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February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 5775
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Dinner Ideas

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Ever since I started this advice column, I’ve noticed that quite a number of readers – and you in particular – haven’t been sending me questions. And I get it. You don’t know what to ask. I don’t give “real advice,” by which I mean “advice you can use without making the situation worse,” and you have no idea what kind of questions you can ask that I might have answers for. With Dr. Yael, for example, you figure that you should ask her problem-type questions. With an “ask the rabbi” column, you ask him shaylos. But what am I an expert in?

Nothing apparently.

But that’s just it. You can ask me anything. I’m the equivalent of a friend you see sometimes that you can tap on the shoulder and go, “Hey, what do you think?” The topic doesn’t really matter. For example, someone recently asked me the following:

Hey,

What should I make for supper?

No Idea

Dear No,

I don’t know. In general, I don’t really mind making supper; it’s figuring out what to make that’s a pain. (I do want to point out, though, that I’m talking about supper, as opposed to dinner. Your children’s yeshiva, for example, invites you to a dinner every year. There’s no “31st Annual Supper”.)

The easiest days to plan suppers, hands down, are fast days. (“Let’s see… We’ll have bagels and spreads, soup, baked ziti, and eggplant parmesan. And then a half hour later we’ll have fleishigs.”) Sometimes I’ll spend the entire fast making supper.

Which brings me to my business idea: I think there should be a service we can sign up for, wherein we’d give them all of our information, and then we can call them up any night of the week, and a person, preferably someone who’s been fasting all day, will tell us what to make for supper. There will be no decisions on our part.

This would definitely be a great business idea for you if you’re the type of person who enjoys:

A. money, and

B. receiving millions of phone calls during supper.

Hey,

I’m making a wedding and I’m looking to save money. Any suggestions?

M.T. Wallet

Dear M.,

This isn’t easy. Firstly, you don’t really want to cut out things that matter to the chosson and kallah, because this is their big day, and no one wants theirs to be the wedding where the groom’s father decided there would be no band because he and his friends were reasonably okay at A Capella.

But, for example, you can rephrase the invitations.

Let’s put it this way: Most of the people that you invite to the wedding, you invite only so they shouldn’t be offended that they weren’t invited, and they show up only so that you won’t be offended that they didn’t come. Or so they don’t have to figure out what to make for supper.

But if you have such a close relationship with them that you’re willing to pay over $50 a plate for their meal (and you don’t even pay $50 for your own plates at home that you get to keep), then why aren’t you close enough to talk to each other and straighten this out?

Of course, the answer is that you really don’t have time to do this with each person you invite, because you’re busy putting together a wedding for 500 people so they won’t be offended.

But the main problem, I think, is the invitation itself. Every invitation says that the hosts “request the honor of your presence”, or that you are “cordially invited”, the implication being that you’d better be there unless you have a really good excuse, such as that you’re dead. So I think that invitations should be rephrased to be a little less forceful:

Mr. and Mrs. Bob Finkelstein
And Mr. and Mrs. Sam Weinberg
Cordially invite you
To be aware that
Becky
And
Dave
Will not be available to come to any weddings that you may be throwing
On Sunday, the thirtieth of July,
Because they will be getting married
At One PM
Temple Beth Shalom.
Although you can come
If you have nothing else going on that day.

If you can pull this off, you will definitely save a ridiculous amount of money.

“This is all we saved?” you will ask no one in particular. “That’s ridiculous!”

Hey,

Is it okay to take things home from the hotel? And if not, why did I bring along this empty suitcase?

Tiny Soaps

Dear Tiny,

Well, according to recent surveys, most hotels are not only okay with people taking things home, they’re actually happy that they do, because it means that:

A. The shampoo is so good that people are going, “I can’t just leave the rest of this here!” (Not that, say, Holiday Inn is making their own shampoo. There’s probably someone in the back with a funnel.)

But the main reason they’re happy is that:

B. Whenever you use that item, you will be reminded of what a nice time you had in their hotel, and you’ll say, “You know? We should really go back there! We’re almost out of shampoo!”

But there’s probably a line between things you can take home and things you probably shouldn’t. For example, most people are pretty sure that if you use part of a bottle of shampoo, you can take the other half home. It’s not like management is going to come into the room and go, “Woo hoo! He left half the bottle! Tell Bernice to combine this with the one from Room 319!”

But if you don’t use a bottle at all, can you take it home anyway? On the one hand, the hotel is putting out the items for you to use while you’re there, so logic says that if you don’t use it, they want it back. If you go to someone’s house for Shabbos, and they say you can take as much cake as you want, would you get up and dump the whole thing into your suitcase? But on the other hand, why should the hotel benefit from your lack of hygiene? And, more importantly, are you specifically not showering because you want to take this shampoo home?

Yes, you definitely won that one.

But some people take things that are clearly not meant to be taken. And people get really creative, because they have all night to lie there and think about it: “The lamp is nailed to the nightstand. But the nightstand isn’t nailed down!”

On the other hand, some people try to rationalize. They say things like, “Oh, the hotel probably writes these things off.”

What does that even mean? I’m a professional writer, and I have no idea how to write anything off. If I did, I would quit writing articles and just devote my days to writing things off.

So my thought is that we can probably take any disposable items that have the hotel’s phone number. Think about it: Why do they put the phone number on the pens, for example? So people can call them from within the hotel? (“Yeah, can you please send up a second one? We’re playing Tic Tac Toe.”)

Either way, it’s a good way to save money if things are tight because you just made a wedding.

Have a Question for “You’re Asking Me?” You’re cordially invited to send it in. If you have nothing else going on that day.

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