Run­ning com­men­tary on food takes the joy out of din­ing

The Progress-Index Weekend - - MAGIC MOMENTS - — Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069.

I have a friend, ‘’Char­lene,’’ whom I met through a lo­cal char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tion. We have many things in com­mon, in­clud­ing the fact that we’re both re­tired, and we en­joy each other’s com­pany. Char­lene is slim (not skinny), very en­er­getic and fit for her age.

The prob­lem is, it’s im­pos­si­ble to share a meal with her. As soon as the food is served, Char­lene starts a con­stant com­men­tary about ‘’how big the por­tions are’’ and how she ‘’couldn’t pos­si­bly eat’’ what is be­fore her (it doesn’t mat­ter how lit­tle is on the plate). Often, she DOES ac­tu­ally eat most of her meal. Then the ongoing com­ments start about how she was such a pig, she won’t be able to eat another thing all day.

I don’t know if she thinks she’s set­ting a good ex­am­ple (I am not slim), or if she has some psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues sur­round­ing food. I am tired of this rou­tine. Is there any way I can ask her to stop without hurt­ing her feel­ings?

DEAR ABBY:

—SICK OF HEAR­ING IT IN IDAHO

I can see how sit­ting through re­peat per­for­mances of those re­frains would get old fast. Of course there’s a way to get her to stop. All you have to say is, ‘’You know, when you say that, it pre­vents me from en­joy­ing MY meal, so please don’t do it when you’re with me.’’

DEAR SICK:

I have been se­lected to at­tend a sym­po­sium in New York that will be attended by one or more mem­bers of the Bri­tish royal fam­ily. While I feel no an­i­mos­ity to­ward the royal fam­ily, some of my an­ces­tors died fight­ing for free­dom from English rule dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion.

I think it would be a grave dis­honor to my an­ces­tors to ad­dress the roy­als as ‘’Your High­ness’’ or any other term that sug­gests they are above

DEAR ABBY:

me, es­pe­cially since this gath­er­ing will take place on U.S. soil. How can I ad­dress them in a way that would be re­spect­ful, but would not de­mean the sac­ri­fices of my an­ces­tors? —KEN IN OHIO

DEAR KEN: Be po­lite and gra­cious. Do not raise the sub­ject of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, be­cause I am quite sure they are al­ready well aware of it. To smile and say, ‘’It’s nice to meet you,’’ would not dis­honor your an­ces­tors or em­bar­rass the spon­sors of the sym­po­sium, and that’s what I rec­om­mend you do.

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a large fam­ily. On Sun­days, some of them come over to visit me. Some­times they’ll get into ar­gu­ments and get re­ally an­gry.

Be­cause this is hap­pen­ing in my home, what po­si­tion am I to take? I was told by one of my daugh­ters that I should not al­low them to come here any­more. Be­cause I am not in­volved in the ar­gu­ment, I don’t feel I should do that.

I en­joy my daugh­ters vis­it­ing me. I don’t want to tell them they can­not come to their mother’s house. What do you ad­vise? — MOM OF MANY IN THE WEST

DEAR MOM OF MANY:

You’re the mother. If your fam­ily’s heated ar­gu­ments make you un­com­fort­able —and a pitched bat­tle would qual­ify —you are within your rights to tell them you pre­fer they ar­gue else­where be­cause it up­sets you. I do NOT ad­vise you to ex­er­cise the ‘’nu­clear op­tion’’ by ban­ish­ing them from the premises, be­cause to do so would be an over­re­ac­tion.

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