Monday, December 07, 2009

Dear Abby redux

The following letter appeared in "Dear Abby" in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on 12/2/09. Miss Van Buren, however, gave substandard advice that Miss O'Brien has magnanimously offered to correct.

Dear Abby: Is it rude to label one's leftover food when staying with relatives? My husband, daughter and I visit his family often. When we go out to eat and bring leftovers back to the house, we usually label them if we want to eat them later. It has never seemed out of the ordinary to me. I was raised that way. My mother always said that if I didn't want something eaten by one of my siblings, than I should label it. Recently, my husband's sister (who is 16) asked if she could eat the rest of some pizza we had bought the night before. I politely responded that I planned to have it for lunch. She remarked that she thinks it is funny that we are so protective of our food. It got me thinking--is our behavior odd?
--Taken Aback in Washington

Dear Taken:
Now let me get this straight: you, your husband and your snot-nosed kid stay with your in-laws "often;" and as thanks for tolerating your wet towels, stinky feet on the couch, coffee slurping and god-knows-what else, you label your food. Of course, that's only "if we want to eat them later." I guess some leftovers are fair game. No reason to give up your label love in that case, Miss America. Just mark the second rate slop like this: The leftovers contained herein are shitty and we're not going to eat them. Hence please enjoy the true meaning of the words "Doggy Bag" and feel free to enjoy our over-chewed dregs.

I suppose if you had some weird food nut allergy gluten-free dietary health crap going on, there might be an exception, but withholding a lousy piece of leftover pizza from a 16-year-old kid doesn't get it, shitbag.

Is your behavior odd?

Odd doesn't even come close. You are an asshole--an industrial strength asshole. Your assholiness is so grand that other assholes can only collapse in your presence and weep at your feet. Your agonizing proportions defy existing asshole categories. You are singular, unparalleled and rare. I dub you **Wonder Asshole.**

Here's a Code Orange News Alert: your in-laws start snickering and gossiping about how you put your name on your pasta salad containers and half empty Cokes days before you arrive and continue for weeks after you leave. They roll their eyes over what an insufferable tightwad you are and how unfortunate it is that you married into the family. What your in-laws ought to do is hand you your miserable leftover pizza crusts along with directions to the nearest motel and show you the door.

Perhaps someone will recognize this situation (because your in-laws undoubtedly share the hilarity of your antics with everyone they know) and will forward this post to them. Although these are clearly gracious and tolerant people, I hope they have a good laugh and consider preparing the house for your next visit with a few labels of their own:

Not for use and/or consumption by Wonder Asshole.

* * *


dean said...

Funny. My oldest daughter just started helping out at a soup kitchen on Sundays. And near where she lives there's a guy with a semitrailer camping out in the parking lot until the trailer is full of food for the food bank.

And then we have Wonder Asshole. As Jack Sparrow* says, 'funny ol' world, innit?'

* CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow

glittergirl said...

and you know this lady is the type to get out a calculator when the check arrives at a restuarnt. she checks to make sure they didn't get charged for an extra coke. and god forbid you're trying to split the tab. she'll figure out what she owes to the penny, and then tip under 10%.


Anonymous said...


Lets see if I can beat philbilly to this...with apologies to John Prine...

Food Labeler Food Labeler
You have no complaint
You are what your are and you ain't what you ain't
So listen up Buster, and listen up good
Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood.


hoosierboy said...

I thought the same thing as you when I read this in my local fishwrap. My second thought was that her relatives must routinely spit in those containers when the labeler is not looking.


"Miss Van Buren, however, gave substandard advise that Miss O'Brien magnanimously offered to correct."

Funny, you got "magananimously" right [you libs DO love those bigs words, don't you?].

However, "...advise..."?


Also, don't ya think you need another picture of yourself (maybe a video too!) in this post?

Erin O'Brien said...

You win, anon. I stand corrected--so shall the post.

Big Mark 243 said...

Obviously, this struck a nerve with Anon ... perhaps they are the 'married in' who lables their food while freeloading at in laws homes ...

dean said...

Funny, you got "magananimously" right


Hee hee hee.

bilbysalenger said...

My husband guards his food like an agitated pit viper. No labeling, but if I hear "don't eat that, it's mine" one more time I'm going the mongoose route.

Angela P said...

I didn't think it was that bad. If you grow up in a huge house with lots of people who love to eat all your food and then you have nothing to eat, you'd understand.

Although, I tend to be a little anal with my planning of everything (esp. food).

No doubt that family is laughing behind her back, though! lol!

I'd like to know a brief summary of what Abbey said. Anyone...?

Bill said...

your advice kicks ass! I love to correct ann landers too. anon: are you serious?

Erin O'Brien said...

Here's Abby's response:

Dear Taken Aback: Considering that you come from a family in which anything in the fridge was considered fair game among your siblings, it's not odd at all. And when your sister-in-law said what she did, you should have explained that to her. Had you done so, she wouldn't have questioned it.

Um gee, Abby, so sibling/sibling etiquette also applies to house guest etiquette? In that case, a house guest should proudly announce his farts, strive to say the entire alphabet within the space of one belch, and call their host "stupid fat head."

dean said...

HAHAHA. O'Brien, you slay me.

rae said...

This is good. Looking forward to more "Dear Erin"

Amy L. Hanna said...


"aunile" (how apropos) sez:

If you're gonna go all nuclear over your leftover noms ... then slap a goddamn biohazard sticker on the aforementioned hermetically-sealed container.

That oughtta serve as a sufficient pre-emptive strike to any and all dinner guest queries right there.

Tracy MacNish said...

But isn't eating someone else's leftovers rude?

I wouldn't need a label to keep me out of food that wasn't mine.

And I put my name on the takeout box to indicate it has my spit in it - more in an effort to not be rude to someone else, rather than to lay claim to the food.

I guess intention doesn't have as much to do with perception.

Kevin Weber said...

I always laugh at people who "protect" the fridge like ADT. When people dig through my fridge and ask for ANYTHING, even the last one of ANYTHING, I politly respond, "You can have whatever you want. There's always more at the store." (There is, right? Or is there some strange pudding shortage I'm not aware of?)

Whitenoise said...

yabbut, what if it was really, really good pizza...?

e said...

I've known a few "Wonder Assholes" in my day...usually too cheap and the kind that has five servings of everything at an all you can eat buffet before filling five doggy bags they brought with them...

Mr. L said...

My mother-in-law treated leftovers thusly: "It's you, or the trash."

Entrepreneur Chick said...

"Odd doesn't even come close. You are an asshole--an industrial strength asshole. Your assholiness is so grand that other assholes can only collapse in your presence and weep at your feet."

Right there. That's it. Why I adore reading you and why I burst laughing- OUTLOUD. I've scared my dog I laughed so hard.

You know, my sister writes like you do, but she never seemed to realize how talented she is.

Elisson said...

This business of offering a fresher, more honest alternative to Dear Abby's boring, dried-up advice is nothing new. Laurence Simon used to have a site dedicated to same (to which I contributed), until it was shut down at the request of Abby's lawyers. But thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can still see a few posts.

Anonymous said...

Two apartments ago I was living with this freeloading slut who used to eat my groceries and leftovers without paying her bills or shopping for her own food.

I had some leftover pizza one day, and I wrote, "Do not eat on pain of death," on the box, and the bitch ATE IT ANYWAY!

However, I'm sure the woman doesn't have trouble paying HER bills, plus she is in someone else's house. Guess it goes both ways.