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Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you
June 30, 2011 5:54 PM   Subscribe

A bride-to-be has been given a very public etiquette lesson after an email from her future mother-in-law, attacking her "uncouthness", went viral over the internet.
posted by the young rope-rider (258 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yowsa.

(note to self: glad I did not grow up in England.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Christ, what a mother-in-law.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [36 favorites]


Guess who won't be seeing too much of her grandchildren?
posted by darkstar at 6:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [57 favorites]


Some of the things the recipient did can be construed as impolite. But the sender of the corrective email would clearly have an apoplectic fit to see what passes for generally-accepted reasonable manners in the US.

"You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host."

"When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms."

Someone needs to learn about choosing one's battles.
posted by chimaera at 6:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


I was just coming here to post this! It's hard to tell without the context of the behavior, or what might have gone on with them previously, but bringing her diabetes up was just not on.
posted by sweetkid at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


"You should not have publicly disseminated what should be a private conversation."

Huh, that one's not there. Wonder why.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Mrs Bourne said Miss Withers' behaviour had been so rude it had left the family dog, Bomber, traumatised, depressed and anxious.

That's one high-strung dog.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


How dare a diabetic be picky about food!

But anyway, shits all around.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.)

Holy shit, this is where she COMPLETELY lost me. Seriously, you're blaming her parents for not saving money for a swanky wedding? What the fuck? You have no idea what their lives are like and frankly this idea is appalling to me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:10 PM on June 30, 2011 [44 favorites]


I was shocked to discover the email was not sent by Hyacinth Bucket.
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 6:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [127 favorites]


Mother-in-law and fiance both sound like jerks. Pompous old woman meets entitled bratty bridezilla. Hilarity ensues.
posted by wuwei at 6:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you.

Ha! I am imagining this letter being read in the Dame Judi Dench voice. Try it!
posted by vidur at 6:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Holy shit, this is where she COMPLETELY lost me. Seriously, you're blaming her parents for not saving money for a swanky wedding? What the fuck? You have no idea what their lives are like and frankly this idea is appalling to me.

It sounds like maybe the bride wants a fancy wedding, but neither her family nor the couple can afford one, so maybe there's an implied expectation that the rich parents of the groom will chip in?

I dunno, she lost me when she attacked a diabetic for saying there's things she can't eat.
posted by kafziel at 6:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's pronounced BOU-QUEE
posted by The Whelk at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [32 favorites]


Crikey, what a crumb-bum.
posted by sy at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


She lost me when she treated her son's future wife like an unwanted sleepover guest.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [29 favorites]


I kind of sympathised with the Mother-in-law - everyone has their thresholds for unacceptable behaviour and hers is obviously quite low. What she forgot though, is that she just has to put up with it from her daughter-in-law to be, because that's what every parent has to do.

You support your children - you might not like their choice of partner, but it's their choice.
posted by awfurby at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, the Ladette is something we should watch for it is on TV? And it is mentioned a bit.
posted by The Whelk at 6:14 PM on June 30, 2011


This can't possibly be real, can it? All the stuff about the food, followed by the revelation that the bride has diabetes and therefore has really good reason to be a little weird about food? (It's not rude to eat before everyone else if you're diabetic and you need to eat so you don't go into a coma. And it's not rude to explain that you're eating before everyone else because you have diabetes.) It seems to good, or rather too bad, to be true.
posted by craichead at 6:15 PM on June 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


So do they actually drink Budweiser in England or was that picture taken in New York?
posted by octothorpe at 6:16 PM on June 30, 2011


and, oh why not it can't be linked too enough
posted by The Whelk at 6:17 PM on June 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


LOUD, VULGAR, DRUNK, AND DANGEROUS... THEY'RE CALLED LADETTES!
posted by ennui.bz at 6:17 PM on June 30, 2011


The thing that gets me about this is that I agree with her on every single point (except, possibly, the sleeping-in) but I still think she's an insolent git.

When you visit another person's house - especially that of your future in-laws - you watch your damned p's and q's and you take care to fall in with their preferences. It's called good manners. Then again, so is not writing a snotty letter like this. So, in summary, I hate everyone involved, including the wimpy husband-to-be who didn't give his foul mother a verbal slapping.

Ah, hatred. So purifying. So energising. So elemental and right.
posted by Decani at 6:17 PM on June 30, 2011 [57 favorites]


Crikey, what a crumb-bum.

Or a crampon.

(It's all Venture Brothers references, tonight)
posted by dirigibleman at 6:18 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Both women sound equally insufferable.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was shocked to discover the email was not sent by Hyacinth Bucket.
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 2:11 AM on July 1


See The Guardian's coverage. You weren't the only one!
posted by Decani at 6:20 PM on June 30, 2011


The son is clearly rebelling against his mom by wooing this skank. I would too. Probably wants send Mommy dearest to an early grave.
posted by Renoroc at 6:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was brought up to observe almost all of the etiquette rules she ranted about to her future daughter-in-law, but I also like my guests. They don't all follow the same rules I would, but I'm glad they're there. I want them to be comfortable. I don't care if they reach for the food first. I will probably have told them to help themselves anyway.

This woman not only raked her daughter-in-law across the coals by email but told her she wished her son wasn't marrying her. Clearly, this woman already dislikes her DIL, and it's probably got nothing to do with table manners. Without more info, this email says, "I don't like you. I don't want you to come back. You're proof that my son can make his own decisions, and that scares me. So I'm going to attack you with old and unfriendly rules just to show you I still have some power here."
posted by katillathehun at 6:26 PM on June 30, 2011 [36 favorites]


Makes me glad that my MIL is too passive-aggressive to put anything in writing. Her big "fuck you" to us was to delete me, my husband, and my mother from Facebook for reasons we can only guess at. Because I sure as hell won't be asking!

But she said both women involved are at fault, adding that Miss Withers should have known better than to email the letter off to her friends

No...I'm gonna go ahead and agree with our dear Miss Withers's decision on this one.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Keep an eye out on AskMe for anonymous question about dealing with a difficult stepmother-in-law.
posted by vidur at 6:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just love the ever-so-subtle jab in the photo depicting this young woman in a Yank(ees) hat and drinking American Budweiser. Subtle like a British tabloid.
posted by Saydur at 6:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Dear Mrs. Bourne:

Stop putting on airs. Jesus, lady, you live in Dawlish. If it weren't for Isambard Kingdom Brunel, your town would mostly be the place where people from Exeter go to get to the seaside for a while when they can't afford Brighton.

Sincerely,

A guy who skipped Dawlish and went
to Paignton, where they have a kickass zoo
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [34 favorites]


She might as well pull down her pants and spray urine all over her son. It'd be a slightly more subtle manner of marking her territory.
posted by stavrogin at 6:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [46 favorites]


This woman not only raked her daughter-in-law across the coals by email but told her she wished her son wasn't marrying her.

Reminder to mothers-in-law: your son will always side with his wife instead of you. He already did.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


The email is way more fun to read if you pretend it was written by the mother of Jason Bourne.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


For all that many (if not all) of the complaints in the letter sound like quite valid reasons to dislike a houseguest, the overall tone is one that makes the mother-in-law sound appalling. Not a family I would want to marry into, certainly.
posted by Forktine at 6:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try to see the mother-in-law's position here. With a typical rude houseguest, one can simply decide to not invite her back, and not bother. But if your own son is to be married to her? Then you cannot simply make her unwelcome, but you also don't want to feel like your house is occupied by an invading army which has swept in on horseback. This was maybe not the smartest way to navigate a middle course between the two options, but I can see why she would do so.
posted by Electrius at 6:43 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was brought up to observe almost all of the etiquette rules she ranted about to her future daughter-in-law

Me too, and I'm pretty sure my in-laws think I'm an ate-up weirdo because of it. I still can't bring myself to call them by their first names.

You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

My feeling on etiquette is it's nice when people do everything they're supposed to and they certainly stand out in my eyes, but I don't expect much beyond the commonest of courtesies from people.

For instance, my sister in law has never sent a thank you for any of the gifts I've sent her, but she sends me gifts too and is friendly and seems to like me when we see each other so that's enough for me.

And, sort of off-topic, but I bet if this was her daughter bringing home a bloke, there would be no letter. Men get off a lot easier than women etiquette-wise.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:44 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


So do they actually drink Budweiser in England...?
posted by octothorpe at 2:16 AM on July 1


Yes. If by "they" you mean our educationally subnormal youth.
posted by Decani at 6:44 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


For all that many (if not all) of the complaints in the letter sound like quite valid reasons to dislike a houseguest,

At face value, I would agree, but one thing that keeps on surprising me in life is the different ways that people's actions can be interpreted. Like with the food-related complaints, for example - it could be the that the fiancee was making her diabetic issues known, but this lady seems to really have a problem with the diabetes even being brought up. For all I know the fiancee is indeed a horror, but the mother in law seems just wound up enough in etiquette and appearances that I have to wonder.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 6:46 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


My only real problem with Mama Bourne's letter is that it is fucking rude. I mean, she's got issues over some etiquette, I guess that's reasonable.

However, it's one thing to be appalled by the actions of a guest and future family member, but there is such a thing a grace, and a gracious way of handling these sorts of things. I guess you can't really teach a person that in a finishing school.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:46 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


I thought the point of etiquette and manners was to make everyone feel comfortable not to keep score. There is the tale of a guest drinking from the finger bowl (there to rinse your fingers) and the lady of the house copying him so he wouldn't be embarrassed.
posted by shothotbot at 6:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [65 favorites]


Oh, I can't wait for the time when Ms. Bourne eventually visits her son and daughter-in-law in New York. Presumably she's going to have quite the missive to write to Mayor Bloomberg at that point.

But that's the thing. I know I was taught etiquette like this growing up, even in Houston, but it's not at all how I conduct myself normally. It's how I conduct myself, well, generally when meeting girlfriends' parents. And it's not surprising that a lot of Americans aren't versed in the norms of British gentility. She's a PA in New York. That's a group I know very, very well, and most of them would have run into these same issues with a woman like Ms. Bourne.

Well, if they were diabetic, at least. WTF was up with all of the slams there? I have to imagine that the young diabetic woman getting married in June has rarely if ever found herself captive to Ms. Bourne's catering for any significant length of time, nor forced marches to the beach afterwards. Additionally, to give Ms. Bourne back a little bit of what she gave, I was always taught that when receiving guests in those circumstances to find out beforehand what foods they would like and wouldn't like. I know this is what my mother always did when I was having friends visit. Allergies aside, it helps to know if someone keeps kosher, for instance, or maybe has self-imposed dietary restrictions. Or hell...

A million years ago I was meeting a serious girlfriend's parents for the first time, in Connecticut. Yes, that part of Connecticut. I was friendly and polite and as gracious as could be, and her mother made a very generous meal, cooking up steaks for everybody, but with each of those steaks smothered in bleu cheese.

And bleu cheese, well, it's like cilantro. For some people it's just horrid, and there's nothing you can do about it. I subtly scraped the cheese off of the otherwise delicious steak, and was highly complimentary, but there began this passive aggressive thing about the fact that I didn't eat it with the cheese on, and I'm trying to be as polite as possible while stating my defense that I just really can't stomach bleu cheese and that if I'd realized that's what she was making I would have simply asked that she not put any on my steak, and I never got any emails or anything but it was a very tense first meeting.

As for whatever the joke at the pub was, well, I'd like to know more there.

As for the lie-ins, again, she's diabetic and not having any of those needs appreciated, plus there was almost certainly jet-lag at play. That said, my ex-sister-in-law would sleep in and spend all of her time in her room whenever my brother's family would visit, as her way of saying that she wanted nothing to do with us. It was not endearing. In general I'd err on the side of getting up with the rest of the family, if you're able.

And thank-you notes are a highly-encouraged nice touch. Demanding them is less so. Especially after what Ms. Bourne's letter makes clear was an awful visit for everyone involved.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:50 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something.

You do not remark that you do not have enough food.

You do not start before everyone else.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.


Add diabetes to the mix and this sounds more like a person desperately trying to correct a blood sugar imbalance.

When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms.

It's called a diabetic coma, you harridan.
posted by kafziel at 6:52 PM on June 30, 2011 [35 favorites]


Dear future daughter-in-law,

During your most recent visit to my abode, I fear you made the grievous etiquette mistake of assuming I was someone who would be concerned or alarmed if you slipped into a coma and died. This false assumption led you to make several unfortunate faux pas, namely:

-- Taking steps to prevent yourself from slipping into a coma and dying. I found your doing this most rude.

-- Inconveniencing me in any way while attempting to prevent yourself from slipping into a coma and dying. This was not only rude but inconvenient.

-- Drawing attention to yourself by alerting others to the fact that you might slip into a coma and die. It would have been more proper to comport yourself like another young person I once knew, who quietly and unassumingly slipped into a coma and died rather than abuse the rules of etiquette.

-- Sleeping late one morning, thereby giving rise in me the hope that you might have slipped into a coma and died, only to cruelly dash my dreams upon your awakening.

-- Believing I might possess a sense of humor.

-- Being poor.

And what's more, you never wrote me a thank-you note.

Sincerely, etc.
posted by kyrademon at 6:52 PM on June 30, 2011 [146 favorites]


I was under the impression that etiquette and manners existed as a form of social lubricant, a way to smooth the rough edges of awkward moments. To judge by this woman's letter, etiquette and good manners are a hurdle to be surmounted.

Eh. What do I know.

*scratches self, belches loudly*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


Ah, hatred. So purifying. So energising. So elemental and right.

GUYS IT'S A SITH GET HIM
posted by No-sword at 6:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [19 favorites]


The worst person I know
(Mother-in law, mother-in law)
(Mother-in law, mother-in law)
A she worries me, so
If she'd leave us alone
A we would have a happy home
Sent from down below


Mother in Law Mother in Law
posted by jonmc at 6:56 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if your future daughter-in-law has awful manners, got drunk, and mooned your vicar, if you write this letter, yours are worse.

The whole point of real etiquette is that you are taking the high ground; confronted with uncomfortable or awkward situations, you react with grace, compassion, good humor, and if all else fails, the simple ability to say nothing.
posted by emjaybee at 6:57 PM on June 30, 2011 [98 favorites]


Ha! I am imagining this letter being read in the Dame Judi Dench voice. Try it!

Try it as Mrs. Doubtfire. Or as the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons.
posted by jonp72 at 6:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I rather suspect the mother in law is doing everything she can to break up the relationship. This is an extended way of saying "I will make your life an unending hell if you DARE marry my son you slattern".
posted by Grimgrin at 6:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


I just love the ever-so-subtle jab in the photo depicting this young woman in a Yank(ees) hat and drinking American Budweiser. Subtle like a British tabloid.
posted by Saydur at 2:33 AM on July 1


To be fair, any adult who wears a baseball cap and drinks Budweiser is basically pond life. Doubly so if they're not American.
posted by Decani at 7:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ha! I am imagining this letter being read in the Dame Judi Dench voice. Try it!

I'm hearing John Cleese.
posted by octothorpe at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


*paging jonmc*
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2011


Also, it's not like the future daughter in law got burrs in her cashmere shawl or anything.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [34 favorites]


To be fair, any adult who wears a baseball cap and drinks Budweiser is basically pond life.

I assume that you're being sarcastic but, if you're not, what on Earth in wrong with wearing a baseball cap -- especially at a baseball game? I won't defend Bud, but it was probably the best beer on offer at the stadium.
posted by asnider at 7:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Had to run off and send this to my awesome mother-in-law.

Honestly, she's so awesome that if I split up with my husband, I might be sadder about not being able to see her as much anymore.

I am a lucky woman it seems.
posted by emjaybee at 7:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


So do they actually drink Budweiser in England...?

The Bud I had in Scotland was considerably better than the stuff that you buy in the US, and better than many of the British/Euro macrobrews. (Carling is nasty stuff. I also never quite understood the appeal of Stella. Don't get me started on Tennents). I daresay that I liked it. Also, regular bud ain't horrible even in the US; Bud Light's the nasty stuff.

Sure, American macro beer sucks. But you can get *AWESOME* micro beer, and "boutique" macrobrews (ie. Blue Moon) that don't suck in pretty much any decent pub or restaurant. I saw very little of that in the UK.
posted by schmod at 7:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was shocked to discover the email was not sent by Hyacinth Bucket.

I'm sorry, but Hyacinth would never send a letter like this. She's a Lady.
posted by schmod at 7:07 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


my awesome mother-in-law.

I, too, won at the game of mothers-in-law. We could not be more different but get along great. We moved her from six hours away to about half an hour and it has been great.
posted by shothotbot at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


No-one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I totally disagree.

I think no-one gets married in a castle unless they stormed that shit. It is brash, celebrity style behavior..
posted by hal_c_on at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

Clearly this is not a Jewish family she is marrying into.
posted by The Gooch at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [18 favorites]


Bogan meets pretentious old biddy. Hilarity does not ensue.
posted by wilful at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2011


The whole point of real etiquette is that you are taking the high ground; confronted with uncomfortable or awkward situations, you react with grace, compassion, good humor...

Spoken like a vulgar American!
posted by AndNeverWell at 7:10 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


No-one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

What if it's a bouncy castle?
posted by dirigibleman at 7:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [62 favorites]


No-one gets married in a castle unless they own it.

she has a point
posted by clavdivs at 7:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


DRATS!, that was rude to upstage the stooge dirigibleman, please bring goggles for the outing to midsomer manor.
posted by clavdivs at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I, too, won at the game of mothers-in-law.

As with some other notable games, when you play the game of mothers-in-law, you win or you die.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [23 favorites]


Hyacinth Bucket would send emails in ALL CAPS.
posted by sweetkid at 7:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I first saw this in a news article on my BBC app, I assumed it was my own mother in law. Then I realized she only has one son and I'm married to him.

Otherwise these women are identical.
posted by Malice at 7:17 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


*paging jonmc*

I should mention that my mother-in-law is a sweet lady and a fantastic cook.
posted by jonmc at 7:21 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless I missed something, it sounds like the DIL sent this letter out en masse and somehow it became viral (well, A obviously and B, not sure how middle step(s)) work. That's not going to win her any favors either...

And I miss my british grandmother and her occasionally ALL CAPS (parts of) her letters...
posted by bquarters at 7:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I assume that you're being sarcastic but, if you're not, what on Earth in wrong with wearing a baseball cap
posted by asnider at 3:04 AM on July 1


Caps? Those close-fitting hats with peaks? They're for little boys. Little schoolkids. Adults who wear them haven't managed to grow up. That's kinda revolting and sad. Baseball caps are the worst because they say not only that the wearer is infantilised, but also HEY GO YANKEES! Or whatever. Ugh. Terrible, terrible.
posted by Decani at 7:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Caps? Those close-fitting hats with peaks? They're for little boys. Little schoolkids. Adults who wear them haven't managed to grow up. That's kinda revolting and sad. Baseball caps are the worst because they say not only that the wearer is infantilised, but also HEY GO YANKEES! Or whatever. Ugh. Terrible, terrible.

Except for Magnus PI, you mean. Right? Because otherwise we've got trouble, you and me.
posted by kbanas at 7:27 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder if the Queen herself wanted to send an email like this to some of her sons' choices for brides.
posted by Leezie at 7:28 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's this thing in England where people with No Upbringing At All think they're upper class and get really sniffy about having to deal with the proles. My grandparents were like this, I know that- and I really hate it.
Even my mom makes comments from time to time about "acting common". Fuck that talk.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:29 PM on June 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


Interesting. When you're a guest in my house, I expect you to eat what you want, when you want to eat it, sleep however long you like, and pretty much enjoy yourself and have a good time. When you're my houseguest, that's what you're there to do. You're probably on holiday or spending a weekend and why anyone would want to spend any time with someone with a redwood up their ass is beyond me.

If I have things I dont want you to consume or do I will make sure you know it beforehand, and give you an explanation as to why those things are reserved or off-limits and I know you will respect those boundaries because you're my guest. I know this because I dont invite people I dont trust to spend time in my home - I dont care who they are. Outside of any certain restrictions of that nature, my philosophy is mi casa, su casa.

When you are my guest, your meals and other needs are provided for. If you dont like what food there is, I will prepare or procure something more to your taste and/or needs. However, since I will have been careful to make sure beforehand what your tastes and needs are this wouldn't be an issue. Anything less than making that kind of effort to make my guests comfortable and cared for is unthinkable to me, as well as almost everyone I know.

If you can't deal with providing that level of hospitality or being a gracious host in that way, then you shouldn't have houseguests, you selfish, shrill, vile, contemptible bitch. I'm not even sure you should have friends, much less a husband.
posted by perilous at 7:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [51 favorites]


Except for Magnus PI, you mean. Right? Because otherwise we've got trouble, you and me.
posted by kbanas at 3:27 AM on July 1


Magnus PI? POH! Magnus Magnusson? Now there's a proper chap. I've started so I'll finish!
posted by Decani at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I am imagining this letter being read in the Dame Judi Dench voice."

I read it in Sir John Gielgud's voice, and added "Usually one must go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature."

I laughed until I almost peed.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Caps? Those close-fitting hats with peaks? They're for little boys. Little schoolkids. Adults who wear them haven't managed to grow up. That's kinda revolting and sad. Baseball caps are the worst because they say not only that the wearer is infantilised, but also HEY GO YANKEES! Or whatever. Ugh. Terrible, terrible.

They're also great visors when you're outside in the sun a lot. You know, the place where you go if you leave the attic?

Of course, I suppose only us ape-like sports fans do that.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


"Momma's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you
Momma won't let anyone dirty get through"
posted by pyramid termite at 7:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


Of course, I suppose only us ape-like sports fans do that.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:32 AM on July 1


Nonsense, dear boy!

Also, have you never heard of sunglasses?
posted by Decani at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


dirigibleman: "What if it's a bouncy castle?"

Have I got a wedding venue for you!
posted by workerant at 7:35 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought the point of etiquette and manners was to make everyone feel comfortable not to keep score.
I was under the impression that etiquette and manners existed as a form of social lubricant, a way to smooth the rough edges of awkward moments.


Etiquette is a tool used by the elites to help oppress the lower classes.
posted by andoatnp at 7:35 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


There's this thing in England where people with No Upbringing At All think they're upper class and get really sniffy about having to deal with the proles. My grandparents were like this, I know that- and I really hate it.
Even my mom makes comments from time to time about "acting common". Fuck that talk.


This is not a solely English thing.

I used to have a roommate who talked about things or people being 'classy' or not.
posted by winna at 7:36 PM on June 30, 2011


Caps? Those close-fitting hats with peaks? They're for little boys. Little schoolkids. Adults who wear them haven't managed to grow up. That's kinda revolting and sad. Baseball caps are the worst because they say not only that the wearer is infantilised, but also HEY GO YANKEES! Or whatever. Ugh. Terrible, terrible.

I entirely disagree, but the photo certainly looks like it was taken at a baseball game. Even if baseball caps are unacceptable in most situations, surely they're acceptable at a baseball game.
posted by asnider at 7:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also, that email reminds me of the poster I saw down at the town office saying "There's no excuse for elder abuse!"

YES

YES THERE IS SOMETIMES
posted by dunkadunc at 7:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


Nonsense, dear boy!

We share a love of Noel Coward. All is forgiven, even if you are a cap-hating mutant.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:37 PM on June 30, 2011


Magnus PI? POH! Magnus Magnusson?

Magnus PI is like Magnum PI, only Magnus is a go-getter, always doing stuff, whereas Magnum only has stuff happen to him.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:37 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


The thing that gets me about this is that I agree with her on every single point (except, possibly, the sleeping-in)

Same here, Decani. Mum-in-law nailed it. ESPECIALLY the sleeping-in part.

Mark my words. Etiquette is going to be the new cool. The youth of today are just a bunch of unkempt skank yobbo ignorant drunks. Yes, Victorian standards were taking it too far, but the pendulum has swung too far the other way as well.

As for netiquette. Erm. I'd rather not talk about that. My lawyer is preparing a statement.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:37 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I am imagining this letter being read in the Dame Judi Dench voice."

This requires a Facebook campaign to actually get Judi Dench to do it.
posted by Leezie at 7:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dear Mrs. Bourne,

Your son is marrying a woman who is nothing like you, and will be living with her on another continent. I don't blame him.

Sincerely,
posted by Sys Rq at 7:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


She should run like hell and find a fiance with sane parents. No ocean is big enough for such bullshit.

My in-laws are saints. For which I'm very thankful.
posted by zarq at 7:43 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have been to many games at Yankee Stadium and have never found it appropriate to wear a Yankee ball cap, even there.

But then again, I'm a Sox fan.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:48 PM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


I read about this in The Guardian today. The article said that Mrs. Bourne had no comment for the press. No wonder, given that she seems to have spoken her mind at length already.

Honestly nothing in the letter leads me to conclude that Heidi was actually rude. It's much more likely that the mother-in-law just dislikes her and overreacted.
posted by orange swan at 7:48 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something.

THIS^^ is a perfect call. But I'll just add a rider: I read about this yesterday, so didn't click the link here. The story I read had all the quotes listed in this thread, but no mention of diabetes.

I've got no idea where she's coming from here. I "need the full story" and all that. Surely diabetes and allergic are close enough in terms of mum-in-law's gripe?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:49 PM on June 30, 2011


I suggest that at the next meetup that Decani attends commemorative baseball caps be procured and worn by all attending. Especially if the meet up is inside.

Does anyone else think that the mother would not be in this situation if she had followed her own advice and expressed her concerns in a nice handwritten note?
posted by TedW at 7:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Notes can be scanned, TedW. THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM INTERNET MOCKERY.
posted by emjaybee at 7:52 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just sent my marvelous soon-to-be mother-in-law a link to this and a not to express my feelings of sudden, overwhelming gratitude.
posted by audacity at 7:52 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


*note
posted by audacity at 7:52 PM on June 30, 2011


Meanwhile at the Brakewater Estate in upstate New York, the daughter's family is meeting over a light luncheon of duck pottage and sparkly local cider.

FATHER: She sent a Letter? Really?

DAUGHTER: An E-mail, and she was so ...upset

MOTHER: Surely she's aware...

FATHER: We musn't presume but still

DAUGHTER: I want to laugh about it, but she was so mean

FATHER: Oh don't worry now, Charles is divine, we'd be overjoyed if you had the wedding here.

DAUGHTER: I didn't want to ask

MOTHER: Nonsense, we'll call Beatrix and Liz and they'll set up the whole thing, nothing to it.

FATHER: You just relax and try to get used to being Called - What as his name again?

DAUGHTER: Booth.

FATHER: "Princess Caroline Booth Of All Lichtenstein!" It's got quite a ring to it.
posted by The Whelk at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


This girl's lucky she's marrying a guy with a British mother who can manage to be direct, rather than a guy with a Midwestern mother, whose passive-aggressive emails have to be decoded over an extended period of years until you suddenly realize, holy shit, she hates me.
posted by padraigin at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [49 favorites]


"
To be fair, any adult who wears a baseball cap and drinks Budweiser is basically pond life."

So, Cindy McCain doesn't wear the ball cap? Not to get off topic.

Future Grandmother, you have lost the first round, space girl, I can't see your tether. People like you have the capacity to make families miserable for generations. Buy more mirrors, that is who you will entertain in the future, if you don't mend your ways.

Anyway, that's the lecture I would deliver. The house guest, is absolutely right to send out the email, she will need non-familial support later, when the whole thing goes south, and she is left with the child, and her husband finally succumbs to the dragon Mom's wishes, and brings home eager to please gold diggers.
posted by Oyéah at 7:58 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well this certainly makes all that ruckus in 1776 seem worthwhile.

I studied abroad in England at Oxford and we didn't have that many rules even at our most formal events.
posted by epsilon at 7:59 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ball caps are great! They keep the sun off your head, they keep your eyes shaded, and the visor is a good spot to store fishing lures.

(The Yankees, though, can kiss my ass.)

C'mon, Decani. Let's go catch us a mess of bream and crappie down at the lake. We'll drink canned beer so bad it'll make you wish for Budweiser. I've even got an Atlanta Braves cap you can borrow to swat skeeters with.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


The mother in law sounds pretty rude.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:00 PM on June 30, 2011


This mother-in-law should launch her own cop show! She's a ruthless, etiquette-enforcing couthness minister who wages fierce street justice on those who don't do exactly what she wants them to do, oh and also she's weirdly possessive of her son.

It would be called Mother 'n' Law.
posted by ORthey at 8:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [29 favorites]


No-one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I thought this was an excellent point [Posh + Becks, anyone?] when I read it yesterday. Huge laffs at the castle-related comments here, but. hal_c for the win, you've made my morning.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:04 PM on June 30, 2011


My dad says that if my parents were to divorce tomorrow, after nearly 40 years, his mother would say "I knew it would never last."
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


It is tragic that you have diabetes. However, you aren't the only young person in the world who is a diabetic.

I know quite a few young people who have this condition, one of whom is getting married in June. I have never heard her discuss her condition.


You should be ASHAMED of your underperforming pancreas, young lady.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


But... what good are good manners if other people don't recognize them as the sign that they are of your innate superiority and greater social standing? A stop had to be put to this.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something.

Screw that. This is British cuisine we're talking about. I'd be making sure you knew damn well I wasn't going to be eating any Full English Breakfasts. Because, hey, you know what? I really wouldn't eat it, so you'd be wasting time (and what you'd like to pass off as "food") preparing it. This would be my courtesy to you. You're welcome.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:08 PM on June 30, 2011


Not being married, I have no mother-in-law myself, but of the times I've come close, well, they're always a mixed bag. Some parents are trying, and some are fantastic. But you can't judge your future spouse based on them.

Reading this I'm just glad that my remaining sister-in-law has been so thoroughly embraced by my family. We met her under somewhat shady circumstances for my family, at least. She was marrying my oldest brother, who was almost 33 at the time, while she was 19 or 20 at most. We first met her at Christmas, and then they got married at New Years (something of a tradition in my family) and we found out not long after that she was pregnant for a month or so prior to the engagement.

It was all so sudden and weird that my sister and other brother didn't even make it to the wedding, which sucks for them, because it was an awesome affair on the beach in Santa Barbara at twilight, with the bride and groom in hemp-robes, hers, parting to expose her eight-months-along belly, presided over by a war-veteran druid priest, with their dogs digging two holes in the sand, one for the beer pit and one for the barbecue pit. My fairly traditional parents claim it was the most beautiful wedding they've ever attended.

So I love my family for their part in taking this young woman into their hearts, at least eventually, because it turns out she is fucking awesome. Even if she weren't, she should have been welcomed, but she is as much family to us as the ones we grew up with, and we are better for it.

But then again, it's not like she tried to maintain a medical condition while on holiday. Some things are inexcusable.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


The house guest, is absolutely right to send out the email, she will need non-familial support later, when the whole thing goes south, and she is left with the child, and her husband finally succumbs to the dragon Mom's wishes, and brings home eager to please gold diggers.
She's actually the step-mother-in-law, which I think substantially reduces the probability that the groom-to-be will end up falling victim to some sort of twisted psycho-drama. Having a wicked step-mother sucks, but it's got to be better than having a wicked mother.
posted by craichead at 8:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, any adult who wears a baseball cap and drinks Budweiser is basically pond life.

Uh ... I guess most of my family is comprised of lower life forms.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without having read any comments:

Dear Mother-In-Law,

Kindly go fuck yourself.

Warmest regards,
Carolyn
posted by Splunge at 8:15 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Screw that. This is British cuisine we're talking about. I'd be making sure you knew damn well I wasn't going to be eating any Full English Breakfasts. Because, hey, you know what? I really wouldn't eat it, so you'd be wasting time (and what you'd like to pass off as "food") preparing it. This would be my courtesy to you. You're welcome.

You sound like a racist knob head, Sys Rq.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:15 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Etiquette is a tool used by the elites to help oppress the lower classes.

Don't confuse etiquette and manners with economic status like this classless email-sending cow clearly has. You can be a polite, classy, and well-mannered person without two cents to rub together just as easily as a tacky, no-account piece of trash with millions in the bank.
posted by elizardbits at 8:16 PM on June 30, 2011 [17 favorites]


racist

?
posted by andoatnp at 8:17 PM on June 30, 2011


Does anyone else think that the mother would not be in this situation if she had followed her own advice and expressed her concerns in a nice handwritten note?

Withers' father claims that Mrs. Bourne emailed the message twice to his daughter's personal email and once to her work email. I think she's come by her viral fame honestly.

Or, she just wants to make sure that the castle wedding is extra authentic by volunteering to be the evil stepmother.
posted by gladly at 8:18 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh look it's a proper British gent in a baseball cap.
posted by sweetkid at 8:18 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


African food?! We're talking African food. I ain't eatin' no African food. Dayam, you seen what those Africans eat for breakfast? I ain't eatin' no African breakfast. Screw that.

My bad. Not racist at all.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:22 PM on June 30, 2011


seriously what was racist?
posted by sweetkid at 8:24 PM on June 30, 2011


Oh, Americans are always oppressing the British horribly. I hear we forced them to import Friends.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:25 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


racism = anti [celts, angles, saxons, jutes, and normans]
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:26 PM on June 30, 2011


By any standard, Mrs Bourne is appalling, even if the future DIL were straight from the set of The Only Way Is Essex.
posted by droplet at 8:27 PM on June 30, 2011


How can you be racist toward a single country? Are the stereotypical British a race apart from all other Caucasians now?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:27 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


You can be a polite, classy, and well-mannered person without two cents to rub together just as easily as a tacky, no-account piece of trash with millions in the bank.

Where do you think that poor kids are learning proper etiquette? While I've seen it discussed as a problem that there is a proper way to act and if you don't know it then it is harder to get ahead in life there don't seem to be too many solutions in place. There seem to be a few school programs, such as this one, that are focusing on etiquette, but generally I don't think kids without two cents to rub together are learning etiquette and are at a disadvantage because of this.
posted by andoatnp at 8:29 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait, why can't people get married in castles if they don't own them? Is it because they aren't of a high enough social standing? I mean, I don't have castle wedding money. But I think it would be fun. /uncoothamerican
posted by mmmbacon at 8:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Appropriateness of thank-you notes notwithstanding, anyone who tells me how I should have thanked them instead does not ever get thanked in that manner, on principle.
posted by emelenjr at 8:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sure, American macro beer sucks. But you can get *AWESOME* micro beer, and "boutique" macrobrews (ie. Blue Moon) that don't suck in pretty much any decent pub or restaurant. I saw very little of that in the UK.

It is a shame that the American microbrewing/craft ale thing has yet to catch on in the UK.
posted by Flashman at 8:33 PM on June 30, 2011


My bad. Not racist at all.

Uh, as the perpetrator of the "racist" comment, I should perhaps point out that I am racially, ethnically British. What, am I "self-hating" because I'd rather not eat a big wad of fried blood?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


African food?! We're talking African food. I ain't eatin' no African food. Dayam, you seen what those Africans eat for breakfast? I ain't eatin' no African breakfast. Screw that.

British cooking has been the subject of many jokes for centuries, particularly by the foodie French. The Brits make fun of their snobbery. Have never in my life heard anyone refer to this back and forth as racism.

Seriously. Traditional British food isn't that great by many standards. Comforting, heavy ... not cooking taken to an art form. Can you not like a region's food without being racist?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:34 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also -- immediately jumping to 'African food' is a bit telling, as well.
posted by sweetkid at 8:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I seem to recall even Gordon Ramsay making fun of his country's cooking, with an aim to change how people think of food and cooking in general.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mushy peas and black pudding aside, British food is great food.
posted by Flashman at 8:36 PM on June 30, 2011


British cooking has been the subject of many jokes for centuries...

Still? I thought it had improved dramatically over the past 30 years.
posted by mojohand at 8:36 PM on June 30, 2011


Still? I thought it had improved dramatically over the past 30 years.

Smaller portions?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:37 PM on June 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


If someone has sincerely helped me, I am gracious.
I will tell them to their face: "Thank you for your help, and hospitality."
If you think I have been offensive by not writing everyone a hand-written
thank you card, when I said thank you directly to you and honestly
meant it, you're playing some social protocol classist nonsense game,
which can kiss my ass.
posted by gcbv at 8:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


Still? I thought it had improved dramatically over the past 30 years.

Well, when I visited France I met only one or two truly snobby people, and I generally like British cooking anyway even if it's just pub food (not for the same reasons as some other styles of cooking), but I don't think the jokes about either are going away anytime soon.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:39 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Say what you will about British food and teeth, but they sure hunt the shit out of a fox.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found the whole letter to be appallingly classist, but maybe that's because I recognise most of her daughter-in-law's faux pas as being things that are only faux pas among upper class Brits -- and the whole letter is smeared with class prejudice (references to being a lady,etc). It was the British equivalent of saying that she should get back to the back of the bus.

Of course, in my working class Canadian culture, it's the mil who is shockingly rude. Guests always eat first, should feel free always to have a second helping - and not only is the guest allowed to ask for more food, but the host should be embarrassed that they didn't automatically serve them enough to support a small family for a week. The whole point is that they are the guest and your job as host is to make them as comfortable as possible. A polite guest will try to make this job easier by being less demanding, but really their preference in everything comes first. (Including sleeping in is they want to - they are the guest). And thank yous are done verbally or by email, because we're not Victorian housewives with hours of time to calligraph notes - we have jobs and kids and stress.

I feel so sorry for the young woman - I only hope he's worth it.
posted by jb at 8:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [36 favorites]


I had one of the best meals in recent memory in a pub up in the Peak district surrounded by happy sheep and hills and the ghosts of dead miners.

Then again I've also had what they call pizza so maybe it's a wash.
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 PM on June 30, 2011


The email (and parts of this thread) make me feel uncouth and not the least bit sorry about it.
posted by mantecol at 8:55 PM on June 30, 2011


How can you disparage the full english breakfast. I don't dare eat it more than, say, once a year for health reasons but mopping up runny egg yolk with fried bread is awesome. Artery hardening omnomnomnom in one of its most distilled forms.
posted by juv3nal at 9:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, if I had a house guest who had just arrived from overseas, and they appeared shortly after I got up in the early morning, I would apologize profusely for possibly having woken them up.
posted by mantecol at 9:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [18 favorites]


This was Scotland, so I understand if it doesn't count, but in a lifetime of food-travels, the best thing I have ever eaten was in the isles. Haggis Fried Wantons on the Isle of Coll, in the inner Hebrides.

Seriously, my ex-girlfriend's father and I went to the place five days running or more just to share a pint and partake of that culinary perfection.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:04 PM on June 30, 2011


The bride-to-be is British, not American.

Also, her dad is a hoot and has some choice things to say about Mrs. Fancy-Pants.
posted by contessa at 9:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yep, just like telling a joke to the Dalia Lama is racist. Ain't that right, Metafilter?

Dalai Lama. Dalia means porridge (in India).
posted by vidur at 9:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Although, of course, Porridge Lama sounds just fine.
posted by vidur at 9:07 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Mushy peas and fried blood are both awesome!

oh, I so want some black pudding on toast ...
posted by jb at 9:08 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Give them both a cricket bat, brick them up in a cellar and let them sort it out.
posted by Iron Rat at 9:09 PM on June 30, 2011


Every so often I'm reminded that I have The Best Mother-in-Law In The World. I'm going to have to give her a call tomorrow and thank her again for being TBMILITW.
posted by galadriel at 9:10 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Yep, just like telling a joke to the Dalia Lama is racist. Ain't that right, Metafilter?"
You mean the black dalia lama?
posted by Iron Rat at 9:10 PM on June 30, 2011


The bride-to-be is British, not American.

Apologies. The attached photo and description of behavior made her appear very much like a native New Yorker.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:11 PM on June 30, 2011


The choicest quote from contessa's link:
“My humble opinion of this Carolyn is that she is so far up her own backside she really doesn’t know whether to speak or fart.”
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dalai Lama. Dalia means porridge (in India).

BUGGER! I remember in that thread a bit of argy bargy about the spelling. So I made it a point to run it thru a spell checker and I got the all clear. I feel much shame.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:12 PM on June 30, 2011


Mushy peas and fried blood are both awesome!

Actually, I don't think I've eaten mushy peas since 1982. but I'm traumatised by British school dinners. Deep-fried Spam fritters were also a regular entree.
posted by Flashman at 9:14 PM on June 30, 2011


anti [celts, angles, saxons, jutes, and normans]

The majority of white persons in America, Canada and the Antipodes come from, in whole or part, the same stock. I don't think gently ribbing British cooking can be "racist" when it applies to a couple hundred million people who are not citizens of the United Kingdom.
posted by spaltavian at 9:15 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing I am having a hard time imagining is what is the next step for these two. It is not like this is something that can just be ignored next time they speak or see each other. They could raise money for the wedding by promoting a pay-per-view snark fest between these two or even an MMA cage match.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:15 PM on June 30, 2011


There's not a single thing in that e-mail that is as large a breach of etiquette as sending someone an e-mail upbraiding them for lack of etiquette. Mother-in-Law is a wannabe poser.
posted by straight at 9:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


does not ever get thanked in that manner, on principle.

If it were me, they would get thanked regularly by singing telegrams. And possibly mariachi bands.
posted by NoraReed at 9:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


This photos of the respective parents are so perfected cued into their roles that I am going to be more impressed if it's not staged.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


A polite guest will try to make this job easier by being less demanding, but really their preference in everything comes first. (Including sleeping in is they want to - they are the guest).

THIS. THIS SO HARD.
posted by chimaera at 9:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was rolling along with her complaints. Who knows? Maybe this fiancee is a crude chav-like buffoon. It's possible. The mother-in-law is certainly a stuffy, snobby bitch, but it's entirely possible two jerks of different stripes meet and both are jerks to each other.

But she buried the lede, and I read this part:

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.)

What. The. Fuck. Is she trying to be a cartoonish stereotype of an upper-crust snob? Perhaps the fiance is a little bitch, but this just insults the girl's parents if nothing else, who could very well be lovely people. And not rich for who knows how many reasons, including choice.

That mother-in-law is a fucking bitch. Freddie's got a hard choice ahead of him.
posted by zardoz at 9:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


this just insults the girl's parents if nothing else, who could very well be lovely people. And not rich for who knows how many reasons, including choice.

according to contessa's link, the parents had just lost their jobs. Stay classy, Mrs Bourne!
posted by sweetkid at 9:41 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


None of the things listed in that e-mail strike me as particularly rude. Maybe mildly rude, but nothing worth remarking on. Sleeping in might be a little rude, but certainly not enough to merit such a crazy e-mail. The only thing that strikes me as somewhat rude (or simply impractical) is the bride-to-be wanting to have the wedding in a castle if it's beyond her budget. The part that pisses me off the most is this: "I know quite a few young people who have this condition, one of whom is getting married in June. I have never heard her discuss her condition." What is wrong with openly discussing having diabetes? It's not someone's fault if they have diabetes, and it's not even an unappetizing condition like genital warts that you might not want to discuss over dinner. Even if one of my guests bored me to death going on and on about their diabetes, I'd still rather nod my head and feign polite interest than bash them over the head with "etiquette".

I was raised in a household with a very different idea of hospitality, in which the gracious hosts accommodate to the wishes of the guest, not the other way around. The only thing that might merit an e-mail like this would have been if the guest did something horrible, like taking the MIL's jewelry or leaving a half-eaten sandwich in the bed.

I guess the wise move would have been if the bride had picked up on the fact that the MIL is really uptight and should have bent over backwards to please her, if she didn't want this kind of trouble. Then again, I think there's more to the story. Probably, the MIL already hates the bride and was simply looking for things to upbraid her about. It's possible that the daughter in law is obnoxious, but that can be (at least partially) resolved by having a civil one-on-one discussion in person between the bride, MIL, and son.
posted by adso at 9:44 PM on June 30, 2011


Dear Future Mother-in-Law

I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

Very truly yours, etc. etc.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:47 PM on June 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


What is wrong with openly discussing having diabetes?

Stiff upper lip and all that?
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:58 PM on June 30, 2011


"Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way."
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think evaluating the merit of the mother's statements is completely missing the point. (For the record, I agree with her on all counts.) But, what's her motivation in writing the letter? Do you really think that she is trying to get the daughter-in-law to "go to a finishing school"? That letter is not going to convince anyone to go to school. It is a declaration of war.

The son, if he has any spine at all, should ask his mother why she sent the letter. He can listen to whatever reasons she invents, and then ask why she didn't discuss it with him first. Again, listen to whatever she invents. And then, he can state the obvious:

"You are trying to make a very uncomfortable situation for her in order to sabotage my wedding — a total disrespect to my agency."

From there he can convince her to apologize in person or else remain in a very bad light.

Now, if the son doesn't recognize that his marital choice is being co-opted, and he does nothing, then the girlfriend has to act. She's in an almost impossible position because a war with the mother is unwinnable; she can't take the bait.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:21 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


"That boy's yo' comp'ny and if he wants to eat up the tablecloth you let him, you hear?"
posted by dirigibleman at 10:22 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


I found the whole letter to be appallingly classist, but maybe that's because I recognise most of her daughter-in-law's faux pas as being things that are only faux pas among upper class Brits -- and the whole letter is smeared with class prejudice (references to being a lady,etc). It was the British equivalent of saying that she should get back to the back of the bus.


I'm confused by the people who are reacting like this, because although I do see class prejudice here, this letter screams of lower-middle 'climber' insecurity to me - Hyacinth Bucket indeed.

There isn't a shred of upper class about this Bourne woman, and the email shows it.
The things that offend her spring from her class and circumstances too - sleeping in, starting to eat before others are served, squeamishness about a medical condition, eating another serving. All middle class morality hangups, except the last, which would make me assume the writer grew up in poverty. If not, there's no excuse for it.

Apallingly classist of me I know, but my reaction is to wince, say "poor woman", and look away.
posted by Catch at 10:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


The Bourne Ultimatum: bride-to-be's dad blasts 'Fancy Pants' mother-in-law

Mr Withers said that while he found Freddie's father, Edward, to be pleasant, Mrs Bourne had bored him with talk about her horses and schooldays when they met over dinner at a London pub last year.

“All this woman kept on about was that she had got horses and that made her part of the royalty pack,” he said.

“I couldn't believe what I was hearing, she really is something else.

“My humble opinion of this Carolyn is that she is so far up her own backside she really doesn't know whether to speak or fart."

posted by UbuRoivas at 10:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wanna glass her.

(Mrs B, that is.)
posted by tristeza at 10:34 PM on June 30, 2011


I suspect the 'castle' is actually just a rental wedding venue - there are a lot of 'stately homes' that are actually used as catering halls, so the picture we're getting of an over-the-top wedding plan might not be true at all. (I know several people - none of them castle-owners or celebrities - who have gotten married in rental halls in buildings that an angry harridan might call a 'castle.')
posted by Wylla at 10:36 PM on June 30, 2011


Were I in possession of a castle, I would totally rent it out for weddings. And would not judge people who wanted to have their wedding in a goddamn castle. I mean, it's a castle!

Just sayin'.
posted by kafziel at 10:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Were I in possession of a castle, I would rain boiling oil down on unsuspecting Amway salesmen. And damn any nonsense about class and manners!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


“My humble opinion of this Carolyn is that she is so far up her own backside she really doesn't know whether to speak or fart."

“She's probably a very nice woman but she doesn't come across that way – maybe it's the hormones.”


Not very humble really, is it?

Anyway, the wedding venue - Berkeley Castle.
posted by vidur at 10:55 PM on June 30, 2011


What the fuck is a chav? ... is the sort of question a chav would likely pose, I suppose.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:56 PM on June 30, 2011


Berkeley Castle is, indeed, set up as a rental venue for weddings. (Disappointingly, despite looking like a stereotype of medieval-epic movie castles, it appears that it doesn't usually host over-the-top medieval-fantasy weddings.)
posted by Wylla at 11:00 PM on June 30, 2011


Sure, American macro beer sucks. But you can get *AWESOME* micro beer, and "boutique" macrobrews (ie. Blue Moon) that don't suck in pretty much any decent pub or restaurant.

Note to self. I wasn't spending the day getting shitfaced on Blue Moon. In every bar on Thompson and Sullivan in the Village today. I was partaking of a fine microbrew. Cool. Uuuuurp.
posted by Splunge at 11:06 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight. In summary:
The MiL is a complete and unadulterated douchebag.
The son is a spineless ninny for allowing his mother to speak to his lady friend in such a fashion.
The DiL is a classess, gold digging chav.
Her Dad doesn't care for class politics; and
Castles are awesome.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Excellent! So I get a free pass if I want to make fun of [race, culture X] on Metafilter, so long as those jokes have a bit of history.

Hey, good luck with all that, whatever it is. Seems like a fine hill to die on.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:25 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although, of course, Porridge Lama sounds just fine

It does indeed. Make me one with everything!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:25 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think that many owners of castles and stately homes can't afford to keep them without renting them out for the occasional (or 5 times every Saturday) wedding! She's just doing her part to keep the landed gentry landed.
posted by vespabelle at 11:28 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


A chav in American parlance I guess would be a thug. A young, ineffectual wannabe thug.
posted by mreleganza at 11:40 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somewhere between wigger and bro, from what I can gather.
posted by kafziel at 11:53 PM on June 30, 2011


the whole letter is smeared with class prejudice

In Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, it's always the servants who are the true embodiments of "upper class" virtues. The nobles don't believe in them, they cynically manipulate for their own advantage and spread rumors to destroy others' reputations. But the servants know who is the real deal, and stand in the place of judgement. I think the aristocrats appropriated working class values to impress them and justify themselves as the moral betters. But their natural instincts are irresponsibility, destructiveness and ostentatious displays of wealth, i.e. what we know today as "chavs."
posted by AlsoMike at 12:07 AM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think Chase has nailed it - the MIL doesn't come across as upper class, more as an insecure social climber.

Incidentally, I'm ok with American jibes about British food, we must let the burger-eating invasion monkeys have their fun.
posted by spectrevsrector at 1:28 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


EXTRA WINE AND LIVE WEBCAMS AT THE RECEPTION PLZ
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:32 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Have any of you people cheering for the MIL and calling this woman a chav ever had to deal with diabetes? It dictates when, what and how you eat, it's a serious medical condition. It's not something to fuck around with just because your future mother-in-law is a stuck up bitch who doesn't know shit about your life-threatening disease and wants to treat you like a pariah because you dared to ask for accommodation in dealing with your permanent, life-altering illness.

Why should people not talk about having a serious disease? What if Heidi went into a coma and the MIL needed to tell EMS what was wrong with Heidi? The thing people seem to be missing is that when you marry, you merge families - for better or worse. So now you're not allowed to tell a future family member - at whose home you're staying and whose food you're eating - that you have a serious illness and you might have need help to deal with it? You can't mention a serious disease to a future family member who might be the only one available to provide medical care or procure medical assistance if something goes wrong?

There appears to be nothing wrong with Heidi Withers. All of our knowledge of her supposedly "uncouth" behavior is based solely on the biased opinion of her MIL. Do any of you know her personally so that you can attest to her wild, jet-lagged mornings of sleeping in and her diabolic diabetic need to eat on a schedule? I suppose Heidi's only mistake is in thinking that her MIL could possibly care about her as a person and not want to treat her like shit for no reason besides incorrect notions about what etiquette is.

BTW, this woman is hardly an expert on etiquette, and she has absolutely no standing to send this email to her DIL (multiple times, no less). It's in the poorest taste to even send this letter in the first place. Even if you don't like your DIL, you suck it up and don't outline every single perceived flaw in a written document. You don't ever tell your guests what to do and you don't criticize them openly and you don't look on talking about a serious illness as shameful. The real uncouth person here is Mrs. Bourne.
posted by i feel possessed at 1:44 AM on July 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


If it hadn't been for the mother in law, this wedding might have been expensive...
posted by Jehan at 2:22 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is a shame that the American microbrewing/craft ale thing has yet to catch on in the UK.

There are plenty of local beers in the UK, you just don't find them in mainstream pubs unfortunately. There is a chain of pubs in South East London that owns its own microbrewery. And I was pleasantly surprised to fine when visiting my home village in East Anglia that the local Budgens carries shelves full of East Anglian beer (and very good it is too).

BTW, I'm English and have never encountered a woman like this. But then I'm a guttersnipe.
posted by Summer at 2:58 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given that we don’t have access to what really went on, the best we can do is to criticize the mother-in-law’s email.

The solution is to stop thinking of etiquette (and its constituent rules) as an abstract moral concept to be adhered to absolutely, and start realizing that it serves a different purpose: to encourage a sense of community by taking other people’s feelings into account.

Viewed through this lens, we can see that the mother-in-law’s email, as it stands, and regardless of what the daughter-in-law maybe have been doing, would not likely encourage a sense of familial coöperation in the latter, instead coming across as a decree of compliance.

Of course, that would require compromise to go both ways, and for the mother-in-law to bend to the daughter-in-law’s requirements, particularly where her diabetes is concerned. It would appear that the mother-in-law is not the kind of person to do this.
posted by jmegawarne at 3:04 AM on July 1, 2011


Ha! I am imagining this letter being read in the Dame Judi Dench voice. Try it!

Heh. I was already doing that without realizing it.
posted by Anything at 3:08 AM on July 1, 2011


This reads like something from a Katie Fforde novel. I always assumed that the horrible in-laws or prospective in-laws slagging off the heroine were not realistic, but obviously I was wrong.
posted by paduasoy at 3:17 AM on July 1, 2011


Sadly, my husband's mother passed away before I could get the chance to meet her so my ex-boyfriend's mum was the closest I will ever get to experiencing it. I will say she could give Freddie's mum a run for her money.

She met me in passing once, decided she hated me on sight, threatened to cut her son off from his own money (she was the executor of his business trust/estate) if he continued the relationship. She'd hang up the phone if I ever answered it, I was never once invited to family functions and she claimed my mere existence gave her a brain tumor. She actually did have one. Her favorite thing to do was try and set her son up with other women. He never defended me and wouldn't even discuss it with her. So she was allowed to get away with treating me like dirt.

The relationship still lasted 8 years but part of me thinks I did my time and was spared having a mother-in-law a second time. I don't think I could do it again.

Looking back, if I had written evidence like this fiancée does, and wasn't the meek 22 year old back then, I would send that email out in a heartbeat and cancel the wedding. A woman like that will sink a marriage.
posted by Jubey at 3:21 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


octothorpe: So do they actually drink Budweiser in England or was that picture taken in New York?

It's available. Let's put it that way. Budvar is preferred. But there are so many nicer lagers.
posted by Lleyam at 3:34 AM on July 1, 2011


> The majority of white persons in America, Canada and the Antipodes come from, in whole or part, the same stock. I don't think gently ribbing British cooking can be "racist" when it applies to a couple hundred million people who are not citizens of the United Kingdom.

Though it is possible to discriminate against people of another culture by using lazy stereotypes, racist or otherwise.

So well done everyone for that.
posted by vbfg at 3:47 AM on July 1, 2011


It is a shame that the American microbrewing/craft ale thing has yet to catch on in the UK.

I assumed that was a joke as there has been a massive resurgence of independent breweries in the UK in the past ten years.
posted by asok at 3:47 AM on July 1, 2011


I was always taught that the height of bad manners was to point out somebody else's.
posted by Tarumba at 3:53 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not that it makes any difference, but where does it say that there was any air travel/jet lag involved? I didn't read it anywhere in the original article and assume that it would be mentioned.

(The Yankee hat means nothing if you know fashion of...not to sound like the step-monster-in-law... certain types of young women in London... )
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:54 AM on July 1, 2011


What I find really interesting is how universal the Brits perceive their own set of manners to be. If Mrs. Bourne were guests of a family in China or Japan for a weeken, she would undoubtedly have been considered uncooth in many ways.
posted by pistachio at 4:08 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


So do they actually drink Budweiser in England or was that picture taken in New York?

Budweiser is the 5th best selling beer brand in the UK (2009) and the current sponsor of the English FA Cup, also known as "The FA Cup with Budweiser".
posted by iviken at 4:15 AM on July 1, 2011


Just to juxtapose the key points, as several people seem to have missed them:

"When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something.

You do not remark that you do not have enough food.

You do not start before everyone else.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host...It is tragic that you have diabetes. However, you aren't the only young person in the world who is a diabetic."

I think being diabetic is ample reason to declare what you will and will not eat - would you really want your guest going into hypo or hypergylcemia?

and as to saying that she did not have enough food - maybe she meant "Enough food to balance out the insulin I just took."

Honestly, the arrogance, cluelessness and lack of compassion of this mother-out-law.
posted by Year of meteors at 4:43 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


The voice I imagine is that of Mrs. Premiss.

The old bat has some problems. Too much English beef/prions, making holes in her brain maybe?

The manners/food/diabetes juxtaposition is just too much. Starts to sound made-up. But I will allow, an ignorant old pussy might think someone rudely demanding when having a diabetic's nutritional needs explained.
posted by Goofyy at 4:54 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen several versions of this email without reference to diabetes. Also, the ones with the diabetes bit refer to the girl as "Carolyn," which is actually the name of the admittedly nasty potential MIL. I wonder if someone has done a bit of editing to make this more sympathetic to Heidi?

Either way, I feel sorry for both of them!
posted by Concordia at 5:26 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


American craft beer is about as good as British regular beer (like Newcastle Brown) - and British small brewery ales win hands down (and are much more widely available).

As for why the Brits haven't bought into the American craft beer movement - have you even heard of the Real Ale organisations? Craft Beer is much more mainstream in the UK.
posted by jb at 5:26 AM on July 1, 2011


I studied abroad in England at Oxford and we didn't have that many rules even at our most formal events.


Epsilon: In that case, you were probably at the wrong Oxford college.

Some are more casual than others. Unfortunately.
(Especially when they serve hamburger.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:28 AM on July 1, 2011


Just so that everyone knows...I watch a show called "Keeping up Appearances".

And the main character of the show is an upstanding citizen named Hyacinth Bucket. Its a FRENCH surname...and pronounced "Boo-Kay". Please don't pronounce it like a commoner would.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:32 AM on July 1, 2011


I was under the impression that etiquette and manners existed as a form of social lubricant

Why you poor, dear, gullible commoner. Well, I'm off. Tah!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:39 AM on July 1, 2011


I feel like I should send my MIL a thank-you note just for not being an insufferable, high-strung bitch.
posted by and miles to go before I sleep at 5:45 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I totally read that in a Monty Python old lady voice too.

The first half, I can see where she is coming from because the girl sounds quite sloppy (I kept expecting to hear her mention something about burping loudly when walking into their home.).

But then the second half, with the diabetes, I just read it in the tone "no one wants to hear about your diabetes, dear. Why don't you just run off and die like a good DIL, hmmmm?"
posted by stormpooper at 6:16 AM on July 1, 2011


If the picture is accurate she's a Yankees fan, so maybe there were even more affronts not listed in the letter.

I bet the wedding toasts would have been awesome!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:32 AM on July 1, 2011


But really, I'm still wondering what she could have done to so traumatize the family dog. Challenge it for the food in its bowl? Have a nice long lie in on its cushion? There's more to that part of the story.
posted by mimo at 6:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wouldn't it be funny if Mrs. Bourne didn't exist, and we were all being trolled?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:45 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


My first reaction was to wonder which of the protagonists is going for the book deal. having read Dad's contribution I suspect it might be everyone.
posted by Segundus at 6:56 AM on July 1, 2011


The MIL could take a lesson or two from my ex's mom. I was her son's first boyfriend, something she was very uncomfortable with. One day when he had gone off to the bathroom, she turns to me and basically said, "I don't trust this whole gay thing, don't hurt my son, he's just confused". I pointed out that I was head over heels for her son, and only wanted the best for him, even if that meant he someday moved on. She was polite, direct, and let it go after she'd had her say.

Which is not to say she probably wasn't happy when he did eventually get married to a girl and have kids, but she never would gloat over it, like I kind of assume this woman would.
posted by nomisxid at 7:09 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will preface by saying that I attended boarding school in England. In our school were girls who came from great wealth and pedigrees, and common mongrels like myself. I cannot imagine anyone who is manor-born that would even consider writing a letter such as this. It is so far beyond the pale of acceptable behavior.

The letter writer has shown herself to be a classless harridan who married money...probably *for* the money. She has shown her self to be a fully grown guttersnipe who should be shunned from polite society until she actually learns the manners she demands from everyone else.

The mother-in-law is an example of why manners are considered an effete affectation, rather than a common way of smoothing the rough edges of reality. I blame women like her for the incredibly poor behavior which has become common, so as to avoid being seen as hoity-toity. Frankly, I think she should be horsewhipped until she realizes that trophy wives don't set the standards.
posted by dejah420 at 7:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Someone needs to take her face and turn it into a snob-meme, complete with pie-style colored background.
posted by shesaysgo at 8:20 AM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a mother of a son, and hope someday to be a mother-in-law. M-I-Ls have a pretty bad reputation. I wasn't overly fond of mine, but she's much better at being a grandmother than my own Mom so I have some appreciation for her. My father-in-law was a dick. To me, to his wife, to his son, and to plenty of others. Why don't male in-laws take heat? hmmmm, what could it be?
posted by theora55 at 8:23 AM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


although I do see class prejudice here, this letter screams of lower-middle 'climber' insecurity to me - Hyacinth Bucket indeed.

The Daily Mail writes:
Carolyn Bourne began her career in horticulture on market stalls in North Devon. She has been married 3 times, and apparently her first child was conceived and born out of wedlock. Her stepson Freddie studied philosophy at St Andrews, where he was an acquaintance of the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"Oh Freddie, don't you think we should invite that nice girl Pippa over for our next floral exhibition? By the way, I heard that she might be single again."
posted by iviken at 8:33 AM on July 1, 2011


The mother-in-law is an example of why manners are considered an effete affectation, rather than a common way of smoothing the rough edges of reality.

Ah, there's the core issue. I often read Miss Manners, you've hit on one of her core teachings. Etiquette is a set of social conventions designed to smooth out personal interactions and make people comfortable. They are not a set of inflexible rules that people must live up to, or be considered failures. The only thing worse than a transgression of etiquette is calling attention to someone's transgression of etiquette. If you do that, you are deliberately making those personal interactions more difficult. Better to ignore it, and show you are gracious enough to overlook these trivial matters.

On the other hand, there are times when one must object. I recall Miss Manners once responded to a question, and gave approval to objecting to someone else's rudeness.. as long as it was not done with retaliatory rudeness. But she warned that the rude often become even ruder to people who will no longer tolerate their rudeness.

I love Miss Manners.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:39 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am absolutely in love with the formulation "diabetic of long standing".
posted by penduluum at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


It would be hard to resist the temptation to stab her right in the backside with my insulin syringe while saying, "Now quietly get on with this!"
posted by chinston at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somewhere between wigger and bro, from what I can gather.
posted by kafziel at 1:53 AM on July 1 [+] [!]


Wigger? Excuse me? I believe Wafrican-Wamerican is preferred.
posted by artychoke at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The wrong here is so obvious I hardly even need to point it out. Unsolicited correction of another adult's manners is a capital etiquette offence, even when it doesn't rise to the level of outright verbal abuse, as this does.

But the actual content of her critique is wrong, too:

1. Unvarnished insults levelled at both fiancee and own son.
2. Thank-you letters are correctly written on writing paper, not cards.
3. Correcting someone on the proper way to manage her health condition, when not medically qualified to do so.
4. A castle or other stately home is not an inherently inappropriate venue for a wedding.
5. Non-utilitarian, unnecessary discussion of money.
6. Unsolicited criticism of fiancee's parents' financial situation.

So, unsurprisingly, it turns out that the author of the critique doesn't understand etiquette at all. Who'd a thunk it.
posted by tel3path at 9:25 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Assuming that doing things like getting seconds, refusing to eat certain things, and starting before others would be a breach of etiquette, and assuming that the lady in question was doing these things because of her diabetes, would it still be a breach of etiquette if the lady in question didn't say she was doing the things because of her diabetes?
posted by andoatnp at 9:37 AM on July 1, 2011


Given that the MIL seems to treat mentioning the condition itself as a grievous faux pas, that turns into a catch-22.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:40 AM on July 1, 2011


shothotbot's comment wins the thread. It's the first time I really wanted to multi-favorite.
posted by whuppy at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2011


I thought the point of etiquette and manners was to make everyone feel comfortable not to keep score. There is the tale of a guest drinking from the finger bowl (there to rinse your fingers) and the lady of the house copying him so he wouldn't be embarrassed.

whuppy: shothotbot's comment (above) wins the thread. It's the first time I really wanted to multi-favorite.

Yes, but it's a bit easier to drink from a finger bowl than go into a diabetic coma.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:35 AM on July 1, 2011


Since the son's name was Freddie, I thought it was more a P.G. Wodehouse novel.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still wondering what she could have done to so traumatize the family dog.

was it a male or female dog? I think that leads to speculation as to what she did to him or her.

Some found it traumatizing. Some found it titalating. One person's poison is another person's pleasure.

She needs to stop being so uptight. :0)
posted by stormpooper at 10:59 AM on July 1, 2011


The solution is to stop thinking of etiquette (and its constituent rules) as an abstract moral concept to be adhered to absolutely, and start realizing that it serves a different purpose: to encourage a sense of community by taking other people’s feelings into account.

That's a very good point. Forget who said that manners are a social lubricant. The mother in law is determined to be the sand in the gears.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:06 AM on July 1, 2011


Appropriateness of thank-you notes notwithstanding, anyone who tells me how I should have thanked them instead does not ever get thanked in that manner, on principle.

I was at the doctor's office the other day, sitting in the waiting room, when an elderly man came in with a walker. He was old, really old, and barely looked like he could stand. He had some difficulty getting through the door when a woman in her 40s sitting near the door got up and held it open for him. The ancient man shuffled/staggered his way into the office and, just as he was passing the woman, she said, in a prim, scolding voice: "When someone holds the door open for you, you should say 'thank you'."

She was absolutely right, but I really wanted nothing more than to smack her for the effrontery of scolding the disabled, old man for not expressing gratitude to her satisfaction.
posted by darkstar at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last night it emerged that the Withers family – who live in a converted Victorian barn and keep chickens and sheep in the garden – may count landed gentry among their ancestors including Sir William Withers, who was Lord Mayor of London in the early 1700s.

Hah.
posted by cereselle at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2011


There are things that the DIL did that I understand may be considered bad manners. But as others have noted, they are so utterly swamped by the terrible manners of the MIL that they're ultimately not relevant.

Being a horrible, snide, hateful snot to someone over a couple of minor infractions is SLIGHTLY less awful than doing it for no reason at all, but not that much less awful.

And frankly, once you see from the diabetes business that she's completely irrationally cruel and unbending, it doesn't really matter what the rest of it is, because you have hard evidence that the MIL is cruel and unbending, so she'd have found things to be snooty about anyway. You just know she would.

The worst offenses the MIL names are slips from rituals that are supposed to be followed. Her behavior is actually actively unkind. There is no comparison, and the idea that it's the DIL who supposedly got a lesson in etiquette, or that both the women are equal, floors me. The daughter has a couple of arguably bad habits (or lacks a couple of good habits). The MIL is actively, knowingly mean. Very different.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I kind of assumed this was a conniving way to get the step-son Freddie to elope and cut off ties with the family so that he wouldn't get any money from the dad.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:24 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ancient man shuffled/staggered his way into the office and, just as he was passing the woman, she said, in a prim, scolding voice: "When someone holds the door open for you, you should say 'thank you'."

That makes me feel really, really sad. Patronising cow.
posted by Summer at 1:47 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


The kind, affable father needs to divorce this trashy scum pronto if he wishes his son and his new daughter to ever feel at home in that family.

It is the only honorable action that can be taken here.

God knows he has to have been looking for a reason to kick this piece of garbage to the curb, and now she's handed it to him. In that respect, it can be seen as a huge favor, she's done the family a real kindness.

No matter how much money it takes to get her gone -- and I suspect she'll fight for every stinking penny she can touch -- it'll be worth it for peace and love in the home. Throw her out, throw her back out on the street where she came from; it's where she belongs.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2011


shothotbot's comment wins the thread.

I would gloat but its not polite.
posted by shothotbot at 3:23 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love Miss Manners.

So do I, and I hope, hope, hope she weighs in on this item in her column.
posted by orange swan at 3:51 PM on July 1, 2011


C'mon, Decani. Let's go catch us a mess of bream and crappie down at the lake. We'll drink canned beer so bad it'll make you wish for Budweiser. I've even got an Atlanta Braves cap you can borrow to swat skeeters with.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:00 AM on July 1


Sacrilege! I'm a Mets fan!

Probably.
posted by Decani at 4:02 PM on July 1, 2011


So do I, and I hope, hope, hope she weighs in on this item in her column.

I'm sure she's too classy to associate herself with this fray, but she effectively has weighed in on this exact topic many, many times over the years. Perhaps she may cherry pick some other topical advice requests in the form of Was I right to chastise her uncouthness?
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:33 PM on July 1, 2011


I've run into former partner's parents who were similar in their views of declaring what you can/cannot eat, amount of food, times for meals, etc. I don't have diabetes but I have another illness that requires me to eat regularly, avoid certain foods, eat a certain amount, have enough liquid, etc. One of those women would get extremely upset if I asked to have a glass of water with meals, because this was rude. She'd get very angry if I needed to have a snack or if I asked what time we would be eating so that I could make sure I had a snack - and I explained why. (She also got upset when I invited my boyfriend to join us when she asked me and a sibling's female partner to do the dishes. Perhaps I was being rude to assert boundaries there, but I just couldn't stomach washing the dishes simply because I was female while the men watched TV.) Another would get upset when I brought my own food with me (such as bread) because she refused to serve food I could eat. I tried to be exceedingly polite about it all, but it was clear that, in their etiquette books, guests were never to make any demands of their hosts, not even if it was with the aim of avoiding the hospital. So I feel for this poor bride.
posted by acoutu at 11:11 PM on July 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


acoutu, the point of etiquette is that people don't get to write their own personal etiquette books to throw at their guests. People don't get to unilaterally declare other people's illnesses "rude", much less correct them for it.

Although if she were to somehow declare her own country with herself as queen, I guess within her own sovereignty she could establish whatever values and customs she liked. But I would never suggest that, because some people might get ideas.
posted by tel3path at 8:33 AM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that Mummy Dearest's problem with the mentioning of diabetes was her perception that the disease was beneath her. It's clearly not an illness of the noble classes acquired as a result of good living...
posted by arishaun at 2:13 PM on July 2, 2011


Newsflash: Carolyn Bourne is not so prim and proper after all -
the Daily Mail has published some photos from her home:
"One shot shows the woman dubbed ‘Miss Fancy Pants’ standing in her kitchen modelling a huge and not exactly flattering pair of bloomers over her trousers. Another shows six young men standing in her kitchen with their trousers down around their ankles. (...) The pictures were posted by Mrs Bourne’s own daughter, 27-year-old Lizzie Whetman – who also seems to prefer a good time over minding her manners."
posted by iviken at 5:29 PM on July 2, 2011


I'd love to have been a fly on the wall for that weekend. Because if Carolyn had *liked* her, the lie-ins would have been "poor dear, she's exhausted, I do hope she's not working too hard" and the diabetes (and accompanying food issues) would be "so brave, and sad for such a lovely girl to struggle with." My money says they're both pills.

Also wondering if little Freddie thought about saying, "For God's sake stop X, you're driving Carolyn MAD" and decided to avoid the conflict.
posted by cyndigo at 5:37 PM on July 2, 2011


Yes, all us British people eat nothing but shitty food and drink terrible beer, but since our culture is now 80% American, it's all pretty moot.

Happy now?
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 2:52 PM on July 4, 2011


Holy cow, one of the nicest breakfasts I ever had was in a B&B on vacation in Callander, Scotland. Thick rashers of bacon, yummy ripe tomatoes, eggses, freshly squozen orange juice, toast with tasty blackcurrant jam and orange marmalade, tea with milk and a side of beans.

Not sure what some of you folks are on about, but the Brits have awesome breakfast.

(I'll also add scones and clotted cream with ripe strawberries, pork roast with mint sauce, Cornish pasties, fish and chips, and some outstanding cheeses and ales as other examples of delicious British cuisine.)
posted by darkstar at 3:31 PM on July 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I...uh...I didn't mean to slag off all of British cuisine. I mean, I like haggis, ffs. I was just giving my transatlantic perspective re: politeness or lack thereof WRT letting the host know what you won't eat.

Sorry about that.

Derail over. Back to Posh v. Baby.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:08 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I do draw the line at haggis. :)
posted by darkstar at 4:13 PM on July 5, 2011


I had haggis a couple of years ago, and it was surprisingly awesome.
posted by cyndigo at 4:26 PM on July 5, 2011


My experiences with it haven't been as pleasant, but I've heard that it really is all in the preparation. I'd love to try a good haggis.
posted by darkstar at 4:27 PM on July 5, 2011


I know the British have a lot of terrible food but unless those of you slagging on them are from outside of the United States I really do not think you should get to talk as we did create the Double Down
posted by NoraReed at 9:21 PM on July 5, 2011


The Double Down is just an adaptation of the Chicken Cordon Bleu to the fast food format. It's really nothing special.
posted by kafziel at 7:49 AM on July 6, 2011


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