By PHILIP GALANES
After a big holiday meal, my fiancé and I watched as our hostess wrapped up the remaining turkey without offering us any to take home. We were shocked! Had the roles been reversed, we would never dream of sending guests home without enough turkey for at least a couple of sandwiches. (It’s not as if there was a shortage. We watched her fill two large Tupperware containers with bird.) Was our hostess rude, or are we imposing our Midwestern code on East Coast friends?
Operative phrase here: “Had the roles been reversed.” Well, they weren’t. Your hostess shopped and rinsed and chopped and basted and stirred and scrubbed for you. That does not sound like a rude or selfish person to me. So, can we start with appreciation for her? (Forest, meet trees.)
I have been offered leftovers (and not offered leftovers) in many regions of the country. Better not to generalize, and better still not to moralize. Let’s call this one hostess’s choice: Nice if she offers, but her call. And for good measure: Try reciprocating next year and sprinkling leftovers all around. You may become a trendsetter in your circle.
I am a single mom. I have to drop off my daughter at school every morning at 8:20, then rush to the office by 9. Most mornings I make it. But in my year-end review, my boss listed “habitual lateness” as an area for improvement. I was really annoyed — not that I showed it. I promised him that I would do better. But I’d hate to get on his bad side. Should I go back and tell him that being on time is a priority for me in the new year?
Don’t let your mouth write checks your tail can’t cash. (A drag queen once told me that at the Pyramid Club in the ’80s — though she used a different term for tail.) I respect your desire to be responsive to your boss, but you’ve already told him you’ll improve your on-time arrivals. Now, you will do better by simply showing up on time than advertising your commitment to the concept before actually delivering on it.
I get that, as a single parent, you are juggling a lot in the mornings. So, it will probably take more than newfound enthusiasm to land all your planes on time. It sounds as if the trouble is the 40-minute window between drop-off at school and arrival at the office. It’s too tight, yes? If so, ask if your daughter’s school allows early drop offs. (Many do.) If you left her at 8, for instance, you would create an additional 20 minutes for commuting to work. Would that do the trick?
If not, consider hiring someone to get your daughter to school so you can head straight to the office. (I know: expensive.) Or speak with your boss as a last resort: “I want to deliver on my promise to be on time. But getting Mary to school, first, is making it hard to keep. Would you consider a half-hour delay in my start-time that I could make up at lunch or at the end of the day?” (He may.) Because I fear that a New Year’s resolution alone — without some underlying change — may not be enough to get you into your desk chair by 9.
My fiancé and I have agreed to let you decide this one: He wants our wedding song (and first dance) to be “At Last,” sung by Etta James. It’s a great song, but I’ve heard it at too many weddings. What do you think? Any other ideas?
ABIGAIL, NEW YORK
Never defer to strangers. What if I chose “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”? You wouldn’t be so happy then. Still, I’m honored to toss a song into the ring (because I agree: If I had a nickel for every time I have heard “At Last” at a wedding, I would be well on my way to a quarter.) Let’s stick with the Great American Songbook in honor of your fiancé. Try Helen Merrill’s version of the Cole Porter song “After You, Who?” It’s deliciously happy-sad and speaks to the fragile magic of finding someone special: “I could search years/ but who else could change my tears/ into laughter after you?” (And as an engagement present: All reader suggestions will be forwarded.)
My sister-in-law is notoriously cheap. She gives used gifts. This year, when I opened her Christmas gift to me, a hardcover novel, crumbs fell out of it. May I please tell her she’s not fooling anyone?
Request denied. Put yourself in her (likely) shoes: No matter her actual circumstances, the world may not seem bountiful enough to let her give with both hands. That’s sad, no? If it’s not sad enough for you to forgive her, mark your calendar for Sept. 1, when you may write the following email: “We all have so many things. Let’s focus our holiday giving on the kids this year, O.K.?”