Giving the gift of gab 

How to embarrass yourself in front of yourself: Read your horoscope every day. Every day think, "That's totally accurate! How amazing!" Realize the book you're reading from is dated 1997.

I did this once because I saved my "Sydney Omarr's 1997 Day-by-Day Astrological Guide for Scorpio." (Yes, mine is the sign that is proud of their ability to get a pap smear and a brain scan simultaneously.) Omarr has been around forever and is probably such a good astrologer because he watched the stars be placed in the sky. And in the 1997 edition of his astro-guide he did something very interesting: Whereas most astrologers will tell you how you can best attract members of the other signs, Omarr added a section on how to repel them.

For example, we are told, the way to unload an unwanted Leo would be to "Make fun of them or ignore them." To make sure a Virgo will leave you, "Tell them you don't need them. Have no mental interests." If you decide you don't want that Aquarian any more, "Keep telling them to shut up. Cling, whine and complain." Just hearing "cling, whine and complain" as a set of directions is captivating, as is the clever idea of a manual on how to passive-aggressively ruin, well, just about anything.

Party planner

What called Sydney's subtle blend of astrology and venomous cruelty to mind was a tip sheet from YAPA, a "free, Internet-based membership organization for young professionals seeking career or personal success," on how to preserve your career through the dicey holiday season. It was called "Holiday Career Killers: 10 Ways to Ruin Your Career at Holiday Parties."

This is a beautiful title, but mildly disappointing. Young professionals seeking career or personal success shouldn't think small. Why stop at 10? And why wait for a holiday party? The real go-getter knows there's no time like the present.

YAPA's guidelines for giving yourself a reputation as a horse's ass are pretty basic, like "dress inappropriately," "be rude" and "get stupid drunk." Amateur hour. To guarantee that you will always hold the office title of village idiot, you have to do something so awful that people will talk about it with large eyes and hushed tones for office parties to come.

Not to undercut YAPA, but we had a few ideas of our own on how your dismissal can be the most entertaining gift your co-workers get this year:

• Arrive with a Secret Santa gift that's dripping, mainly because it's a dead octopus (available in the seafood section at Publix).

• Find two annoyingly chummy female co-workers and tie their hair together.

• Punch the dog.

• Dress as a terrorist and learn how to say "I spit on your religion" in a bad Middle-Eastern dialect.

• While the boss is making a toast, make a loud body noise. Point at the girl next to you.

• Stand under the mistletoe with your zipper open.

• Eat an hors d'oeuvre, then suddenly spit it out all over the person you're talking to. Swear you felt a roach leg. Do this every half hour.

• Demand privacy while you make your "special egg nog." Serve.

• Stand behind each person one at a time and mouth the word "herpes" to whomever they're talking to.

• Show up in a diaper and wearing a crown of thorns on your head and say, "It's my birthday and I want my cake."

Kiss off

• When someone gives you one of those party kisses, pull back and loudly say, "Eeew, you taste like Compound W."

• Take off your underwear and hang them where the stockings are. Write "Stuff these" on the seat.

• As each guest enters, say, "What are you supposed to be?"

• Sneer at the Christmas music and talk pretentiously about how you liked Handel long before he ever played at CBGBs.

• Store nuts in your cheeks for the winter.

• Put a turkey neck in the punch bowl.

• Announce that you're pregnant and then drink like a sponge. When you get stares, screech at people to mind they're own goddamn business. Cry.

Keep in mind these are just guidelines, a framework through which to devise your own colorful picture of how you want to get canned. Certainly a young, urban professional like yourself wants to leave more of a mark than you would just getting a little tipsy and grabbing the boss' behind, and hopefully one of these will be just the banana peel that precedes your fall from grace. You will exit a job with style and your humiliation, for your co-workers, will be the gift that keeps on giving.

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