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Talking After Midnight: Accountants, Tattoos, & Tinder

Illustration by Liesl Meissner
Illustration by Liesl Meissner

Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to your first official dose of Talking After Midnight advice. I’ve received tons of fantastic questions, and I’m thrilled that you’ve entrusted me with your strange, silly, and endearing queries about metal, love and life.

However, before we get into the nitty gritty, we need to have a little chat. Despite my intro outlining exactly what we’re doing here, there are quite a few of you who seem to be a bit confused about what this advice column is about. I got multiple questions that aren’t advice at all, but rather seeking my opinion. For example, “What do you think of Deafheaven, Liturgy, or Ghost?” (If you like ‘em, they’re good. If you don’t like ‘em, don’t worry about it. End of story.) and even questions which are neither advice nor about rock ‘n’ roll, like, “What do you think about Trump?” (Obvs he’s objectively horrible—moving on.) And my personal favorite: “Death to all bras! Bras are bad and you know it!” which is neither a question nor seeking my advice, nor about music of any kind. (Do what you want, but my DD-wearing self is gonna rock bras till the day I die, and if you’re a grown woman judging others for what they decide is best for their bodies, you oughta take a good hard look at yourself.) Instead, try sending in questions pertinent to your own life in the metal world, like, “How can I stop worrying and learn to love the commercial metal my kvlt friends all secretly love, too?”

Here are a few great questions from this week’s batch. I hope they help you out, and if you want to submit a question for next time, you can find the details below. Love you all.

—Cat Jones // @catjonessoda

Dear Cat,
How do you suggest highlighting one’s hobby of listening to extreme metal in their dating profiles? Or do the (incorrect) preconceived notions still outweigh the benefits of being upfront about it?
—Tindering While Metal

Dear TWM,
You know, I’m really glad you asked this question because it brings up a very important lesson most of us need to learn: People don’t fall in love based on common tastes in music or matching hobbies; they fall in love because their personalities work well together, they share similar humor, and they make each other feel safe and fulfilled. This is true for all kinds of relationships, romantic or otherwise. Think about all of your best friends from childhood. How many of them like the same extreme metal bands as you do? Chances are, they’re people who have been with you through thick and thin, and talking about life and laughing about dumb shit together takes precedence over filling them in on the latest one-man black metal project you found on Bandcamp. And when it comes to romance, I can tell you firsthand that, on the off chance you fall for a person of the non-metal variety, there’s a lot of freedom in being “the metal one” in a relationship. It gives you something you get to go out and enjoy for yourself and no one else—something that is key to making a relationship last.

So how do you tackle the delicate art of the photo and bio on a dating site? It really boils down to timing and subtlety. Think of it this way: I’m not particularly into, say, archery. In fact, it sounds boring and dorky as hell to me and I’d rather spend my time paying money to watch people make loud noises with electric guitars. So if I were swiping through Tinder, and I came across an otherwise attractive dude whose main photo was an action shot of him concentrating hard at a target with a bow and arrow in his hands, I’d swipe left so fast I wouldn’t even have time to look at his name. But if I met someone who was really funny, attractive, and interesting, and on our first date he let it slip that he occasionally likes to hit the archery range in his spare time, I might think, “Hey, what a cute and quirky dude.” So I wouldn’t worry about shedding light on your musical tastes from the get-go. Instead, write a short, sweet couple of sentences that show your sense of humor, your favorite food and drinks, a couple personal heroes of yours, and maybe one of your goals in life, and wait for the first date to really chat about what types of art you both enjoy.

Now, with that said, I understand that sometimes you want to clue them in a bit beforehand. I mean, why risk wasting your time on some square who, upon coming home with you for the first time, sees an Iron Maiden album cover in your living room, thinks you’re a serial killer, and runs to the hills? And maybe you’re looking for someone who looks forward to throwing down in the pit right next to you at the end of a long week. So if you really want to spice up your profile with a little peek at your metal lifestyle, I’d sneak in something subtle like a photo of you doing something while wearing one of your less obvious metal shirts, or a quote from one of your favorite bands in your profile. The ones who get it will be stoked, and the ones who don’t will never know the difference. Good luck!

Dear Cat,
Please help. I can’t seem to get my head out of the 70s as far as my taste in music goes. I know I am missing a lot. What can I do?
—Stuck In The 70s

Dear 70s,
You know what? I’m going to just tell you the same thing I tell everyone for any reason, really:

Listen to Brant Bjork.

Not only does his solo stuff embody the mojo, swagger, and general attitude of the 70s, he was also the drummer of some killer California desert/stoner rock bands like Kyuss, Fu Manchu, and Desert Sessions, and his sweet, sweet grooves might just be the perfect gateway drug to get you into some modern, heavier stuff. Throw his name into your Pandora radio and keep a notepad handy for anything you dig. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself whispering, “What would Brant Bjork do?” whenever you’re faced with any of life’s hurdles.

Here’s a good place to start:

Dear Cat,
My fiancée and I got our first tattoos last Saturday. They went well, cool people, healing well, etc. However, we were so wrapped up in our first tattoos that we didn’t think of tipping. It just slipped our mind that it was even part of the deal. We feel bad. Should we a) stop in a week later and slip the guys something or b) tip hella next time?
—Tattoo Virgin

Dear Tattoo Virgin,
Honestly, it’s really sweet that you guys would even think of that and be concerned. Most tattoo artists probably assume, “Ah, fuck, they don’t know the etiquette. Oh well,” and forget about it the second you leave. But if you went back and said, “Sorry, we’re new at this!” and tipped a full 20%, it would probably make their entire week, if not year. So I say do it. But either way, if you’re happy with their work, definitely become a repeat customer and yeah, tip hella next time.

Dear Cat,
What are your thoughts on living a metal lifestyle while at work? I am a tax accountant. I make pretty good money. Part of being in such a line of work, however, means pushing a lot of my personality into the background. At times, it actually starts to get fairly depressing because I don’t like putting on what I call “work face” simply in order to bring in income. I’d rather be myself. I’m pretty sure the people who own the business would be fine with a few metal tattoos and some posters in my office, but I don’t want to let the “cat out of the bag”, so to speak, only to find out they are allergic to cats!
—Metal Accountant

Dear Metal Accountant,
First off, that’s a hilarious and perfect analogy. Nice one!

I feel for you. Making money is integral to the lifestyle you want to lead, but the lifestyle you lead feels like it has no place in the office. But there’s got to be a way to make it work. Similarly to what I said above to TWM, I think it might be all about subtlety. Maybe test the waters a bit by bringing in a small poster as a conversation piece for your office wall. Mind you, I’m not talking full-on Cannibal Corpse art, but maybe a nice image with an illegible band name scrawled over the top. Leave it up for awhile and see what happens. Read people’s faces and tones when they walk in. In my experience, people tend to shrug off even the most bizarre things when they’re paired with a confident smile and a firm yet brief explanation. So if/when someone mentions the art, smile and confidently say, “Yeah, I picked that up over the weekend and thought it looked great there.” Chances are, that’ll be enough for the average person. Once the proverbial cat is out of the bag, start occasionally pairing your more innocuous metal t-shirts under a blazer on casual Fridays. Most likely the worst thing you’ll have to deal with is the occasional jokes or, “How do you listen to that stuff?” but at the end of the day, it’s worth it to show a little more of your true self to preserve your sanity.

And hey, if none of that works, at least it gives you yet another reason to headbang during your entire commute home. But let’s be real: You should be doing that anyway.

Want to submit a question for Talking After Midnight? Email talkingaftermidnightadvice@gmail.com OR submit questions anonymously HERE. As always, your identity is safe with me.

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