Archive for December, 2008

My Best Blogs 2008

As you can imagine, this is a busy time of year for me. Teh Interwebz rejoice at the fact that I haven’t been blogging at nearly my regular clip (though, I have found that if I’m working on new fiction, as opposed to editing, I can’t put my head towards any blogs or reviews).

Anyway, between Christmas parties, Christmas preparation, church and family duties, our church moving and making some major changes, Kwanzaa, New Years Eve party preparation, and Christmas deadlines as I wrap up a few projects to clear the deck for next year, I’ve been swamped (and weary). Although, now that I’ve wrapped up the most recent fiction project and before I begin my next, I’ve been thinking about a few blog themes for next year. I know that race will be a recurring theme probably tying in with the administration of our first Black president. I’m sure I’ll be having the spiritual thought or two, and I am waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind on reviews.

With that in mind, I see that everyone is turning in their best of 2008 lists. The only subject I can speak with any authority on is … me. So I give you, in no particular order, my best blogs of 2008 (a wholly subjective list with me defining “best” as the blogs which received either the most comments, most hits, or were simply my personal favorites):

Emerging Frustrations – as always, I both love and am frustrated by the church.

Spiritual Perspective on Culture – it’s just something I love to do. Ironically, a “criticism” I often get is that I can “find Jesus in anything.” I don’t really see that as a bad thing.

My Name is Earl: A Doubter’s Faith – this just spoke to where I can find myself all too often. And it’s not necessarily a bad place.

Fundamentalist Atheism – I really liked this blog though apparently some of my atheist friends weren’t as keen on it as I. Then again, once I posted my An Atheist and a Pastor Go to a Convention series, I think it became more apparent the kind of atheism I was talking about. Sure, I could have simply called it “Militant Atheism”, I just love the juxtaposition of some atheists adopting the worst of the tactics they call out about religion.

Notepad Worship? – I just like it.

Why I Haven’t Self-Published – yeah, I got letters on this one.

Not Dancing to the Tune of the Pied Dobson – okay, I got hate mail on this one.

The situation of homelessness weighs on me, be they Panhandlers or simply their state of Invisibility.

Some Fools Exhaust Me – During my nearly three year tenure writing for Indy.com, no column was praised more. Though it’s strange sitting in a restaurant and having white men in business suits come up to you and say “black people, we do not get to pee on our youth!”

Yes, I’m Still Pro-Life. Are You? – um, did I mention the hate mail?

http://www.mauricebroaddus.com/2008/05/friday-night-date-place-true-beauty
The Burning Ceremony – a personal favorite. Dedicated to far too many of the ladies in my life. (True Beauty was another personal favorite though).

http://www.mauricebroaddus.com/2008/08/god-of-boobies
God of the Boobies. Come on, you HAD to see that coming.

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The Dwelling Place on the Move

I’ve been alluding to this for a few weeks now, but our church, The Dwelling Place* (where I am the facilitator) is moving (<-- we love old buildings). Actually, it is the first of several changes as moving presents an opportunity to re-examine, re-tool and re-focus what we do and what we’re about. For the last year or so, I’ve felt like we’ve been locked in a prevent defense, playing not to lose. It’s easy for churches to become too inwardly focused, trying to prevent folks from leaving rather than boldly moving forward. So I think it’s important to periodically ask some questions as a continuation of any church’s cultural/attitude shift: -what do we want to do (what do we say we’re about and how are we carrying that out)?
-what are we impacting the community?
-how are we going to disciple/mentor others?
-what is our vision with our small groups/house churches/do the internal care-taking?
-what do we want our children’s ministry to cover and do?
-how can we continue to use our gathering to draw people nearer to Christ?

Here’s the short version of what we’re up to: We’re moving into a new building owned by another congregation, New Paradigm. We always knew we wanted to be in an arts district here in town, ideally Broad Ripple, and Broad Ripple is where we’ve landed. We’re switching to a Saturday evening service.

It’s sad that our usual church experience has involved worrying about stepping on another church’s toes, how we get so territorial as if there’s not enough work to go around. We’ve been in conversation with several churches in the area and have formed a cooperative, a fellowship of churches all working in the same area; four expressions of the body of Christ. While we’ll be located in one church building, our offices will be in another church’s building. In fact, all of the churches in the area will have their offices there. It’ll make it easier for us to coordinate our efforts. Do we all agree on every point? Not at all. Do we do things similarly? Not at all. Do we agree on the big things and agree that there is room to debate the minor things? Yup. Do we recognize that the Church looks kind of ridiculous if we spend all of our time dividing from one another rather than working with each other to be a blessing to the community we’re called to? Absolutely.

Will we be stretching each other? Well, they said they want to help co-host Mo*Con IV, so, yeah, there will be some stretching.

As we’ve sat down with our new church partner, we’ve already seen how our ministries line up and can be augmented by the other, from our ministry to the arts community to our work with homeless/youth.

A new chapter in the adventure begins, but the mission remains the same: Be a blessing to each other and to the community as we advance the kingdom of God.

The Dwelling Place/New Paradigm Christian Church Building
6202 N Carrollton Ave
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220

*The web site is almost done being re-tooled. We had to wait until the details of everything had been finalized, so give me a couple weeks.

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On Agent Hunting

It’s query season. Yeah, as part of the care and feeding of my writing career, I’m beginning another round of an agent hunt. These rounds always coincide with the completion of a new novel manuscript length project. I’ve finished my third novel now. The first two haven’t sold, but I can see my progress as a writer from novel to novel (to the point where I recently went back to re-work my first one as it was filled with “first time writer” stuff).

One of the benefits of having a network of friends is that you can not only draw on their experience, but also their inside knowledge about agents. Okay, sometimes they’ll try and hook you up with their agents. I do have some other things that I am looking for in an agent, you know, the whole competency at their job thing. Thus, I have come up with a few criteria for my future possible agent.

1. Don’t do crack. I keep thinking of the “Randy Moss lesson”:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ?? An agent for Randy Moss was charged with possession of crack cocaine after police were called to a hotel to investigate a disturbance, authorities said…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching athletes and agents, it’s that my name will be the one in the papers when my agent has issues. You’d think I’d aim a little higher in the “things to look for” department, but I thought this was worth putting near the top. In my experience, limited though it may be to episodes of The Corner, drug use doesn’t indicate the best money management abilities. Additionally, a crackhead probably wouldn’t make for the best ambassador for me.

2. Don’t be a part of my social circle. I’m all about community, however, business is business. My agent will not my childhood buddy, will not a distant relative, and will not some friend of my mom’s. For example, I have a best friend (yes, I’m part 12 year old girl). He won’t be my agent. On the other hand, he has already put his hat in the ring for being a part of my posse.

3. Do not have a psychotic break. Especially online. The occasional breakdown I can live with. We all have them. Try not to have them too publicly and we’re good. You’d think one wouldn’t have to say that, but you’d also think that you wouldn’t have to remind folks that the internet is forever. While I’m on this topic, blogs should be professional. Yours AND your prospective agents. I don’t want to know about my agents pets, arguments with neighbors, shouting matches with writers (wait, strike that, yeah I do. I’m a gossip whore), or anything related to their sex life. I’m sure prospective agents think similarly when they check out your blog after they get your query letter. And allow me to assure you that your blog, your MySpace, whatever presence you have online are all checked out soon after that query is opened.

4. Why don’t you NOT have publishing ventures on the side. I don’t want my agent dabbling in being a publisher or even a writer, truth be told. The words conflict of interest tend to pop up.

The way I see it, an agent is someone else to fight certain battles for me. They tend to the business side of the craft and I don’t have to exhaust myself trying to learn a second job in the field of publishing. While it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible about the business and develop a strong set of contacts, I’m not presumptuous enough to think I can do an agents job as well as an agent. It’s a different skill set.

Plus, in general, I’m a nice, easy-going guy. Prone to let folks walk on me. So I need someone else to be the professional a-hole and look out for my/their interests. I suppose I ought to, you know, be eventually useful in this post. And by way of token effort, I’ll direct you to some interesting reading:

Lucy A. Snyder wrote a great blog on how she got her agent. One of the things she touches on is the importance of an agent as she compares and contrasts her book deal via an agent vs. her husband’s who went the majority of the time sans agent.

Also recommended reading, John Scalzi’s blog on why you need an agent: foreign markets edition. What he knows about foreign markets “could fill a thimble”, but he has an agent who is fascinated by those markets. Which means basically free money for him.

Break Glass in Case of Emergency Part Two

I swore I was going to take it easy on the blogging until the New Year and focus on things that have to be done (like our impending church move) and being with friends and family. But I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of weariness, of feeling about burned out and just plain tired.

I think I’ve been kind of trapped in a loop/trap, all of it a pride thing, really. I find it really frustrating and depressing when something I was expecting to enjoy or use to relax doesn’t go exactly as planned (despite the fact that I’m all about not over-planning and improvising). I also can’t stand being introspective to the point of being maudlin or be seen as whining about anything. It’s the classic American quandry, wanting to be strong and independent (despite our need for community).

Now, there are more than a few things I suck at. Taking Sabbath is one of them. Letting folks be a friend to me is another (that’s a tale for another day). Sometimes friends rant at you (and since they are people I’ve chosen to speak into my life, they’ve earned the right). I have a friend whose anonymity I’ll protect by calling him RedWineGums. He’s been a special blessing as I’ve gotten to know him. This may have to serve as a Break Glass in Case of Emergency Part Two type post, as he reminds me of things (you’d think I’d remember since I’d written on them before) which we need to be re-reminded of on occasion:

We don’t have to be the strong men all the time. We don’t have to be the calm at the eye of the storm. We are allowed to have feelings. We are allowed to feel broken. And we are allowed to say we need help.

God appeared on a cloud and gave you this essential task that no-one else could perform did He?

A fear of perception is one way the enemy uses to get to us. Whether it’s fear of releasing yourself in worship, fear of talking to someone about God, or fear of raising how you’re feeling.

We get the idea that we should somehow be immune to the trials of simple human life because what we’re implicitly saying—when we are always the dependable one, always the strong one, always the reliable one—is that we are one. We stand alone as strong men.

Forgetting how much we need God. Forgetting how much our wives, children and friends pour into our lives. Forgetting that it’s only in our weakness and brokenness that God is truly glorified.

How can we live in community when we think we always have to give but never take? There is nothing wrong with saying that we need some help or encouragement or even some acceptance that we put in a hell of a lot of work at times. We’re not meant to seek after it, but neither are people meant to ignore it.

You’re not a whiner if you talk to some other person saying you feel burnt out and would like some encouragement or help with things. Community isn’t about you fulfilling the inbuilt Alpha male need to provide. It’s also about acknowledging when you need someone else to take that place

Let me leave you with this quote and this prayer he sent me (which I generalized so that we could all hear it):

“Well done for hanging on. When you were only going to the church. Well done. When you prayed even though you didn’t feel God. Well done. When you were ignored and passed by but still kept the faith. Well done.” –Jeff Lucas

Lord I ask that they would find the encouragement and comfort they need in You
Lord human words are one thing but let them first turn to You for their rest and recovery
Lord I pray for their mind right now
I come against any attacks of the enemy on my brethren
I speak wholeness, life, hope, faith and love to their lives

Actually, I kept waiting for him to say Take Your Ass Home (and yes, I will learn to start saying “no” to things. It’s practically a New Year’s Resolution. Practically. Hey, I can’t be expected to change overnight).

Be an HWA Member for a Day

Michael Knost, editor of Legends of the Mountain State 2, is doing a major push for my story A House is not a Home. The push in question would be for a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award put out by the Horror Writers Association. Yup, it’s award season.

The story received a blushingly favorable review in Dark Scribes Magazine and Michael has generously made it available for download. How to download:

Go to www.MichaelKnost.com and click the yellow box on the left side of the page to download the FREE PDF.

Sure it’s for HWA members to go take a gander at and decide if it’s worthy of award consideration. On the other hand, it’s available, so go read it then buy the anthology. It’s a good one.

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Friday Night Date Place – Dating Teh Crazy!!!1!!1!

(Before I get emails, know going in that this isn’t one of my more serious responses/blogs.)

“Emotionally unstable women are fantastic in the sack. Their self-loathing translates into … nevermind.” –Jack (Alec Baldwin), 30 Rock

I realize that most of my Friday Night Date Place blogs tend to be aimed at women, but that’s because that’s who I hear from most often when it comes to dating relationships. More than one war council meeting has convened in my living room and I’m just there to take notes. Today, however, I’m doing one squarely aimed at the fellas.

Here’s how the conversation began: “Why do guys date crazy women?” Ladies, you know the answer before you ask the question (do you need to re-read the opening quote again), but I’m going to go through the motions of answering this question. Let us refer to a certain sub-species as Personae dramatis. Some may call the behavior of this group … crazy. Look, we don’t always know that the people we’re dating are crazy. It’s not like they wear “hey, I’m craaaaaaaaaazy!!” T-shirts. While sex is not hard to get, to quote my brother-in-law, “I don’t need no crazy cootchie.”

Although, I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes we know they’re crazy going in and still go there. Even I, this pillar of dating stability, may or may not have gone there in his dating life. I may or may not have said the following after 48 hours of dating someone: “Look, you and I just are not going to work. This relationship will crash and burn in spectacular fashion. You’re just kinda, you know, crazy. But if you want to keep dating knowing that it’s going to end badly, I’m in.”

Cause I just keep bringing the romance.

Anyway, like I said, an actual guy war council broke out in my living room for a change (well, three guys minding their own business while the women convened a war council and we had to defend ourselves) and one issue involved the dating of the crazy. We hated to burst all the mystery, but we’re not that deep.

For some, crazy represents a challenge. In the same way how when you buy a puzzle book, you go straight to the back, passing up less complicated, less messy puzzles and go straight to the hardest ones. There’s a thrill to the “danger” of it all and trying to get out of a mess relatively cleanly. But, to quote a friend, it boils down to “I still want to hit that.”

The other question I get is “when is the crazy too much?” In short, your mileage may vary. Hopefully some time before what we’ll call the Left Eye Rule: if she tries to burn down your house, it may be time to buy some roses and call it a day. However, it usually doesn’t have to get to the whole “I’m gonna burn everything you own” level. Most folks build up to that. You get the phone calls, the 3 a.m. texts, the emails, the showing up at the job (come on, now, you don’t bring stuff to work). Mounting crazy behavior would encompass everything from throwing a glass table at you to vandalizing your stuff to leaving bloody underwear in your locker.* And what is too often the male response to such behavior: “Can I hit that one last time?”

Alright, look, crazy is not contagious, but it does have a way of working its way under your skin. Crazy is infectious and some people need that sort of high level drama in their life (to spark it or whatever). Crazy is passionate. Crazy is exciting. Crazy is a bit of a freak. Dating crazy does not make you enlightened, it makes you crazy because crazy likes to inject drama into their lives and tell everybody about all the deep emotional trauma going on in their lives. Crazy likes the constant rollercoaster and you need to decide if the ride is worth it.

In the final analysis, crazy is what we all are. Some folks are broken in emotional ways and frankly, some of the relationships they are prone to enter into are self-destructive (<-- you may want to click on this link for a more serious take on this topic) or enabling. Sometimes dealing with the crazy makes you appreciate the sane or, to again quote my brother-in-law, “you have to go to the cave to come out a super-hero.” Anyway, guys … aren’t that deep. Some brothas need 13 steps to quit the crazy, cause 12 just ain’t enough. “My name is Jon and … hey, you look nice…”

*Sadly, all real life examples. Not all of them to me. Though I’ll fully admit that I can bring a special kind of joy that drives women to, well, throw a glass table at me.

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Hosting a Successful Party

Okay, it’s officially Christmas Season. How do I know? The Broaddus’ hosted our ninth annual Christmas Party for friends and family. These things started off as murder mysteries (because, you know, nothing says “Happy Birthday, Jesus” like killing off your guests), but by the third year, the amount of guests made this unwieldy. So we kept the costume idea and went with themes. This year’s theme was “The 1950s”. I’d like to offer up some tips for hosting a successful party:
The host is present to greet all of their arriving guests and make them feel comfortable. (This is especially key when you’re throwing together folks from different areas of your life, say your church folks, your horror writing friends, family, and folks you grew up with).

Food. Drinks. Entertainment. We had a volunteer to handle our onsite cooking. We turned the Broaddus compound into a 1950s diner and served that kind of menu, including root beer floats. (All with my father’s doo wop collection playing as background music).

There’s also the tradition of the “Broaddus family players” making a movie to go along with the theme. This year’s movie was “Grease-Y” and once again, is not meant to see the light of day (screw you, YouTube!). No, we’re not showing them at Mo*Con either.

Interesting people.

(my lovely co-host)

(my faithful assistant, who, oddly enough, is now screaming for a raise. Apparently boob adjustment is not in her contract.)
(If you aren’t a fan of Mad Men, you won’t get Don Draper. But you have to love a friend who’ll dress us just for a joke only the two of you will get)

(Our dueling Lucys. Lucy on the right won best female costume over Lucy on the left. I, your host, won best (sorta) male costume.)

(Absolutely wrong costume of the night went to my sister and her husband and brother-in-law who came as segregation. Yes, she’s a “Colored Only” drinking fountain).

And yes, it was pure joy trying to explain segregation to my boys:

Me: Yes, we used to make black people do things in one place and white people do the same things somewhere else. This is what happens when grown ups rule the world.
Reese: But we’re mixed. What about us?
Me: Well, because of how you look, you would have had to make a choice. You guys could pass for white and that’s what some people chose to do rather than admit they were half black.
Malcolm: Daddy, I’d have chosen to be white. It sounds easier.

Back to party tips … Toss in good (though often loud) conversations, an environment of love, welcoming, and hospitality, and you’re guaranteed having to kick people out so you can finally going to bed.

Here’s a fuller set of pictures if you’re interested.

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Friday Night Date Place – When Good Singles Groups Go Bad

I think I’ve mentioned before how I was once part of several singles groups and how these groups can sometimes develop strange dynamics. The key was understanding the “politics” of them:

-those who make “friends” strictly as an opportunity to date those within the circle -those who genuinely want friends -those who just want folks to kill time with until they find someone and then they can disappear -those who want an entertainment/activity circle

So I’ve been thinking a lot about when a singles group can reach a tipping point to where it might be better to move on from that group. This is a fairly common occurrence as most folks only tend to last 3 years in a singles group before moving on for one reason or another (if for no other reason than they are tired of “singles groups” and move on to explore the rest of what life has to offer).

The fact of the matter is that part of the dynamic of the singles group is that unless it is continually renewed with, let’s call it what it is, fresh meat, they eventually implode. Close and constant proximity can cause feelings to occur even when, on paper, you wouldn’t ordinarily find yourself attracted to that person. Rinse, lather, repeat, and sooner or later, most of the group has gone through the round robin of dating one another. If all went well, the group can settle into being friends. However, things rarely go well and sometimes the very process of round robin dating tears the group apart.

Sometimes the group is TOO up in your Kool Aid. There’s a fine line between a protective circle of friends and a bunch of nosey busy-bodies. The difference will lie in the type of individual relationships you may have with the folks in the group. My friends have a lot more latitude to speak into my life. A group of acquaintances, despite the frequency of us hanging out, does not. (Though I try to not be too hasty in dismissing their opinions outright just because we may not like their conclusions. Sometimes friends, because they aren’t so personally invested, can see things that you can’t.)

In my ideal single’s group, there would be married couples in there to act as mentors of a sort. One, for an example of the type of relationship the singles (think) they want, if only to take the romantic notions off of marriage to replace them with realistic ones. Two, to set the example of not ditching your friends after you get married. Three, to give the benefit of their experience. A friend of mine recently found herself in a dating dilemma which threw her singles group into a tizzy. It was a single’s group mostly her age, with largely her level of experience in life. She posed the same dilemma to another set of friends, most of whom were married and had dated to much greater extremes and experience (read: severe consequences) and the perspective was entirely different.

There are other times when the community you are in may not be the best fit for you. Communities change over time. If teh interwebz have taught us nothing it’s that it only takes one or two personalities (read: trolls) to poison a group if they are left unchecked. If you find you don’t have deepening relationships, but instead everything remains on a very surface level, you may want to move on (unless that’s what you want). While all close circles of friends have “gossip” issues because they talk to each other about each other, such behavior can turn negative. In fact, it doesn’t take too much for a once loving community to become a bullying, excluding clique.

In the end, singles groups are like any other community: you have to decide if it is helpful to you or has become toxic. If nothing else, how the group continues to reach out to people, how it loves, how it forgives, how it handles crises, and how it repairs damaged relationships tells a lot about the group. I began quoting from one previous blog, so I’ll end with another:

Take a look at your current circle of friends. There’s a good chance that a year from now, maybe two, the complexion of your circle of friends will be different. People whom you shared intimate secrets with one day drift (or storm) out of your life. People fight. Misunderstandings occur. Trust is betrayed. People move, switch social circles, life, circumstances, what have you – you wake up one day and realize that some folks aren’t as close to you or aren’t as much a part of your world as they used to be. There is a natural ebb and flow to relationships.

Luckily, friendships renew themselves. Cherish the friends in your life right now.

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The Market Generation

“We are a ridiculous and beautiful trickster-generation and we just put our heads down and pursue the most random, minute nonsense until it’s almost holy.” –Catherynne Valente

We are a market group. We are a target demographic advertiser drool after and try to figure out how to gain our loyalty. Ironically, judging from how we’re marketed to, we’ve been largely written off as frat boys and girls gone wild. As I study the ads aimed at us, we’re a bar hopping, bed hopping, vacuous, self-involved, self-centered, all about our short attention spans and the gratification of our immediate needs lot who is in need of constant entertainment, movies, music, video games, and trends to distract us from the sheer emptiness of our own lives.

Look how cynically marketers analyze how new ideas spread from person to person. Whenever a new idea comes along, the innovators, the adventurous ones, are the first to pounce on it. Next come the early adopters, the opinion leaders in the community, the respected, the thoughtful people who watch and analyze what the innovators do and then do it themselves. These two groups are the trendsetters, the ones who eventually lead the early majority, the sheep.

Too few of us are the truly cool, the innovators and the early adopters, and more of us are majority, the lemmings, than we care to imagine. But we’re also more than endless trends and sheep herded by first adopters and clever marketers

We live in a media saturated age. We know when we are being targeted, we know when we are thought of simply as product to be catered to. We process all of this, we internalize it, and marketers forget or at least underestimate just how media savvy and knowledgeable we are.

We are more than folks worried about how much J. Lo’s wedding dress cost or what body part Britney/Paris/Miley has on display for the paparazzi. We are a generation of hope. Of passion. We think about things other than the assumed navel gazing. We care deeply about the world around us. We act when we see the failings of our parents generation rather than give into cynical apathy. We aren’t content to dance while the world goes to hell around us. We won’t sit still to be condescended to. Respect us for more than our potential to buy your product.

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The Lost Art of Hospitality


“How come when _____ and _____ come over, we have to clean up their mess?” my sons ask me, almost in unison as they are knee deep in toys they have to put away.

“Do you know what hospitality is?” I begin, feeling one of those “The More You Know” moments that parents love to use as teaching opportunities. “It means we welcome folks into our house as family. It’s why so many people come over to our house so often and feel comfortable. It’s why we have labels on all of our cabinet doors (ok ,that we do cause we’re lazy). It’s why we sometimes have extra dishes to wash. Sometimes have extra groceries to buy. Sometimes have extra trash to take out. Sometimes have extra toys to pick up.

“And you know what? Family is messy. So hospitality means meeting a person where they are. Opening up our homes and lives helps create a sense of intimacy and erases the disconnect that people naturally carry with them. But the true secret of hospitality is to do all of that without complaining. If you’re going to do it grudgingly, you might as well not do it.

“It’s funny: I never considered hospitality a lost art or even how much of a gift it is.”

Uncle Nick says that the Greeks invented hospitality.”

“How many times have I told you not to listen to Uncle Nick? In fact, you only just met him at Mo*Con, why do you keep calling him Uncle Nick? Anyway, you get to go over to _____ and _____’s house so you know what you do there?”

“Mess it up?”

“Exactly.”*

*Okay, I MAY have actually been responsible and said something about being a good guest and cleaning up after themselves. You’ll never know. Unless you’re the parents of _____ and _____.

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