Ask Amy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: One of my oldest friends always keeps his cell phone on when we get together.

I have commented many times that it is rude to inflict private cell phone conversations on others.

He insists that because I never had children, I don't understand. (His kids are all adults.)

His favorite recent excuse is that the sales orders he writes for the factory he works for keep many people employed.

He claims I am unreasonable because I am an only child. (We are both 62.)

The last time I saw him — at approximately call no. 5 — I exploded.

It was a business emergency, but in my opinion the call could have waited.

After a constant diet of this, the fact that the last time was an emergency isn't an excuse from my perspective.

I think we are both at the point that the only alternative may be to take separate cars when we plan activities, or just not get together.

I think this person shows little consideration for others. I don't think there is any room for compromise — it is his way or the highway. I am ready to take the highway.

What is the etiquette for cell phone use?

— Denis

DEAR DENIS:
Etiquette is all about consideration and respect, and this highway runs in both directions.

Cell phones permit people to conduct business while they are out at a late-afternoon ballgame or on a fishing trip. They also let family members notify one another about emergencies.

Unfortunately, cell phones also let people be in constant touch and report in real-time what they are eating or thinking about eating for dinner. This constant reportage is obnoxious and boring to witness.

Of course, there is room for compromise. If you and your friend are together during work hours, then he should take work calls, within reason. It isn't for you to decide what is or isn't a legitimate work call or an emergency.

I agree that your friend should not take personal calls while you are together.

You two can work this out by agreeing to some very basic ground rules.

Your intractability and his slings about your personal situation aren't helping.


DEAR AMY:
How can I avoid serving food that someone has brought to a barbecue?

In the past, a close relative has brought food that I refused to serve to other guests because of the way it was prepared.

This person brought over chicken breasts in a marinade, left them in a hot car for six hours and then said it was OK to grill them because the marinade would kill all of the bacteria.

My husband grilled them, and I warned our other guests not to eat them because I didn't want anyone to get sick.

This was not an isolated episode. I've refused to eat or let my kids eat food this person has prepared.

Labor Day is fast approaching, and we're having people over. I know some will offer to bring dishes, and I am happy about that.

Due to this one individual, I refrain from calling anything we host a "pot luck."

How should I handle this?

— No Salmonella Here

DEAR HERE: I agree with your choice to be extremely careful about the food you serve at your home — no matter who prepares it.

"The marinade will kill the bacteria" is not an appropriate approach to food safety. In fact, it's dangerous.

You might do best to actually call your get-together a "pot luck." This way you could assign specific dishes.

You could ask your relative to bring biscuits, uncooked corn on the cob — or drinks.


DEAR AMY:
Recently you ran a question from "Wondering Widower," who was wondering what to call his live-in sweetie.

I was divorced at age 50 and met the love of my life soon after, and soon after that we moved in together.

He passed away last year, and I was devastated.

I always introduced him as "My Honey" and that worked perfectly.

— Carol

DEAR CAROL: One reason I liked posing this question is the flood of late-love stories readers have been inspired to share. Thank you.

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