Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We had lunch with a couple of friends, one of them, Joy, is a cancer survivor. We were talking about an acquaintance of hers and how the woman couldn’t eat a meal in peace at her club for all the well-intentioned well wishers interrupting her. Sensing that she had a sense of humor, Joy’s friend said to the woman, “The cancer’s not going to kill you, it’s the well wishers.” He wasn’t far from the truth in that people meaning well can say some really silly, cold, inappropriate things to cancer patients.

Joy was just 53 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she has plenty to say about what people say.

It irked her when people felt compelled to share stories about others who had cancer or were battling it. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SHARE.

“Don’t worry, you will be fine or you will surely beat this,” were other comments that she could’ve done without. Not one of them came from a specialist. Some ‘specialists’ assured Joy’s 14-year-old son that his mommy was going to be fine. And luckily she was and still is. DON’T BECOME A KNOW IT ALL UNLESS YOU KNOW IT ALL.

“I couldn’t stand the facial expressions,” she said. They were either doom or gloom or pity.” PITY IS NOT A CURE.

Others wanted a blow by blow of her treatment schedule and even wanted to know if her hair was going to fall out. DON’T ASK, LISTEN.

Married at the time, she told her husband’s cousin, whom she considered a good friend about her diagnosis. He expressed deep sorrow for her husband not Joy! It got worse. Her former mother-in-law pointed out that, “Breast cancer is nothing, so many women get it.” TRY REALLY HARD NOT TO BE AS STUPID.

And then there were those who knew what to do and say. Her best friend reassured her that she was there for her. “I’ll go with you to radiation if that works for you,” she offered. Joy’s daughter, 24 years old at the time became her surrogate and answered questions when friends called. BE SENSITIVE AND PATIENT.

What can the patient do? “I think it’s important to do the homework, make your choices so you can let friends and family know that it’s being managed and to be there if you need to talk.” She added, “I feel blessed for the early diagnosis, great doctors. I’m a warmer, more sensitive person. And I feel strong because I’m a survivor.” DON’T BE SHY, TELL PEOPLE WHAT YOU NEED.


While Joy was having her treatments, her husband began an affair. Not only is the cancer gone, so is he. Oh, what a joy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stinkin' Office Affairs

Unemployment is high but many still go to work everyday and spend eight hours or more in cubicles. Gone are the days of the sacred door that gave us privacy in our own office. We'd like to think that most of us are considerate of our office neighbors but come meal time, or just during the course of the day the best of us can become, well, annoying.

Does Mr. Slurpee realize how annoying he sounds as he sucks the last drops of his beverage even when it's all gone?

Ms. Snappee pops and snaps away obliviously. Every now and then a sound will come out of her mouth that one would expect to come out at the other end. At least Ms. Snappee doesn’t do what Ms. Bubbles does; she likes to blow bubbles right in your face.

And let's not forget Mr. Empty. He eats the last cookie on the plate and just can't make take the few steps to put plate in the dishwasher. He's probably the same person who left the teensy corner of milk in the container and put it back in the refrigerator.

Meet Miss Pickover. She always picks the cheese off of a slice of pizza and puts it back in the box with the untouched slices.

And then there are The Foodies. They eat exotic lunches from around the world and don't seem to care about the pungent aromas we're forced to inhale. On occasion, they'll have something more familiar like bacon and eggs. Fine, but better if you’re in a diner.

The workplace isn't an open market where anything goes. Today, at lunch time, if you're eating at your desk, think about what's between the bread or on the plate or in your cup. And if you must have a piece of gum, try not to disturb the peace.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, Yvette and I flew to Los Angeles to visit our father. The flight was pleasant enough. There was plenty of legroom and the crew was nice, only one got excited when she realized we were twins. Takeoff was smooth and when we reached the proper altitude we were allowed to move around in the cabin and that’s when the problem started. Butts, small and large were constantly in our faces, actually mine, I had the aisle seat.

Across the aisle from us sat a woman who was constantly getting up from her seat and finding reason to bend over to dig into her bag. We realized she was preparing her lunch. Not once did she turn around and say, “Excuse me.” She was a large woman and must’ve known that the aisle could accommodate but so much butt before it ended up in my face.

I guess we don’t think much about our butts because they’re behind us, but so are people’s faces. If you have to stop in an aisle on the plane be mindful of your surroundings, try and situate yourself on the side of a seat this way a passenger doesn’t have to look at the seat of your pants. Never assume that the person on the aisle is okay with your behind in their face due to lack of space. If it’s a split second okay but keep moving. And if you know that beverages send you to the bathroom often, be considerate and don’t take a window seat.

In restaurants where tables are close, there is nothing more unsavory than someone getting up and giving you a view from behind. Make your departure quickly and try to keep your butt out of another diner’s meal.

Maybe we should observe how flight attendants move around in cabins; they seem to do a fine job at keeping their butts to themselves. No?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Wedding Invitation: Expert Dos and Dont's

It’s that time of the year. The Wedding. You may be sending out invitations or receiving them. No matter how hard couples try to make everything about their wedding unique, few invitations are as truly unique and beautiful as those designed by top calligrapher, Ellen Weldon.( She also comes from good stock, her mother is cake maker extraordinaire, Sylvia Weinstock). Ellen read our blog and asked if she could talk to us about invitations. Yvonne and I jumped at the offer.

Warning: Some of these questions may seem dumb but they have been ripped from real life.

1. With same sex marriages how has wording for wedding invitations changed?
With same sex marriages, the wording can be the same as with heterosexuals:
The pleasure of your company is requested
at the marriage of
Tony Jones
Jimmy Smith
On Saturday, the sixth of June, etc

Others have been more creative:
We're doing it!
Sarah Long and Tabitha Haines
Are getting married
On Saturday, the thirtieth of May

Some couples include their families by saying on the first line of the invitation:
Together with their families, etc….
*Ellen notes that depending on the state you live in, you wouldn’t always use the word, marriage.

2. If a couple doesn’t want children at their wedding; can that be stated on the invitation?
You can state on the invitation on the lower right corner:
Please no children
I have also done this on a separate card, so it really stands out.

3. What if a couple prefers money instead of a gift, can that be stated on an invitation? Is it ever appropriate?
You can’t dictate what gifts people will give you. It’s bad manners. Your maid of honor, bridesmaids, and your parents can spread the word that you are saving for a house, apartment or a china pattern and would prefer a gift that could help them reach that goal. Some couples set up a website where guests can receive this information.

4. People send out cards printed with their store registry information, is that acceptable?
Sending cards with bridal registry information is considered bad form. You cannot include that with the invite, it looks as if the gift is the reason you’re inviting them! If you’re having a bridal shower, it can be included in that invitation, but never in the wedding invitation.

5. What’s the most common mistake people make on an invitation?
The most difficult decision for most people on the invitation is the dress code. I don’t agree with "black tie optional". I think it leaves people totally confused and half the guests who do not own tuxedos will be left wondering if they’ll be dressed appropriately. It’s either black tie or not. You must decide so that your guests feel more at ease. If you want women to wear long dresses, that should be clearly stated on the invitation.

The other common mistake is the correct wording for an invitation when it’s in a house of worship or another location. The invite for a ceremony in a house of worship includes the word honor as a show of respect.
The honor of your presence is requested…

The wording for any other location would be:
The pleasure of your company is requested

6.What happens when mom and dad are divorced and mom has been with her new husband or partner for many years and the bride wants to include her stepfather on the invitation?
Stepparents, who have been part of the bride's and groom's lives, should definitely be included just make sure to put the bride’s last name on the invitation to avoid confusion. Another example of a more inclusive invitation is in the case of a Jewish wedding. It’s customary to have the groom’s parents mentioned on the invitation either above, ‘son of’ or at the top along with the bride’s parents.
When there are complications between the bride’s parents, the stepfather can be listed on the ceremony program as the escort of the bride’s mother or grandmother.

More questions? Please post in the comments sections of our blog.
If you're interested in invitations, call Ellen.
Ellen Weldon Design

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ordering Up at the Expense of Others

It always sounds like a good idea to round up a bunch of good friends and go out for dinner. The first round of drinks are served, and soon, the merriment kicks in. Menus are distributed and the evening is off and running. Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

One person is very hungry, so a starter and the grilled snapper entree sounds like a good idea. Another prefers just an appetizer, just enough to justify a second glass of champagne. Someone will mention the big, late lunch they had and thinks a bowl of mussels will do the job. The non-drinker in the group is in the mood for a burger.

The food starts arriving, more drinks are ordered. Everyone seems to be enjoying what they ordered. Some even pass their plate around, why not? They all have a vested interest in everything on the table because the bill will be split, but not before one person orders the dessert special.

Here comes the check.

The non-drinker burger eater will pay almost double for her burger. The three-courser will pay less than he would've payed had he eaten alone. Everyone quietly pays their share, some, no doubt, thinking, "Never again!"

When we note that a non-drinker is being asked to pay for wine, we'll say, "So and so shouldn't pay that much she doesn't drink." This can help others re-evaluate what's really fair. We are not encouraging the ole, "I had this, you had that" exchange.

Choose the place carefully where you want to dine with friends. It's important to be sensitive to the group, who's flush and who's not (you can argue that if you don't have a job, you shouldn't be sitting in a restaurant).

If you feel like having everything from soup to nuts, there's nothing wrong with that, but it's rude to expect your friends to pay for your private feast if they chose lighter fare. Fair share is only fair when everyone is ordering more or less the same.

If you've been invited out to dinner, don't order an entree that costs more than what your host is ordering. That doesn't mean you have to order the measly crab cake and a bowl of soup or a dish you really don't like because the price is right. If your host urges you to try the caviar and the lobster, have it. They are telling you that it's fine with them, don't be shy, forget about the tired, baby roasted chicken on a bed of mystery greens.

Over time, the problem eater is usually identified and probably won't be included when the group meets again or everyone will be on the lookout. It's probably not worth losing a friendship over. Maybe he or she knows not what they do. Maybe they think, "I ordered what I want, isn't that what everyone else is doing, too?"

True, but about the truffle special.