As a major holiday, Thanksgiving is one of the yearly leaders in forced dinner conversations. The collective effort to avoid silence at all costs is just as much a Turkey Day tradition as refusing to tell the host that the butternut squash soup is actually terrible. And while the silence-combatting subject matter has certainly changed with the times, there has always been one staple--the collegiate/young professional interrogation.
First, it’s important to note that it’s quite unfair to blame your douchier Uncle that nobody really likes (but puts up with because what other option is there?) for the question blitz. The Turkey Day ecosystem requires him to perform this role, and he’s simply doing what he needs to do if he even wants a remote chance of being listed in the will.
Secondly, it’s a good idea to remember that the “interrogation via an oft-criticized family member” has always been more about deflection than anything else. The thinking here is that because someone other than your parents are asking you these questions, you may have to answer them for real. So while your Uncle couldn’t give less of a shit about what you decide to major in, this is most likely an audition for your parents and/or other people who do give a shit.
Below are six interrogation-esque questions that are likely to come up at some point during your cranberry sauce crusade. Here’s how to (a. avoid answering them honestly, and (b. temporarily appear like you actually have your shit together.
1. How Are You Liking School?
I’ve long speculated that college lasts four years because fifth-year seniors would likely have no other choice to shoot themselves out of sheer aggravation from having to answer this question so many times.
Like most of life, the best option here is to play the “very superficial response that you can’t really call out because it adheres to societally accepted norms” card.
Make sure to be definitive here, and limit your reply to no more than five words. Things like “good,” “I love it,” and “it’s really great so far” are your strongest options. Make sure not to leave anything unresolved--I.e, DO NOT add anything about the fact that you hate having to do your own laundry, or that “the classes are a ton of work.”-- these sorts of things will bring a ruthless, London Bombings-esque barrage of follow up questions.
2. What Are Your Classes Like?
We’re assuming that you’ve responded to the previous question by saying “it’s good.” Because back-to-back “it’s goods” is a dangerous eyebrow-raiser (such strategy leads the rest of the table to assume that you’re either a thankless fuck, or have a personality akin to drywall), it’s generally a better idea to bait the fisherman with a bit of a nibble on this one.
A good option here is to focus on one class (let’s use Russian History as an example), and discuss how the Professor is a bit off, and talks like those foreign dudes from "Family Guy" who have almost lived in the United States long enough to sound completely American.
Because you’ve gave them an insight to your life, it’d be rude of them to press much further--in a way, you’ve answered their question. Of course, the beauty of this strategy is that you haven’t at all.
3. What Are You Majoring In?
I majored in something called “American Studies.” Peeps were all like “oh, so you’re gonna be an unemployed person turned teacher, right?” And I was all like, “nah man, I’m gonna appear somewhere and magically acquire money, all while pursuing my creative vision.” And they were all like “TROLOLOL,” and I was all like “dude, you’re 58 and still call it ‘The Price Club.’”
Tell them what you’re majoring in. Just say it with an excessive amount of pride. If you pretend to believe that you have any resemblance of a future post college, they’ll have no choice but to sympathetically go along with your cause.
4. What Are You Gonna Do With That?
The older brother of the previous question. Best option here is to throw out a bunch of terms, phrases, or study-specific occupations that aren’t well known by industry outsiders and/or people under the age of 28. Since they don’t have the necessary knowledge to judge you, they will be forced to hold their tongue and/or appear impressed.
5. How Is the Partying?
What you must remember, particularly if you crush mad beers, that you are genetically predisposed to crushing mad beers. More often than not, people don’t want to hear how you’re behaving yourself--they want to vicariously live through your exploits, revisiting the glory that came before surrendering to monogamy for the last 29 years.
I was once out to dinner with a friend, and this friend managed to recount all of “black saturday” to his visiting parents. I will not go into the details of “black saturday” out of courtesy, but it did involve the escapades of a homeless woman named Debra. The point here is to discuss an exploit or two, but DO NOT launch full throttle into “black saturday.”
6. Sex Life/Do You Have a Girlfriend?
Depending on who you’re talking to, you may be encouraged to “play the field” or “avoid getting into anything serious.”
However, as per anything ever discussed, the most important thing to consider is the context in which you are talking--Thanksgiving, by default, is a time where you are supposed to have people that love you and shit. This is something that may be further underscored by an older sibling bringing a serious significant other home for the first time. At this point, the love cannot be questioned so openly. Too unnerving.
If you’re currently locked up, it’s important to make your girl appear way out of your league, but at the same time, attainable. Meaning, juxtapose the really awesome shit (she turned down a record deal to pursue neurobiological research) with the more mundane (she thought about playing soccer in college, but then blew out her knee.) Make it so that you're repping the fam well, but aren't so awesome as to being miles above them.
On the other hand, if you are playing the field, just respond with “I'm being careful.” No questions asked from then on, and you’ll likely get a “I gotchu Bro” tip-of-the-cap from your 88 year old gramps. The family legend lives on, as long as there’s not another one of you on the way in nine months.