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Gift registry woes.

by Dear Jon
December 18, 2001

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Sort 104_Dear Jon-Gift registry woes. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

My fiancee and I are registering for gifts for our upcoming wedding. There are several items listed on company prepared lists that we don't know what they are. Can you help us out? What is a demitasse cup and why do we need it? How many do we need? What is a compote? Why do we need a different type of fork and knife for everything we eat (fish knife, cocktail fork, demitasse spoon)? Do we have to thank guests for gifts when we're not sure what the gift is?

Lost in Catalogs

Dear Lost,

Your letter is hilarious. EVERYBODY knows what a "demitasse" is. Very droll.

Besides, if I did not know, your letter would force me to look it up, which I would not have time to do, and which, if you were serious, you should be doing anyway instead of wasting your time and mine by writing me a letter asking me to look something up.

Like you don't know what a "compote" is. Ha ha. You're too much.

You do raise some issues which I would like to treat more seriously, if I may. The first one is this: Why are we so stupid, that we would invent utensils in order to pick up something too hot to touch, and stick that something into our mouths?

I can imagine the concerned parent fifteen thousand years ago. "Don't touch that! You'll burn yourself! If you want to eat it, spear it with this stick first and THEN put it in your mouth."

The same species that came up with the fire and the wheel, came up with the fork. It does not make any sense.

It seems to me that we should create a rule of "thumb." Any food too hot to be picked up with your fingers is too hot to eat. Any amount that cannot be cupped into your palm is too big a mouthful. So, with chile, for example, test the heat with your thumb. If it is cool enough to scoop with your palms, it is cool enough to eat safely.

The benefit in simplifying wedding registries would be tremendous. Just ask for napkins. Lots and lots of napkins.

The second issue has to do with wedding registries. I have news to break to you. Catalogs are not assembled by etiquette professionals as Bibles on Good Manners. Catalogs are assembled by capitalists. Capitalists try to make money by inventing a need for a product and then producing the product and then selling it as a means of meeting the need.

Who "needs" multi-colored toothpicks? The answer is nobody. If we must use utensils, one fork is adequate for many things. The fork that marketers will call "the salad fork" is equally adequate to spear bite-sized morsels of meat, to scoop up noodles ("pasta") AND rice AND potatos, and to impale olives, pillow mints, and those tiny hot-dogs people serve as appetizers at football parties.

Some marketing genius said that the standard spoon is really just a "table" spoon, and that we need a separate spoon for "tea" and ANOTHER spoon for "soup." I hate to break it to you, but the "table" spoon is perfect for all those uses.

No one needs a butter knife. If the "steak" knife is sharp enough to cut through meat, it is sharp enough to cut through butter.

Then there is the issue of how to imbibe beverages. Who said that coffee cannot served in "water" glasses? Or water served in "coffee mugs?" IF the reasoning is that hot coffee will crack the glass, that is fine. Serve water in coffee mugs. Pop in mugs. Beer and wine in mugs. What difference does it make? None at all.

So many things that weddings want you to register for are dishes. Imagine, though, if you simplified to what you really needed, the registry could open up a whole new set of possibilities.

Like registering for a weed-cutter, a rider lawnmower, a snowblower, matching sets of wrenches and screw-drivers, titanium golf clubs, fender skirts and floormats for the SUV. You know, stuff you really NEED.


Dear Jon,

How can anything be "post-modern?" The next step in non-language will be "post-contemporary" unless somebody really dumb as has already used it.

Usage Police

Dear Usage,

How can language be "non-language?" If you really are the usage police, then you are concerned about usage, not about etymology.

So there.

Dear Readers,

By the way, this kind of exchange hovers dangerously close to what is more appropriate in the "Philosophy" forum right here on the P.O. As you see at the bottom this page, the Webmaster enthusiastically endorses all the advice I offer, and we want to keep this an advice column. I don't come here to argue, I come here to tell you how to live your life. If you want to argue with me, pick a fight on the forums. I lurk there a lot.

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