Hall Pass is basically the big-budget (and not nearly as entertaining) version of last fall’s indie flick The Freebie, which I blogged about on Blisstree a while back. The flawed, rom-com Hollywood logic in both films goes something like this: Couple has been married for a while, ennui sets in, husband’s eye wanders, wife gives husband a week off marriage in order to rekindle the spark (or, in the case of The Freebie, the couple gives each other one night off work/marriage), hilarity ensues, lessons are learned. On screen, this simplistic concept either works (couple realizes how good they have it) or it doesn’t (couple breaks up over infidelity and moves on), but in real life, things tend to be more complicated (and feature fewer Hollywood celebrities).
I don’t need to issue my husband a Hall Pass for several reasons: 1. He’s too busy. 2. He’s too tired. 3. He’s too cranky. (I’d feel like I’d need to call the imaginary-sex-partner-woman to apologize for him in advance.) And 4. He doesn’t have that philandering quality about him. Likewise, my husband needn’t give me a Hall Pass for the following reasons: 1. I’m too busy. 2. I’m too tired. 3. I’m too cranky. And 4. I’m 28 weeks pregnant, and what guy in his right mind would really be into that? So I’d like to suggest handing out a different type of non-sexual Hall Pass for real life situations: Starting now, I’d like us all to take a week off from our toxic friends and family. (Think of it as giving them up for Lent.)
You know who I’m talking about. You used to live in the same house with them. Or, you’ve called them your friend for a long time, though oftentimes you really can’t figure out why. I mean the narcisstic family member. The entitled sibling. The overbearing in-law. The self-absorbed friend. The irritating acquaintance who talks nonstop and and wants to hang out all the time and thinks you’re actually friends when, actually, you’re not.
Why do we deal with these people? Because, of course, sometimes we have no choice. (Also, we’re adults; that’s life; you have to take the good with the bad; and any other appropriate cliche you can think of.) I’m not suggesting that we do anything as drastic as permanently cut these people out of our lives — forever. (Though if the level of toxicity they bring to the table is so high that it causes you serious stress and anxiety, then I actually do recommend it.) But just try it. Give them a non-sexual Hall Pass for a week. Set them free. (Some of them, particularly the self-absorbed friend, likely may not even realize you’ve given them a Hall Pass.) Don’t confront them about it. (Why hurt their feelings?) Just be passive-agressive about it. Don’t return their calls or emails for a week, and when you do, tell them you were out of town or just really busy. Better yet, tell them that your phone died or your computer crashed and you couldn’t contact anyone for a week while they were being fixed. (And then just hope that your phone doesn’t actually die and your computer doesn’t actually crash as punishment/retribution from God.)
Forget chocolate, booze, caffeine, wheat, carbs, smoking, and the like. It’s Lent, and whether or not you’re religious, it’s time to give yourself permission to hand out non-sexual Hall Passes to any toxic friend or family member you think deserves them. This is not a malicious act; it’s simply a matter of self-preservation.
If you can’t muster the guts to issue imaginary (yet real!) non-sexual Hall Passes, then at least give yourself one. Food and drink aren’t the only vices in town; people can be, too. So, at least for the next week, when you see your toxic vices in the hallway, just flash your Hall Pass and keep on walking.