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Ask the Sisters: Betsy and Sal Give Advice

Two gals self-certified in dishing out opinions take on texting at the table and more.

The idea for the “Ask The Sisters” advice column stems from years of daily phone calls and emergency home visits between us, sisters Betsy and Sally.

Raised under the same roof and living less than a mile apart as adults, not a day goes by when one of us doesn’t voice our strong opinion on any one of a myriad of topics only to be told by the other one why we are either way off base or dead on right. For the past eight years, we had the opportunity to broadcast our thoughts on everything from politics to pot-roast on our syndicated daily radio show. But now that our show is over – it turns out we still feel the need to opine publicly. Hence the creation of “Ask The Sisters.” 

Let’s be clear. Together we hold degrees in Hotel and Restaurant Management, English Literature and Education, and . We have been ordained as ministers from the highly acclaimed Universal Life Church and have performed at least one commitment ceremony. We have taken a total of zero psychology courses.

With qualifications like these, we felt we could no longer deprive the world of our insights. 

Since today is the maiden voyage of this column, we have chosen to answer questions posed for us... by us.

Here goes.

Dear Betsy and Sal,

I’ve been invited to a wedding, and when I went to the store and looked at the bride’s registry, I didn’t like anything on her list. Is it more important for me to like the gift I’m giving, or for me to give her something from her registry?

Traditional Invited to Modern (T.I.M.)

Dear T.I.M.,

First of all, the registry is not exclusively “the bride’s.”  Ha ha. Yes it is! (Note to grooms: that’s the way it is. Get used to it.)  

Second, while in a perfect world we select gifts we love and which are loved by the receivers, let’s face it. The last time we were living in a perfect world, an umbilical cord was attached for life support. 

Having said that, we do like to imagine that the newly weds will think fondly about us each time they use the silver plated salt and pepper shakers shaped like rockets. It’s important for the adult guests to understand that not everyone wants their seasoning shaken from graceful floral shapes. Whose party is it anyway?

Make sure you give yourself enough time, either in the store or on-line, to look at everything on the registry. Usually there is a variety of items which range not only in price, but also in style.  

The most important thing, whether the gift is from the registry or not, is the gift receipt. Okay, okay. The most important thing is the thought… AND the receipt.

And that’s the Betsy and Sal Solution or, as we like to call it, the BS Solution.

Dear Betsy and Sal,

While on vacation, my family went out to dinner at a restaurant that was not cheap. It was not a “fancy” restaurant, but let’s just say the wine list was longer than the food menu. 

Seated at the table next to ours was a family of five, two parents and three children under the age of ten. Each of the three kids played with a Nintendo DS during the entire meal. In fact, we didn’t hear any conversation at their table the whole time. 

Quiet children are nice, but I found it distracting to have the video screens glaring out the corner of my eye and no one talking. I was also disturbed that this is how a young family would chose to spend their dinner hour.

Unplugged Diner

Dear Unplugged Diner, 

You were distracted by their silence? Who cares about their silence?  It’s only fun to hear other people when they’re bickering. A full fledged-fight is even better. But we digress. 

Since when is an expensive, white-table cloth restaurant also kid friendly? Whose kids? None raised this side of the pond, that’s for sure, where the happiest of meals are served through a window with patrons safely buckled in the back seat.  

But for fun, let’s address your premise, which is should children be allowed full access to their electronic devices while at a fancy dinner? 

Opinion alert: We already believe there should be no double standard. Like helmets, if the kids have to follow the law, so too should the adults. So be warned, secret texters and email checkers. What’s true for the kiddies is true for us all.

Of course we despise this type of behavior. Not only is it anti-social, but it was developed long after our children were young enough to have been plugged into this electronic pacifier. If we had to raise kids without it, then so should you.

Now, we do recall that Amy Carter was permitted full access to her library while sitting around the dinner table with her parents. Apparently, Nancy Drew’s capers held far more interest for the first daughter than did the presidential banter. Is that the standard we should consider?  

Reading at breakfast, either on newsprint or on a screen, is de rigueur. No one questions that. So let’s make a ruling based on the meal.

Breakfast: anything goes. Don’t bother us.

Lunch: read or plug-in if you’re alone. 

Cocktail hour: never drink and text. Duh.

Dinner: Talking. No screens. No print. And, whenever possible, no children.

And that’s the BS Solution.

Need some advice? Leave a comment or send us an email. You too could benefit from the BS Solution.

Jill Goldstein April 08, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Hi B&S: In a world where 1 out of 88 children is on the autistic spectrum, nintendo DS (on silent) is the only way many of us can go out to dinner with our complete family. your fan, Jill
Betsy Brint April 08, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Dear Jill, As a parent of one child who had me riding elevators for hours on end in every hotel, parking garage and mall we'd ever visited, I am the first to agree that there are exceptions to every rule. My guess for the scenario described in the letter above however, is that this was more parents opting for ignoring their children rather than a need for a distraction in order to have some peace. Betsy
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