2008-12-11 / Sam Bari

Annual holiday guide for men

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

As a service to my male readers, I compile the "Holiday Guide for Men" to help them get through the season without suffering from anxiety, frustration and confusion, and to help them survive the holidays with their marriages and relationships intact.

In some instances, I like to think our suggestions help some men avoid physical harm inflicted by wives and significant others, usually in return for committing boneheaded faux pas that only an idiot would consider.

This year, I will address eating, a favorite holiday pastime. When attending parties and other social events where food is involved, particularly with your spouse, there are rules.

If you go to a party with your wife, girlfriend, significant other, or whatever you want to call her, and a sumptuous array of delicious goodies is spread before you, be on the alert.

If she says, "Let me get you a plate," while you sit comfortably thinking: "Oh how nice. She's waiting on me." Do not be fooled. Ulterior motives are in the works.

When Miss Congeniality returns with a plate custom made just for you that is piled high with everything you love, do not stray, and eat sparingly, particularly if her plate is sparsely decorated with one shrimp, a carrot and a piece of celery.

Trust me on this one. She expects to feed off of yours. My advice - let her. You could be rewarded later, if you get my drift. Now, if you really want to make points, offer to share. You see, she does not want to appear to be piggish.

You have the overly laden plate, while she has a dainty little tidbit because she is watching her weight and is only eating small morsels to be polite. You know and I know, but nobody else knows, that beneath that gorgeous, well-coifed and superbly appointed exterior is a person who is fundamentally, "Oinkish!" And her secret shall remain intact if you have any brains at all.

Whatever you do - do not scarf down the good stuff before she has an opportunity to make her selection. This calls for a little selfcontrol. Now, should said plate be gleaned of every last crumb in less than a minute and she offers to get "you" more because there are so many things "you" haven't tried, just nod and say, "Thank you. You are so kind." And let her get it, even if you aren't hungry. When she returns, just hold the plate and keep sharing. You will not be disappointed.

Okay. Parties are covered. Now, let's consider dinner in a restaurant, which is something you should do over the holidays. Take her out for dinner after a long day of shopping. Again, you could be rewarded if you don't do something really stupid.

If she orders a watercress salad and a small piece of fish, or some equivalent to a snack, again be on the alert. If she says something like, "You should try the coconut shrimp, and the prime rib is to die for," just say, "Sounds delicious." And order it. Why? Because that's what she really wants.

Whatever you do, do not order two coconut shrimps, even though you don't want to share. She does not want to have that plate of deep fried cholesterol on her side of the table. She wants to eat yours. And again, if you have so much as one synapse functioning in that gray matter deep inside of your skull, you will offer not only your coconut shrimp, but you will not be able to possibly finish that huge slab of prime rib.

You will ask her to please help you eat it, or, you will bring a good portion of it home for "her" to eat later. When I say "good portion," I mean "most of it." Again - consider the benefits.

Now for the home run. Dessert. This must be handled delicately. When the waiter offers the dessert menu, do not look at her to make a decision. That will cost you. Just say, "Thank you," and take the menu.

Comment on how delicious everything looks. She will say, "You go ahead, not for me." That is your cue to say, "But if you wanted just a spoonful, which would you choose?" That is the million dollar line of the night. That is guaranteed to produce exotic results, because you are going to order whatever she recommends with two spoons, or forks, or whatever the recommended eating implement happens to be.

When this fattening concoction arrives, the only person who is going to take one bite is you. Just let her pick away at it while you make pleasant conversation. The investment of restraint will reap enormous returns.

You might not like these rules, but if you want to survive the holidays, they must be followed when you live in a system you can't understand.

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