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This Month:

AUG 2007

Dear Madrone,

I hate spaghetti. What can I say? I've hated spaghetti ever since the first time I tasted it. It looks like worms. And I don't eat worms. Macaroni, now that's a different thing all together. It's round and smooth, each mouthful is a little bit of heaven, if heaven is a marinara sauce seasoned with just a hint of basil, flavored by the browning of an onion, that is taken out, not left in to fall apart, thank you very much. But every time I go over to my son's for dinner, which is less and less frequently, I get served spaghetti. I have spoken to my son about this, I would never say a word to my daughter in law. He gives me a shrug, and says he will speak to her. Yet nothing changes. I am not very happy about this lack of respect. What do you recommend I do with my sorrow? Disgruntled, Santa Anna

Dear Disgruntled,

Such a mess. OK, first things first. You have done what you can without breaking the rules of family. There are two possibilities:

Possibility one- Your son does not speak to his wife, even though he says he does.

In which case, you have no recourse, nagging is a waste of time.

Possibility two- Your son does speak to his wife, but she ignores him.

In this case you have no recourse either.

Face it, spaghetti is being served at this house. The message is clear, your wishes in this case are of little consequence. So step back. Is this the only thing you have to complain about? If so, you might consider getting over yourself. However, if it's not—let's say for example, if you like the house warm, and they turn down the thermostat, or if you want to watch Let's Make A Deal, but instead they turn to reruns of Golden Girls, they may be trying to tell you something- like BACK OFF. Here's a small formula to help you determine the seriousness of the situation.

Count up the number of times each week that you have been to dinner. Multiply that by the number of places you have asked your son or his wife to drive you or pick you up from. Add to that sum the number of pieces of household goods you've damaged in any visit during the past year. Divide that by the amount of $ you have given them for any reason whatsoever. Then subtract the number of compliments you have paid plus any times you've said thank you and meant it. If the resulting number is higher than 1, they have a case. If it's lower, then you've raised an ungrateful brat, and there's not much you can do about it now.

God bless, Donna

Dear Madrone,

How well do you have to know someone before you can tell them that they have spinach stuck in their teeth, or that their zipper is down, or the tag on the back of the shirt is stuck up, or god forbid, all three.? My god daughter says that if you don't know someone you pretend it's OK, but I say, you can pretend all you want, but that's not going to help the poor jamoke who realizes on the way home that they spent three hours trying to impress someone's godmother, spinach crud hanging off their canine, tags everywhere and flag flying at half mast. Just being friendly, Garden City

Dear Friendly,

By all means tell.

God bless, Donna

Dear Readers- This is a good time to remind you of a very important guideline.


This goes for small things like when someone asks you if they look fat in pants and they do. Like when my Aunt Labella asks her husband Mike (her third, no surprise when she keeps making them answer questions like do I look fat in these) if she looks fat, Mike says you look beautiful to me no matter what you wear. This is a wise man, if the point of wisdom is to stay married to a woman who stuffs her size 14 coolie into size 10 capris.

AND it goes for big things, like your husband has been working late five days out of nine, but the boss calls you and asks how hubby feeling, he has been knocking off early due to illness related causes. God bless




Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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