It has come to the committee’s attention that PhD-candidate-in-hosting Taylor Swift would like to be granted her degree early in the semester. On her behalf, Rolling Stone has submitted her dissertation, ingeniously titled “The Reinvention of Taylor Swift.”
The committee will hereby consider the following 12 items as an argument for Swift’s candidacy as a doctorate in the art and practice of hosting.
Item 1: The Greeting
Up in the penthouse, a barefoot Swift answers the door in a periwinkle-blue sundress: “Welcome to my apartment!”
A-: Swift excels at this elementary item with efficiency. The decision to greet the guest barefoot is a clear way to demonstrate hominess and unsettle the visitor about the potential of a no-shoes policy.
Item 2: The Proffered Snacks
In the kitchen there’s an assortment of pastries from a hip downtown spot called the Smile (“They have these banana-quinoa muffins that I’m obsessed with”), and in the refrigerator are a surprising number of varieties of sparkling water. (“I have black cherry, pomegranate, blueberry, strawberry, key lime, tangerine lime …”)
B-: Swift overemphasizes the efforts she took to acquire every flavor of soda water available on this planet, perhaps unintentionally pressuring the guest to quaff each kind until the bubbles caused him to float away.
Item 3: The Tour
Swift shuts the fridge. “Do you want a tour?” She breezes into the living room, pointing out the fish tank filled with vintage baseballs (“I was like, ‘That’s so cool, they’re so old!’”) and some enormous scented candles (“I was like, ‘That’s so cool, they’re so big!’”).
A-: While, you can allow the guest to read labels of soda on his own, it is important to tell said guest how to feel about the art in your home.
Item 4: Guest Room Décor
Swift leads the way into one of her four guest bedrooms. “This is where Karlie usually stays,” she says — meaning supermodel Karlie Kloss, one of her new BFFs, whom she met nine months ago at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. There’s a basket of Kloss’s favorite Whole Foods treats next to the bed, and multiple photos of her on the walls.
C: This is aggressively sweet and nearly terrifying. How many times does one visit before they acquire a chamber of devotion?
Item 5: Guest Outfitting
Against another wall, there’s a rack full of white nightgowns. “This is a thing me and Lena have,” says Swift – meaning Lena Dunham, another recent friend. “We wear them during the day and look like pioneer women, fresh off the Oregon Trail.”
A+: It is deeply considerate to provide guests with overnight clothes. It invites them to stay whenever they wish and frees them from the need to pack.
Item 6: Introductions
Swift leads the way upstairs to her bedroom. Asleep on her massive four-poster bed is a tiny white ball of fur. “Olivia!” Swift says, scooping her up. It’s her two-month old kitten, named after Olivia Benson, from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. “Hear how loud she’s purring? She’s a stage-five clinger, for sure.” Downstairs somewhere is her other cat, Meredith, named after Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy. “Strong, complex, independent women,” Swift says. “That’s the theme.”
A: While introducing your guest to others, it is good form to provide them with a “theme” to help them remember names. It should be noted that it is unlikely these named creatures are aware of the concept of names.
Item 7: Safety Warnings
She steps onto her patio and climbs the staircase up to the roof deck. “Careful,” she says. “It’s construction central.”
D: Safety is unglamorous and reminds the visitor of death. Best to avoid discussions of danger at all costs.
Item 8: The Garden
Swift gestures to a set of planters: “Those are hydrangeas, and over there are the roses and basil and rosemary.”
C: Unless specifically asked about plants, one should never discuss plants.
Item 9: Avoiding the Unsightly
Heading back downstairs, she passes an antique lamp with the inscription CALADIUM SEGUINUM on it. Swift took Latin in high school, but says she isn’t sure what it means. (Later, I look it up. It turns out it’s a homeopathic remedy for male impotence.)
A+: Excellently done. If something unbecoming is in your home, simply deny its existence.
Items 10 and 11: Guest Assignments and Games
That night they cooked a huge feast, with Swift assigning everyone jobs (“You make salad dressing! You chop apples for apple pie!”), and afterward they played Celebrity, the game where everyone puts a bunch of famous names in a hat and takes turns drawing one and trying to make their team guess. The game got a little heated, because one team had a lot more famous people on it, which gave them what some guests thought was an unfair advantage. (Swift: “It was like, ‘You dated him! 2010!’”) But in the end, everyone was appeased, and the game went on as planned. And did Swift’s team win? She smiles. “Of course we won.”
A: Entrusting guests with tasks gives them a sense of usefulness and competitive games give them a sense of purpose.
Item 12: The Coffee Question
“I didn’t know what kind of coffee you wanted, so I brought options.”
A+: There is no way to know which coffee people like, other than to ask them. As everyone hates answering questions, it truly is best to just buy dozens of things and allow them to choose.
Concluding decision on the offer of a PhD degree:
This committee is floored. Never in our history has a candidate displayed such competency and eagerness.
While Swift certainly had moments of failure, even her shortcomings demonstrated a deep desire to please (safety warnings, framed photographs of former guests). Henceforth, the candidate shall be known as Dr. Taylor Swift, Holder of the First PhD in Having House Guests.