Lauretta Hannon: On Scarlett O’Hara and dealing with picky food freaks
March 19, 2013 12:00 AM | 2370 views | 19 19 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Q: I am a happily married mother who occasionally yearns for those youthful, carefree days of college when I often felt like the belle of the ball with men flirting around me like Scarlett at the barbecue. I recently received such attention from a much younger and somewhat endearing man. It felt wonderful to have all that attention and to be pursued again! Now, I promise you that I was as well behaved as I could be and only repaid him with my sweet, Southern charm. However, I’m curious as to how you would have handled that situation, being a married woman yourself. Would you have given him the cold shoulder or enjoyed it a little bit before turning him away?

A: Given the choice of harmless enjoyment or being frigid and rude, I’ll always pick the fun option. It sounds like you both had a lovely time and that was the end of it. Good for you.

I am friendly to most everyone, including guys who turn out to be clueless regarding my intentions. My only admonition is that you keep the boundaries crystal clear. A hapless fellow crossed the line with me recently. He was walking in my direction in a parking lot and said, “Hey, I want to go home with you, as long as I wouldn’t get shot at.”

My reply, “Well, my husband does have an impressive collection of firearms, and we’re both excellent shots.” This worked like a charm. Again, savor the attention without guilt, but don’t play in dangerous territory.

Q: What do you call your new step-father when he’s already your uncle?

A: I have no idea, but I can think of some choice names for your sainted mother.

Q: I have friends who are radical proponents that everything in their universe must be non-GMO, gluten-free, organically grown, vegan with beverages out of cups that have never touched caffeine —yadda-yadda — you get the picture. Overall they are very nice people, and while I applaud their commitment to a healthy lifestyle, our social group (who are not as restrictive in their eating) cannot invite them to any event involving food without getting a lot of condescension or discussions of BIG FOOD conspiracies. How do we keep their friendship but let them know gently that they need to back off?

A: I was vegan once. It was the worst two weeks of my life.

The key words in your question are radical, condescension and conspiracies. All that insanely healthy living has turned their brain to mush. That’s why a gentle approach will not work. I’m afraid you will have to drive the point home in a Mack truck loaded with dynamite in order to penetrate their gray matter.

Remember that they have been obnoxious to you and the larger group. Fanatics do not make for good company.

The solution is simple: Let them know that you value the friendship but that the nonsense must stop. Consistent enforcement will be essential to your success.

Send your questions to

notyourgrannysadvice@gmail.com.

Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at thecrackerqueen.com.
Comments
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Jamie Wyatt
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March 21, 2013
I agree with your advice. Medically necessary dietary restrictions are WAY different than regular food fanatics (I happen to have some rabid vegan friends with whom I must "agree to disagree.") It is not realistic for hosts to be expected to cater to the dietary vagaries of every guest or to police food offerings for culinary "offenders" while entertaining multiple guests. Those with special needs should supply their own foods, monitor children (or adults) for food compliance if necessary, or skip the event if they don't want to take responsibility for navigating potentially hazardous foods! Nobody wants to endanger children. but nobody wants "food allergies" and non-honorees to become the major focus of social gatherings for other purposes, either!
Lauretta Hannon
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March 22, 2013
Perfectly put! Thanks so much, Jamie.
Concerned mom
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March 19, 2013
With all due respect, your comment on penetrating gray matter with a Mack truck is in fact condescending. Bless you all for not having to deal with severe food allergies. Some of us have to be militant, as our children's lives are at stake. Sorry if we come off as radical parents, but it is our job to protect their lives and keep them safe.
Lauretta Hannon
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March 20, 2013
Remember that the question didn't deal with anyone with food allergies or medical issues; it dealt with inconsiderate self-righteous bores. There's a big difference.
Allergy Parent
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March 19, 2013
As a cancer survivor, a person with food allergies that could result in death and the parent of a child with severe food allergies, I am offended by the response to the last question. I for one am VERY concerned about what is in the food at parties because I have to be. I don't consider myself a fanatic when I show up to a function with my own food or ask questions about ingredients. Which is a bigger party killer? Someone unable to breathe, an out of control child hyped up on artificial food coloring, a cancer patient with sensitivities to food additives getting sick from your snacks or a guest that asks how things are made? Your response is insulting to say the least. Please remember NOT to include me on any of your invite lists.
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
You have missed my point. Read the question a bit closer. The writer wasn't talking about anyone with the kinds of issues you bring up.

By the way, I sympathize very much with you and believe the writer would as well.
Amy McKeown
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March 19, 2013
My kiddo cannot eat processed foods - we HAVE NO CHOICE but to eat almost as the "fanatic" described above. I MUST question EVERY food at a party, because otherwise I will not know if he might be able to eat any of it. If I don't bother to do this, my child is forced to endure a chemical reaction in his brain which basically means he's stoned, and it makes him extremely violent (at 4 years old!) Five minutes of the wrong food makes for five days of insanity and it certainly isn't any fun FOR HIM. His teacher at school knows exactly when he's gotten into something so it's not "just me" that sees this. It's pretty clear to me exactly who is the fanatic condescending person in this little story. In feeding him, I have learned so much about what passes for food in this country, and it's a pity that more folks can't be bothered to give a turd.
Feingold Mama
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March 19, 2013
Thank you, Amy for your comment. I am in the same situation at my house with my 5 year old and 3 year old. Violent after eating artificial food dye is an understatement. You are right. Is is very clear who the condescending fool is in this story. What kind of advice is that???
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
Please read my reply to the post above yours. The problem the writer depicts is completely different from what you describe.

That said, I appreciate your sharing your story with us and wish the best for your boy. That has to be tough.
Jessica Nettles
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March 19, 2013
The "sainted mother" answer made me laugh out loud in my office! Love you, Miss Lauretta
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
Backatcha Miss Jessica!
a Healthy eater
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March 19, 2013
I'm a health nut, I don't like to talk about it at gatherings but when I show up with my own food questions start getting asked. Are you sure that your health crazed fanatics are the ones bringing up the subject? I myself don't want to convert anyone and when I'm pried for info on why I'm eating the way I do I keep my answers very short and sweet.
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
And YOU would make for delightful company, unlike the folks described by the writer. I'd invite you to my soiree any ol' day!
Sassy 1
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March 19, 2013
I was out with a group while visiting my sister out of town and a short young pup latched on to me while we were out at a club with some their business associates. I politely accepted a slow dance with him and tried to keep to distance appropriate but he was not cooperating. Finally I said "You know I do not often get to dance like this, seeing eye-to-eye with my partner." He said "Well relax, baby & enjoy it and try to clinch me tighter." I pushe him back and responded "No you misunderstand, it's just that my husband is SO MUCH Bigger than you, I spend the whole dance looking up." He returned to a respectful distance and found a new target.
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
What a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing.
Unrequited
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March 19, 2013
I love your column, in a harmless enjoyment kind of way. Keep it up
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
And I appreciate you in the most harmless and cordial way imaginable. (Thanks for the laugh!)
Crystal R.
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March 19, 2013
Love it!!! Makes me happy to know all families have issues. Its all in how you handle them!!!!

Write on, Sista!!!!
Lauretta Hannon
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March 19, 2013
Thank you, Queen Crystal!
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