the no-go zone



Look. Typically, when I see my friends for beers, we exhaust subjects like politics, religion, insanity, constipati­on, masturbati­on and trashtalki­ng beloved celebritie­s in about two hours. It’s a real meeting of the minds, you might say. But there are some limits we try to respect. TRUE CRIME PODCASTS Unless all your friends are women over retirement age, please keep that shit to yourself. True crime is a vortex of voyeurism, violence, fandom and, undergirdi­ng it all, thousands of people who Should Have Something Better To Do. Nobody wants to talk about blood-splatter analysis at the pub, firstly because it’s morbid as hell and secondly because it is FAKE! All those CSI techniques are just made-up TV stuff cops use to retroactiv­ely justify whatever they’ve already decided to do. “Do you think the fluid stain in ep 5 of Sickening Wife Murders was the real deal?” No! Please just read a Mills & Boon and leave me out of this. WHETHER LIP BALM IS A SCAM OR NOT Do you like turning your social time into a sort of fascist-versus-partisan skirmish in the middle of winter on a distant front the top brass has completely forgotten about? No? Well don’t bring up lip balm. Someone will have heard the old story about ground glass in tubes of Carmex. Someone else will say you have to milk your own organic sheep and ferment it at the end of a rainbow. Two people will peel off to conduct a duel over whether pawpaw ointment is “the second coming of Christ” or “another tube of fucking Vaseline, you complete idiot”. Just say no.

HAVING LOW SELF-ESTEEM These days we tend to think of low selfesteem as an incorrect belief people hold about themselves, which you can counteract using OTT praise. This is why otherwise normal people say shit like, “You GODDESS, have my BABIES RIGHT NOW,” underneath each other’s completely average Instagram pics. Don’t start on this topic around friends. You’ll end up blowing insincere smoke up each other’s bums until you wouldn’t even trust each other to say whether the sun was shining outside or not. Compliment­s are potent psychoacti­ves with counterint­uitive rules and consequenc­es, and they must be treated with respect.

STREAMING SERVICES Just such a downer. It starts with “Anyone seen anything good on Netflix lately?” and spirals into “Why are there so many different services, why isn’t everything just on one big one”; “There’s too much content, I barely remember what my family looks like”; “I think I saw something good on Disney+… or was it Binge… or SBS On Demand… oh fuck it, I can’t remember”; “This isn’t even any cheaper than getting cable TV back in the bloody 1990s”; “I just watch Friends reruns all the time anyway”; and “I’ve forgotten how to read a book, my brain is cooked, take me to the bare cliffs and leave me to die.” No thank you.

SYNTHETIC FABRICS Saying this topic ‘ruins the mood’ is an abuse of the active voice. When it comes up, I personally ruin the mood. I consider polyester an extremely sinful fabric, one in whose pilling, plasticky texture is encapsulat­ed the full tragedy of human hubris. Sometimes I can keep my mouth shut, but if I catch one look at an acrylic jumper after more than two standard drinks, it’s all over. “Let me get this straight,” I begin while my friends groan heavily at my bullshit. “We dig up fossilised dinosaurs, refine the goo created by their long-dead corpses, burn it to power our Bitcoin mining rigs, and turn the other half into clothing that feels awful, looks awful, gives you thrush and doesn’t decompose. Make this make SENSE.” No, I don’t know why I still have friends either.

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