Author Topic: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First  (Read 8533 times)

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Miss Unleaded

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #75 on: December 05, 2013, 04:40:26 AM »
Eating lunch with co-workers is also different from a "business lunch" with clients or the boss, where possibly more formal rules might apply. They were travelling together on business, and had to eat. I'm picturing this scenario when they pop to the local bistro for lunch:

Waitress: "So what can I get you all?"
Mavis: "I'll start with the carrot soup, and then a mushroom omelette, please."
Norman: "A Caesar salad, and then the salmon fischcakes."
Albert: "Clam chowder to start, and a cheeseburger, with everything."
LW: "The creme brulee -- I know that's on the dessert menu, but it's my favourite so can I have that as my starter please? Then I'll have the fishcakes as well."

What would be the big deal? That everyone else is jealous that they don't have the gumption to eat their favourite thing first?

You're conjecturing that she did order it as a starter.  The letter doesn't make that clear.  And when I go out for an informal meal with coworkers I almost never order a starter or dessert, especially not at lunch.  Maybe that's unusual, I don't know.

Your scenario wouldn't be so bad IMO, but if it continued:

Mavis: Creme brulee: that's an unusual choice for a starter!
LW: Well my mother never let me eat dessert first.  So I do it this way now.

Yes, I would find it childish.  She should have just said it was personal preference, then bean dipped.

MariaE

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #76 on: December 05, 2013, 05:25:21 AM »
Eating lunch with co-workers is also different from a "business lunch" with clients or the boss, where possibly more formal rules might apply. They were travelling together on business, and had to eat. I'm picturing this scenario when they pop to the local bistro for lunch:

Waitress: "So what can I get you all?"
Mavis: "I'll start with the carrot soup, and then a mushroom omelette, please."
Norman: "A Caesar salad, and then the salmon fischcakes."
Albert: "Clam chowder to start, and a cheeseburger, with everything."
LW: "The creme brulee -- I know that's on the dessert menu, but it's my favourite so can I have that as my starter please? Then I'll have the fishcakes as well."

What would be the big deal? That everyone else is jealous that they don't have the gumption to eat their favourite thing first?

You're conjecturing that she did order it as a starter.  The letter doesn't make that clear.  And when I go out for an informal meal with coworkers I almost never order a starter or dessert, especially not at lunch.  Maybe that's unusual, I don't know.

Your scenario wouldn't be so bad IMO, but if it continued:

Mavis: Creme brulee: that's an unusual choice for a starter!
LW: Well my mother never let me eat dessert first.  So I do it this way now.

Yes, I would find it childish.  She should have just said it was personal preference, then bean dipped.

To me it would depend on whether she said it jokingly/laughingly or belligerently/petulantly. The former wouldn't even cause a blip on my radar - the latter I agree would be childish.
 
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cabbageweevil

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #77 on: December 05, 2013, 05:47:21 AM »
Although I can see how the LW comment on why she eats dessert first could be seen as immature, I guess I heard it more as a little joke (even if true).  Annoying, nosy co-workers:  Why are you eating dessert first.  That's SO stupid.  LW:  (little laugh)  I always do it like this.  My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood (little laugh and shrug of shoulders). 

If I were a (not nosy, annoying) co-worker, I would laugh too.  And then, maybe order a piece of pie.

I hadn't been following the thread with full attention; have just realised that per the original information it was (if I interpret rightly) a matter of LW and colleagues -- more or less equal rank in the organisation, implied -- travelling together on business and, obviously, needing to eat.  In a context like that -- as opposed to those envisaged by some PPs, of a special formal dinner hosted by the boss, or a meal to entertain a client -- one would envisage the scene as basically informal.

I can well imagine the "rebellion against childhood rules" thing, arising from conversation as in johelenc1's scenario above. (With the proviso -- as MariaE says -- that the lady's words were indeed uttered jokingly, not belligerently / petulantly.) Taking it that her tone was a joking one -- in an essentially informal setting, I find the colleagues' making a big deal either of her eating dessert first; or of her "childhood rules" comment-in-passing; extremely petty and spiteful.  Unfortunately, people often do behave like busybodies and jerks, over astonishingly trivial issues. While I find it a "stretch", for the lady to be seen as badly jeopardising her job prospects because of anything in this situation -- as she has somehow to get along with these twerps with whom she works; it might be wise for her to modify her dining habits, so as to fit in.

Twik

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #78 on: December 06, 2013, 10:15:04 AM »
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.
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bopper

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #79 on: December 06, 2013, 10:22:29 AM »

Millionaire Maria

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #80 on: December 07, 2013, 01:30:55 AM »
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.


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CakeEater

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #81 on: December 07, 2013, 02:25:39 AM »
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.


And what better way to find a perfect world than to support those of us who buck tradition and inspire innocent change?

I like tradition. I'm a fan of conformity. Conformity isn't a bad thing, even though it's often used as a pejorative term. We conform in all sorts of ways, which is what a lot of etiquette is about after all.

We conform to the norms of queing, otherwise we'd be seen as rude. We conform to the norms of keeping certain body parts covered in public. We conform to the norms of greeting by shaking hands, and saying certain things.

If there was no conformity at all, we wouldn't know what was going on.

Eating courses in a certain order provides structure to a social interaction. We can all agree to skip starters if none of us are very hungry, but if one person orders dessert first, then the rest might be wondering how long lunch will take now - will she want a main course as well, or is she just not hungry? Has she already eaten? They might be keeping an eye on the clock and wondering if they'll be late back to the office. Maybe it puts the waitress out of order, and she takes longer to get the meals out because she's waiting for dessert eater to finish so she can bring the mains out together.

Eating 'out of order' just adds a layer of uncertainty to the meal, because she has deviated from the known script. Now people, instead of just being able to mindlessly follow the script and interact with each other pleasantly, are focusing on the script and why dessert eater is deviating from it.

And yes, telling your work colleagues that you eat your food in a certain order is an act of rebellion against your parents seems very childish to me. And more so, because the vast majority of people had the same rules as children, and grew up to find them perfectly reasonable guidelines as adults.

I don't think it takes 'gumption' to order dessert first in a restaurant.

camlan

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #82 on: December 07, 2013, 08:59:14 AM »
For me, it's the aspect of bringing up unresolved childhood issues in a work/business environment. Doesn't matter if she's eating with co-workers or clients, it just seems out of place.

If I were her co-worker or boss, I'd be wondering if she could handle a client lunch suitably. If I were a client, I'd have all sorts of questions as to this person's ability to handle my job adequately.

While I would have no problems with a friend eating dessert first at a casual meal with friends, in any kind of a work setting, the child-like act of eating dessert first, with or without the explanation of "Mom never let me do this," sends all sorts of messages that are best not sent in a business relationship.

It's not professional, and it is a behavior that shouldn't appear in a professional setting.

I'm all for bucking tradition. I happen to have done a bit of that myself. But there's a time and a place for it. Work settings, unless you want to have people wondering if you are fit to do your job, are not the place.
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gramma dishes

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #83 on: December 07, 2013, 10:44:51 AM »
For me, it's the aspect of bringing up unresolved childhood issues in a work/business environment. Doesn't matter if she's eating with co-workers or clients, it just seems out of place.

If I were her co-worker or boss, I'd be wondering if she could handle a client lunch suitably. If I were a client, I'd have all sorts of questions as to this person's ability to handle my job adequately.

While I would have no problems with a friend eating dessert first at a casual meal with friends, in any kind of a work setting, the child-like act of eating dessert first, with or without the explanation of "Mom never let me do this," sends all sorts of messages that are best not sent in a business relationship.

It's not professional, and it is a behavior that shouldn't appear in a professional setting.

I'm all for bucking tradition. I happen to have done a bit of that myself. But there's a time and a place for it. Work settings, unless you want to have people wondering if you are fit to do your job, are not the place.

I agree with Camlan's post entirely.  But I would also add that I'm sure the Dessert Lady is quite fully aware of the fact that she's causing some degree of discomfort among her colleagues.  To me, it just seems like she's doing it primarily to center attention on herself.  Someone that needy and attention seeking would not be someone I'd want working for me -- or even with me for that matter!

citadelle

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #84 on: December 07, 2013, 11:50:15 AM »
I've never seen a cheese "course" in US restaurants, unless you order a cheese sampler as an appetizer or dessert.
I'm sure some restaurants do it, but it is not standard.
In Wisconsin, the cheese course is an order of fried cheese curds!  ;)

cabbageweevil

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #85 on: December 07, 2013, 12:54:44 PM »
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.

In a perfect world, she really should be able to eat in any order she wants. But our world is not perfect, so she needs to balance the satisfaction she gets from defying the restrictions of her childhood versus the uneasiness she's causing with her colleagues.

As I intimated in my previous post: people are often weird, and frequently in ways which -- if looked at totally objectively and rationally -- are nonsensical.  Nonetheless it does happen, and deviating from conventional behaviour can have negative consequences for the "deviator"; as with the above-cited metaphor of the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny.

Perhaps I'm going overboard to see Dessert Lady's doings in the most benign and inoffensive light possible: i.e. that it was a situation just of travelling on business with colleagues of basically equal rank, and simply eating for sustenance; and that the exchange was in fact, johelenc1's scenario of just a light, humorous throwaway comment --  Q. "Why are you eating dessert first?  That's SO stupid."  A. "I always do it like this. My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood." (little laugh and shrug of shoulders).

If things had been any other way than the aforesaid, my sympathy for Dessert Lady would be less; and I can "see with my head", the pointed-out possible practical complications of this bit of meal-type eccentricity.  However -- if it were in the above "optimum scenario for DL" -- I'd persist in feeling that what she did and said here, was in the general scheme of things, so very small and trivial; that I sympathise much more with her, than with her envisagedly equal-rank colleagues.  My sentiment is, to wonder a bit at those colleagues not having stuff bigger and more important -- and more interesting -- in their lives; than their getting so "judgy" about the order in which their companion eats her courses, at an informal meal being taken basically for the purpose of necessary nutrition.

My working life was spent in fairly lowly and behind-the-scenes jobs, where at times colleagues of mine did stuff a good deal more strange and potentially disruptive than eating their dessert first at dinner, apparently without their lives being made miserable as a consequence.  It could be that I have difficulty "getting" how things are, on work scenes of a more ambitious and career-building kind.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 12:49:58 PM by cabbageweevil »

Hmmmmm

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #86 on: December 07, 2013, 09:39:37 PM »
Well, that's it, isn't it? Fitting in.

It's an unfortunate fact of life that succeeding in social situations (including business ones) often involves some sort of conformity. Eating is something that has very strong psychological connotations, and eating in a way that's markedly different from others sends an unspoken message that "I'm not part of the group". It's difficult enough when you really can't eat as part of the group (say, you must eat gluten-free, or you're a vegetarian). Doing so as an act of defiance against your family's social norms, when you realize you're also going against the norms of your work colleagues, can hurt you, for reasons that the people you're eating with may not even be consciously aware of. They just get an uncomfortable sense that you're the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny, and attracting the lions.
Snip


As I intimated in my previous post: people are often weird, and frequently in ways which -- is looked at totally objectively and rationally -- are nonsensical.  Nonetheless it does happen, and deviating from conventional behaviour can have negative consequences for the "deviator"; as with the above-cited metaphor of the gazelle in the herd that's acting funny.

Perhaps I'm going overboard to see Dessert Lady's doings in the most benign and inoffensive light possible: i.e. that it was a situation just of travelling on business with colleagues of basically equal rank, and simply eating for sustenance; and that the exchange was in fact, johelenc1's scenario of just a light, humorous throwaway comment --  Q. "Why are you eating dessert first?  That's SO stupid."  A. "I always do it like this. My parents never let me so it's my way of rebelling in adulthood." (little laugh and shrug of shoulders).
Snip
I think it's interesting the differences how we interpret vague descriptions. I would have never considered the conversation starting with someone calling the OP stupid for her actions based on the letter. More like

Co- worker: are you just ordering dessert?
OP: no just starting with it
co-worker: really, why?
OP: mom, and dad made me always wait as a child so now I eat dessert first
Co-worker: seriously? Every meal?
OP: yes, why?
Co-worker: well it's pretty unusual
OP: but that's what I like to eat
Co- worker: but don't you think it would be better to try and eat something with more nutritional value first in case you weren't hungry after dessert?
OP: no, and you sound like my parents.

esposita

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #87 on: December 07, 2013, 10:36:54 PM »
Personally, I think that bucking tradition can be really good. (It can also be disastrous and foolhardy, but I don't think that eating something sweet before eating something savory is fraught with peril.)

But that tradition can be much better "bucked" by inviting people over for a dinner party, and bringing out delightful sweet treats at the beginning of the meal and saying "I thought we should have a little fun, and start with dessert (if you'd like it)!" than by being so ... I dunno, sorta pushy (which is the vibe I get from the letter) with your personal vendeta against eating things in the normal order.

One way is gracious and quirky, the other is, as we can see from our reactions here, treading the fine line of rudeness.

Also, does anyone else think that this LW is a lucky one?! I mean, to be so angry that she had to eat dessert after her other food? As a child, I was usually bummed that we didn't have dessert every night... dessert didn't happen often enough for me to get an attitude about anything regarding it.

magicdomino

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #88 on: December 09, 2013, 11:47:46 AM »
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

shhh its me

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Re: Today's Dear Abby - Eating Dessert First
« Reply #89 on: December 09, 2013, 12:05:06 PM »
"Dessert?  You got dessert?  I never got dessert unless I walked 3 miles in the snow to get a shriveled apple."   ;)

wasn't there a hill?