Alexandra Petri

Washington, D.C.

Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of the essay collections "Nothing Is Wrong And Here Is Why" and "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.

Sign up to receive Alexandra Petri's latest columns in your inbox as soon as they're published. Honors & Awards:
  • National Press Club Angele Gingras Award for Humor Writing 2016, Shorty Award 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30, Fifty Funniest People Right Now (Rolling Stone)
Recent Articles

ALEXANDRA PETRI COLUMN

Advance for release Saturday, April 9, 2021, and thereafter

(For Petri clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

For Print Use Only.

By Alexandra Petri

Well, I am the fool. The National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre testified this week during his organization's bankruptcy hearing that there was a good reason he spent so much time on a friend's 108-foot yacht, called Illusions.

Illusions was "the one place that I hope I could feel safe," he said, "where I remember getting there going, 'Thank God I'm safe, nobody can get me here.'" And you know what? I believe him. The only detail of this story that is frustrating is the thought that he knew a solution that would guarantee absolute safety, and he was keeping it so quiet.

Here he was sitting on the holy grail that the United States has been searching for for so long - and he said nothing! He should have been shouting this "security retreat" from the rooftops. In the United States, we have reached a point of numbness and despair where gun violence gets treated as something akin to bad weather, a grim condition of living in this country, to be planned around but never prevented. Yet all this time, Wayne LaPierre had the antidote! Yachts!

I am not mad that Wayne LaPierre was frittering money away and relaxing aboard a watercraft that contained not one but TWO wave runners and a "hydraulic swim platform." No. I'm just relieved we finally know how to keep millions of Americans safe from gun violence. The only thing that remains now is to implement this solution at scale. Doubtless this will count as infrastructure now that we know how essential it is to keeping Americans safe and healthy, and we can tuck it into the American Jobs Act somehow.

We must band together as a nation and demand that all our schools be equipped with yachts. All places of work must have a big yacht (108 feet minimum, perhaps even bigger) with a cook and a hydraulic swim platform. I am not sure how putting supermarkets on yachts will work, but we had better try it. Not until everyone in this country is safe aboard their yacht can we breathe easily again.

Although maybe it isn't just yachts. Maybe it's spending money, in general. Wayne LaPierre additionally used the NRA to pay for a mosquito treatment at his home, which apparently was also a security measure. The organization spent $65,000 on Christmas gifts from him. It seems clear that what gun violence responds to well is money.

Again, I'm not upset. I'm just relieved that there exists a solution. Praise be! All these years of anguishing over the question of how we were going to keep schoolchildren safe from gun violence, how we were going to keep people in grocery stores and offices and places of work and buildings and concerts and - America, generally, safe from gun violence, and the answer, all along, was: yachts.

Now that we know we do not need to reduce the number of guns or the ease of access to guns or pass any sort of legislation about guns because we already have the solution, I am sure the NRA will be very relieved. Its leadership can set about equipping every American with a service yacht, for their own protection. With two wave runners, just to make assurance double sure.

It is too bad the NRA is bankrupt now, unrelatedly.

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Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.

ALEXANDRA PETRI COLUMN

Advance for release Tuesday, April 6, 2021, and thereafter

(For Petri clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

For Print Use Only.

By Alexandra Petri

There are several details of the Matt Gaetz story that keep sticking in my head, but the one that sticks in it most is the report that the Florida Republican used to wander around and show his colleagues nude photos of people he had slept with. There's a kind of grim weirdness to the idea of these interactions (which Gaetz denies) - a very "I Read On eHow.com That Men Bond Over Conquests" bewilderment. The callousness and the violation involved are enough of a sock to the gut. But the fact that this was allegedly known about him is what keeps getting to me. The fact that this, or something in this neighborhood of bad, occasioned senior staff from then-House Speaker Paul Ryan's, R-Wis., office to have a talk with Gaetz about professional behavior.

Over all of this I keep hearing the uncomfortable laughter of Billy Bush. I keep coming back to the fact that it takes two to make a locker room.

I keep coming back to the detail in CNN's report that this wasn't something Matt Gaetz did a single time, but repeatedly. Because if it happened more than once - if it happened twice, even - that is because the first time went better than it should have.

To me, this is something you do, ideally, zero times. You never experience the impulse to do it, and you lead a pleasant life. You travel. You eat lunchmeat sandwiches. Maybe you do a marathon, or climb something. You lead a blithe existence for many decades, you die in your bed in your mid-nineties surrounded by your cherished relatives, and in all that time, you never walk up to a colleague on the floor of the House of Representatives and out of nowhere present him with a nude photograph of someone you claim to have had sex with.

But if you can't do it zero times, then ideally it happens only once. It happens only once, because the moment you do it, the person you show it to responds the way a person should respond. You produce your photograph to your colleague, and your colleague looks at you and says, "Never show that to anyone, ever again. Go home and rethink your life. I do not feel closer to you. If anything, I want to have you removed forcibly from my presence by strong gentlemen whose biceps are tattooed with 'MOM.'The fact that you thought this would make us closer makes me question every decision in my life that has led me to this point. Leave now and never come back."

But we can probably suppose that this is not what happened, because life is regrettably unstingy with moments like this, when a small awkward "no" seems too costly. Perhaps the person to whom this was shown emitted a sort of uncomfortable, nervous laugh, and this was viewed as acceptance enough. Or worse, he leered at it, encouraged it. Or, still worse(a scenario alleged to have existed during Gaetz's time in the Florida state House), he joined a fun little club with Gaetz and others to assign themselves conquest points.

The moments when people make up their secret minds about what is normal and what is acceptable are never big. They are always in private, when no one can see that you have failed the test, when all you were doing was trying to avoid any discomfort, be cool, play along. But there is a price. The price is that the Matt Gaetzes out there will leave the interaction thinking they have understood the world correctly. That what they are doing is working. That this is how the world is. But it is the accumulation of these little assents that make the world this way.

So I am not writing this for Matt Gaetz. I am talking to the person who was on the receiving end. The person who was presented with this behavior and had a choice of how to respond.I am talking to the person without whose chuckle or back-slap this situation would, perhaps, have been just a little less bad.

This is a plea for those small awkward no's. The moment will inevitably come for you to offer one. And when I think of how much difference could be made by just one person, one guy in a locker room, or around a campfire, or even on the floor of Congress, saying, uncomfortably, "What?" or "Why would you show someone that?" - sometimes I want to chew glass. It is a small favor to ask. But it could reshape this whole place, if it happened enough.

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Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.

ALEXANDRA PETRI COLUMN

Advance for release Friday, April 2, 2021, and thereafter

(For Petri clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

For Print Use Only.

By Alexandra Petri

WASHINGTON -- This spring, many entities will be emerging: vaccinated people beginning a slow return to something like normalcy, and literally billions of cicadas. They're called Brood X and they've been underground since 2004, and now it is their time to emerge and sing, then cover the ground with their carcasses.

I know you are wondering: Which group do I belong to? This handy quiz will help.

Check all that apply:

- You haven't had any contact with friends or other members of your generation in what feels like 17 years.

- You have lost all sense of how to interact with others, if indeed you ever possessed it.

- You are no longer a prisoner to conventional beauty standards, if indeed you ever were.

- You are not wearing pants and resent the implication that you will ever be asked to wear hard pants again, unsure how the geometry of that would even work.

- A scientist quoted in the New York Times has described you, unprompted, as "really big and awkward."

- Your singing has been described as "cacophonous" and "shrill."

- You have never successfully made sourdough.

- You would be stressed if asked to send a complicated email.

- You are truly uncertain what year it is.

- 2004′s pop icons feel very present to you.

- A stranger saw you shuffling along the sidewalk making noises to yourself and took their dog to the other side of the street to avoid you.

- You are excited to come out from your comfortable burrow when the weather gets into the low 80s.

- You have bulging, red eyes.

- Your entire dating strategy is that you are going to put yourself out there and make some loud noises and you hope someone who comes along will like it.

- When you get together with the guys, your volume can reach 105 decibels, louder than a lawn mower!

- If you somehow got into an office, you'd be upset and confused and would want to get out immediately.

- You look forward to mating at some point before you die.

Answer key: Your guess is as good as mine! Good luck out there!

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Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.

About
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of the essay collections "Nothing Is Wrong And Here Is Why" and "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.

Sign up to receive Alexandra Petri's latest columns in your inbox as soon as they're published.
Books
  • A Field Guide To Awkward Silences
  • Nothing Is Wrong And Here IS Why
Awards
  • National Press Club Angele Gingras Award for Humor Writing 2016, Shorty Award 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30, Fifty Funniest People Right Now (Rolling Stone)
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