The Seemingly Ungrateful Widow

by admin on October 22, 2014

I would like to hear other’s opinions on this matter.

Is a thank you card from a widow really that important?

Earlier this year, my cousin lost her husband in a boating accident. I am not very close to my extended family, but I sent her a card and a bit of money. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it. However, a few weeks ago, my father called asking if I had received a thank you or any sort of acknowledgement as he had not heard from her. I told him that I had not, but that I wasn’t expecting anything either. My cousin has always sent out thank you notes/acknowledgements, but she has suddenly become a widow with two children under the age of ten and is dealing with an incredible life disruption. My father did not send her a large sum (just a little more than I sent), but tends to “play games” with money and I feel his feathers are ruffled unnecessarily. What are your thoughts?

I am certain we will see her and the kids during the holidays. Maybe she’ll say something then or maybe she won’t. Personally, I feel this is a mole hill becoming a mountain. 1015-14

I think your father is a legalist with no sense of grace or mercy.   Yes, it is true that etiquette encourages widows and widowers to send thank you notes to those offering their condolences, money, food, etc.  Your dad has gotten his shorts in a twisted wad because a recent widow hasn’t jumped through his etiquette hoops to his satisfaction.  He’s majoring on the minors and missed the larger picture of extending grace in an extremely difficult time to someone who desperately needs it.


Share The Party Love

by admin on October 21, 2014

I am absolutely flabbergasted at my friend’s response to a party invitation.

I learned that there will be a visible full lunar eclipse or “blood moon” this week, so I invited my friend Jenny over to watch it with me at my house and perhaps have a bit of dessert as well. She agreed to this and said she would bring a cake. Later that evening she messaged me and asked if it was girl’s only, and I replied that it was not, thinking she would bring her partner along.

I created a Facebook event so I would remind myself of the details and I invited 2 other friends. Unfortunately I didn’t save the settings properly and Jenny invited another 10 people! Including someone that I didn’t even know. I only found out because my partner happened to see it on Facebook and told me. I quickly changed the event to private and invite only, deleted the other invites before anyone saw them and messaged Jenny. I explained that I couldn’t accommodate that many people at my small house. She replied with “just sharing the love!”   I couldn’t believe that she would invite other people to someone else’s house! I have since cancelled the event and told her I got an extra shift at work. I am quite good friends with her partner but now I really want to cut her loose! I would like to remain friends with her partner as well, but this seems impossible given her self entitled behaviour. 1007-14

Yes, well, Jenny can “share” the love on her own time and her own place.  It was rude of her to assume your “love” was free for the giving to all her friends.


Book Give Away! “The Thanksgiving Table”

by admin on October 20, 2014

Thanksgiving is a month away and as it is one of the top holidays each year for entertaining, Ehell is beginning a month’s worth of contests to give away books that celebrate the art of hospitality!

This week’s book is “The Thanksgiving Table” by Diane Morgan.     Everything from the foolproof secret to a moist bird and how to truss and carve it to menu suggestions and simple, elegant table settings. Plus, recipes for classics like cranberry relish as well as more innovative dishes–and a whole section devoted to vegetarians. And maybe best of all, do-ahead tips and plenty of food and technique photographs to make planning in advance a breeze.

Rules:   Reply to this post to enter using a valid email address.   Entries close Friday, October 24th at 12 midnight EST.   Winner will be chosen at random using’s random number generator.   Winner will be notified using the email address required to post a reply to this post. If winner’s email address is not functional, or the winner does not respond within 4 days, the book will awarded to another winner.   Some winners have lost out because the notification email from Ehell was directed to a spam folder or an obscurely used email account.


The Dissected Cat And Moral Relativism

by admin on October 20, 2014

Your recent Halloween submissions brought to my mind an incident that took place nearly twenty years ago but I still second guess myself on it.

When I was in college, I lived in a duplex. Our side had three women that shared the space and the other side had three men. One of my neighbors was in a premed comparative anatomy class with me where we were dissecting a cat, a shark, and a necturus (a mud-skipper type of amphibian). Our neighborhood was very trick or treat friendly and we always decorated our door and turned on the lights for the kids. Well, this particular year several groups of kids and parents started complaining about my neighbor’s door. He had taken the cat we were dissecting and hung it on the door!!!! It was horrible. He thought it was a grand idea. It was totally inappropriate on so many levels.

I removed it from his door and called the police. I didn’t even think twice about it. However I became shunned in our pre-med class and told that I over reacted. I was told I should have handled it in a quieter manner; that removing it from the door was enough. I disagreed then and still disagree, but I have always been rankled by the shunning that occurred. I thought it was completely disrespectful to the cat that lost it’s life so we could learn about anatomy and serve humanity, disrespectful to the kids, and disrespectful to the university and it’s property. It was just plain wrong and should not have been tolerated.

Should I have handled it differently? 1014-14

Did you call the police because the dissected cat was university property that your neighbor had “taken”?  It seems to me that the best person to contact the police would be the owner of the property who, once informed of the whereabouts of the taken property, can choose in what manner they wish to reacquire it.   Removing an actual carcass, regardless of how well preserved it is, from a doorway of a shared domicile, seems fine with me.

As for the shunning you received, I find it more fascinating that what defines bad taste to the point that severe peer pressure is applied has changed culturally in 20 years.   Hasn’t anyone ever wondered why gory, horrifying Halloween displays, both commercial and residential, have no scenes of animal torture or death?  Why not display rotted, gory horses, skinned buffalo carcasses or dogs hung by their legs with their fur burned off or hide flayed?  Why not skeletons of cats, cattle, baby lambs?  Or a pit bull fighting ring with some poor Chihuahua being the hapless bait dog?  There are haunted houses with over the top human butcher scenes but I doubt any have ever attempted to depict an actual abattoir.  I suspect the reason is that there is a greater perceived threat of being on the receiving end of severe community ire as well as animal rights activists if fake animals become part of the scene.

In the previous post on public Halloween decor, readers who defended the gory, horrific Halloween displays justified their positions that 1) it was all in good fun; 2)  tell your kids it’s fake; 3) you can’t shelter kids forever;  4) those of us who find it offensive are overreacting; 5) it’s a public space; and, 6) they can do what they want.   In a few cases,there was an almost arrogant superiority in having raised children to view these scenes as “fun”, as if being desensitized to human depravity at a tender young age was a good thing.    Why wouldn’t all these justifications also apply to animal oriented horror displays, or, for that matter, displays such as one reader mentioned in which the neighbor had hung dead black bodies from a tree with a confederate flag waving re-enacting a lynching scene?   It’s all in good “fun” after all, you can’t shelter the kids forever, it’s a public space and the home owner can do what it is they want…..unless you happen to put up a graveyard in your front yard that contains a certain tombstone.

Several homeowners in Oklahoma and Arizona placed fake tombstones in their front yards with the name “Obama/B.H. Obama” and a death date on them and the community outrage has gone viral with online comments and news media taking notice.   For the record, I believe putting the names of living people on a tombstone used for Halloween displays is in very poor taste.  But apparently what qualifies as “bad taste” changes according to how politically incorrect the decorations happen to be.

It appears that moral relativism, the concept that right or wrong are not absolutes but can be determined by each individual, factors heavily in how some people reading this blog and commenting decide whether a particular action is in bad taste or not.    Morals and manners can be altered from one situation, person, or circumstance to the next depending on each person’s beliefs.  And therein lies the problem.    If one action can be dismissed or justified as simply good, clean fun, but other actions of similar bad taste receive scorn and shunning, etiquette merely becomes a guilt manipulative tool to bludgeon others into either tolerating your own bad taste or agreeing with you that other people are behaving distastefully (while you are not).   I don’t like moral relativism on Etiquette Hell.   With the freedom to engage in a specific action comes the responsibility to not abuse that freedom.   What people do inside the privacy of their home or backyard is one thing entirely.   May they have the freedom to express themselves to the fullest. But when it goes “public” and thereby removes the freedom of choice one’s neighbor has to not view this, the responsibility to honor thy neighbor out of kindness takes precedence over personal preferences.


Feel Good Friday – Dueling Drum Lines

by admin on October 17, 2014

Music brings people together, even dueling drum lines.


As a follow up to last week’s post regarding the scary, hairy dog spider prank and strangers being frightened by horrific scenes of death, today’s post will be about the escalation of horror images in public places as Halloween nears.

Last year I was stunned when a younger member of my extended family pinned a particular disturbing image of a Halloween lawn decoration to her Pinterest board. It was an image of a toddler sized skeleton dressed in female toddler sized dress sprawled across the lawn. “Casey Anthony” immediately came to the mind.

Since then, the quality and detail of some Halloween decorations has escalated to the point where the line between fantasy and realism are blurred. It’s no longer titilatingly spooky in a fun way but rather designed for maximum revulsion and a dehumanizing of people as merely dead props. Several websites encourage readers to “take it to the next level” as if it is a competition to see how far one can push the boundaries of not just taste but community good will. Some examples of those “decorations” include realistic flayed (as in all the skin removed) human torsos, hangman’s nooses with bodies in front yard trees, body bags, decomposed decapitated heads, child sized skeletons chained together, bloody hand prints, bodies that appear to have died of extreme torture, humans in the midst of extreme torture, just to name a few. Every one of those “decorations” has a strong connection to recent events worldwide that are so horrific that the news media will not show it on air (or even mention it in some instances) yet the residents of some communities are visually assaulted with this too realistic images on their own streets. An example of some of these decorations that have raised community ire are below…

It’s one thing when people choose to be frightened by buying tickets to haunted houses where the gore level can be quite high. Having been forewarned about the graphic nature of the experience, people have the freedom to choose to see this. That freedom is totally removed when gore scenes are displayed on front yards forcing drivers and passersby to see what they may prefer not to. I’m not a fan of Homeowners Associations but in this instance, I would be petitioning the community to codify new standards of taste in regards to Halloween decorations. With freedom comes an equal obligation to act responsibly and with restraint in the best interests of the community. People lose the freedom to do with their own property as they wish because they fail to apply reasonable restrictions to themselves to avoid offending the community at large. What you display inside your home or a fenced backyard is no one else’s business but splat it across the front yard with the intention of horrifying as many people as possible and you’ve gained the attention of those who will wish to curtail that.


Beautiful Gossip

October 13, 2014

I’d like your opinion on something I witnessed recently. It didn’t directly involve me so beyond discouraging others from gossiping about it to me I haven’t voiced my opinion on the matter, but I’d like to know if my instinctive disgust at what happened is justified. A colleague of mine – let’s call her Maisie […]

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Feel Good Friday – Touchdown For Love

October 10, 2014

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