Abigail Van Buren, better known as Dear Abby, has been dispensing advice for many years. One of her first queries came from the wife of a California gold prospector in 1849 who wanted to know how to handle the intense jealously she was feeling when her husband fondled gold bars more than her. Abby told the woman to add some extra baking soda to her cornbread the next time she made dinner and that would remind her husband how lucky he was to have such a fine pioneer wife. Yeah, Dear Abby has been giving shitty advice for over 150 years and she is still going strong. This week, someone wrote the following letter to Abby wanting to know her esteemed opinion:
DEAR ABBY: My cousin’s son is 4 and a picky eater. We love to try new restaurants and cuisines. When we go out to eat, she sometimes brings along a PB&J for her child. Is this acceptable? I always feel a little awkward about it, but then I think the restaurant would rather have us come with something he can eat rather than go to a different restaurant. In her defense, she does have him try the restaurant’s food before she produces the sandwich. — AWKWARD DINER
DEAR AWKWARD DINER: I think it’s perfectly acceptable. Look at it this way: Which is preferable — a child with his mouth full of a PB&J sandwich he’s enjoying, or one who’s loudly complaining that the food is awful and he doesn’t want to eat it?
Hey, Abby: you’re wrong! It is not perfectly acceptable, it’s rude. If the 4-year-old doesn’t like anything on the menu, but the parents of the child are craving something at a particular restaurant, then the parents needs to do one of seven things:
- Allow the child come into the restaurant and if it chooses to not order off the menu, let it sit there and be miserable and hungry throughout the course of the meal.
- Leave the child in the car to eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was brought from home.
- Force feed the child to eat something off the menu. Intravenous feeding tubes are always available at the hostess stand.
- Give the kid some money and a curfew, call an Uber and tell it to go eat wherever it wants to and meet at home later.
- Hire a hypnotist to convince the finicky eater that the grilled salmon is actually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While the hypnotist is there, also hypnotize every customer in the restaurant to tip their servers 50%.
- Offer the peanut butter and jelly sandwich but tell the child if they choose to eat it that Santa Claus will put them on the naughty list permanently and then watch them struggle with the moral decision as you record it for a Facebook video that will go viral.
- Tell the kid this: I’m ordering you something and you’re gonna fucking eat it.
As you can tell, there are many options for this problem and it’s really very simple. You see, restaurants are in the habit of making and selling food to customers. We are not in the habit of loaning out clean plates free of charge so that people can take up valuable space without contributing any revenue to the business. If that Mom of the 4-year-old always has her child try the restaurant food before producing the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then all they are doing is teaching that kid to refuse certain foods until mom reaches into her purse to pull out something the kids already knows he likes. When will that end? Is this kid going to be 16 years old and still looking at Mommy to whip out a sandwich every time the menu isn’t to their liking?
Abby Girl, please. You have never worked in a restaurant and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Let me handle the restaurant advice from now and you can keep on giving advice on the perfect hostess gift (vodka) and how to keep romance alive in a relationship (also vodka).