Why did you write [you] Ruined It For Everyone?

I felt there was a real need for some honesty in this era of Eat, Pray, Love. My writing takes a more sardonic approach to the world. We can’t just Band-Aid up our problems or spackle them with Julia Roberts. We have to address the mess we are in and find out who’s to blame!


Could you tone it down a bit? You’re scaring people.

Okay, sorry. I wrote the book because…well, I always wanted to write a book. (I’m sure most of us have at one point or another.) But it had to be in my voice…so the book is part fun facts, part humor, part sarcasm (and partly unfinished).


What makes you such an expert on being able to identify these ruiners?

Genetics of course. I was born with a very large hand. And attached to that hand is a very long pointy finger.


How did you research the book?

Well, I am proud to say that I did not step foot in one single library. I Googled everything (which is probably why I put a disclaimer in the front of the book that it might not all be factual). Aside from that, when I found something or someone that made daily life more difficult–I shrugged, and then added it to the list.


What’s your favorite part?

I like the ones that hit close to home for me. And I’m sure everyone will have their favorites, but a couple of mine are:

02–DeBeers–For making guys spend two months salary. (Because I did not use this rule of thumb to propose to my wife–and luckily she still loves me–I think?!)

056–Overprotective parents–For ruining children. (Hopefully I can take my own advise with my newborn daughter. So, I’ll have to get back to you with my success rate…)

051–Michael J. Fox—For causing skateboarding accidents. (I like this one because MJF is an unsuspecting ruiner. Yes he is beloved and he stars in my favorite movie BACK TO THE FUTURE. But seriously, how many kids have skinned their knees or broken bones trying to be like Marty McFly?)


Is there anything you’d like to brag about?

Well, I hate to boast, but since you asked…I designed this whole book. The cover, the illustrations, the typesetting and the writing—and in that order. (They think I’m a writer—but really, I am a designer at heart.)


What does it feel like to be a published author?

I have to say, it doesn’t suck! But, I was humbled very quickly when Christian Lander (the author of Stuff White People Like) told me before my book came out, “Make no mistake about it…you are an author–and you will have critics.”


What else is going on in your life?

I just had a book come out AND a baby come out…trust me, that’s plenty!


Is there going to be a sequel?

I just said I’m super busy, weren’t you listening? Okay, I’ll make you a deal, if you buy a copy, I’ll write another one. There, are you happy now?


I read through this entire interview and I feel kind of gypped…

Well, if you really feel that way, you can always email your frustration at [email protected]. Or, for complete fulfillment, you can visit youruinedit.com and tell me [who] Ruined It For You!



China isn’t really what I expected. It’s better, in many ways, and also worse. In other words, it’s unique. It’s its own strange place which really doesn’t match well with the western view. For example, where’s the communism? Aside from the portraits of Mao, I can’t see anything “Red.” All I see is McDonalds, KFC, Hilton hotels… Everyone is trying desperately to sell something, to make some money.

It’s dirtier than a porno theatre, too. The streets are quite literally coated in shit. Some places are too dirty for cockroaches, and others are too swamped by roaches for dirt to settle. Trash piles threaten not only an array of diseases, but the possibility of collapsing and crushing a passer-by. The skies are an orangey-yellow colour, thick with the exhaust fumes from millions of overcrowded buses and motorcycles driven by small children and even smaller old men and women.

Chapter 1

Boston, Massachusetts

* Overview: White people in Boston are very proud of their blue-collar roots. However, for many of them, two generations is as close as they will ever get to a job requiring manual labor. This also extends to the many Bostonians who will still send their white children to public school, provided that public school is Boston Latin. Boston is also home to three alternative newsweeklies that provide many young writers with jobs that don’t pay enough to make rent. The Boston white person can also be found throughout rural New England, but this breed is special, having cast off the shackles of the workaday world to begin a small organic microbrewery, creamery, or farm.

* Strengths: Mayflower relatives give them low-numbered license plates; can hold liquor.

* Weaknesses: Baseball-induced depression; movies about Irish gangsters.

* Secret Shame: They don’t really like the Dropkick Murphys.

Ivy League

The Ivy League is expensive, exclusive, and located in the Northeast and has campuses featuring beautiful, actual ivy-covered buildings. All these things are beloved by white people, so logically it would seem that they all love the Ivy League. But this is not true!

White people have a tortured relationship with the Ivy League, and if you broach the subject in the wrong way you can offend and even anger a white person.

But before getting into the more nuanced aspects of the subject, it’s important to know that all white people believe they are intelligent enough and have the work ethic required to attend an Ivy League school. The only reason they did not actually attend one is that they chose not to participate in the “dog and pony show” required to gain acceptance. White people also like to believe that they were not born into a privileged (enough) family for the coveted legacy admission. This should always be at the back of your mind as you discuss the Ivy League with a white person.

Once you have determined that a white person did not attend an Ivy League school, you should try to give them the opportunity to explain why their school was actually a superior educational experience. Some easy ways to do this: mention grade inflation, professors who value research over teaching, or high tuition costs. Any one of these will set a white person off on a multiminute rant.

When they have reached the end of their defense about why they chose the “right” school, you should say, “I knew a whole bunch of people who went to Harvard and none of them work as hard or are as smart as you.” This is a very effective technique for gaining acceptance among white people, since they need constant reassurance that they are smart and that they made the right choice with their life.

If you actually attended an Ivy League school, you will be seen as a threat, so prepare for a lot of questions from white people. They will constantly ask about how much work you had, the type of students at the school, the professors, your dorm room, and your reading lists, and they will try so hard to figure out your SAT score. They desperately need a source of comparison so that they can determine if you are actually smarter than them. In fact, the only way to stop this line of questioning is to imply that you only got in because of your minority status. Once you say that, white people will stop feeling threatened, since they can now believe they too would have been accepted to an Ivy League school if they were a minority. It also gives them a personal story about the effectiveness of affirmative action.

White people also like to call their school “the Harvard of the [insert region or athletic conference].” Do not challenge this; it will ruin their confidence.

Conan O’Brien

The news that Conan O’Brien would be replaced by Jay Leno caused white people to erupt with rage and hostility. You might have expected them to lash out and do something about it, like take to the streets or write letters to NBC to voice their dissatisfaction with the network. But no, white people solved this problem the way that they solved the election crisis in Iran: through Facebook and Twitter updates. In 2009, millions of white people took thirty-five seconds to turn their Twitter profiles green, and consequently sent a very powerful message to the leaders of Iran. Their message was that they wanted their friends to know that they would stop at nothing to ensure freedom and democracy for the Iranian people. Thanks in large part to that effort, Iran is now a functioning democratic paradise (as far as white people know). With that issue settled, white people launched a similar campaign for Conan that is sure to have similar results.

It is not hard to understand why white people love Conan O’Brien. He embodies so many of the things they already like: Ivy League schools, Red Hair, the Boston Red Sox, Self-Deprecating Humor, The Simpsons, and Bad Memories of High School (likely, but not confirmed). Seeing him on TV five nights a week gives white people who still have televisions a comforting sense of community.

If your plan is to try to use Conan O’Brien as a way to get white people to become more interested in you, then it is imperative that you understand a few key rules. First, all white people love “the Masturbating Bear.” If you don’t know what this is, do not worry. Just proclaim your love for the character, and the white person you are talking to will simply fill in the rest. Second, all white people believe that Andy Richter never should have left the show in the first place. And finally, you should do your best to develop a “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” impression. All white people already have one, so you might as well try to fit in. Complete these steps and watch your friendship with white people become considerably smoother.

Now, the biggest and most important thing to remember is to never, under any circumstance, bring up a Conan O’Brien sketch or joke that has taken place in the last five years. You will be met with only blank stares. For you see, while white people will fiercely support Conan O’Brien in any public forum, they always fail to support him in the only way that actually helps-by watching his show.

Note: Under no circumstance should you ever mention that you prefer Jay Leno. This might cause white people to think you have the same taste in humor as the wrong kind of white people, or worse, their parents.

Single-Malt Scotch

There is no getting around the subject: white people love alcohol. From their refined tastes in French wine to their fervent consumption of Maine’s microbrews, booze makes up a very important part of white culture. But many white people soon realize there are only so many beers that one can drink, and that being an expert on wine is almost impossible. Currently the most realistic way for a white person to look like a wine expert is to look at a restaurant’s wine list and then promptly order a bottle of a cheap-but not the cheapest-bottle on the menu. Advanced white people will pretend they recognize and enjoy this moderately priced bottle of wine.

With beer snobbery mastered and wine snobbery all but abandoned, white people were forced to try to find a new alcohol for snobbery. The process of elimination is a fairly simple procedure. First, any alcohol that’s mentioned by a rapper is immediately cast aside. Not just brands, but the alcohol itself. This is not because white people have any prejudice against rappers. Quite the opposite, in fact: their prejudice is simply against other white people who do what rappers tell them.

Increased sales of Grey Goose, Patrón, Hennessy, and Cristal have effectively erased any real opportunity for white people to participate in snobbery about each respective beverage. To a white person there could be no greater shame than waiting in line at a liquor store and having a twenty-year-old frat boy say to them:

“Oh what? You’re on that ‘yak too?”

“This is a Hine Triomphe, perhaps the world’s finest-“

“I’m on that Hennessy!”

Even the possibility of this exchange has sent white people, especially white men, scrambling for an alcoholic beverage to set them apart from these wrong kinds of white people. What they found was single-malt scotch.

It has everything a white person could want. It’s got European heritage, it’s expensive, college-age white people avoid it, and perhaps most important, crotchety old white men love it. The latter point is especially important, since you should understand that white people, for whatever reason, are generally inclined to like or force themselves to like anything that angry, intelligent, old white men enjoy: sweaters, jazz, things made from wood, books, records, and complaining about how everything is terrible now.

Complaining About the Death of Print Media

White people are expert complainers. Witness the events that transpire after they are served a dish they didn’t order in a restaurant. But that type of complaining is done by all people. No, what white people are best at is complaining without being willing to actually do anything about the problem; see Conan O’Brien, Iran, Oil Spills, Air Pollution, Tuna Depletion, and any problem that would require them to make a sacrifice of time, money, or sushi dining experiences.

But in recent years, the biggest issue that has been bugging white people to the point of complaint but not action has been the death of print media. Bring up any newspaper and white people will begin saying how they fear for a world with no daily newspaper and that we will all suffer as professional journalists wither away and are replaced with silly blogs that have no importance.

This love of the print media comes from two places. The first is that all white people like to believe that they spend the majority of their news-consuming time reading the stories that matter and make a difference. Whether this is true is irrelevant, but it is a good way to appear smart to white people. Say something like “I can’t believe no one is getting upset about what the city government is doing right now. It’s like no one read that amazing piece in the paper.” The white person will agree with you and respect your news acumen.

Second, white people fear the death of the print media because deep down all white people want to believe that it’s possible to make a living as a freelance writer. Of course, this is perhaps the biggest lie in white culture, pushing out such favorites as “I’m going to write a novel” and “I’ll be fine for retirement if I start saving when I’m forty.”

Of course, when you ask the white person if they actually subscribe to a daily newspaper, they will say that they get the Sunday New York Times. Which is a bit like saying you sponsor a child in Africa but only give enough money for him to eat on Sunday.

New York, New York

* Overview: The New York City resident is one of the most envied white people in the entire world. Their access to art galleries, restaurants, public transit, and pools of hobo urine is second to none. Fiercely proud of their city, all New Yorkers consider themselves to be the last one in. That is to say, everyone who moved to New York after them made the city a considerably worse place to live and thus are not considered “real New Yorkers.”

* Strengths: Can get you into places that don’t exist; able to survive in small spaces.

* Weaknesses: Cannot go fifteen minutes without telling you they live in New York. Also driving.

* Secret Shame: Actually from Ohio.

Unpaid Internships

Throughout most of the world, when a person works long hours without pay, it is referred to as “slavery” or “forced labor.” For white people this process is referred to as an internship and is considered to be an essential stage in white development.

The concept of working for little or no money under a mentor has been around for centuries in the form of apprenticeship programs. Young people eager to learn a trade would spend time working under a master craftsman to learn a skill that would eventually lead to an increase in the intern’s own material wealth.

Using this logic you would assume that the most sought-after internships would be in areas that lead to the greatest financial reward. Young white people, however, prefer internships that put them on the path for careers that will generally result in a decrease of material wealth (at least when compared to the wealth accumulated by their parents).

For example, if you present a white nineteen-year-old with the choice of spending the summer earning $15 an hour as a plumber’s apprentice or making $0 answering phones at Acme Production Company, they will always choose the latter. In fact, the only way to get the white person to choose the plumbing option would be to convince them that it was leading toward an end-of-summer pipe art installation.

White people view the unpaid internship as their foot in the door to such high-profile low-paying career fields as journalism, film, politics, art, nonprofits, and anything associated with a museum. Any white person who takes an internship outside these industries is either the wrong type of white person or a law student. There are no exceptions.

If all goes according to plan, an internship will end with an offer of a job that pays $24,000 per year and consists entirely of the same tasks they were recently doing for free. In fact, the transition to full-time status results in the addition of only one new responsibility: feeling superior to the new interns.

When all is said and done, the internship process serves the white community in many ways. First, it helps train the next generation of freelance writers, museum curators, and director’s assistants. But second, and more important, internships teach white children how to complain about being poor.

So when a white person tells you about their unpaid internship at The New Yorker, it’s not a good idea to point out how the cost of rent and food will essentially mean that they are paying for the right to make photocopies. Instead it’s best to say, “You earned it.” They will not get the joke.

Excerpted from Whiter Shades of Pale by Christian Lander Copyright © 2010 by Christian Lander. Excerpted by permission of Random House Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Hi Christian, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I have to say that you’re shorter than I expected.

Um, thanks.


So what do you think makes you qualified to write about white people?

Well I like to say that I have 32 years of experience. (CRICKETS). Well, I don’t really think anything qualifies me as the expert. I’m really just the guy who started writing about it. I think I have been especially blessed with a talent for observation due to my being Canadian.


Why does being Canadian imbibe you with an observational acumen?

One of the things you learn very early on as a Canadian is that literally no one outside of Canada cares what’s happening in your country. We have spent our entire national existence trying to get some sort of credit or recognition from the UK and more recently the United States. I don’t mean recognition like an award, just recognition that something is happening in Canada besides hockey. We are literally a self deprecating country. So when you come to this realization, you spend most of your life looking outward and observation what the English and the Americans are doing. Mostly so we can dress better.


Alright, enough with the niceties, are you a racist?

Not really. I have two black friends, which legally qualifies me as not racist. However, you could say that I’m a bit racist against white people. I stereotype them, I get easily annoyed by them, and very very frustrated when they do something predictably “white.” But all of that anger comes from self-loathing. I am often angry at myself when I gush over a fancy restaurant’s modern take on Poutine or Macaroni and Cheese. I’m frustrated when I find myself lusting over sweaters, and mid century furniture, and raw milk. So am I racist? Not really. Am I self loathing? Yes, most definitely.


I was recently informed that you attended your second reggaeton music festival. Did you find that you were embraced by Latino culture?

Not really. But I did impress a number of people by being able to mouth all the words to a Chino y Nacho song.


Chino y Nacho?

Yes, they are a very popular duo from Venezuela.


Okay, do you think that you’re into this reggaeton music merely because such a small amount of white people are drawn to it? I mean, are you trying so hard to be different from other white people that you’ll fork out money for concert tickets and CDs just to remind them how different you are?

No Comment.


Fine, we’ll move on to your next question. How would you define a “White city.”?

Any place where the local economy cannot support real estate prices.


Touche. So have you read any books lately that you’ve enjoyed?

I read Jonathan’s Franzen’s Freedom and I am forced, by law to love all things produced by writers named Jonathan from Brooklyn. I also read the book Our Bodies, Our Junk which is hilarious and the new book from the guys who run Free Darko. All are brilliant and highly recommended.


So tell me about the new book?

It’s really a continuation and a progression of the first one. It still has the same numbered entries like the first one, but this is broken up by regional drawings and descriptions of all the kinds of white people you’ll find across America.


You know, I thought you’d be a lot funnier in this interview.

Sorry about that.


No no, it’s fine, it’s just that for all the success you’ve had, you’d think that you’d be more, you know talented.

Well, luck has a huge part to play in all of this.


Yeah, I’m starting to realize that. Thanks for your time.