Thanksgiving’s Most Overrated Foods

Thanksgiving. America’s favorite holiday that celebrates America’s favorite pastime–rapid consumption of calories. 

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving will always be burdened by two inconvenient truths:

  1. Everything you were taught about the first Thanksgiving is shit.
  2. Confining your entire extended family to one living room is shit.

With these truths in mind, the importance of the Thanksgiving meal itself multiplies. This is a holiday for eatin’, and your only goal is to ensure the eatin’ is good.

To ensure you don’t ruin Thanksgiving and possibly the entire dynamic of your family, I will happily bestow upon you my personal list of Thanksgiving’s most overrated foods:

Green Bean Casserole


“Hey honey?”

“Yes dear?”

“You know what would really compliment these savory mashed potatoes, these rich, delicious pies?

“What’s that, honey?”

“The worst vegetable of all time, but we make it really fucking creamy for some reason and crumble up some stale Funyons on top”

I was not at the Thanksgiving dinner when green bean casserole was first added to the menu, but I am confident that’s how history’s darkest day played out.

I will never understand why green bean casserole has a roster spot on Team Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole is the worst. Green bean casserole told the teacher she forgot to collect the homework. Green bean casserole starts most of its sentences with “I’m not racist, but…”. Green bean casserole claps all the end of movies. Green bean casserole thinks Ben Carson has some good ideas.

Cranberry Sauce


Does anyone actually eat cranberry sauce? I feel like cranberry sauce is placed on the table just for looks–a charming bowl of dark red mush, nothing more than a festive garnish.

When dinner is done, the turkey carcass is exposed, the mashed potatoes linger as starchy grains of sand, the bread basket is barren…and the cranberry sauce completely untouched. Actually, somehow there’s more cranberry sauce in the bowl than before. God felt SO bad for cranberry sauce, he made more imcuately appear in the bowl, hoping to get your attention–and you still ignored cranberry sauce. AND you ignored God.



Rolls are what you eat when you’re still hungry, but the only food left is the green bean casserole and the cranberry sauce God made.



You wait and wait for the mecca of the Thanksgiving meal to be served. The capital city of Thanksgiving Town. The Christmas of Thanksgiving dishes. Finally, your darling mother walks in the room, displaying a perfectly cooked turkey.

“I spent five hours basting this turkey, and it’s cooked to perfection”, your mother proudly claims, and you think, “cool mom I’ve done a lot of shit in my life too just set the bird down”.

 You take a few pieces of dark meat, a few pieces of light meat. You penetrate the turkey with your miniature trident, slowly lifting the meat into your mouth and introduce it to your hot, wet, single friend, “taste buds”.

And it tastes sooooo…..turkey-y.

It’s just turkey. You knew how it was going to taste, you eat turkey like once a week. And it’s alright I guess? It’s just turkey. It’s a  white meat that taste and looks an awful lot like chicken. It’s just turkey.

Sorry to ruin your holiday, but come on. It’s just turkey.


Ugh mom stop serving Flubber at Thanksgiving nobody likes it why cant we be a normal family.

The Hypocrisy of Saying No

Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Seek Shelter In Makeshift Camps In Jordan

In 1909, a 26-year-old carpenter and his wife arrived in New York City as immigrants from a country that, 106 years later, is a topic of global debate. Shortly after their immigration from Syria to the United States, this couple had a daughter, and eventually, this daughter had a son, a son that become a comedian, and then an actor, starring in a wildly popular “show about nothing”.

In the 1950’s, a Syrian man fled the Middle East as political protests spiraled out of control. Seeking refuge from the turmoil, he traveled to the United States, eventually landing in Wisconsin. Here, he fell in love with a German-Swiss Catholic woman, and, eventually, this couple had a baby, a boy, a boy who grew into the man who made phones as smart as he was, who made computers accessible to all.

Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Jobs highlight our country’s collection of citizens whose family arrived via Syria. These individuals–all of them, not just the ones of fame and fortune–helped shape our country into what it is today.

To deny war-weary Syrian refugees access into our country is to deny the American narrative, to deny our country’s history and foundation–yet that is exactly what the governors of 20+ states and political leaders across the country have just done.

In addition to their astonishingly low levels of empathy, these are governors and statesmen that proudly declare their commitment to the ways of Christianity, though they are seemingly oblivious to the hypocrisy they foster by shutting the door on the needy and the helpless, an act that is a direct violation of the word of God.


Indiana Christian governor Mike Pence, known Evangelical and purveyor of homophobia, a man already well-versed in religious hypocrisy, has requested state agencies cease all work currently being done to help settle Syrian refugees.

Cincinnati mayor John Cranley has made similar requests, despite being one month removed from a speech declaring his desire to make Cincinnati “the most immigrant-friendly city in the United States.” 

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana and son of Indian immigrants, issued an executive order preventing Syrian refugees from being resettled in Louisiana.

As acts of terrorism plague Middle Eastern nations, I am reminded of the breed of terrorism currently plaguing our own nation–mass shootings, which continue to occur on a weekly basis, often by white people, always by males. These shootings occupy our headlines regularly, yet nobody stands up and declares every single white male a terrorist threat. Nobody declares the actions of the Dylan Roofs, the Adam Lanzas to be the acts of all white men–they acknowledge these individuals as anomalies, dark souls who desperately needed mental help. When it comes to Muslims, however, a group made up of over one billion people, we are so quick to claim that each practicing and non-practicing member of the religion is eyeing the extermination of our lives, our families, our nation.

Why are Muslims judged by the worst of their kind, while we judge our ourselves only by our best?

This is not a plea for tolerance towards ISIS or any fanatical group that uses a false guise of religion to purloin the gift of life. This is a plea for tolerance towards those who have suffered at the hands of this wretched hive of humans most frequently.

The Syrian refugees are not inherently evil—they are desperately attempting to elude those who are. Indifference towards their fight is its own brand of hate.


“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference”
– Elie Wiesel



Straight Outta Kauffman: How the Kansas City Royals Made Me a Cubs Fan

Stories For Sunday is lucky to have a guest post from Joe Valentine. Read it, share it, find him and tell him it’s good so that, maybe, you’ll see his stuff here again sooner than later. 

I knew my girlfriend, Linda, was a Kansas City Royals fan before we started dating; it’s one of the first things she tells people when she meets them for the first time. The George Brett pine tar incident and the ’85 playoff run were her bedtime stories, and she still complains about the decision not to re-sign Johnny Damon in 2000 (who even knew Johnny Damon played for the Royals?). So I knew even before she asked that we’d be taking the 10-hour overnight Megabus ride from Chicago to KC, to be there, amongst her people, when the Royals played Game 7 against the San Francisco Giants in 2014, even though we didn’t have tickets.

After an especially wild wildcard comeback, the team had gone on a tear, demolishing better-on-paper teams with a Murderer’s Row-like batting order, fearless small ball base running, and a lights-out bullpen that genuinely believed it could hold any team scoreless in innings 7-9, and often did, all the way through Game 6 of the World Series. Linda, who had, in years past, proclaimed, “If the Royals win the World Series, I will burn my own house to the ground,” could not miss their coronation or the celebration to follow.

In a bar in Kansas City’s Westport district, I watched Linda and her brother shed unabashed tears after Salvador Perez took a clunky, uncommitted hack at a high fastball in the bottom of the ninth inning, resulting in a routine popup that ended the most entertaining playoff run I’d witnessed. The 2014 Royals created a compelling Cinderella story, only it ended with Cinderella getting caught in the rain, splashed with muddy gutter water from a passing car, and then mugged on her walk home because her carriage had turned back into a pumpkin before she could leave the ball.

“It was ours,” Linda said. She was in pieces, and she wasn’t alone; it felt like the entire bar was weeping into Boulevard beers.

And then, over the next few weeks, those same sad fans seemed to come together to form a citywide group hug, like Whos after the Grinch stole their Christmas, both grateful to have had a chance to win it all and universally willing to live and die by the immediately created “unfinished business” tagline, simultaneously licking their wounds and licking their collective chops for the start of the 2015 season.

The next month, locally-owned Boulevard Brewery released a limited edition beer–“Crown Town”–to commemorate the Royals’ playoff run, and it had officially ceased to matter that they hadn’t won. Linda’s dad waited in line for multiple hours multiple times to make sure each of his children had a bottle. Linda’s family is a microcosm of a community in which Royals baseball matters. Like, really matters. It’s annoying until it’s inspiring. It’s corny until it’s enviable.

I remember feeling impacted by that passion: a genuine, authentic love for a game and a team. It stood in stark contrast to my own depleted interest in my hometown team, the Chicago Cubs, who had, in two decades, provided me with precious few incentives to continue expending effort on fandom. Until very recently, existing as a Cubs fan required a skin of cynicism, a laugh-at-yourself mentality, and an obligatory sheepish smile after proclaiming, “Next year will be our year.”

Sure, there were signs of life during seasons leading up to 2015: an ownership and management change, planned renovations to the dilapidated (though admittedly still endearing) Wrigley Field, whispers of mythically talented prospects panning out, including now-superstars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. My dad, after a lifetime in want, finally became a season ticket holder while I was living just a few blocks from Wrigley Field.

Still, requiring an excuse for your loyalty is taxing and, for me, the inevitable result of so much laughably poor baseball was that I simply stopped caring. I stopped investing energy into hope and expectation. Over a series of annual closet cleanouts, I donated all my Cubs shirts to Goodwill. In two seasons spent living within spitting distance of the stadium, I didn’t attend a single game. I stopped being a baseball fan.

Writing this, I realize that Cubs purists do exist (including my own cousin, a golf course greenskeeper who spends full days on a riding a lawnmower dreaming about the champagne he’ll pop when the Commissioner’s Trophy is finally ours), diehards who would label me a bandwagon fan. To them, I’d simply contend that sports are pain. God forbid I opt out of voluntary sadness.

It wasn’t that I didn’t remember the sheet of loose leaf I’d pinned to my bedroom wall and used to keep a running tally of Sammy Sosa’s 1998 home run count (innocently oblivious to the 40+ pounds of pure muscle that differentiated that version of Sammy from the guy in the rookie card I kept in a protective case and mounted on the same bedroom wall). It wasn’t that I threw away the Cubs hat I’d slept in for weeks during the summer of 2003, sweating and itching and afraid to take it off and jinx a streak. It wasn’t that I didn’t miss having something to talk about on the phone with my dad. It was just that sports are pain, and after I stopped blaming Steve Bartman for all my problems, after several seasons without a pulse, after an increasingly snide, hip young demographic had successfully overrun the Lakeview neighborhood where I lived, I tapped out.

Linda and I moved from Chicago to Kansas City in July, a change that coincided with a lot of really good baseball. Shortly after we moved, we bought $10 tickets (ludicrously inexpensive relative to the cost of living to which I’d been accustomed) to a packed Friday night game and, even in 95-degree heat, the energy of the Kauffman Stadium crowd was palpable. That night’s win saw the Royals extend their division lead to a comfortable 12 games.

Back in Chicago, a buzz was beginning to burgeon about the way that Brawny Man/Yukon Cornelius-hybrid Jake Arrieta was routinely making the NL’s best hitters look like beer league softball dads in the batter’s box, and about how the North Side had its own lights-out bullpen and a succession of swingers who were putting bat to ball seemingly on command.

Still, I maintained a practiced degree of ironic distance from the suddenly-fun-to-watch Cubs. Fandom requires vulnerability––as I’d witnessed firsthand after last year’s World Series––and I wasn’t ready to put myself back out there following the slow, miserable decline into irrelevance I’d experienced over the previous half-decade. Now that I lived in the Kansas City, a town so fully committed to its baseball team that it supports an entire industry of clever custom Royals-related t-shirt printers, I felt that if I were to commit myself to the Cubs and mean it, they’d better not embarrass me. If I were going to talk the talk, Kyle Schwarber had better walk the walk.

Then, on September 28th the Cubs played the Royals. As a result of my fringe fandom, I was unaware that the Giants’ loss two days prior had helped the Cubs secure a spot in the NL wildcard game and was still under the impression that a win mattered. I’d never taken so much as a controversial step onto Linda’s sacred turf before, and so after a routine groundout resulted in my yelling “Suck it, Lorenzo Cain!” and her throwing the remote at me, we finished watching the game from separate rooms. I couldn’t lose my Joker grin after Chris Denorfia’s pinch-hit homer in the 11th inning sealed the game, and it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember the last time Cubs baseball had made me smile. It made Linda miserable, and that in and of itself made me happy, not because I find joy in my girlfriend’s sadness, but because she actually feels this stuff. The Cubs made her feel something, and I know that’s real.

The next day, my barber said to me, “The Cubs are the Royals of 2015.” Linda’s dad asked whether my dad could secure any extra tickets at Wrigley in the event of a Cubs/Royals World Series. A co-worker came by my desk to tell me, “Your Cubbies are looking good this year.” My Cubbies? In a town where baseball is talked about seriously, people were seriously talking about the Cubs, who finished the regular season with a better record than the Royals.

Jake Arrieta was terrifying and unstoppable in the wild card win over the Pirates. In a particularly satisfying Division Series, my Cubbies laid waste to a Cardinals team whose fans never resist an opportunity to stick up their noses at any mention of their division rivals to the north (If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Oh, you’re a Cubs fan? Why?” in my four years at Saint Louis University, I’d be losing a lot less sleep over student loan debt). “The Royals of 2015” was looking more and more like an accurate prediction.

Inevitably, the Royals were the Royals of 2015. I mourned the sweep and elicited extra boo’s toward a Mets team onto whom I’d projected a totally unwarranted villainous persona as I sat in right field for all 14 innings of the Royals’ victory in Game 1 of the World Series. And on Sunday night, I put on a clever custom Kansas City t-shirt (the impeccably classy “Turn Your Head and Kauffman”) and jumped around amidst a champagne shower in the streets of Westport, showing up to work two full hours late the following morning wearing sunglasses and chugging Alka-Seltzer from a travel coffee mug.

In 2015, I enjoyed the MLB playoffs for the first time in a long time, maybe ever.

It felt good to watch every game, to have an opinion on every player. It felt good to realize that I still remember the rules, the strategies. It felt good to achieve what I’d recognized in Linda’s family, and perhaps what I’d coveted all along: a comfort in saying, “Next year will be our year,” totally non-ironically. It felt good to celebrate in a city that was so ready to celebrate, to take care of unfinished business. And it felt good to watch the Kansas City Royals absolutely dismantle the New York Mets, whom I’d grown to despise, because there’s only one kind of person who vilifies an opposing team: a fan.

Joe Valentine 

The Grantland Generation and the Lie We Chose To Believe

 Grantland tricked a lot of young people into becoming writers. I’m one of them. Call us the Grantland Generation.

Grantland launched the summer before my senior year of college. In short time, what they were trying to become—what they eventually became—was clear. They were good, thoughtful writing, focused on developing specific voices into diverse content. It would be romanticizing Grantland to say that providing those things filled a gaping hole in the market. Great, nuanced writing, about both sports and pop culture, existed before and after them at publications with similar goals.

What Grantland did was make that work appear mainstream, cool, sharable, and discussion worthy to not just the pretentious or unrealistically informed. Mickey Mouse was putting his backing behind Grantland, and a conglomerate of that size has an ability to legitimize a venture as industry simply by association. Writing—writing about things most young people already love—represented a sect of ESPN, that we chose to believe was equal to any other sect of ESPN, because why would we stop to think otherwise? To a tremendous amount of young writers, Grantland was massively influential in their decisions to call writing a career. That may seem silly to older generations of writers and readers because four years is barely even recent history, but to those of us in our twenties it’s the most informing and impressionable period of time imaginable.

What Grantland did for writers my age was create a similar construct to the one that made so many sports fans in the nineties and early 2000s (and even now) idolize Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, Dan Patrick, and other SportsCenter anchors. They had dream jobs. Grantland came along and, all of a sudden, being a writer didn’t seem like the starving artist livelihood that being a painter or a poet appeared to be. Grantland had an office that ESPN paid for, and great writers hung out there. It created an ideological shift that cool, funny, serious, and weird writing was a career field. The Grantland Generation didn’t need to get a job at Grantland. We just assumed we’d get a job at a place-like-Grantland, because once you freelance enough, a Bill Simmons-type will notice you and you’ll become a specific voice for a much larger vehicle.

I was never published in Grantland, and that fact doesn’t bother me. I’m proud of the places where I’ve seen my work. I can say truthfully, that some of the writers whose names I’ve been published alongside are probably my greatest sources of satisfaction in my career. And working with some of my editors has been like taking free throw lessons from Steph Curry.

Sure, Grantland writers inspired and influenced my writing. I wouldn’t have chased down a story on Johnny Manziel’s hometown if I hadn’t studied the writing of Bryan Curtis. I wouldn’t have started a column called “Tuesdays With 2 Chainz” if Shea Serrano hadn’t made me laugh so much. I wouldn’t have reported on the world’s largest podcast conference if I hadn’t read Molly Lambert on the world’s largest porn conference. I wouldn’t have published joke emails to Ryan Gosling’s restaurant (and Justin Timberlake’s, and Mark Wahlburg’s) if Rembert Browne didn’t make me realize that being silly won’t make people discount your intelligence. I wouldn’t have learned how to write about basketball and make it sound like I’m talking about it with my friends if I hadn’t read Chris Ryan and Jason Concepcion.

But I had inspirations elsewhere, too, and there was incredible, versatile writing outside of Grantland. Too much to begin to name, in fact. Look around and you’ll find it, and love it. But Grantland convinced me, and countless other, that there was an industry to support the size of this writing community. It didn’t take much convincing. We believed it because we wanted to.

We’re writing now. Not at Grantland, but we’re writing, and it’s hard. Not just for the reasons it should be hard, that is, because writing anything is a painstaking, vulnerable task. No, it’s hard because not quite enough people care, and less pay.

Grantland’s death—more specifically, the way Grantland died—is first and foremost sad for the great writers who lost their jobs. But for the Grantland Generation, it was a punch to the stomach, because Grantland didn’t have enough financial support, and was so unimportant to ESPN that it could exist at 10:00 AM and be a memory at noon. I think a lot of us young writers liked to pretend that maybe every Grantland writer was making six figures while totally aware it was just a fantasy we used to justify the less-than-lucrative work we were doing ourselves. Now, we realize, the majority of those writers are not just unemployed, but now competing with us for jobs and space in a room we already could barely fit in.

To an older generation of writers, the demise of Grantland is surely just another reminder of the nature of a tough business with no guarantees. To us, to those that came into writing in a world where Grantland already existed, it’s a shattered illusion. It’s a look behind the curtain to see that the Land of Oz is actually controlled by Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.

So in a way, Grantland lied to us. Or maybe we just lied to ourselves. It doesn’t really matter.  Many of us, and perhaps some Grantland staffers, chose to see Simmons as an Ari Gold-like figure, running around town protecting his talent (a reference and analogy many writers would probably shudder at, but I have a feeling Simmons would appreciate). But that’s not how this industry works, and ESPN was never all in. Advertisers care less about Time On Site and more about clicks, which is a bad thing for anyone putting effort into each thought. 

So that mindset led many of us not to a career, but to a life of hoping that the most recent invoice comes through before rent’s due. But the reveal of the illusion doesn’t actually change anything except for our own realizations. The landscape isn’t all that different, but it feels more intimidating. The odds were always stacked against us, and some of us are just now realizing the gravity of that.

This came in a month stretch when I was having increased difficulty getting paid for what I considered good writing (as if it’s ever easy). My gut reaction to this, to all of this, is to write, and to write more than I already do, which will be no easy task. Even if that doesn’t make sense. Even if I don’t get paid or pieces go to waste, unpublished.

Trying to be one of many people contributing good, thoughtful writing out into the world isn’t a job just because I want it to be. You don’t just get health insurance because you write every single day.

But I’m going to keep doing it. I think a lot of other people just like me will too.

“You are meant to play the ball as it lies, a fact that may help to touch on your own objective approach to life.”

-Grantland Rice

Written by Jonny Auping

Draft Rides: Daily Fantasy Uber

The year is 2019. President Trump has successfully built a $140 billion wall at the border, but people desperate enough to pay $2,000, trust their lives in the hands of a “coyotaje,” and abandon everything except for the clothes on their back still try to flee to Mexico.

Draft Kings and Fan Duel are the only entities that are keeping the economy from collapsing on itself. Lives were ruined, bank accounts were depleted, and relationships were destroyed when Vice President Gronkowski infamously dropped the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl LII, sending the millions of Americans who drafted him into economic desolateness. Somehow only Prime Minister Goodell knew not to draft him. Sadly, all forms of economic aid have been abolished, although each year Americans can still qualify for entry into one free Draft Kings or Fan Duel tournament when they enter the promo code “HANDOUT.”

But things are not as grim as they may appear, fellow Americans. While many of you have stopped trusting your money with Daily Fantasy Sports, there is now a new way to change your life for the better.

Daily Fantasy Uber.

Do you Uber every day? Do you know which Uber drivers can navigate from West Hollywood to Pasadena in record speed? Or which one will find the perfect spot to pick you up at Madison Square Garden after a Knicks game? Think you can put your knowledge on the line against other Uber experts?

With Draft Rides you don’t have to worry about suspended licenses or getting stuck rooting for one Uber driver all year long. There are no year-long commitments. It’s simple: Just enter a contest, pick your driver, and win big.

You can enter tournaments for 5-15 minute estimated rides, 15-30 minute estimated rides, 30 minutes to an hour estimated rides, or go big with our daily million-dollar hour-plus contests. Draft Rides will monitor your driver as they go to pick up their customer so you can keep track of where they rank.

The scoring can vary from contest to contest, but our most basic scoring is as follows:

-Driver arrives to desination 1/3 more efficiently than their estimated ride length= 75 points

-Cold water bottles offered to customers = 5 points

-Coconut water bottles offered to customers = 10 points

-Speeds through yellow light = 15 points

-Doesn’t leave for 10 minutes because their Uber app “is being weird” = -10 points

-Plays Taylor Swift = 5 points

-Talks about Taylor Swift = -5 points

-Provides AUX chord for customer to play their music = 10 points

-Murders customer = -74 points

-Smells good = 5 points

-Smells bad = -6 points

-Pitches customer his/her idea for a new app = -10 points

-Pitches customer his/her idea for a new app using the term “Uber but for…” = 15 points

-Is actually a Cash Cab = Between $25-$1,000

-Is actually a Taxi Cab Confession =5 very sad points

-Drives customer through fast food drive-thru = 25 points

-Has a DUI = -50 points

-Gets a DUI = -100 points

-Is former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders = 100 points

-Is former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee = -100 points

So that’s the basic scoring. Pretty simple. Sure, most of the people that set up the scoring and compete are Uber drivers themselves, but we don’t really understand how that’s a conflict of interest. So, act now and enter promo code “INSIDER” to get 5 dollars towards your next entry. 

Jonny Auping

The Wistful Decline of Nineties Nostalgia: A Short Story

Max is 25 years old

He and a group of his old college friends had just seen Jurassic World. His friends all agreed it was great. They debated whether it was as good as the original…Chris Pratt movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.

At the bar afterwards, they all laughed as they discussed Game of Thrones with another group of friends on Periscope. He did not participate. “Hey Max, you should really download Periscope,” Jenny said to him from a few seats away. “I think you’ll really like it.”

“I don’t know,” Max replied. “It just seems kind of dumb to me.”

“I feel like you just don’t really understand what it is,” she called back, just getting the sentence out before bursting in laughter at whatever was displayed on the phone Sally was holding in front of her face.

“I understand what it is,” Max said, annoyed. He definitely didn’t understand what Periscope was.

“It’s so great that we’re all back together,” an anonymous member of the group proclaimed to everyone and no one in particular.

“That’s for sure,” Karen replied to the anonymous voice. “I haven’t been able to stop eating all night though. I think I have food baby.”

“IT’S NOT A TOOMAH” Max yelled out, taking a step towards Karen and Sally’s bar seats to feel like he was comfortably a part of their conversation.

The room went silent. The whole group took a break from their separate conversations to turn and look at him. “Uhh, what was that, Max?” Dave said looking both embarrassed and concerned for Max’s reputation.

“Umm… you know…like… from…Kindergarden Cop,” Max replied. He was sweating.

The entire group made eye contact with each other, gave Max a patronizing nod and said “yeah, sure, man” before trying to reengage in their prior conversations. “Wow,” the anonymous voice said under its breath while rolling its anonymous eyes.

“We shouldn’t end the night here,” Karen yelled out. “Anybody have a suggestion for what we can all do later?”

“The new season of Orange is the New Black is out,” Sally responded. “We could all binge watch it at my place. We’ll Uber over there.”

Everyone except for Max seemed pleasantly in agreement that Sally had made a great recommendation. He thought there was still some room to convince them of a different plan.

“OR…we could watch a marathon of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while we have a Words With Friends tournament! We can order some ‘za from my Kindle Fire. And guysssss… I just found my old Smash Mouth CD! What do you think?!?!”

This time the group refused to humor Max. They all collectively pretended not to hear him. Defeated, Max threw the box of Milk Duds that he had brought with him from the movie theater on the ground and sulked away to an empty booth at the end of the bar.

Dave watched him from the corner of his eye. He and Max had known each other since before kindergarden. He put his hand on the shoulder of Megan, a girl he thought he always had great chemistry with in college but nothing ever happened between them, and said, “Hey, sorry to interrupt, but I’ll be right back.”

He walked over to Max’s booth and hinted that Max scoot over a bit so that he could sit next to him. He took a swig out of his bottle of beer, sighed, and said, “Hey, what’s wrong, bud, you’re acting a little weird.”

Dave, shifted around uncomfortably for a second, took a deep breath, lightly put both hands on the table and stared forward as he spoke.

“I don’t know, I guess I just don’t like how things have changed. I miss the days a few years back when everybody was really nostalgic about the nineties. I remember when I used to post videos and jokes about Boy Meets Worlds and Homeward Bound and Zoo Books on Facebook and they would get so many likes. Those nineties references were gold. I was like Jesse from Full House when I made a good nineties reference.”

Dave rubbed his chin and stared at the ceiling, thinking. “Hmmm, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook…Oh, is that that birthday reminder app?”

“Forget it, man,” Max said in dismay. “I just really miss a particular time, you know? Around 2012, maybe 2013 when the nineties nostalgia craze was at its peak. I just have a wistful yearning for that period of time. I wish there was a word for that.”

“There’s not,” Dave said bluntly. “At least not one that I’m aware of. Look, we’ve known each since when? 1995?”

“I was seven years old in 1995, Dave. How am I supposed to remember?”

“Okay, okay. But the point is that things change, but I’m still here and so are all your other friends.”

Later that night..

Max smiled.

“You know, you’re a pretty good friend. I’m lucky to have you and I’ll always be here when you need me.”

He turned off his Tomagotchi, turned on his Macklemore Pandora channel and drifted to sleep.

Tinder in the Rye

 Holden Caulfield would feel sorry as hell for all the girls whose pictures popped up on his phone every time he clicked on his Tinder app.

The way those girls subject themselves to the mercy of a left or right swipe of his thumb would be a goddam travesty. A desperate cry of vanity proving they can only appreciate a compliment for about as long as it takes to come out of someone’s mouth.

Then again, Holden Caulfield would have a Tinder account. He’d set up his account with mumblings of disapproval towards the creators and the people that use it. The photos he would use on his profile would look forced and awkward. He would purposefully look distant and uninterested and he would never admit how much a part of him hoped that such a look would be sexy to certain girls.

I had a Tinder account for two weeks before I decided I still preferred meeting women in person. Now I swipe left or right in my head and it’s not a permanent decision. When I would get bored with the app I would extend my radius to 50 miles allowing me to peruse through a nearly endless array of potentially awkward conversations. At one point I thought about the idea of using Tinder in a place as ample in population and condense in size as New York City. A radius of 30 miles in NYC would allow me to judge practically the entire female population of the city.

Oddly enough, this would cause me to think about Holden Caulfield. Eventually I came to the conclusion that Holden basically spent about four days in New York swiping left.

And if Holden did have a Tinder account?

Can you imagine Old Stradlater and all the girls he’d find on Tinder? That bastard. He’d bring some redhead back to the dorms and Holden would admit right off the bat that she was pretty and had a shape to her that made him jealous of Stradlater’s hair for just a few seconds. With locks like that of course any girl would swipe right, only being able to judge him on three pictures; course they wouldn’t be able to tell what a goddam moron he is. Turns out she’d be just as full of hot air so they’d be a perfect match.

The Catcher in the Rye is about a lot of things to a lot of different people depending on when in life they read it. But one thing it’s certainly about is an unfinished product in Holden Caulfield judging a bunch of other unfinished products. Interestingly, Holden might be the most unfinished of all the products. He doesn’t really know what or who he is and we don’t what he will become. But he knows who he isn’t because he stares at and socializes with who he isn’t every day. He resents them. He doesn’t really feel sorry as hell for them but he says he does.

That isn’t a far cry from what Tinder is: a bunch of incomplete pieces judging the incomplete pieces within a 50-mile radius of them; a few pictures that equate to one or two pieces in the giant puzzle that defines you—not even corner pieces at that; just your profile picture that garnered the most likes, from people who actually know and have met you.


It woulda made him puke thinking about it. You’d have to be a real sorry sonufabitch to plaster your face on that thing and try to describe yourself in one sentence.

Of course, Holden had his moments of sorry sonufabitch-ness. Quietly swiping through Tinder would allow for a little more preserved dignity than drunk dialing Sally Hayes up in the middle of the night and telling her he’s going to come over on Christmas Eve and trim her goddam tree.

But he needed to talk to someone and that’s why Holden would have Tinder. God knows he’d probably chat up some girl and convince her to meet him at a cheap motel before deciding he just wanted to talk once they’re both sitting on the same bed.

Tinder, above all, is an outlet for judgment. Our hopes to hook up are outweighed by an appeal to our own vanity and the power of being able to judge others.

We crave validation in its most superficial form. Tinder, in its simplistic process, simultaneously allows us the ultimate authority to judge while also forcing us to put our insecurities and ourselves on the line by empowering the judgment of others. The app, even in its crudeness, accomplishes a sort of meta balance.

It’s not a peaceful balance, though. It isn’t a recommended one. It’s like taking a few uppers to balance out a few downers; the balance you reach will be far more chaotic than if you took neither in the first place.

Tinder puts judgment on a conveyer belt. It allows an ever-developing consciousness an outlet to meet irrational desires to judge and be judged. Holden Caulfield’s angst, judgment and resentment towards other people—towards anyone lacking complete innocence—were sad, but they were natural.

He fed it through living and experiencing the world. Thankfully he didn’t have Tinder. He wasn’t staring down at his phone— he looked up in the subway and the park and museum and judged people he could watch move and behave. Empathy is rarely a first instinct. It develops when you live your life around people simultaneously trying to live theirs.

Holden’s journey completed itself and readied him for another. He was by no means a finished product at the end of it, but he did exactly what all young people eventually do: become angry at the world and the people who make it so difficult to live in, flounder in his own limitations and confusion, acknowledge someone or something that makes him happy and makes everything else alright, and then, probably, repeat.

Holden’s journey was more complex than Tinder, but if Tinder had existed then it might have restricted his journey to the simplicity of left or right. I’d a felt sorry as hell for him.

Jonny Auping