Meatless Ingratitude?

by admin on January 15, 2013

A few years ago my friend, Gloria, had a new baby with her fiance, Red. Gloria and I were close; Red was not very friendly and I didn’t know him very well, except to know that he was a traditional meat-and-potatoes type guy. He worked at a job that required him to be away from home for several days at a time.

Because Red was out of town not long after the baby was born, Gloria was stuck at home with the baby by herself and had begged me to visit her, I went gladly. I brought her some coffee from her favorite take-0ut place. I also decided to make up some food for her to keep in the freezer since I knew she probably didn’t want to spend a bunch of time cooking. I didn’t have a lot of money so I couldn’t afford many ingredients; I lived mostly on non-meat dishes myself, due to this budget limitation, so I made the same types of meals for Gloria. I reasoned that she could always add meat to them, and the dishes were tasty either way – a spinach lasagna, a cheese and veggie soup, etc. etc.

When I brought the food to her we had a nice visit and she thanked me. But while I was there, Red called and said he would be home that evening, unexpectedly early. He apparently asked what was in the house for dinner. Gloria told him that I’d brought over food, but then said to him, looking at me as she said it, “I’m not sure if it’s anything you’d want, I did notice it’s all vegetarian-type food.” She said it disparagingly and almost like she was asking a question, making it sound like I’d been too cheap or something to bring meat dishes. I thought I’d been trying to be kind by bringing food at all. I haven’t done anything similar since. Maybe I’m bitter but that really hurt my feelings since I’d worked really hard on all of it and there was enough food there for several weeks. Sorry it didn’t meet Red’s meat-eating expectations, and sorrier still that my good friend Gloria was rude about it to me on his behalf. 0114-13

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Pen^3 January 15, 2013 at 3:20 am

Wow, talk about ungrateful!

Red doesn’t really factor into the story, I think. It was all Gloria. According to the story at least, the writer has no way of actually knowing if Red said anything at all, or how polite/impolite he was. Even if he was berating non-meat meals down the phone, that is no reason for Gloria to act so ungrateful knowing full well that she was in the presence of the person who gave them to her. Since the writer said she and Gloria were good friends, it’s likely that Gloria was aware of the writer’s financial situation as well.

So: friend goes to a fair amount of trouble to help Gloria. Gloria then insults the gift in front of the friend as soon as Red is on the phone. Yes, she was a new mother, but what excuse is that? Or, even if she had a momentary lapse in judgement which could be tentatively and superficially blamed on hormones and lack of sleep, someone with an ounce of etiquette would have apologised after the fact.

No matter what Red said or did, that was not what was offensive and rude, since the writer was unaware of it. No, it was Gloria who chose to say unflattering things about a meaningful gift in front of the giver.

Either way, the result is the same: I’d not want to spend time with a person, or people, like this. Either Gloria was feeling rude, or she is rude in the presence of Red due to fear of acting otherwise/disagreeing. Practically, it doesn’t matter which. The result is still a person who will continue to be rude when the situation arises. Not someone good to be around.

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Marozia January 15, 2013 at 3:39 am

What a vulgar ingrate you befriended!! It’s not as if you want to turn them into vegetarians, there is nothing wrong with a couple of non-meat quick meals. Goodness knows, I’ve eaten them myself and I’m a confirmed meat eater. Next time you visit your friend, just bring her the coffee and nothing else and don’t offer to do anything for them.

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Lex January 15, 2013 at 4:06 am

What sort of partner arranges to be out of town when a new baby has arrived? I sense a backstory here with ‘Red’ and I wonder if your description of Red as ‘unfriendly’ and ‘a meat-and-potatoes’ type of guy might have deeper connotations? The words used by Gloria seem almost ‘cringing’ as though she’s afraid of admitting that she hasn’t prepared anything for her partner. I think it’s a bit telling that he rang his partner to ask her what she’d prepared him, even though they have a new baby? This smacks of a touch of chauvenism and I can’t help but wonder here if she was disparaging your food to shift blame away from herself in the event that ‘Red’ might be mad that she hadn’t prepared anything. I know for a fact that if I was on maternity leave dealing with the demands of a new baby and my partner had run out of paternity leave and gone back to work, he wouldn’t dream of ringing me to find out whats for dinner other than to find out if he needs to go to the supermarket and pick us up something on his way home (which may be the case here, we don’t know as we have no evidence of this).

I don’t think it was right of Gloria to disparage your gift, but if there are undertones of domestic abuse or even a boorish, overbearing partner then I can see why she may have said it the way she did. The questioning tone might have been aimed at Red prompting him to say yes or no as to whether he would eat it. It may also have been aimed at you to confirm that the dishes were vegetarian (unless you had done so when you arrived).

I think you may be overthinking the comment to be honest. I’d be more inclined to be concerned about the friend as ‘Red’ doesn’t seem very considerate given the circumstances….

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JackieW January 15, 2013 at 4:20 am

I think you need to ask yourself what these people add to your life and seriously consider whether it is worth it to remain friends with these crass people. For me, after the treatment you received, I would no longer be interested in maintaining a friendship. I would put my efforts into making new friends who cared about my feelings and had rudimentary manners that they use in everyday life.

People who make you feel bitter and hurt over doing a good deed are toxic.

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Fizzychip January 15, 2013 at 4:25 am

OP, your “friend” behaved most rudely and I do not blame you for not doing similar since. You took the time and money to think about your friend and what she needed and your solution was both thoughtful and practical. I wonder if Gloria has second thoughts about your gift after she’d spent a few sleepless nights attending alone to the baby?

I tend to have a pretty much vegetarian diet myself & I have struck this attitude occassionally. I had a dinner party a few years ago, and as it was in my own home and entirely catered by me, the food did have a vegetarian bias. Still, I made sure there was planty of food served & I did make the effort of preparing at least one meat based dish & I thought it was going well until one guest asked me when the “real food” was coming out. It totally ruined the night for me and can somewhat relate to what you experienced.

My advise to you OP? Save your generosity for people who appreciate your goodwill. My “real-food” guest has never been invited back.

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Bint January 15, 2013 at 5:06 am

I really hope nobody tries to defend Gloria on the grounds that she is tired, has a new baby etc. As Pen points out, if that’s the case then she should still apologise. She was massively rude and ungrateful. Shame on her. I hope that marked the last time you brought her anything, OP.

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Tasryn January 15, 2013 at 5:10 am

Wow. I have to say I’m astonished by this story. I had a baby in July and had a difficult labor resulting in a forceps delivery and episiotomy. I was in a lot of pain when I got home from the hospital and virtually any position (sitting, standing, even lying down was uncomfortable). Due to my recovering body and my exhaustion, cooking meals was the last thing I wanted to do. I was very lucky to have my mom there to help prepare meals with my husband and prepare meals for me alone when my husband was at work. I literally don’t know what I would have done without that help. So for a friend to have shown up with several weeks worth of meals-that would literally have been liquid gold. To turn that kindness down is unbelievable to me.

Also, just a word to the wise for folks out there-if you are so kind to want to gift a new mother with a gift, skip the baby pyjamas and onesies. The thing new moms appreciate the most is things like this-a couple of prepared meals they can just pop in the oven. Even better, do what this lady did and spend some time with the new mom on an afternoon. The chance to have a cup of coffee and talk about adult things is invaluable. A friend did this for me and I am forever grateful.

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Cherry January 15, 2013 at 5:43 am

I’m often quite petty so I’d have been tempted to take the food back. If I’d worked hard to make it only for the recipient to disparage it like that, I’d make sure it went to someone who would actually enjoy it. AKA me!

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Angeldrac January 15, 2013 at 6:04 am

I don’t know….I would like to have been in the room to hear exactly how this conversation transpired. Had OP and Gloria previously discussed Red being a “meat-and-potatoes” guy? Did Gloria thank OP graciously for the food already? Was the “disparaging” tone actually supposed to be a “silly old Red and his meat” tone?
I’m just trying to envisage the situation myself (my DH likes his meat, too) and I’m just wondering if Gloria was actually coming across worse than she meant?

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Carol January 15, 2013 at 6:06 am

I agree with Lex’s take on the situation. Obviously we don’t KNOW, since we weren’t there, but it sounds to me like maybe Gloria was not being rude to you so much as she was trying to protect herself from Red by shifting the blame, so she didn’t have to hear him yell at her for not having the right sort of food in the house.

Hindsight is 20/20 – it’s too bad you weren’t able to actually confront your friend at the time, and say ‘seriously, why did you just insult me and my food?’ but that’s easy for ME to say, sitting here reading a story. When you’re right there and it’s happening, it’s hard to even think straight.

I’m curious what your relationship with Gloria is now, though. Do you still consider her a friend?

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Rinny January 15, 2013 at 6:39 am

When I cook for others, I realize that even the tiniest negative comment (which may be constructive criticism) can be crushing and sometimes I even take it personally. But my partner always brings me back to earth, making me realize that all the negativity is really just in my head… others very rarely mean what I thought they meant.

Just sharing this with you, OP, because I think there is the possibility that you may have misinterpreted your friend’s tone. As a third party just reading what your friend said to her fiancé, it just sounds like a causal comment between a couple – “yea I got pizza, not sure if it’s something you want though as I got the five cheese combo”. Perhaps her words affected you that way because you put in so much effort to help her out, and that’s perfectly understandable. I just hope you could rethink this when you’ve cooled down, lest you alienate a friend who truly meant no harm.

Take care!

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Chris January 15, 2013 at 7:38 am

So I do believe, whatever her reasons may or may not have been if there were any, that your friend Gloria acted in a thoughtless and rude manner.

@Lex- paid paternity leave is not a mandate by many governments. In the US the only three states I could locate which, by state law, provided paid paternity leave are California, New Jersey, and Washington. The unfortunate reality is that if a company does not voluntarily offer paid leave, one or more of the parents must continue to work to support the new child. And if his job requires that he travel frequently, Red would not have the luxury of dismissing or postponing his work travel plans. My father, being a now retired US Marine, was deployed overseas during my and my older sister’s births. He was not even afforded the opportunity to take a short leave to return home to see us. You can “sense” a backstory all you want, but the reality is far more probable that it was beyond his control. And as you have already mentioned, a very probable cause for his call may well have been to see if he needed to pick food up from the store or get take out. Frankly, your entire response speaks of assumptions being made about two people we know frighteningly little of. It would do you well to think more before you respond.

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just sayin' January 15, 2013 at 7:51 am

the best part is that there was apparently no other food in the house. whatever would they have done if OP hadn’t brought over her useless, homecooked food? i don’t believe OP would have been out of bounds to apologize, “sorry–i didn’t realize you wouldn’t have any use for my vegetarian food. i’ll get all of that out of your way, and get out of your hair so you can spend time with your husband”.

regardless of whether it was the husband who is so demanding the wife felt she needed to apologize, or the wife who also looked down upon it, if she knew it was so unpalatable, she could have declined the food, and better yet–suggested red pick up some food on the way home.

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NotCinderell January 15, 2013 at 7:52 am

I think Lex is right. There seems to be a lot of subtext, here.

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DowagerDutchess January 15, 2013 at 7:55 am

Your friend was left alone with a new baby, and her husband calls to see what’s ready for his dinner when he gets home unexpectedly? Sounds to me like Gloria was happy with your food, but knew it wouldn’t suit the jerk she married, and didn’t have anything else for him and was worried about it. Sometimes with our close friends its nice to give them the courtesy of assuming good intentions.

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Lychii January 15, 2013 at 8:13 am

I’d rather think that Gloria wasn’t being rude on purpose. Being put on the spot with the dinner question, she likely couldn’t find the right way to formulate the idea of: “Yes, we do have food, but it’s not something you’d eat”.

Honestly, I’d probably end up in the exact same situation, were I in her place. Not meaning to be rude or criticize, just an accidental foot-in-mouth thing.

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Melissa January 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

Ugh. What a jerk move. I’m a vegan and many of my friends or either vegan or vegetarian. My fiance and I keep a fully vegan house. We recently hosted some friends for a football game, a variety of meat eaters and veggies. We had a HUGE taco bar with things like salsa, sauteed veggies, grilled tofu, roasted potatoes, black and refried beans, roasted peppers, pico de gallo, and my partner’s famous guacamole. One of my friends brought her boyfriend (that we only knew casually). After eyeing the table full of food he, rather snootily, remarked “It would have been nice of you to make something for the omnivores to eat.” I’m not sure what in his 8-year old mind made him think vegetables were not up to his standard or that we should violate our health, environmental, and ethical convictions just to cook animals for his comfort…..

They aren’t invited to the Super Bowl party…..

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Marjorie Margarine January 15, 2013 at 8:40 am

I really don’t understand this behavior. People (even avowed meat-eaters) eat plenty of food that doesn’t have meat in it ALL. THE. TIME. Only when it gets branded as “vegetarian” do they turn their noses up. Have you ever had tomato soup? Mashed potatoes? Salad? BREAD??? Cake? All of these things are (usually) meat-free but no one ever complains about there being a lack of meat.

Several years ago, when I was in college, the professor of a postcolonial literature class asked us to all watch the movie “Gandhi.” He said we could watch it on our own, but he would also have a showing one evening at the school and we could bring a guest to that if we liked. Much to our surprise, he had paid out of pocket for a lovely Indian meal to be catered for everyone who showed up to the on-campus showing. The food was delicious and the thought was overwhelmingly kind, especially for an underpaid prof at a public, inner-city university. One middle-aged woman in the class brought along her husband. I will never, ever forget how he commented loudly and repeatedly that he would not eat any of the food “because it was vegetarian.” Now, I understand- some people aren’t particularly fond of certain cuisines, just shut up and watch the movie. Or, hey, maybe live a little and try something new. I just remembering thinking he was such a boor, and he just came off as ignorant because of that interaction. I felt terribly sorry for his wife, who was extremely embarrassed.

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DGS January 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

Gloria was the main ingrate here, since she was disparaging and rude to her friend who troubled herself to bring her homecooked food (having been a new mother myself recently, I’d have been almost pathetically grateful for that type of assistance) AND a gourmet coffee and was a caring and supportive person. Red, however, sounds like quite a peach as well – what kind of a partner is out of town when his spouse is having a new baby, AND then, calls asking imperiously what was for dinner (what did YOU fix, Red? Maybe, you should pick up something?) OP, methinks that it’s time for new friends…

Conversely, vegetarians can be as rude as meat-eaters. At our wedding, we had a separate glatt kosher appetizer service AND dinner service for our Orthodox Jewish relatives, as well as a regular caterer with multiple vegetarian and meat options during cocktail hour. For dinner, the crowd got choices of filet and mushroom-mousse stuffed chicken with roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus, baked salmon with green beans and rice, glatt kosher roasted chicken with sweet potato wedges and grilled veggies and a vegan gluten-free butternut squash ravioli. Everyone, from our Rabbi to a cousin with Celiac disease had something to eat, and everyone expressed their gratitude for the diversity of menu and respect for the guests’ dietary needs. We bent over backwards to make sure no one went home hungry…the only exception, a colleague of my DH and his wife who complained that we didn’t provide Indian vegetarian food for them, since they couldn’t possibly eat ravioli at dinner or partake of the mashed potato bar or roasted veggie or hummus platters during cocktail hour. Apparently, they don’t eat anything but Indian food and thought it was quite inconsiderate of us to not have thought of their dietary needs. When my DH politely suggested that we did have various vegetarian and vegan options available, they said that we should have incorporated their country’s food into our menu, as we weren’t considerate of the fact that they don’t eat other kinds of food.

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Jenn50 January 15, 2013 at 9:14 am

Lex, you took the words right out of my mouth. I too, envisioned Gloria cringing because she knew Red wouldn’t be satisfied with meatless meals, and wanted to let him know so he could pick up something he’d prefer on the way home.

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Cat January 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

I would not end a friendship on the basis of a comment to her husband. I have yet to meet a person whose mouth has not run past their good sense and said something better left unsaid.
If her husband is a “meat and potatoes” guy, maybe she was letting him know that dinner might not to be to his wishes and to avoid an unexpected surprise at the dinner table. If he wanted something else, he could stop on his way home and get it.
Suppose he had been a strict vegan and you had brought meat dishes for his wife because he was not expected to be there? He gets home, expecting that she has killed the fattened squash for his arrival, and finds a plate fille d with dead cow instead? If you think of it in that light, it makes her comment less offensive.

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Betty January 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

Without having heard the tone of voice in the response on the phone: “I’m not sure if it’s anything you’d want, I did notice it’s all vegetarian-type food.”, it’s impossible to say that the new mom was rude. Personally I think the letter writer is taking it the wrong way.

If my husband called to ask what we had for dinner in the house and we only had a meal he might not like, I’d let him know so he could stop at the store and pick up something to add or something else to eat.

Since the new dad has to travel a lot for work, the new mom might especially appreciate having those vegetarian meals in the freezer for nights that he is away (and not available to help with the shopping and cooking and baby care).

The new mom did thank the letter writer and they had a nice visit. Why not leave it at that?

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The Elf January 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

Yeah, ungrateful. Or, being optimistic and giving her the benefit of the doubt, awkward. Even if it was something she didn’t like – or knew “Red” wouldn’t like – then she could have said something else. “Red, why don’t you pick up a pizza on the way home? OP, I’ll save these for when I’m worn out and can’t muster the energy to cook or go out. They’ll freeze great!” or “We’re going to have this spinach lasagne OP brought. Why don’t you pick up something for yourself on the way home?”

After all, Gloria does not have to serve the food OP brought, and Red should not have to choke down something he doesn’t want to eat (no matter how tasty it sounds to me!)

Side note: Some people just don’t like veggies. Or they think that meat must take a central part of every meal or it isn’t “real food”. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but thereyago. There are picky eaters, special diets, and allergies everywhere, and it seems like people are a lot more likely to tell you ALL about it. I like “vegetarian-type” food! I bet most meat-and-potatoes people, if they could get past the mental barrier, would like things like a spinach lasagne or a cheesy soup. The cheese part give it a lot of the same mouth feel that you get with meat dishes. It’s not your stereotypical food that most people imagine vegetarians eat!

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Moo January 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

I agree with the comment about the possible chauvinistic partner… who on earth calls their fiancee with a newborn baby (after being away for the birth) to ask what they’ve gotten them for dinner? Still doesn’t make Gloria’s actions ok, but could shed some light on why she behaved that way, as I’m assuming this rudeness is not common behaviour seeing as OP is such close friends with her. I myself enjoy meat dishes, however I do not eat meat with every meal, and if a friend were kind and thoughtful enough to prepare me a vegetarian dish (let alone dishes) I would certainly not complain, especially as (in OP’s case) she was also gracing Gloria with her company, and all at fairly short notice.

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2browneyes4 January 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

“Next time you visit your friend, just bring her the coffee and nothing else and don’t offer to do anything for them.”
I wouldn’t even do bring coffee. I’d probably only stop by if I were already in her neighborhood.

“Save your generosity for people who appreciate your goodwill.”
Absolutely!! When someone berates my generosity, I no longer burden them with my generosity.

“I think it’s a bit telling that he rang his partner to ask her what she’d prepared him, even though they have a new baby?”
Yes, I agree. Very interesting.

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Shalamar January 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

Unfortunately, I can relate. My dad is a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore, which is a challenge when he and Mum visit, since my older daughter is a vegan and my younger daughter is a vegetarian. One night, we decided to get burgers and fries from our favorite vegan burger restaurant. (The burgers there are VERY good and have been featured on the “You Gotta Eat Here” show on the Canadian Food Network. Even meat-loving folks adore their food.) My dad absolutely refused to so much as try the burgers we’d bought, opting instead to get something from his favorite greasy spoon. I should be clear; he wasn’t rude or ungrateful – he just said “No thanks” and got his own dinner. I still thought it was a shame, though.

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White Lotus January 15, 2013 at 10:28 am

Lifelong veg. Cannot imagine eating any other way. Like many long-term vegetarians, I get sick, violently, if I ingest meat in any way, shape or form, whether I know it is there or not. One loses the ability to digest meat, and it becomes an allergy. We are not preachy. Do what you like, and we will not comment. This is background.

As far as etiquette goes, Gloria was rude. A gift is a gift, and deserves thanks, whether the recipient likes it or not or can use it or not. Show up at my house bearing something we cannot eat, and we will thank you, and maybe serve it to you, or pass it on to someone who can eat it. We might explain that chicken stock in your soup means we cannot eat it, for future reference, but we would never fail to show appreciation for your thought and effort, or demean you or your offering. That would be rude.

What is with these people who cannot, for even one meal, contemplate vegetarian food? I literally cannot eat meat, but they can eat anything I make, barring allergies. And it will be good, nutritious and filling. Yet people are all too often incredibly rude. There is something very weird about this. Otherwise normal people will comment on my food choices at restaurants and want to argue about them endlessly in what I think is some weird justification motive — like they want me to agree that is just fine to eat meat, as if they need my permission or approval. They won’t let it die, and this happens all the time. They deliberately try to gross me out, and often succeed to the point where I cannot eat at all. They dangle bits of meat in front if me and ask if it doesn’t look and smell wonderful. Well, no it doesn’t and the smell squicks my stomach, but I won’t say that because it is impolite to discuss what others do and do not eat at the table, period.

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CJ January 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

“I’m not sure if it’s anything you’d want, I did notice it’s all vegetarian-type food.” To me, the fact that she mentions this to her husband, who is a meat and potatoes guy, when he asks if there’s any dinner doesn’t really seem to be insulting the OP. I think she’s just answering his question (and knowing he won’t be happy with the answer), unless there’s more to it, like making a “yucky face” when saying it! (Maybe that’s what’s meant by a disparaging tone. ) I still would forgive this minor incident based on the fact she’s probably still hormonal and/or sleep deprived and without a partner in the house to help. In any case, I hope she at least thanked the OP for it, because if not, then that is what makes her rude!

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starstruck January 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

um, i guess iam alone in my opinion here but i dont really get the feeling of her being rude. you said yourself that red is not a meat and potatoes guy, so she was being honest when telling him it was all vegie dishes and he may not like it. what if your husband was lactose intolerant and someone brought over a bunch of milk and cheese based foods and he asked, would you not say, iam not sure you will like it , its a lot of cheese type foods. maybe she could have been more tactful about it , i would probablywould have said, not sure you will like it hun, but everything looks delicious to me! but really some people are just honest to a fault . and your friend probably didnt mean anything rude by it.

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Mary January 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

Heck, I’m a meat eater and not a huge veggie fan (only really eat select raw veggies and salad) , but I make meatless meals quite often. Black bean quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, cheese ravioli or angel hair pasta with homemade marinara sauce. During Lent, since my younger daughter and myself aren’t seafood fans, meatless pasta dishes are a staple on Fridays.

I’m still laughing at DGS’s story about not having Indian food available at their wedding. Unless the married couple was Indian, I wouldn’t expect to find Indian food at any wedding! I thought they went above and beyond with the selections they had available.

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Elizabeth January 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

Why are you blaming Red? He didn’t say it; Gloria did. Gloria was rude, all on her own.

I’m sure your intentions were pure but you let your own preferences interfere — making what you like rather than what Gloria and Red typically eat. It may have been better to just bring a dish or two (not several weeks’ worth) of what they enjoy eating.

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egl January 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

@Melissa – Sounds like that guy was not only a bore, but he also doesn’t seem to know what an omnivore is.

@OP- I know you want to blame the guy you weren’t friends with, but this is mostly, if not totally, Gloria’s rudeness. Maybe when not sleep deprived she’s better at etiquette, but she still owes you an apology.

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Shalamar January 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

I’m reminded of when I threw a party a few years back. I’d provided pretty much every kind of drink under the sun – wine, the hard stuff, soda, milk, juice, bottled water, and lemonade. My friend’s wife (who was extremely high maintenance) turned up her nose at all of it, saying “I can’t drink that. I’m pregnant.” (Ignoring the fact that roughly half of it was non-alcoholic.) She left the part to go buy herself an energy drink which, if I remember correctly, was LOADED with caffeine – not really recommended for pregnant women!

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Goldie January 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

Agree with those saying that Gloria was probably trying to warn Red to pick up some meat on his way home, so he doesn’t arrive tired and hungry, expecting a meat-and-potatoes dinner, only to find out there isn’t one (and yes, possibly fly off the handle). Granted, she could’ve worded it better (“Oh honey, can you believe Jane brought us an awesome spinach lasagna and a delicious cheese-and-veggie soup?” (then, regardless of how Red responds to that on the phone) “I agree, she’s amazing! Of course I’ll say thank you to her for you! Jane, Red says thank you”. Red got the message, Jane’s feelings haven’t been hurt, everybody’s happy. However, it isn’t always easy to come up with a clever way to say things when you’re home alone with a new baby and are exhausted from lack of sleep and constant care of the baby (yes, I went there). I’d cut Gloria some slack on this one. Now if she continues being ungrateful, that’s another story, but I’d let this one incident slide, since she did thank the OP and they had a nice visit.

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Surianne January 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

As a few other posters noted, without hearing the tone of voice I’m not sure why the comment was ungrateful or insulting to the OP. Explaining to her husband that it wouldn’t be his type of food seems reasonable to me. If she thanked the OP and otherwise didn’t seem unhappy with the food, then I’d try to let this go.

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MaryFran January 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

Count me in with the crew that thinks her comment over the phone was badly phrased. She should have said something like, “Friend brought over some home-cooked veggie lasagna. . . Well, if you want meat in it, I’m sure we could add some sausage if you picked some up on your way home.”

I would hold off on judgement of her being rude. See if she sends you a thank-you note or otherwise thanks you for the meals when Red is not present. If she never again mentions it, I would limit my generosity toward her going forward.

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retropink January 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

I agree with starstruck. I would also add that since we didn’t hear the conversation between Gloria and Red, he may have been asking if he should stop by the store on the way home or Gloria knew that’s what he was asking her.

There have been many times when my husband has called me at less than optimal times (say, when I’m feeling under the weather) to ask if we had the makings for dinner in the house. He didn’t expect me to cook, he just wanted to know if he should stop by the store before coming home and making dinner. Since Red was coming home early, perhaps that’s all he meant and I certainly hope Gloria expressed her appreciation to her friend.

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Kariachi January 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

“He apparently asked what was in the house for dinner.”

Quote, directly from the OP. Looking at it, I really don’t get where people are getting the ‘he expected her to have dinner on the table’ thing from. He asked what was in the house for dinner. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my upbringing that means things like ‘did you get something out or should I pick something up’ or ‘did you have something planned, because I was thinking of making…’ or even ‘do I need to stop by the store to restock on the way home’.

The fact that he was out of town during the birth is saddening to me, but I’m not about to vilify him for it. We don’t have details on that, it could very well have been ‘be at work or lose your job’ for all we know.

And I have to admit I’m a little offended by Lex’s suggestion that him being unfriendly and a meat-and-potatoes guy automatically hints at him being abusive. I know several people that aren’t really friendly and are meat-an-potatoes types, including myself, and I sort of did a double take at that.

That said, I’ll trust the OP’s judgement on her friend’s tone and say that yes, the woman was rude, but seeing as it was a one-time accurance under stressful conditions it really couldn’t hurt to let it slide.

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acr January 15, 2013 at 11:39 am

In your place, OP, I wouldn’t discard a friendship over an isolated incident. I think there is a lot of room for misunderstanding in this situation. It would have been nice if she’d managed a more graceful response, like, “Neighbor brought over this lovely spinach lasagna and I’m going to eat that, but if you’re feeling a craving for some meat you might want to pick up something on the way home” but people don’t always think fast enough to use the most gracious response.

Try to let this one go, but keep an eye out to make sure it was just a one time thing.

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Arrynne January 15, 2013 at 11:49 am

I think a lot of commenters are making interesting assumptions regarding Red’s question. Per the OP, he asked “what was in the house for dinner”. This isn’t necessarily a command to make him dinner, but a request to find out what is available. In my household, it would be a the beginning of a conversation stating what he or I could make with things in the pantry (and current energy/enthusiasm), asking my husband to pick up dinner on his way home, or to stop at the store and pick up xyz ingredients so one of us could make something.

Gloria was pretty tactless in the way she presented the food to Red. She could have said “OP brought over some food for us. Maybe you could pick up some bread, lunchmeat, and cheese and I can make some grilled sandwiches to go with the yummy soup OP made, while you snuggle the baby.”

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Emily January 15, 2013 at 11:58 am

I remember in middle school a classmate’s father accidentally was killed while cleaning his guns. My mother put a lot of time and effort in to cooking a very wholesome meal with lots of food, carefully wrapped it and brought it over to their home. She told me later that they opened the door, wordlessly took the containers from her and slammed the door in her face.

I know many people grieve in different ways, but given what I remember of this classmate, I’m pretty sure the missing gratitude was a lack of proper manners rather than overwhelming sadness (although who am I to know).

It’s a shame that reactions like this often make the do-gooders think twice about offering their help to others in the future.

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Bint January 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm

The OP does point out that Gloria’s tone was ‘disparaging’ and made it sound as if the OP had been ‘too cheap’. In other words, she isn’t just responding to what was said, but *how* it was said, which rather knocks out the defences made for Gloria.

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MichelleP January 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I’m totally with the OP and other posters that say she was rude, or at least tactless. I love to cook and bake and give food to others as gifts, and most have been over the moon with gratitude. I have, however, had the occasion snarky comment, not vegetarian related necessarily. Just ingratitude.

The issue with this situation was not the husband being a chauvinist nor about vegetarian/non vegetarian debate. The issue is the OP did something kind and it wasn’t very appreciated.

@WhiteLotus, the way you have been treated for your vegeterian ways is horrible and I hope you distance yourself from those people. You seem awesome and intelligent and have every right to make your meatless decisions! Please don’t think all carnivores are like that.

OP don’t let this ruin your kindness and giving nature.

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hakayama January 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Dead cow or dead broccoli aside? have you thought of Gloria? doing the upspeak?
I’m not sure if that would make much difference, over all? anyway?

@Moo… OP did not say that Red has been for the BIRTH…

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Pinkiu January 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I tend to be vegetarian, only because I don’t like the taste of meat, not because of any animal rights cause. But even when I used to eat meat, I also ate many vegetarian meals. I would think the opposite scenario would have garnered that rude reaction. Usually a vegetarian would have difficulty with being brought meat filled dishes. I don’t understand how someone who is ok with eating meat would thumb their nose at this food. The only thing I can think of is that the friend just doesn’t like how the OP cooks (e.g. too spicy, too bland, too salty) or the boyfriend has a thing about eating food prepared by other people. I know people who won’t eat at church potlucks because they don’t trust that the food was prepared by people who washed hands, etc. However, even if all of these things were the case (which I highly doubt), you still thank the person. The friend should have just been grateful on the phone saying something like, “We are so fortunate to have a friend like Nikki. You won’t believe what she did. She made us vegetable soup and spinach lasagna. She made enough to have once a week for a month. That was so thoughtful!”

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Molly January 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

If you’re exerting kindness for a particular type of a response, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. If you expected to be feeding the meat-and-potatoes Red with vegetarian dishes, you were setting yourself up for failure. But if Gloria was grateful on her own behalf – even if she brushed the food aside for him – then you did, in fact, receive the right thanks. This seems less an issue of etiquette and more a question of why we are kind to our friends and when we are careful enough to reserve our resentment for more obvious insults.

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The Elf January 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

You’re right, Betty, tone would matter a lot. My mental voice was scornful, but that might just be me.

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Olympia January 15, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I’m surprised by all the suggestions that Red is somehow abusive. He’s traveling for work, which means he didn’t get to choose when he was gone. He’s on his way home from work, so how was he supposed to cook dinner? He called home, wanting to know “what was in the house for dinner.” How does anyone here know that he wasn’t willing to stop and grab some takeout on the way home? The letter-writer says she didn’t know him well. Maybe he’s not unfriendly; he could be reserved, or he could be picking up on the letter-writer’s dislike of him. There’s no reason at all to think he’s not a good husband and daddy; after all, he’s missing out on precious time with his new baby in order to provide for his new family.

Be careful of accusing people of abuse when there’s obviously no abuse going on. It makes it harder for people who are being abused to be taken seriously.

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Peas January 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Some of these comments are really stretching things….

Red “arranged” to be out of town? Not all fathers get the luxury of taking off work when their children are born. The baby needs diapers, doctor care, etc… earning that money is an important part of the process here.

Just because Red likes meat and potatoes, that doesn’t mean he’s abusive. I’m not even sure how this correlates.

And I’m not sure how Red was rude here at all. He was on the phone and the OP didn’t hear anything he said. His food preferences are not rude. The only rude one here was Gloria for using a derisive tone in front of the OP.

Sometimes, this site astonishes me in how far they can stretch things.

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Wallydraigle January 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I think, without more detailed description, it’s quite a leap to call anyone rude here.

You know, I think it’s kind of weird when people don’t like “vegetarian-type food,” but they do exist. It doesn’t really make them rude unless they throw fits at dinner parties over it. It’s a preference. If he wanted something satisfying to eat, she was telling him that he might want to pick up his own food on the way home. She gave a description of the food in very neutral terms; how else should she have said it wasn’t his type of meal?

Also, people have to travel for work. It’s not really scheduled. My husband went on a two-week trip overseas when we had a 1-month-old and a 17-month-old. It was not a super fun two weeks, but hey, it’s overall a very good job, and my husband is a good man. Where are we getting the idea that this makes Red into such a horrible person?

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