Remember that set of questions from every single college party, ever? Remember answering them so often that occasionally a waitress would ask how you wanted your eggs and you’d say “Tulane Chris, Texas, history” like a parrot? Remember that odd little silence after you’d all answered those questions because, really, they didn’t give you much conversational opening?

“So, Texas, huh?”


“Do you ride horses to school?”

“Not since about 1890.”

“Yeah, huh. Did you vote for George Bush?”


“I thought everyone in Texas voted for George Bush.”

“Evidently not.”

“Eat a lot of barbecue?”


“So, history, huh?”

Eventually, you started to think of people by their descriptors. I’d be by the drinks table with Rachel Olympia History, watching Berg Baltimore Human Sexuality Studies and Sean St. Louis Undeclared try to coax Audrey Tulsa Evolutionary Biology into a threesome, because hey, we’re in college. It got especially bad after the hurricane. Since a lot of people left, some cliques had to consolidate to save money and to ensure a large enough breeding population, so there were always all these people around who you sort of knew, handing you Natty Light and obviously kind of wanting to have sex with you but not being willing to put the effort into it. I was the same way; it would have been nice to get laid, technically, but unless I happened to fall directly atop someone it was just too much… talking. Hi, what’s your name, where are you from, what’s your major? (My last year of college was essentially a big depressive episode shared with about four thousand other people.) These parties usually tended to be in the same house, and the directions given were always the same:

“Go down Calhoun the wrong way – what cops? What other traffic? – until you get to the 800 block. It’s in the only house that isn’t condemned. Second floor, obviously.”

…well, the nice little lead-in to my post turned into a moody little flashback, didn’t it? Here’s the point: wouldn’t it be swell if we standardized a few more good icebreakers, so we could finally be shut of “Hi, what’s your name, where are you from, what’s your major?,” its post-grad sequel “Hi what’s your name, where are you from, what do you do?” and the recession era “Hi, what’s your name, where are you from, have you moved back in with your parents yet, do you want to join my suicide pact?” So here are my candidates for new questions, along with my answers.

“What song will be your bathtub suicide anthem?” This is especially good for pink-slip parties. Imagine it: the cops break down the door to find your prune-toed little corpse in the tub – what song have you put on the stereo on repeat to ease your exit? I have to confess something for my answer to make sense: t.A.T.u. ruined my life. I’ve never been a fan of displays of emotion other than the Big Three (contempt, amusement, and worry), and so now when someone talks to me about their feelings my mind immediately starts playing “ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID, ALL THE THINGS SHE SAID, RUNNIN’ THROUGH MY HEAD…” because it’s the single angstiest song in the world. Mascara running, ashtrays being thrown, I’m drunk and I don’t know where I am and I just vomited in my purse and ruined my cell phone ANGST. So, of course, since suicide is inherently an angst-ridden act, my bathtub suicide anthem is “All the Things She Said,” by t.A.T.u.

“What was the lamest thing you ever did?” In high school, I lettered in theater, orchestra, and French… and Quiz Bowl.

“What is your most embarrassing fear?” I will not open tubes of biscuits or bottles of champagne because the “explosion” makes me nervous. The worst, worst is when you peel the little wrapper all the way off the tube and it still doesn’t open so you have to press on the seam with a knife or, if you’re me, jab furtively at it with a long spoon. I’m also hesitant to inflate air mattresses all the way for a similar reason: what if it bursts and a piece of flying vinyl hits me in the face and blinds me?

“What are your default drunk singing songs?”

God Defend New Zealand

Harper Valley PTA

Good Luck (Basement Jaxx)

“What’s the lamest thing you ever cried at?” Longtime readers of this site know about my love-hate (or hate-hate) relationship with emotions. I find them hilarious, but embarrassing and inconvenient. But hilarious. (At our last business meeting, Meg presented me with a Powerpoint presentation about her feelings about a proposed project. It was fifteen slides long, had sounds and transition, and was titled “I Have Emotions: A Meg McBlogger Production.”) I don’t have emotions in public for the same reason I don’t relieve myself in the middle of a crowded room: some things are private. That said, I once completely lost all control and sobbed at an episode of “Upstairs, Downstairs,” the 1970s BBC series about the resident, both upper-class and servant, of a fine London house in the 1910s and 1920s. It was the episode when World War One starts while the servants are enjoying a day on the beach, and everyone at the beach spontaneously starts singing “Rule, Britannia” and I was GONE, like a Miss America contestant off her meds.

"Do you have any humiliating medical problems?" Sure do! As much as I talk about diarrhea, that’s more a side effect of a beer and bacon diet than any underlying problem (other than being a compulsive eater who drinks too much.) My embarrassing medical problem is a chronic, painful inflammation of the chest wall called “costochondritis.” It’s most common in women over 40, meaning that I officially have an old lady disease. As I write this, I’m in the middle of my worst attack ever in my life. It hurts to breathe, bend down, and even type – so you can see how devoted I am to my readers (both of them [Meg and Dad]) to finish this post. I’ve been wincing and rubbing my chest all day and the ladies I work with are all convinced I have some secret heart problem.

"What’s the most horrifically inappropriate sentence you’ve ever heard?" Technically, I wasn’t present for this, but it was reported to me by more than one trustworthy person. Did you have an Extra Friend in college? The Extra Friend is the girl (usually, but they can be male) who attaches herself to your friend group like a cheerful, judgmental lamprey and imagines herself to be b-b-b-BIFFLES with you all and you like her fine but clearly not as much as she does you and you’re kind of embarrassed to take her in public because she’s never quite appropriate even by your admittedly low standards? That girl. Ours would never shut up about female ejaculation (“I had to change my nightgown!”) which led to a lot of uneaten meals: Louisiana cuisine favors sauces, and her chronicles of fluids a-go-go could turn even the most dedicated eater off Hollandaise for a month. She was also the most disorienting person I’ve ever known in terms of beauty. When she was fixed up, she was absolutely gorgeous; when she wasn’t, she looked like she was having an allergic reaction to puberty. Anyway. The semester after I finished college, some of my friends were having drinks, and Extra Friend came. Gin in hand, she turns to the room and, as an icebreaker, says casually, “So, who here has been sexually assaulted? Mary?” in, like, the tone of voice a sane woman would use to say, “So, who here has been to the new bar on Magazine Street?” If you can imagine it, no hands went up.

Granted, these new icebreakers might lead to some awkward pauses, but isn’t that better and more useful than simple rote responses? And any awkward pauses you create with these will be shorter and less frosty than the one made when, turning in a wide arc to take in the whole room, rye sloshing out of your glass, you bellow, “So, who here has been sexually assaulted? Mary?”


Anonymous said...

I went to an Australian University (mostly because I am Australian and they sorta have to let you in eventually) and we never really had those types of standard questions, or perhaps we did and I was always to smashed to remember. All i know is that the uni had three bars and two libraries...

Anonymous said...

where is meg? This is more like 4 birds no blog

Claire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claire said...

OMFG, I thought I was the only one who is scared to open biscuits and champagne. Can we also add party poppers to the list? I hate the shit out of those things. New Year's Eve is like my 'Nam.

Claire Portland Theatre & World Literature

Jen said...

"I don’t have emotions in public for the same reason I don’t relieve myself in the middle of a crowded room: some things are private."

Spoken like a true Texan! Hahaha you're getting funnier everyday, Tulane Chris! Good post!

Meredith said...

I, too, lettered in orchestra. And Honor Roll. But I also lettered in two varsity sports so that made up for it, right? No. No, it didn't.

Anonymous said...

(At our last business meeting, Meg presented me with a Powerpoint presentation about her feelings about a proposed project. It was fifteen slides long, had sounds and transition, and was titled “I Have Emotions: A Meg McBlogger Production.”)

Where is this powerpoint??? Please please please please please post it on the blog. I really hope that Meg's mysterious illness hasnt gotten the best of her, but at least if we can't have her we can watch her hilarious emotions powerpoint.

Laurie said...

I have costochondritis!! I've never heard of anyone else who does. I seriously thought my heart was failing me when it first started happening b/c it's on the left side. People look at me like I'm crazy when I suddenly keel over because an invisible man is stabbing me in between my ribs with a meat thermometer.

Caitlin said...

I really kind of want to blast the tATu song through my shitty computer speakers for all my office to hear. A little angst on Tuesday morning never hurt anyone...right!?

kerry a. said...

love this. tc4eva.

love, kerrykingofprussiaenglish

Kristen said...

THE BUSCUITS! Once when I was a small child my "witty" grandfather told me there was a squirrel inside the buscuit tube. He then proceeded to blast it open in my 5 year old face. I screamed like a fucking banshee. Scarred. For. Life.

Patricia @ Lady with Books said...

For us, it was always “what high school did you go to?” Eh, it’s a Missouri thing. Unfortunately, in college the answer was sometimes a high school in a different state. This produced a moment of confused silence when the high school named was not one of the high schools we all knew about. Sort of a ‘does not compute’ moment. It took us all of our first year to learn that the high school question did not yield the same information as when we were all in high school. Go figure.

And, just to be evil, I like t.A.T.u and have several of thier songs.

Anonymous said...

what on god's green earth is a tube of biscuits?

Anonymous said...

Please Please Please post Meg's Powerpoint....

Sycophantastic said...

“Hi, what’s your name, where are you from, have you moved back in with your parents yet, do you want to join my suicide pact?”

Favorite Tulane Chris post to date!

Lydia said...

I loved this post! I had the same revelation when I was in a dance class where we kept having to switch partners. Every 2 minutes I was forced into the "what's your name/where you from/what do you do" debacle, despite me telling people that I wasn't going to remember so they might as well save their breath. Finally I told people they should lie to me and I was going to lie to them, so a lot of dancers now think I'm in the astronaut program.
Now I'm just going to ask your icebreakers, and be like "OMG - Alone Again, Naturally is my suicide song too!"

Lindsey Puderer said...

I used to live near Calhoun! And YES I have been to the new bar on Magazine! I love when you write about New Orleans! I was Born and Raised in NOLA and being away and reading such familiar words makes me love 2b1b all the more!

I leave you with this, ‎"Leaving New Orleans is like leaving Oz for Kansas; entering a world of sepia after the world of color."

Becky said...

Best Tulane Chris post so far. Unlike the previous one, this totally works because it has a unifying theme. Bravo, sir. I chuckled heartily.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have costochondritis. Come to find out it's a side effect of slouching. Which is something I do for 8 hours a day at a job that I hate. It's God's punishment for reading your blog when I'm supposed to be working. Woopsy.

CVilleFieldNotes said...

An allergic reaction to puberty? GENIUS!

n8rlvr said...

I think I would give my right tit to see the powerpoint presentation "I Have Emotions: A Meg McBlogger Production". Pretty please? Otherwise I will be forced to chase you around with a tube of biscuits.


M said...

For Leigh


See also: Tube of cinnamon buns.

Rachel said...

Hilarious. Tulane Chris you rock my socks.

Monica said...

Ah, I love this post. In DC the questioning I think might be asked in reverse though: "What do you do?" "Do you know so-and-so?", "Oh I'm sorry, what's your name again...do you have a card?" Ugh, it gets old quickly.

I may have to start working with this new line of questioning next time I head out to a bar.

Monica, Lynnfield, Political Science w/concentration in American Gov't and minor in women, gender and sexuality (That was never awkward or a mouthful at all...)

Hot Mess said...

OMG YES! The "Extra Friend" or as I like to refer to him/her as "Cole-Slaw". They're the person that's just always kind of around - you're kind of indifferent to them. You don't necessarily invite them to everything but somehow they always know where "the group" is and show up. And no one would notice if they weren't there - just like the cole-slaw that comes with a lot of meals. You don't request it, it's just there. And you could do with or without it. Some people have an aversion to it but don't really know how to say anything without making the situation worse (such as, in your case, the discussion of female ejaculation conversation - no one wants to talk about that but everyone probably glances around awkwardly and loses their appetite at the same time).

S.W. said...

I'm always amazed at people who DEMAND a post on this blog every day. Umm... its not a service you've signed up for, people. Give the authors a break.

Sarah said...


I think I'm Extra Friend in most of my circles.

Damn you for making me self-reflective.

Pintje said...

Tulane Chris, I am dying from this entry.

“What’s the lamest thing you ever cried at?”

I watched Meerkat Manner and cried for about 3 days about a meerkat who was killed by an owl even thought they just HINTED that the meerkat died. THEY DIDN'T EVEN SHOW IT. I actually get emotional when I think about it, to this day. She just wanted to eat grubs and then the mean owl came out of nowhere!!

Anna said...

Oh crap I hope I'm not the Extra friend.

Good Luck is my new favorite song

KT said...

Oh snap, this is like a costochondritis support group. I get them a lot too and once had to go to the heart hospital because it lasted over a day.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious post - so true in the world of "so what do you do...oh how long have you been on unemployment" Whomp whomp.

My husband has costrochodriotis a few years ago -treated with an antibiatic and a steriod shot - never came back. Get a second opinion honey, you shouldn't have to be in pain!!

Much love.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you, I now have a new disease to add to my Hypochondria. I think I can feel the chest pain starting already.

Bravo, Tulane Chris, Bravo.

Meg'sTwinMeaghan said...

Tulane Chris/Laurie/Anonymous/KT/Other Anonymous's Husband: ZOMG. I didn't know there were so many of us costochondritis sufferers out there. We should have a support group/Advil party. Or at least Chris should have his own so he's not in excruciating pain.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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