Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag to come and rescue you from your work and school doldrums.

As always, send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Here we go:

“My son, who is 26, went to a restaurant with several friends for brunch a few weeks ago.  The restaurant prominently features unlimited “Manmosas” for a set price.  The female server, who was African-American, came up to my son, who had about a half-full Manmosa and asked if he was okay.  He responded by asking her to “top him off, please.”  At that point, she apparently went ballistic by saying something to the effect of “How dare you?” and left the table, never to return.

My son and his friends had no idea what the issue was, so after a few minutes when the server did not return, they flagged down a different server who was also African-America, and told her what had happened.  She also acted insulted, told them that that phrase “top me off” is an urban phrase that means fellatio, and suggested that they never again say that with reference to asking to get a refill on the unlimited Manmosas.

First, is it appropriate for people to assume that everybody understands every single urban phrase and that if you work in a restaurant with free refills of alcoholic beverages that it is an outrage for someone to ask to be topped off?  Or is this another example of a ridiculous overreaction?  One thing is for sure, my son and his friends will never be going back to that restaurant regardless of free refills.”

Well, I didn’t even know manmosa’s exist — turns out they’re like mimosas except for men — so my first reaction is if you serve unlimited manmosas, you should expect to have to regularly refill the drinks.

And if you’re regularly refilling the unlimited drinks in an establishment like this, you should expect that the phrase “top me off” is likely to be used regularly.

Furthermore, and I think this is key in all aspects of life, CONTEXT MATTERS.

This phrase wasn’t being uttered in a sexual manner at all given this situation.

I could certainly understand the waitresses indignation if the men at the table knew the double usage of the phrase and were trying to embarrass her — which is probably what she thought — but that’s why it’s important to know the context here.

The most common usage of the phrase “top me off” — especially in an establishment offering unlimited refills of drinks — is asking someone to fill your drink up, not to give you a blow job.

I think the waitresses were both out of line here and I think their boss needs to have a talk with them about common usage and the context of word choice.

Getting upset at customers for doing nothing wrong isn’t a way to encourage repeat business. That’s especially the case when the situation is likely to repeat itself again and again if the waitresses continue to work there.

“Clay, my wife’s family is planning a beach vacation this summer. There are 8 adults and 5 kids age 1 year to 6 year. The plan is to all stay in one condo. We each get our own bedrooms though. I’ve told my wife we need to get our own hotel room or something just for sanity reasons. I love all her family but I just imagine us all in one place for a week. They are a close family, grew up doing this sorta thing my family on the other had rarely did.

Some of the 5 kids are a bit on the wild side which adds to my anxiety about this situation. 

My wife said we will stay with all of them and I can just not go. So she gave me an out but what consequences am I facing if I use it? No sex for a month? Honestly I probably could live with that over dealing with the stress this trip will bring. 

You’ve talked about this before and I feel this is a situation almost every married man finds himself in at some point. I don’t feel like I’m being unreasonable to want us to have our own hotel room but my wife thinks I’m being antisocial and don’t like her family. Should I take the out?”

I always prefer my own hotel room in situations like these, but it sounds like you’ve already been trapped in this scenario.

You didn’t say whether the two of you have kids of your own here, but I’m assuming since we’re talking about eight adults that breaks down this way: two grandparents and three of their kids with each of the spouses coming and five grandkids between the three couples.

If your kids are going to be there, I think you have to go because otherwise your wife is never going to forgive you. Because then you’re looking at a scenario where the other two couples both have their spouses present to help with the kids and you are missing. That’s especially the case since the beach is a stressful place to be in charge of young kids because there’s the ever present risk of drowning. There are bodies of water everywhere and it only takes a few minutes for a kid to drown at the beach, or even more dangerously, at a pool nearby the beach. (Chances are the place your family will be staying will have several pools nearby).

Every parent reading this will know what I’m talking about, but I had no clue how stressful water would be once I had my own young kids. From pools to bathtubs to oceans, you can never relax near bodies of water for decades of your life. It’s absolutely uncanny. Because up until you have kids pools and beaches are the most relaxing places you can be and then once you have young kids you’re never able to relax. (My kids are 11, 8, and 4 and I can’t wait until about three or four years from now when after 15 years of perpetual vigilance I can finally relax at the pool or beach again and not have to worry about my kids drowning.)

So if you have kids and you don’t go that means your wife is on the hook for your kids without your help and your kids will be even wilder than they would ordinarily be because they’re surrounded by the other kids. (Hell, by the way, is other people’s young children. Once a kid gets to be six or seven they become pretty easy to handle, but before that everything is a constant fire drill.)

I’d like to give you other advice, but I think you have to suck it up and go if you have young kids yourself.

Your only excuse here is if you have a legitimate serious job conflict — or the kind of job you can’t get away for — but here it sounds like it would be self-evident you aren’t coming because of the vacation circumstances.

I totally understand not wanting to go, but I think you’re screwed here.

The only true escape valve I think you have here is if you don’t have children of your own. Then I think it’s perfectly fine for your wife to vacation with her family without you being there. She’ll still resent you for not coming — and so will your in-laws — but at least you aren’t leaving her to take care of young kids on the beach by herself.

“How long can a suitcase sit on the bedroom floor before it has to be unpacked? Not trying to throw my wife under the bus, but I’m getting tired of breaking my toes on it.” 

Three days.

Any longer is unacceptable.

I’m not saying everything needs to be unpacked from the bags, but I am saying you can’t leave the suitcase out longer than this. (The only exception is if you’re about to go on another trip.)

I get up early in the morning and there’s not much worse than tripping all over a bag in a dark house. (If I don’t show up for work one day there’s a decent chance it will be because I tripped on a Spider-Man toy and knocked myself out on a piece of furniture. By the way, true story, my sister knocked out her front baby tooth after tripping over my G.I. Joe airplane).

My wife stores our luggage on shelves in our closet that only I can reach so she will unpack them and then I’m responsible for hoisting them up onto the top shelves until she needs me to pull them back down again to pack. This seems like a really fair trade.

Especially since — and I have to give my wife credit here — every time we go on vacation she packs for the entire family, all five of us. Yep, she packs for all three boys and me. I leave for vacation with no idea what’s in my bag.

We’re going to the beach next week and I won’t have any idea what I’m wearing for the next ten days until I open up my travel bag and unpack down on 30A.

I love it.

“I’m going to be a new father in two weeks, what is your best advice for fathers to get through delivery day? Maybe something most people don’t think of.

For example, I’ve heard not to give your wife your left hand because your wedding ring will crush your fingers.”

Have your iPad stocked with tons of movies and/or TV shows for your wife to watch while she’s in labor.

The biggest thing most people run into is how boring it often is while you wait for a baby to be born. Yes, it’s exciting, but there is generally lots of time to kill before the baby is born. That’s especially the case if it’s your first baby.

So that’s my best piece of advice.

My second best advice is pack some snacks for yourself. The focus is clearly going to be all about your wife, but she can’t eat so you don’t want to make a big deal of being hungry. Given that babies are often born at odd hours, there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll be in a hospital with no access to food during the delivery process.

So bring some snacks for yourself. (And I don’t mean like a full meal, I mean like some breakfast bars. If you need utensils, you’ve blown it.)

Finally, decide whether you’re going to stay up top or down below for the birth.

But understand that it’s entirely your wife’s choice. So I’d suggest deciding beforehand.

I went down below for all three and held a leg.

But, again, this is entirely your wife’s choice.

If you haven’t already, you need to decide who will be in the room for the birth too. I’d say anything more than the husband and her mom is probably too many, but that’s my advice. She’s the one having the baby so she should get to make that decision.

“I write this to you literally from the toilet, so I realize whatever you say, it will be too late, however, this cannot be avoided. I work in a law firm, and today (Friday) is the day we moving boxes, files, furniture, everything to the new office. The toilets are running, but, I got the emergency “it’s about to blow” shit storm and had to literally run for the bathroom. 

Here’s the dilemma: no toilet paper. The only option I see is to use the hand paper towels in here. There are also empty boxes from the construction crews that are clearly going to be trashed. I feel my only option is to use the paper towels and then dispose of them in the boxes. Did I miss anything? Is this the right option?”

I think you flush the paper towels here instead of leaving a bunch of paper towels covered in shit for the cleaning crew to move.

They didn’t sign up for this.

Yes, I know, you’re not supposed to flush paper towels, but unless you use a billion of them, it will probably be fine.

Plus, you’re changing offices.

If the plumbing is messed up it will be the new tenant’s problem, not yours.

“I’m in sales and I’ve been hooking up with a customer. I’m in my early 20s and she’s in her early 30s, divorced with kids. It all started out as a fun little work friendship, then turned into friends with benefits, and soon turned into us having feelings for each other. 

Like I said this was basically supposed to just be us hooking up on the weekends and having fun. This has gone on for about 4 months until the last couple of weeks, she’s started ghosting me. From talking every day and night, seeing each other for once or twice a week for work and on the weekends to complete silence. 

I’m not sure if she’s seeing someone else, got tired of me, felt immature about to the whole situation or what but it’s bothered me more than I care to admit. But I still would like to be friends with benefits. 

I have to see her for work fairly regularly  so my question to you is do I try to get some clarity or do I just move on, act like I don’t care, and pretend nothing ever happened between us?”

I mean, it’s kind of a dick move by her to just go silent, but I think it’s fairly clear she doesn’t want a relationship with you any more.

My guess is she believes you have more feelings for her than she has for you and she’s just trying to break this off the best way she can think of, with as little of a show as possible. In other words, this was just a fling for her and she thinks you’ve taken it more seriously than she has and she doesn’t want a full-fledged discussion about your “relationship” ending.

Does she owe you a phone call and an explanation? Yes. But does it sound like she wants to give you one? No.

(This, of course, assumes you haven’t done anything to piss her off. And it’s certainly possible that you — being a guy — have done something to piss her off and not realized it.)

Regardless, the chances of her having no strings attached sex with you going forward are virtually zero.

You’re young with no responsibilities; she’s divorced and has kids, meaning she has many more complexities going on in her life than you do, so sack up and move on.

Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

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