did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Mushrooms

1

The important thing to know about your in-laws is that they're literally trying to kill you

Remember that post from a few years ago, the article about how the writer's granny always served really weird food that made people very ill or put them to sleep for two days straight, and now that the writer thought about it he reckoned... maybe she was poisoning the food?

To be honest, the in-laws clearly hate her, but they are equally clearly not trying to kill her. If they wanted to kill her they simply wouldn't have told her about the mushroom powder, and then she would have died. They just hate her and want her to stop coming over.

And they seem to have achieved their aim:

This has caused a huge wedge between my husband's family and us. We no longer spend holidays with them and rarely speak. They don't get to see their grandkids, even though they live very close by. His sister stopped talking to us.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:16 AM
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My guess is what they want is her to go away and him to dump her.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:19 AM
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I personally enjoy mushrooms very much, and mashed potatoes with mushrooms sounds better than without.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:25 AM
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But I guess I wouldn't threaten my daughter-in-law with it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:26 AM
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5

Technically, we're all allergic to most mushrooms.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:28 AM
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I imagine Heedie's kids-in-law will just be allergic to rural Dixie, no additional action needed.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:29 AM
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Also, I would totally deliberately murder a potential kid-in-law that couldn't eat mushrooms. A life unmushroomed is not worth living. It would be a kindness.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:31 AM
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What are rural Dixie mushrooms?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:33 AM
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Mushroom allergies are not well studied:

The overall extent of mushroom allergy is not known. It may be very slight (1%) from eating, but could, alternatively, be as prevalent as pollen and mould allergy (10-30% of an allergic population). Aerospora of mushrooms and other woodland fungi, mostly basidiospores, occur in temperature zones in June to November, reaching maximum in August and September in quantities comparable to pollen and mould spores. There are large local and annual variations in species and spore concentrations in different milieus. In SPT and BPT studies about two dozen of these species have been associated with inhalant type I allergy. All species studied so far have yielded positive results. Mushroom allergens have been explored in only two studies. These show that mushrooms are antigenically rich and that a species can have more than one allergen. The difficulties of mushroom allergen research are very substantial because one usually has to rely on naturally growing mushrooms, where allergenic contamination by other allergen sources is frequent. Choice and recognition of species is also difficult. Virtually all known allergenic mushrooms and fungi are universal, growing equally well in Europe and North America. The genus Chlorophyllum occurs only in North America, but its close relatives of the genus Macrolepiota are common also in Europe. Podaxis grows only in desert regions near the equator and is not found in Europe. The majority of the large and more common universal mushroom families has not yet been investigated. The allergenicity of families Cortinariaceae, Russulaceae, Lactariaceae and Boletaceae is totally obscure even though they produce large quantities of spores in the air, particularly in northern Europe.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:35 AM
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I think some people -- and some groups of people -- are anti-empathy. My guess is that this family genuinely regards her allergy as an affront because, hey, who is allergic to mushrooms? Other people's problems are their own invention. Women, minorities, etc. -- these are people with problems I don't have or won't admit to, so you can't have that problem either.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:37 AM
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11

Mushroom poisoning, on the other hand...


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:38 AM
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My attention span has gotten so short that I barely skim the answers in advice columns. It's really the problems that are interesting.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:39 AM
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More on mushroom allergies. Most likely an anaphylaxis situation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:41 AM
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"How dare she fuck my son and then try to control what I can cook!"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:42 AM
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I guess 5 conflates allergies with poisoning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:43 AM
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Or, you know, they just hate their daughter-in-law.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:43 AM
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10 is exactly how I think Republicans function. "I don't believe what other people describe if it differs from what I personally experience."

I've known many rightwingers who carve out one particular issue that they are lefty on, because they've experienced that one particular injustice, ie "We're very conservative but we think medicine should be socialized because we discovered when we had our kid with pervasive disabilities that medical bills are really expensive even though we weren't irresponsible" or "we're very conservative, but we adopted a black child, and you'll be shocked as we were to discover that she gets treated differently than our white child."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:45 AM
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Or, you know, they just hate brown people.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:47 AM
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I think that's why Magneto wanted to make everyone into a mutant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:47 AM
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Well, 18 is true, too. But those two examples are actual people I know.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:48 AM
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21

Anyway, the letter writer clearly needs a divorce. Blood will out, and a perfect murder scenario is all set up and ready to go.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:49 AM
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While it's true that some people will get there backs up to a ridiculous degree over something as minor as dietary restrictions (I recall reading somewhere some asshole bragging about secretly putting meat in vegetarian dishes when he threw a dinner party because...why exactly?), in this case my guess is that they just hate the daugher-in-law and the mushroom thing provided a particularly easy way for them to say "go die" without using those literal words.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:55 AM
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My stepmother's first husband's parents were like this about her dairy allergy; it was a huge imposition, they'd always have "forgotten" to cook food she could eat aside from maybe here's some iceberg lettuce, etc. She took it as part of their general cold disregard for her. But my stepsister - i.e., these people's biological granddaughter, whom they generally seemed to like in their own odd way - was diagnosed with Celiac a couple of years ago and it's the same thing all over again, so they're just awful people who don't really believe in other people's problems, I guess.


Posted by: medrawt | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:57 AM
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24

Slate's Dear Prudence had a letter from a woman that thought her mother-in-law was tainting her food, and then there was a follow-up letter in which the woman was able to prove it, by switching food with her husband.

https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/03/poisoned-meals-my-mother-in-law-may-be-trying-to-make-me-sick.html

http://www.startribune.com/turns-out-that-mom-in-law-really-was-tainting-her-food/152095325/


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 8:45 AM
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Holy shit, I can't believe the husband was in on it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 8:53 AM
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Who wants a spouse who can't eat a little bit of e coli without shitting profusely?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 8:57 AM
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24 isn't the story I was thinking of but, good grief. And the follow-up is even worse. The oddest bit, though, is where the letter writer says "I'm pretty sure my mother in law is poisoning my food every time we eat with her in a way that gives me terrible diarrhoea on the way home. My first thought is to buy adult diapers to protect the car seat."

THAT SHOULD NOT BE YOUR FIRST THOUGHT.

"My mother-in-law keeps stabbing me with large knives. Can you suggest any way to stop the blood from staining my clothes? Bleach isn't an option, it damages the fabric."

"My mother-in-law constantly shoots at me with a .357 Magnum revolver. Can you suggest any way to stop the loud muzzle blast from scaring my dog, Pixie?"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:05 AM
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She missed a chance, though. The truly power move would have been to switch food with the mother-in-law, and then, on their next encounter, look her in the eye and simply say "I know".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:08 AM
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29

That would have been awesome, but then she might still be married to the husband.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:11 AM
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30

You know what goes well with prime rib? Mushrooms.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:11 AM
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31

Is poisoning food still a crime?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:16 AM
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32

It sounds like a crime.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:16 AM
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33

29: well, step two is obviously to tell husband that his mother was poisoning you, so you poisoned her right back in self defence. I suspect that is endex for the marriage.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:19 AM
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34

Yes, but the moment where the unexpected duplicty of the husband is revealed is much less cinematic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:29 AM
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35

If there's one thing I learned from Dumb and Dumber it is that loud diarrhea is cinematic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:31 AM
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36
He looked at me with such hatred in his eyes that I knew he had known all along what his mother was up to. His only words were to accuse me of poisoning him.

If I discovered, in between bouts of diarrhea, that I was used as a non-consensual food taster, I'd probably look pretty pissed. Even with confounding facts like an evil parent. I'd get over it--although stew over the lack of trust--but only after the anal leakage was over.

Then again, he apparently hadn't believed her for a while. I wish she wrote more details about her relationship with him. I'm choosing to believe her that he was duplicitous because believe victims, but there isn't much to go on here.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:37 AM
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37

Oh, you'll always know your neighbor, you'll always know your pal,
If you've ever got diarrhea from an family feast Pascal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 9:46 AM
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38

31: If you make poisoning food a crime, only criminals will poison food.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:01 AM
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36: When your mother poisons your wife, there is no scenario in which it is appropriate to blame the wife. The husband insisted that no poisoning was going on. How did he find out differently, when the only change was that he was the one who got sick?

Or maybe he was accusing his wife of administering the poison in an effort to frame his mother. Either way, the wife has to get the hell out of there pronto.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:07 AM
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40

Maybe he was mad that she was half-assing Koch's postulates.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:19 AM
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41

||
Tomorrow we'll do Hong Kong, right?
|>

I shared this link with my sister and got an earful of extended family drama in response. The most messed-up of my mom's sisters apparently does this sneaking-allergens-into-the-food thing to the youngest sister. Power relations around food are just fucking awful.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:20 AM
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39: What I'm trying to say is: I'm not convinced he knew or was involved given the evidence we're presented. We have very little evidence of the state of their relationship--what I quoted gives the strongest clue. Despite that, I'm choosing to believe her and it really was awful, and he already knew somehow but if we were to go only on those specific words, it seems much more tenuous.

The wife definitely poisoned the husband. She thought she was being poisoned, and she switched with her husband, therefore she thought (with high probability, this isn't a logical guarantee--maybe the mother wouldn't poison it this time, maybe the mother is using something only she has reactions to, maybe her husband has been consuming small quantities of common poisons to develop a tolerance, etc.) she was poisoning her husband. By any reasonable test her actions are a major factor in her husband being poisoned. If my spouse did that to me, I would, while suffering the consequences, probably shoot daggers at her ("such hatred in his eyes"). That doesn't mean I knew that she was being poisoned.

This would not absolve me of not believing her. On the one hand, knowing my family and wife and their relationship, it'd be absurd on its face--I would initially have trouble accepting it. On the other, if it is does occur multiple times, I'd probably be up for switching food to test myself (or save some to submit to a lab). But that would be a voluntary decision.

I wish this was from one of the Reddit relationship forums, where people can be much more chatty with the details, than from a space-constrained agony aunt.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:28 AM
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43

AITATHD.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:31 AM
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44

Am I The Asshole That Has Diarrhea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:33 AM
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45

If you took a sample and brought it to the police, would they test it? Assuming you hadn't had any symptoms worse that pooping too much?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:35 AM
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46

If one needs to ask, the diarrhea itself must be the least of one's worries.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:35 AM
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47

42: Your wife is regularly shitting all over the furniture and contemplating adult diapers, and believes your mother is poisoning her.

Option 1: You think your wife is a hypochondriac and your mother in harmless. One day, you start shitting yourself dramatically. Your wife reveals that she swapped plates prepared by your mother with you.

Your reaction is anger with your wife, and not your mother?!

(Or, if you have a bad immediate reaction, you don't walk it back within a day or two and reconcile?!)

Option 2: You are in cahoots with your mom. One day, you start shitting yourself dramatically. Your wife reveals that she swapped plates.

Your reaction is anger with your wife, which is entirely consistent with the situation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:00 AM
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48

It wasn't plates. It was horseradish ramekins. Which seems worse.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:05 AM
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49

47 makes a sort of sense but I still kind of feel that using your innocent spouse* as a poison tester without their knowledge, whatever the circumstances, is not ideal. Hence suggesting swapping with the mother in law.

* or any innocent family member. Would you still say 47 if she had swapped plates with her equally sceptical child?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:06 AM
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50

Anyway, people are generally not at the top of their emotional game when shitting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:06 AM
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51

41: this does raise the interesting question of how many American women are regularly poisoning family members because it sounds like it isn't exactly rare.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:07 AM
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48: And au jus, but I figured "plates" was easier.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:07 AM
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51: If the husband turns out to be innocent, she should have swapped with the mother. If the husband turns out to be guilty, she should have swapped with him. It's a modern day dunking tank.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:09 AM
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Any test subject needs of course to be double-blind, and both the MIL and the husband are at least potentially aware that one of the dishes is poisoned. The suspected dish should therefore have been switched with that of an innocent niece or nephew while its back was turned.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:11 AM
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55

There were pre-modern dunking tanks?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:11 AM
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56

For witches?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:14 AM
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In this context it is worth remembering that Americans suffer food poisoning at a rate 20 times that of the rest of the developed world and I've been assuming that it was simply due to lower food hygiene standards but I'm now beginning to think that you're maybe doing it to each other deliberately a lot of the time, so sorry for jumping to conclusions.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:16 AM
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56: ah, gotcha.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:16 AM
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59

If Americans were clear on the concept of dipping tanks their kids wouldn't have lice all the time.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:18 AM
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But, while your spouse not believing you are being poisoned seems like good grounds for divorce, I'm pretty sure that giving what you think is poison to somebody else is a crime regardless of whether or not you think they know you are being poisoned.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:24 AM
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47: Yeah, I'd have a bad immediate reaction (because I am having a bad immediate butt reaction), but I would also be pissed at my mom for what she did to my wife. And her Of course! Immediately. And for her deception! I can be angry at two people at once (and simultaneously disappointed at myself for not believing my wife earlier, I contain legion). But I would definitely be at least slightly angry at my wife for poisoning me to make a point (yes, she did it for more reasons than that). And I would also look anguished because I have butt pain.

I would also try to reconcile the same day. Of course! But she was already gone and getting a lawyer.

And of course, there are ways where I never could be this husband: if my wife told me that one of my parents had gloated to her about me not believing her, I would get on my wife's side immediately. Alas, the first article doesn't explain how he responded to that. And obviously the wife is not a hypochondriac. She is having a reaction. What needs to be established is why, and not all causes are due to the mom poisoning her. Maybe, say, she's having a reaction to low levels of mold in the mother's house. (Of course, that would be ruled out by the mom's gloating.)

Actually, I'm having troubling making sense of this in the original:

My husband doesn't believe me, and she even gloats about that. We have to attend family functions at her home about once a month. (It used to be more frequent, but after I put my foot down, my husband agreed that monthly would be sufficient.) The problem is that after each visit, I wind up with a bad case of diarrhea; my husband does not. I don't know if the other in-laws are affected, because if I asked, it would get back to her.

So...has she talked to the mother about this or not? If she has, why would that information matter? Or in the first sentence, is she just trying to say that she has a low-trust relationship with her husband in general and her mother gloats about how broken it is? But if so, that's a weird way to write that.

Anyway, from the response, these are the pieces of information we have: 1) he looked at me with hatred, 2) I therefore knew he knew, 3) he accused me of poisoning him because I poisoned him, 4) so I immediately left. This is an incomplete story. I can't believe that's all that he said--what did she say to him then? What happened after that? Sure, it's dramatic this way. But either she left immediately or more things happened, and I fail to see how they could all be irrelevant. I need more than "he looked at me bad". I've had multiple people, including my wife, ask me very concernedly if something's wrong because apparently I get bitch face when I'm concentrating on a math problem. I don't trust people's abilities to understand what's going on in others' hearts at a glance.

Anyway, I can accept that maybe you're all just so much better than me at not being pissy when you're shitty. But I wish there was more info here.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:33 AM
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Anyway, now I'm getting weirdly defensive about this and you're all going to think I'm a poisoner, so good job me. Me: totally not a poisoner, except in the not-a-good cook sense assumed in 57.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:40 AM
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63

I think you're all being too hard on the wife -- at most, she was calling the husband's bluff, since he insisted that no one was poisoning her food, and she herself did not know that her food was being poisoned. Yes, she had reason to suspect it, but she also thought maybe the stress of eating at her MIL's house was giving her digestive problems. And who can blame her for being a bit skeptical that someone was literally poisoning her? She wrote:

You had suggested swapping plates with my husband to see if my mother-in-law would react. However, as you noted, that would have required bringing my husband into my confidence. I didn't feel it was wise to do that, because he already didn't believe that his mother treated me badly.

But given that he immediately blames her for deliberately poisoning him, he's effectively admitting that he was misleading her about the situation: that she had such strong reasons to believe that her MIL was indeed poisoning her food that it was unethical of her to give the food to him. But he never suggested that he thought she had any reason to believe it before! ANY decent person would immediately turn on THE ACTUAL POISONER.

Speaking of poison, 6 and 59 read like passive-aggressive sniping to me. Am I mistaken?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:41 AM
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64

Probably, but stay away from the horseradish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:43 AM
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65

If you aren't ready to poison someone to make a point you aren't ready to win.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:45 AM
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66

But the husband doesn't immediately blame his wife got anything. He just looks at her.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:54 AM
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67

Wait. I don't follow the logic in that quote. Why would she have to take her husband into her confidence? Especially if she doesn't trust her husband. If she switches the plates when it'd be visible to both her MIL and husband, she'd still get useful reactions from both, as was the suggestion.

I also don't agree with 63.3. If you think something's harmful, and I don't, and you non-consensually apply it to me, I can still claim that to best of your knowledge you thought you were going to harm me. Because you were! At best, you get "I told you so," you don't get "oh well your response shows you secretly knew it was harmful." I know it's harmful now, that doesn't imply anything about my past mental state.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:57 AM
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Dalriata seems to be taking a deontological position that poisoning is impermissible in all cases. While, as usual, laudable, this position is like all deontologies doomed to failure. Even without modifying the actually reported case at all, the utility of poisoning the husband is clear: by so doing the wife has assured she will never again be poisoned in the same fashion, whereas without such action she would continue to have been poisoned approximately once per month for the several decades of life likely remaining to her mother-in-law.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:06 PM
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69

I'm actually taking the position that being grumpy after poisoning is understandable and not divorce-worthy. I'm fine that she poisoned him.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:11 PM
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70

If you're willing to risk poisoning your spouse out of curiosity then divorce is probably the best option regardless of how well you get on with your mother in law.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:12 PM
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71

Anyway this story like 95% of agony column stories is completely fictional.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:14 PM
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71: Agreed. Or, at best, poorly edited.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:15 PM
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69: In general, sure. But this here is a long-running conspirator in poisonings. You poison, you get poisoned. Them's the breaks. Grimacing involuntarily, fine. Grumpiness, no. That's unsportsmanlike.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:33 PM
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The evidence for him being a co-conspirator, as presented, is lacking.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:43 PM
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75

I feel you really aren't getting into the gonzo Borgia rambunctiousness of this thing. Your attitude is like, sapping the team's energy?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:51 PM
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76

But don't worry, we'll talk it out over lunch. I'll serve.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:52 PM
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77

Speaking of poison, 6 and 59 read like passive-aggressive sniping to me. Am I mistaken?

I didn't get the joke in 6, so I'm not sure. 59 felt fair, since we do literally comb our kids out every Sunday to prevent outbreaks.

(Which has really been a positive practice to adopt, despite my sureness that no one else on the planet would bother to do so. The concept of lice no longer makes me jumpy, that you'll unexpectedly have many multi-hour comb-out sessions over the course of a week or two that you hadn't budgeted time for. That was the worst part: surprise! You've got an emergency giant time sink!)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:55 PM
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I'm actually taking the position that being grumpy after poisoning is understandable and not divorce-worthy. I'm fine that she poisoned him.

If I were the innocently poisoned husband, I'd be grumpy too, I'll grant you that.

However, I think there's zero % chance that he's innocent, and the ambiguity is due to narrative constraints. It's not just the angry look he gave her, it's what happened in the next five minutes, 30 minutes, week, month, etc, that makes her so sure that he was in on the jig.

Dally, dahling, you're very wrong in this one narrow instance.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 12:58 PM
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70: Well yeah, if you're curious whether your husband doesn't care if you get poisoned, that's a pretty bad sign right there. But I don't blame her for needing proof.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:01 PM
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My point is that if there was no poisoning and she was getting diarrhea from something else -- which is what her husband seemed to be communicating to her*, and an idea that she is willing to consider -- then obviously switching the dishes would do no harm. The act of switching dishes only does harm if a third party has poisoned one of them. She doesn't know! She has also learned that bringing up the subject at all is a bad idea, from what I can tell, so she doesn't want to suggest to her husband that they switch dishes because she thinks he'll say "Jesus, no, this insanity of yours has to stop" and then go tell his mother "look, my wife is so convinced that you're poisoning her that she wants to switch dishes to see if I get sick," which would blow the whole thing up and probably not result in a conclusive test of the poisoning hypothesis. I think it's reasonable of her not to get her husband to go along with it. As for whether it's hostile of her to expose him to the risk of poisoning -- well, sure, but he's completely earned it. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. Also if he was in on it and didn't see this coming, he is a cretin.

What's the scenario where he's totally innocent?

* (at least, he maintains that his mother doesn't hate her and we can safely assume he doesn't think "she doesn't hate you, but she totes might be poisoning you for the lulz, why not?")


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:01 PM
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81

Those were jokes!
6 being a play on the observation Heebie herself I believe has made, that all her progeny will flee with unfilial urgency to the glistening-towered deep-blue metropolises, leaving her gazing mournfully out upon the dark-swirling floodwaters beneath her kudzu-wrapped stilthouse.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:04 PM
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82

77: fair enough. Someday this hypersensitivity will turn out to be adaptive. That won't be a fun day.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:05 PM
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Horseradish for the goose ...


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:08 PM
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"she doesn't hate you, but she totes might be poisoning you for the lulz, why not?"
See, this is what I mean. Borgia spirit.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:10 PM
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80: Right, the husband was poisoned, and it was appropriate that he be pissed off at the poisoner, but that was his mother, not the wife.

Also, 83 before reading 80.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:10 PM
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To be clear, I love mean jokes and my best friend gives me all kinds of grief for being casually vicious. The sending and receiving process just misfires with some regularity.

I'm not as mean as Beijing my mean-ass allergen-sneaking aunt though! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER? I generally blame the formative decade in a convent, but I'm sure there's more.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:12 PM
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"What's the scenario where he's totally innocent?"

The one where he doesn't believe his wife's being poisoned by his mother and thinks there is some other cause. Sure, in that case he's being unfairly and unkindly dismissive of his wife's reasonable and as it turns out correct suspicions but he's still innocent of involvement in the poisoning.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:17 PM
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Casually vicious is literally my dating profile.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:19 PM
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she doesn't want to suggest to her husband that they switch dishes because she thinks he'll say "Jesus, no, this insanity of yours has to stop" and then go tell his mother "look, my wife is so convinced that you're poisoning her that she wants to switch dishes to see if I get sick," which would blow the whole thing up and probably not result in a conclusive test of the poisoning hypothesis. I think it's reasonable of her not to get her husband to go along with it.

This is exactly right.

And while she could have switched dishes with the mother, it could have easily gone wrong: the mother might have concealed that she got sick and then switched tactics, or the mother might have been on the lookout for a distinctive taste, or the husband's duplicity might not have been revealed. Much safer to risk your husband.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:34 PM
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my mean-ass allergen-sneaking aunt though!

Seriously, WTF.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:35 PM
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89: those are all "going wrong" in the sense of she doesn't prove her point, but none of them are "going wrong" in the sense of she deliberately poisons her husband, and I think the second form is a more serious sort of going wrong but then I suppose I'm not married.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:38 PM
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I'm changing my mind. Serving horseradish in individual portions (unless you are an Arby's) is freaky enough that the husband had to have known.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:48 PM
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91: The mother was the one who did the poisoning. If we're going to extend blame to the wife, then the husband is guilty of poisoning her by bringing her to a place where he knew she would be poisoned. (Assuming the wife shared her suspicions with him. That's not 100% clear.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:51 PM
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Even then, Arby's doesn't serve the real stuff. They cut it with fillers and have to call it "Horsey Sauce."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:53 PM
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93: assuming that she discussed it with him, and that he believed her. And it's not an easy thing to believe.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:58 PM
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Sigh, my bad, I misread a few things: I thought they had had prior communication about the diarrhea and maybe the MIL-poisoning theory (but not about the plate switching plan). There's no evidence for that; from the text, for all we know, she's been hiding it from him. I thought the "gloating" line was over the food, but it's about the MIL being mean to her and him not believing her. I also misread that the conversation afterwards occurred the morning after, when presumably his symptoms were gone.

And yeah, I'm probably wrong; let me know when I'm being pedantic, boring, and pointlessly repetitive instead of entertainingly contrarian. I'm bad at telling when I've crossed that line.

The argument for him not being involved are:
1) He's too dense to realize that his mother hates his wife. Obviously it's not good that he doesn't believe her.
2) What's his motive? His wife gets shits once a month but no more, and he secretly loves that his mom torments his wife and he's lying to her about his ignorance, because...? This is just such a weird magnitude of fuckwithery.
3) Him being shocked that his wife took an action that she had reason to believe caused him harm. So he calls her a poisoner because but for her purposeful action, he wouldn't have been poisoned. Nothing about that implies he's a poisoner.

2 could totally be the case. People are awful. 3 is not strong enough evidence to imply 2. A husband that cruel and hateful towards his own wife would suck in some other way that'd be worth mentioning.

Again, fully agree he should be pissed at his mom, but all we have is: "His only words were to accuse me of poisoning him. I quickly packed and raced out of there." Maybe they were both explosively (pun intended) angry, and they never got to the point of expressing that because she's gone and a sentence later is getting a divorce lawyer?

78: I agree about the narrative constraints and ambiguity. And what he said totally matters. But she omitted the most important part! Now, that may be bad editing and not her fault. But ignoring that (or ignoring that this is fake), why omit that? Letter writers always include the worst things that the other people do in exquisite detail, to make themselves look better or be the victim. Why not include the part where he never apologizes, and is always cold? For all we know she hightailed it and has refused to answer his calls, only contacting him through the lawyer.

80: In my earlier arguments, I was thinking they had a discussion about MIL poisoning her, with him thinking it was impossible and she being very sure. I don't think that read's supported now--she might not have brought up the diarrhea at all, or she may have but they never discussed the cause.

And of course if he's in on it, he's a cretin, period.

What she can do as opposed to telling him, is to switch dishes with the husband visibly (to MIL and probably husband) but not inform him beforehand. Make sure the MIL sees it, maybe make up some reason for doing so (or not) and see what the reaction is. Doesn't have to be a good reason, "Oh yours looks nicer" or "Isn't it cute when we switch food" or "Astrology says...", whatever. It might make a scene, but that's the point. And if she doesn't trust the husband*, she gets to see his behavior.

* Yes, there are two levels of not having trust here: not trusting him not to blab to mom, and not trusting him to not poison her. I guess she only has the former at this point, but I don't think we're all in agreement about what information she has at that point.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:58 PM
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Also what is a "pitcher of au jus"?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 1:59 PM
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What you call a "chamber pot."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:01 PM
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That's very considerate given that at least one person at the table was about to get the rampaging shits.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:03 PM
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91: she deliberately poisons her husband -- sorry, but something is really getting to me about this. She does not know there is poison in the food. (And by "poison" we could just mean a really strong laxative. It sounds like after the runs stop, she's fine; it's not literally cholera.) There is a possibility that her husband knows there's poison in the food, but she definitely doesn't know. She can't switch with anyone but her husband to test, because he's the only one who would be unable to conceal the effects from her -- everyone else is going home somewhere else. There's no reason whatsoever to assume that if she had known the food was poisoned she would have given it to her husband. The mitigating circumstance of her having been subjected to these symptoms for months without him giving a shit, so to speak, seem pretty significant to me. And he wouldn't have been in this situation if he had been sympathetic enough to confide in, which is not a high goddamn bar for A MARRIAGE.

I'd put it more like those are all "going wrong" in the sense of she continues to get the runs after every family meal, or conspicuously refuses to eat anything and gets abused or threatened some other way, but none of them are "going wrong" in the sense of her husband gets the runs once. And yeah, a spouse siding with their mother against the other spouse, especially in the husband-wife-husband's-mother triangle -- for good or ill, that's going to significantly weaken a marriage 99 times out of 100. Often for good! But that's what happens.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:35 PM
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Really, this is a question of consent and secondarily of clear communication.

If I was asked to swap dishes in order to test this I probably would go through (indeed follow through..) with it, but if you just presumed on my consent to taking the chance, you bet I'd be pissed off.

Maybe more usefully, if we were to actually put it in as many words - I think the MIL is poisoning my lunch and not yours, to the extent that I want to test the proposition - I think we might not even need the test. It's important to verbalise these things - remember the AF447 crew who went down in a deep stall from 37,000 feet to the sea without ever using the word "stall" (well, décrochage, they were French) - and the threshold to actually report your mother to the police as a poisoner is pretty high.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:43 PM
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I misread a few things: I thought they had had prior communication about the diarrhea and maybe the MIL-poisoning theory (but not about the plate switching plan). There's no evidence for that; from the text, for all we know, she's been hiding it from him. I thought the "gloating" line was over the food, but it's about the MIL being mean to her and him not believing her. I also misread that the conversation afterwards occurred the morning after, when presumably his symptoms were gone.

These were all misconceptions that I have as well! Until reading 96, at which point I dug back to see where I'd gotten the idea.

You're right that it's not in the original letter at all:

My mother-in-law hates me and makes no bones about it when she and I are alone. My husband doesn't believe me, and she even gloats about that. We have to attend family functions at her home about once a month. (It used to be more frequent, but after I put my foot down, my husband agreed that monthly would be sufficient.) The problem is that after each visit, I wind up with a bad case of diarrhea; my husband does not. I don't know if the other in-laws are affected, because if I asked, it would get back to her. I suspect that my mother-in-law is putting something in my food or drink. Last time, I barely made it home before being struck down. Now I am considering getting some "adult undergarments" to make sure I don't ruin the car's upholstery on the ride home from her place. Do you have any other advice?

However, there is this title/lead to the entire Slate thing:

I fear my mother-in-law is poisoning me, but my husband doesn't believe it.

It's possible that the letter was truncated by the editor and this headline reflects some certainty by the editor, or it's possible that this is just a clickbait title.

Then in the StarTribune letter, it only says:

You had suggested swapping plates with my husband to see if my mother-in-law would react. However, as you noted, that would have required bringing my husband into my confidence. I didn't feel it was wise to do that, because he already didn't believe that his mother treated me badly.

Which is totally ambiguous - had she already told him her fears about poisoning, and the "confidence" is the experiment? Or is the "confidence" the theory about poisoning at all? Based on how quickly she moves towards plate-swapping ("at the very next function"), I don't think she took this part of Yoffee's advice:

You need to tell your husband that after becoming repeatedly ill at your in-law's house, you have become afraid for your health. Tell him you are also afraid for your marriage because he apparently believes you are a liar--which you are not--when it comes to his mother. Say that he needs to take seriously the fact that she says ugly things when you and she are alone, and you are not going to stand for it anymore.

So I think the Slate ledd is a figment of the editor's imagination, and she never informed her husband of her poisoning suspicions explicitly.

In that case, it is no longer clear to me that the husband is in on it.

Furthermore,
1. she swaps plates with you
2. she jumps to the conclusion that you've been colluding with your mother
3. an already strained marriage for unrelated reasons where neither party really believes what the other person says anymore

...could very easily end in divorce without ever honestly listening and communicating about who knew what when.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:46 PM
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Also if you think your husband is secretly in league with your mother-in-law to poison you ... it's time to poison *them*?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:49 PM
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To be clear, I am okay with her plate-swapping behind the husband's back. I think it may have been the only true way to test if the MIL were poisoning her (like Lurid says).

The position I'm changing my mind on is whether or not we can conclude that the husband knew about the poisoning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:50 PM
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Excuse me, au-jus-&-horseradish-ramekin-swapping.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:50 PM
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Surely the horseradish wasn't the source of the poison?! Who can put out individual servings of horseradish and feel confident that any particular guest would use any of it?

So it must have been the pitcher of au jus? Are these individual pitchers of (what google tells me is) brothy dipping sauce? Given that they're having prime rib buffet, is this individual gravy boats?

I don't understand how the poison was confidently delivered here. What are our choices for poisons? What gives you the shits, and can be delivered in small enough doses that dipping in a broth ramekin or scooping from a horseradish ramekin will suffice?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:56 PM
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93: assuming that she discussed it with him, and that he believed her. And it's not an easy thing to believe.

If it couldn't be known that the wife was being poisoned, then you can't blame the wife either.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:56 PM
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I don't think you could deliver much laxative that way. Also it has to be fast-acting, because she's often stricken with such urgency that she's not sure she'll get home before letting loose. How fast does e coli kick in?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 2:57 PM
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I suppose there's a potential reading of the letters in which the husband still doesn't believe mom was the poisoner, and genuinely believed his wife had done this to him. There is a lot of detail left out.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:00 PM
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whether or not we can conclude that the husband knew about the poisoning.

I think this depends on whether she said "I suspected my horseradish and au jus were poisoned, like the rest of the meals I've eaten at your mother's, so I switched mine with yours," or simply "By the way, last night I switched our horseradish and au jus dishes." Second case, if he looks at her with immediate hatred and malice, he totally knew about the poisoning. First case, it's pretty reasonable for him to look pissed.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:01 PM
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Nearly all readings are consistent with this being a highly strained marriage with poor communication. Then this extreme context tips her towards divorce and communication seems to cease entirely, "I've hired a divorce lawyer, and I won't be looking back." I think 109 is entirely possible either way.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:03 PM
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I wish the letter-writer or husband would show up and make a few things explicit.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:06 PM
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Food poisoning as a rule takes hours to days after consumption. E coli takes at least s day but there are faster pathogens.
The mechanics of this make me even more sure that it's fiction. Especially for a dipping sauce where there is even more uncertainty about how much the subject will ingest. At least for a portion of food you can be confident they'll eat it all, but a sauce added ad libitum? You're talking about a three or four fold variation in possible dose, at least.

No, this never happened. It's wish fulfilment fiction for women who don't like their husbands and hate their mothers in law.

100: you can deliberately poison someone without knowing for sure that you're giving them poison. If you've got reasonable grounds to think it is poison, and you give it to them anyway, you're poisoning them, even if your motive is that you're curious to see what would happen.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:10 PM
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110 very good point.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:12 PM
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113: beyond the legalities it's basically just irresponsible, right?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:12 PM
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102: yay, I did something that led to a smart person on the internet somewhat changing their mind! There is no higher glory.

I *think* she could have gotten what she wanted out of the event without poisoning her husband if she played it right, but I guess it's tenuous. So I'm still at it's a dick move but I'm okay with it. Which should be "YTA,NTTAWWT" except ESH, especially the MIL.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:13 PM
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112: Ditto. Actually now I'd like to hear from the MIL on what she used, too.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:14 PM
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Heebie's ignorance of au jus is troubling.

They wouldn't be gravy boats, they'd be little pitchers, and most people would pour them over their beef. Because it's thin, people tend to pour generously. That is, unlike thick gravy, which might mask the beef, the jus runs off, leaving but a residual of delightful savor (or awful saltiness, if it's from a can).

I agree that the horseradish is far too uncertain an element to be a likely culprit, although I supposed MIL would have no reason not to tamper with both.

Meanwhile, I have a small portion of prime rib in the freezer, and I simply cannot wait to cook it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:24 PM
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Speaking as someone who was required to read the Belmont Report, once you give a person a substance in order to see if it might be poison without informed consent, you've violated every kind of ethics that I'm legally required to take tests on.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:35 PM
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It's wish fulfilment fiction for women who don't like their husbands and hate their mothers in law.

The extent to which commenters have taken sides along gender lines is kind of wild. I mean, yes, clearly you shouldn't give suspected poison to someone who you have good reason to think might be completely innocent of involvement in the whole thing, and yet the power dynamics seem so horribly toxic to me that it's almost impossible for me to imagine an innocent husband who instantly becomes the biggest victim in the whole story when his vengeful wife switches the dishes.

Here's a little story. The mean aunt I mentioned, whom we'll call M.A. for Mean Aunt, told my mother sometime before I was born that she "never liked her" and was never going to speak to her again. Never gave a reason. (Never gave anyone a reason, to my knowledge; the other siblings all claim to have no idea.) She will be friendly and chatty with everyone at a family gathering, including my dad and even my sister, but conspicuously not say a word to my mother. She was emotionally abusive towards her daughter but somehow informally adopted and lavished affection on the daughter's best friend in high school, taking care to point out to her daughter (and everyone) how the friend was superior. When her daughter got married and had two sons, M.A. also became a devoted and involved grandmother, and by all accounts was very kind to and indulgent of them (whereas M.A.'s daughter, their mother, was pretty cold and unkind). Apart from the adopted friend, my sense is that there's a significant pattern of preference for relationships with men over relationships with women (which is in part why I blame the convent, plus further theories I am not going to put on the public web). But extremely fucked-up dynamics where no one can prove anything, and definitely no one can prove anything involving gender, are deeply familiar to me.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:36 PM
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Yeah, I'm on team Yale for this one too.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:36 PM
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Anyway, that some people use a bunch of au jus is why you can't poison it. There's too great of a chance somebody uses all if theirs and borrows. Assuming it was known that the wife used horseradish, that's much safer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:37 PM
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Also, I didn't read the whole Belmont Report. It's pretty easy to find a good summary.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:45 PM
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I'm deeply concerned by everyone, including the letter writer, referring to what goes into the pitcher as "au jus" rather than "jus".


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:48 PM
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America is funny about dips.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:49 PM
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This whole thread reminds me of the simpler days of yore, when Ann Landers (or maybe Dear Abby?) would say "Fake letter from undergrads at Yale!" and not bother to answer it. (I don't know why "Yale" except that maybe she thought Harvard men were more refined.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:49 PM
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120: I said this before, but it's been a while: the wife is the biggest victim. To the extent that the husband is a victim, it's less so. It is always interesting when we have one of these gender-breakdown splits over something.

121: ahh, the two genders, Yale and near Boston.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:53 PM
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I heard they wash their hands after they piss.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 3:53 PM
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At Yale? Heavens, no.

Lourdes came to find me at some point this afternoon to say he was deeply concerned that so many of us were getting so worked up about a fake advice letter. The mushrooms, though: I can believe that one. The blindingly obvious question is: how many ATMs are fabrications?


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 4:55 PM
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The one about billing for your pooping was fake. I mean, I sent it in and everything, but I already knew the answer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 4:57 PM
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Look, it's very simple:

The platter with the satyr has the mushrooms in the mash,
but the tray with the chalet holds the spuds that are good.
Oh, wait, the platter with the satyr got broken, didn't it?
Well, then the tray with the chalet has the mushrooms in the mash,
and the dish with the fish holds the spuds that are good.

I don't know what she's complaining about.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:05 PM
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lurid, you might be interested to hear that there's been progress on reversing some of our governor's draconian budget cuts. He and the university agreed today on a three-year plan for cuts that are still steep but not as catastrophic as the initial veto. A lot of the damage has of course already been done.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:12 PM
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That cheers me up a bit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:13 PM
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He's backed down on some of the other cuts too. Overall the situation is still uncertain but we're in much better shape than we were a month ago.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:16 PM
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And they put out most of the forest fires, or at least got them under control. Still record heat, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:17 PM
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That's great news.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:19 PM
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Lightning at the North Pole. Sigh.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:30 PM
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Some relief! How late does your fire season typically go? Are there drought conditions? Going back to WI during a summer drought a few years ago, it seemed like every third conifer was dead: it was such a gut punch.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:34 PM
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I think it's usually wrapping up around this time, but we usually get a lot more rain especially in late summer than we have so far. So yeah, drought conditions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:40 PM
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We got your rain right here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:42 PM
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Explain the 21st Century in one sentence. My pick:

"According to an affidavit, the bulk of Justin Olsen's radicalized content was posted under the name ArmyOfChrist on meme-hosting app iFunny."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:44 PM
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139: I'm sorry. I haven't seen all that much journalism on the fires in Siberia this summer, but I think about boreal fires daily. I found this piece moving (same magazine issue as the low-carbon-footprint diehard in Calgary).


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 5:46 PM
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141: So this is how the Butlerian jihad starts.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 6:12 PM
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I have been slowly increasing my definition of "not drinking" until I am now literally not drinking anything at all with alcohol. I feel much healthier, except emotionally. On topic because apparently I'm now allergic to beer.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:21 PM
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That was me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:22 PM
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129 The blindingly obvious question is: how many ATMs are fabrications?

I'm assuming these stories about mushrooms and laxatives are elaborate, but accurate, metaphors for the academic job market.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 7:55 PM
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I'm deeply concerned by everyone, including the letter writer, referring to what goes into the pitcher as "au jus" rather than "jus".

There was a response in my head that was half Annie Hall, half All About Eve to the effect of you can't very well offer "jus?" at the table as it might be someone's ethnicity but then the original form of the joke has Marilyn Monroe saying to George Sanders "Well, I can't yell 'Oh butler!' can I? Maybe somebody's name is Butler." To which he responds both to Ms. Monroe and me, "You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 8:25 PM
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Anyway the mother-in-law should be shot through the head at close range, but mushroom powder doesn't sound THAT out of the blue to me. Isn't there some Trader Joe's thing people like?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 8:26 PM
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Here's a recipe for mashed potatoes with mushroom powder.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:01 PM
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deep fakes, but for advice columns


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:28 PM
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I don't think anyone, of any gender, is disagreeing that the biggest victim here is the woman who has been repeatedly poisoned by her mother in law.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 10:59 PM
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The obvious twist ending, of course, is that the husband has been doing the poisoning all along, and the mother in law is an innocent person who happens to hate her daughter in law but hasn't done anything about it other than just be mean to her, and is about to be framed for the poisoning by her son. That's the way Dorothy Sayers would have written it.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:23 PM
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And by coincidence this very Sayers story came up today - https://on.ft.com/2H5SC2y. Two parents died, one with a will including both children and the spouse, one with a will excluding the stepdaughter, no way to tell who died first...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-13-19 11:43 PM
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I'm not going to do the fine parsing of the very possibly fake letter that many of you did above but I have zero sympathy for the husband who seems to have at best been completely indifferent to his wife's experience and more likely was in on it. Fuck him.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 2:17 AM
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You're going to feel embarrassed when he comes by and explains his side.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:05 AM
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147: I don't know that "au jus" solves any problems here, because hearing "oh, Jew --" just makes the speaker sound a bit more pretentious.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:14 AM
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How can I be expected to know the correct way to say things in Russian? I use the term the way Arby's uses it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:16 AM
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Do the English hotels still describe things as "en suite"? Because any room is en suite if you're pressed for time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:21 AM
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156: also, don't Americans drink, well, juice? And somehow manage to offer it to each other out loud without anyone thinking they are referring to members of the Hebrew race or faith?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:21 AM
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That's because only Christians eat breakfast and adults don't take juice after breakfast.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:23 AM
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Really, "jus" is safer. If you say "au jus", you could be saying, "oh, you" and be taken for flirting.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:39 AM
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Safer to say "with 'au jus' juice."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:42 AM
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I'm going to try to make "cafe with con leche" happen. Honestly, how much lower could America's reputation go?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 5:44 AM
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This is because you have abandoned the ways of your forefathers and stopped referring to a thin brown sauce based on hot meat juice as "gravy", the correct term, instead choosing to use "gravy" for some sort of bizarre mutant bechamel sauce that you then dip scones in, leaving you with nothing to do but start referring to gravy sensu recto as "au jus", hinc illae lacrimae.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:06 AM
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instead choosing to use "gravy" for some sort of bizarre mutant bechamel sauce that you then dip scones in

We dip what in our who now?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:17 AM
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He's referring to biscotti and gravy, which is still nosey a regional dish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:18 AM
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I type bad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:20 AM
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To Ajay: that's specifically sausage gravy. We also use gravy to mean the thin type of gravy.

To everyone else: British people don't have the word "cookie" so they use "biscuit" to mean "cookie". This means they then have to use the word "scone" to mean "biscuit".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:23 AM
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Digestive biscuits and sausage gravy with biscuits both make you need to use the en suite.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:25 AM
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Is "jus" significantly different from that kind of gravy, then?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:25 AM
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I learned recently that digestive biscuits in Spain are marketed under the name "23% Fibre!" which makes it pretty clear why you should buy them and what they'll do. They're rather nice, though.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:26 AM
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The youngest of my horde of 637 nephews refers to them as "suggestive biscuits" which I rather like.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:27 AM
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Mostly, jus is just salty water with a bit of beef flavor. It's not gravy because even the good stuff isn't thickened at all. Beef gravy is a thing, much thinner than sausage gravy, but not jus.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:28 AM
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That's because only Christians eat breakfast

A commonly-held anti-semitic slur, also reflected in the expression "you'll have to get up very early in the morning to get the better of me", both implying that Jewish meal schedules give them an unfair head start on the working day.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:29 AM
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Mostly, jus is just salty water with a bit of beef flavor.

At a sufficient level of generalisation, this is also a definition of a cow.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:30 AM
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Or Bovril, no?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:33 AM
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It's a very thin gravy. Like you have to serve it in a cup. No flour or other thickening agent. More like broth than gravy.

I have never heard it called just "jus". Basically we have a degenerate French-influenced dish called "au jus". In our hands, this means a beef sandwich, probably on a baguette, with the broth/gravy on the side to dip it in. You never see the broth/gravy divorced from its partner, the beef sandwich.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:33 AM
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Gravy is by definition thickened.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:35 AM
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Otherwise it would be levity.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:37 AM
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ITYM Levy. Because you're anti-Semitic.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:38 AM
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177: ah, thanks. So it is literally just the meat juice, then. Similar to what we'd call dripping (the collected fat that has dripped off roast meat), but watered down.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:39 AM
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To everyone else: British people don't have the word "cookie" so they use "biscuit" to mean "cookie". This means they then have to use the word "scone" to mean "biscuit".

Au contraire (which is thin gravy to accompany lamb). "Cookie" in British English means "scandalous cat".


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 6:44 AM
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In our hands, this means a beef sandwich, probably on a baguette, with the broth/gravy on the side to dip it in. You never see the broth/gravy divorced from its partner, the beef sandwich.

This. In the photos it looks like the stuff you dip a sandwich in. It looks way to runny to pour over a steak, especially as a means of delivering poison.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:03 AM
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"too"


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:04 AM
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The poison is always in the horseradish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:08 AM
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Au contraire (which is thin gravy to accompany lamb).

Because Mary was quite contrary, and had a little lamb, he Standpipes.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:17 AM
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Anyway, if you order a sandwich that costs rec dollars or less and comes with au jus, I recommend taking a miss. If you get prime rib, it's different.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:23 AM
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Rec should be ten.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:24 AM
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US botulism stats are clearly to be accounted for by the bizarre national habit of adulterating drippings with water rather than thickening them into gravy over the heat, as God and basic common sense decree.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:32 AM
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I thought people were intentionally bulging cans to prevent wrinkles.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:35 AM
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After their father's death, the younger son caused his brother to be blinded and usurped the throne. But, being himself childless, he settled his victim at Lin-siied, an out-of-the-way nest on the border of Zans-dkar, and allowed him to marry, in order to secure the survival of the dynasty.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:56 AM
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also, don't Americans drink, well, juice? And somehow manage to offer it to each other out loud without anyone thinking they are referring to members of the Hebrew race or faith?

I feel like there's actually a story everyone thinks happened to their great aunt Rivka where she's in a store on Delancey, having not so many months before shaken the dust of the shtetl from her shawl, and she asks if they have any oranges and the shopkeeper says "what, for juice?" and Rivka says "oy gottenyu, in this country, too?"


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 8:09 AM
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192: This is just like the moment in An American Tail when the Mousekowitzs discover that there are cats in America


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:05 AM
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Damn, I missed this thread. My kid has anaphylactic allergies and what I've discovered is that a lot of people in America (particularly older people) either haven't gotten the memo about the prevalence of severe allergies, or think of them as an exaggerated/made-up effete liberal thing. Eyeroll/get over it, basically. Of course, this maps onto the urban/rural, liberal/conservative divide pretty well.

I do think there are interesting questions about how much consideration is reasonable. There was a woman on the plane a couple of seats over from me who was eating from a bag of peanuts, dropped a few (which she ignored) and was using her peanutty fingers to swipe the entertainment screen on the seat back. Part of me was thinking "Lady, you're putting my kid and every other person with a peanut allergy at risk!" (Most airlines don't serve peanuts anymore.) But I also felt a tad unreasonable about being annoyed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:17 AM
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Have you even tried getting over it?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:32 AM
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I saw a kid carried out of a plane by medical people because of peanuts. They passed out nuts, then asked us not to open them, but it was too late.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:34 AM
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It is pretty crazy that peanuts are still in regular rotation on planes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:37 AM
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Delta now just releases bees.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:39 AM
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But how's their leg room?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:41 AM
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Small, even though there are six.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:47 AM
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Anyway, Southwest still serves peanuts, unless you say you have a really bad peanut allergy before the service.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 9:48 AM
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201: Do they make an announcement? "Unfortunately, because of snowflake, Lil' Ogged, in seat 6B, we will be unable to serve peanuts. Please direct all complaints to his enabling parents in the adjoining seats."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 10:14 AM
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I don't recall exactly, but I'm pretty sure they didn't blame anyone.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 10:21 AM
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Is there anything else that's as common, and as common a source of allergies, as peanuts? It seems unreasonable at first thought eliminating peanuts from public places because people can be allergic to anything, but in real life they don't seem to be. I don't know anyone with a non-peanut allergy where just being near the substance could be life-threatening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 11:29 AM
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My kid has anaphylactic allergies and what I've discovered is that a lot of people in America (particularly older people) either haven't gotten the memo about the prevalence of severe allergies, or think of them as an exaggerated/made-up effete liberal thing.

Well of course. If the concept of a peanut allergy didn't even exist until you were 40, or 50, or 60, and now peanuts are a deadly menace that children in general must not encounter a single molecule of, it sounds like something from a horror movie. It's literally a nightmare. What's next?!? You refuse to believe it could be true.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 11:38 AM
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204: I don't know if shellfish are as common as peanuts, but they're commonly a source of life-threatening allergies.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 11:45 AM
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205: What's next?!?

Obviously... kids that say that they are neither male nor female.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 11:49 AM
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So it is literally just the meat juice, then.

Indeed, hence the name. The sandwich is usually called a "French dip." I had never heard of anyone using au jus sauce in any other context before this thread, but apparently some people also put it on prime rib for some reason.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 11:51 AM
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"Jus" does not necessarily mean must meat juice (though that's how I'd understand it in the context of a French dip). For example. Also you can serve other things with jus.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 11:59 AM
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From the link in 209: What is aju?

This world is just too confusing for most of us.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:08 PM
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but apparently some people also put it on prime rib for some reason.

To poison others, teo. Do keep up.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:25 PM
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204. "Tree nuts" in general: walnuts, etc. (I don't know if peanuts count as tree nuts, being legumes and all.)


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:27 PM
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Peanuts are separate. My kid also has tree nut allergies, but they don't seem to be as severe as the peanut allergy. We've also been told that sometimes people age out of tree nut allergies, but rarely out of peanut.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:32 PM
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Is desensitization a possibility? That's what my internet medical degree says to do.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:34 PM
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Is desensitization a possibility?

Yes. We're going to try that soon.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:38 PM
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You're taking me up on 195!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:39 PM
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I'm allergic to corn pollen, but did I try to ask the farmers to grow something else?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:43 PM
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Anyway, who wants to hear an awkward story from last night about trying to communicate in other languages? Y'all do!

So I started volunteering at that shelter for asylees. There is one guy who speaks no English, and I didn't want to give up on communicating with him, so I was trying to speak to him in the mostly forgotten French that leaves me so protective of preposition-article contractions and their appropriate deployment. Anyway, I tried to say to him in French that it said on my paper I was supposed to ask the guests if the bathrooms were clean. He thought I was saying the bathrooms were dirty and was very upset and annoyed with me till this misunderstanding was sorted out.

This week I was heartened that he came up to me to talk to me and didn't think I was dumb and stupid forever. He told me in French to ask another guest (who is Saudi) to explain his medicine to me. This seemed so improbable an utterance that I asked him to repeat it, but it turned out I'd understood. So I go over to this other guest and we all start attempting to talk in three languages -- the Saudi man speaks English and Arabic (which neither of us spoke), original guy speaks French and a teeny bit of Spanish but I can't understand his accent in Spanish at all, and I speak English, reasonable Spanish, and a teeny bit of French. The Saudi guy is highly motivated to try to communicate with original guy because he feels bad he hasn't been able to reach out more to him (he told me this earlier). So the original guy takes this bottle of black seed oil out of a bag and tells me the Saudi guy will tell me about it. The Saudi guy does recognize it. And as original guy is speaking in French he says "Saudi" and "musulman" which the Saudi guy understands fine, and tries to clarify, "I'm not Muslim, I'm Christian. Muslims are trying to kill me." He then makes the throat cutting gesture. I perhaps unfortunately laughed a little bit at this. I was not, obviously, laughing at anyone trying to kill him, but rather the awkwardness of the misunderstanding and the crudeness of the tools we had to correct it. Anyway, he didn't seem that offended -- maybe he is used both to awkwardness and to the fact that people are trying to kill him. The original guy's response to this, which must have sounded mostly like a bunch of English words he did not know, was to say "J'aime l'Islam." I don't think I ever successfully corrected his impression that the Saudi guy was Muslim. I and the Saudi guy talked about the misunderstanding to me in English but I think I was a little bit overwhelmed by trying to say "He converted to Christianity and now people from his country want to kill him" in French. I probably know how, but given that I screwed up talking about bathrooms... The Saudi guy gamely moved on to talking about how Muslims use black seed oil and the fact that it gets baked into cakes to serve women after they gave birth. We did communicate this! It involved me talking about giving birth in both Spanish and French and the Saudi guy miming delivering a baby.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 12:53 PM
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218 is just wild.

In a story that's almost exactly as interesting, I asked (in Spanish) the shelf stocker at the Mexican market whether an unlabeled cheese was queso fresco, he confirmed, and I promptly said, "danke", then "merci", then, after a pause, "gracias".

Pretty sure he had his earphones back on before I completed my first mistake.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 1:28 PM
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I know ogged's wife is a doctor, and she's probably up on this, but the newer thinking is to introduce peanuts much sooner to prevent the allergies - like 6 months or something along with egg. Which seems kind of tough, but gnc sells something akin to peanut butter powder.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 3:48 PM
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Maybe I'm a square, but I'm fairly shocked at the level of casual willingness to endorse fucking poisoning people. In Virginia, the crime of poisoning carries 5-20 years, the same as a malicious wounding. You monsters.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-14-19 7:53 PM
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Not really people. Unsympathetic spouses.
In the words of a hit Tony- and Oscar-winning musical: "They had it coming! They had it coming! They only had themselves to blame!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-15-19 1:11 AM
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222: And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times.


Posted by: Opinionated Chicagoan | Link to this comment | 08-15-19 4:25 AM
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175 made me laugh out loud


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 08-15-19 4:48 AM
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Reading this over again, out of dissatisfaction at being found wrong and morally corrupt, I think my guiding assumption was that the poisoning hypothesis was such a remote, crazy possibility that switching dishes with her husband would 99% certainly have no effect. And I couldn't really shake this assumption, although it's probably a misreading. Switching seemed overwhelmingly likely to prove nothing, but at least she could exclude the scariest possibility when she once again got sick and her husband was once again fine. I think that's why I was relatively nonchalant about the stealth poisoning.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 08-15-19 10:41 PM
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Not the least unsettling part of this is that the family has get togethers monthly - or, in fact, more frequently, it's just she only attends monthly - which are formal enough to have name cards at the place settings and individual ramekins of whatever.
This is unnecessarily formal to the point of obsessive. Even HM the Queen doesn't do this!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-15-19 11:18 PM
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We do name cards for Thanksgiving.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-16-19 3:19 AM
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Oh, sure, and my family does them for Christmas dinner, mostly because one of my nephews really enjoys making them. And I'd expect them for a wedding breakfast or something like that.

But these freaks do it all the time! Multiple times a month!

This, like the academic bullying thing, is now filed under "these people have too much time on their hands".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-16-19 3:37 AM
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We usually just have turkey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-16-19 3:38 AM
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Normally at family dinners we just sit down in strict order of precedence, with the junior grandchild at the foot of the table so he can propose the toast to the Queen at the end of the meal. That way you don't need name cards.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-16-19 3:38 AM
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" Why is it that on all the other nights we dine, my aunt shits herself blind while grandma smiles secretly, but on this night my uncle shits himself and grandma looks worried?"


Posted by: Opinionated Youngest Child | Link to this comment | 08-16-19 5:28 AM
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More passthru than passover amirite lol smiley face send tweet


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-16-19 5:33 AM
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