On that note, read Brave New World. It's excellent!

    Sometimes it's just better to bite your tongue, no matter how hard you're raging inside. It's pointless to argue with people who love their opinions. Saying that, I will also discuss YA with anyone who is willing to listen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to read Brave New World! And I've had students of mine tell me all about it, and from what I knew it didn't sound anything like HG. Glad you could confirm that for me! Thank you!

      Delete
  17. Jess, I have learned through hard experience that whenever I've gotten disproportionately upset over something in response to a troll, it's about my identity and self-worth. I recently got into a flame war on a friend's blog. I know it was her douche relative who was baiting me--he'd done it on my old blog, years ago, too, so I recognized the vocabulary and the "voice," immediately. (And part of it that bothered me so much was that this time, he was attacking *my friend* and trying to do so anonymously through WordPress.)

    It has been SO long since I've been in a flame war. OMG! What the heck?! Am I grown up? Upon reflection, I just couldn't go back to her blog, at least not for awhile. That guy represented all my own voices of self-doubt. Why did I have the right to tell personal stories publicly? Why was that okay? Etc.

    I did stand up for myself. I'm glad I did. But I also have the right to choose not to go back to that blog, or see "that guy" if I don't desire to do so. Totally in charge of that decision! (You're way more outgoing than I am [something I've always admired about you], so your mileage may vary. I do better when I'm locked away in my tower with a coffee maker and WiFi.)

    Brave New World is a classic in dystopian scifi. Of course it influenced Hunger Games. Genre fiction is like that. One book adds to the tapestry of the generally accepted world view. That's how the reader gets her bearings. "Oh, this is a dystopian future, I get it." Suzanne Collins didn't invent that genre and she didn't have to spend entire volumes explaining it. We get it, whether by having read a book like it or not, because it's part of our cultural experience. And her story's good enough to stand on its own legs, regardless. Children of Men, THX 1138, Omega Man, whatever...very different works, but all in a dystopian future. (Curious that all the dystopian "nows" are zombie books, huh? I mean, I guess there's The Road, but I hated that book.)

    Your "friend" sounds like the ponytail guy in the Harvard bar in Good Will Hunting. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have ALWAYS given me the most thoughtful comments! <3 Thank you, Red!

      Delete
  18. I don't know, I probably would have had my own fit, ESPECIALLY if I'd had a drink or two. And yeah, I've had similar conversations in bars with people. To me, it sounds like he was just as worked up, for whatever reason, as you were, and he just wanted to complain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't know what his deal was. What stake did he have in it? Weird.

      Delete
  19. I LOVE this post, Jessica. I think most of us that blog have a thing where we like to share our opinions (you think? lol) and I can say I for one have DEFINITELY gotten into arguments about YA. (Worst situation: a friend of a friend I met because she was new in town saying, "But do you think teenagers are like, smart enough to get it?" HULK SMASH)

    But I love how thoughtful and mature you were in this situation. Seeing that you were obviously getting nowhere, recognizing that the guy was just a tool who wanted to hate on something for fun (gee, so nice), and getting out of the situation gracefully. That's certainly more mature than I would've been, I think! (And I echo the others in saying I am so glad you didn't in any way apologize for your opinion!)

    I'll be keeping this post in mind the next time someone says, "YA is like, vampires or kids killing each other, right?"
    <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh man, I go off on the biggest rages when people say stuff like that about YA...just ask the girls from my online book club! Nothing pisses me off more than a "This book was really good for a YA book!" comment. Grr.

      Delete
  20. This is like the second time recently that I've seen you post about somebody doing something "annoying" or "obnoxious" and then you found yourself doing the same thing but I think you are wrong. THere is a difference in you and Joe Smuckface. Your approach when defending YA I would guess (from what I know of you) was grounded in fact and from an informative perspective. Joe Smuckface, was a GUEST at someone else's home and his approach to showing off his wine snobbery was insulting to the host. Now imagine if Joe Smuckface chose his words carefully and instead of bashing the wines, he started pointing out the various qualities in the wine and their benefits to eat with certain meals.Or how to tell the difference between a napa valley wine and a vineyard nearer the ocean or something educating about the wine drinking process instead of being an ass. He might have come off as a hit at the party. But no, Joe Smuckface chose the asshole approach and that is what he will be remembered for.

    People with low self-esteem often confuse arrogance for confidence. Arrogance belittles the people around you. Confidence inspires.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dana...you are seriously the best. I love your comparison. I guess after a few beers I was really FEELING like Joe Smuckface. But you're right...I don't want to make myself look good/smart/better at the expense of anyone else. That's not how I roll.

      Delete