Ask RuBo: Defriended After a Birthday Dinner

Ruth Bourdain is a fictional mash-up of Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain.

As my family of six behaves perfectly at all moments, I have no need for etiquette advice, but I do have a baking problem. I keep forgetting that I have cocoa at home, so I go and buy more. I have six open containers at home with about a 1/4 cup missing from each. What recipe calls for a lot of cocoa? Also, since we all know that profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully, I dare you to write an answer with a Y7 rating.

I must take issue with your accusation that my writing is profane. In fact, I call bullshit. I will admit my writing can be a little salty, but it's completely free of obscenities. Nowhere did I use ugly swear words like yummo, EVOO, unctuous, foodie, or the dreaded mouthfeel. I feel a little dirty right now even using those God-awful words just to make a point. I'll be right back after I gargle with some absinthe. Glug.

On to this "Y7" matter. What the fuck are you talking about? Are you referring to the infamous Yirgacheffe 7 rating for coffee addiction? I'm actually up to a Y29, thank you very much. Or maybe you mean the Yakitori 7 rating for skill in Japanese grilled chicken eating? I haven't scored lower than a Y33 since my 20s. What gives?

You cannot be seriously referring to the FCC's V-Chip ratings for television programming? Well, according to the FCC, a Y7 rating is used to indicate that a television program "is designed for children age 7 and above," which this column most certainly is.

Getting back to your original cocoa question: brownies, brownies, brownies. You can never make enough. And be sure to infuse your batter with some quality tangerine zest or your preferred herb of choice. Mmmm. Brownies.

It was my birthday last April, and a friend of mine asked me if I would like to go out to lunch. The bill came ($60 total for both of us), and since it was my birthday, I didn't try to fight for the bill. My friend paid for the meal. Two days later she emailed me and told me that her money was tight and asked if I could pay for my own share. I said no problem, and dropped a check in the mail. Three days later, I noticed that she was no longer on my Facebook friend list. When I emailed her and asked her about it, she said she no longer wanted to be my friend because she felt she was being "used" by having to pay for the meal. Is it really that wrong to expect someone to pay for my meal on my birthday?

Wow. That is one crazy-ass bitch. There's absolutely nothing wrong with expecting someone to pay for your meal on your fucking birthday. Getting loved ones together to pay the tab while I run up the bill with dozens of oysters, foot-long marrow bones, and foie gras sundaes is something I look forward to every year.

I think you are better off without this douchebaguette. If she couldn't afford to go out in the first place, she should have just told you up front and then you could have worked something out like two adults. That you sent her a check and she still thinks she is being "used" shows she has bigger issues that go far beyond birthday dinners. And even if she was a little used, that's what birthdays are for.

To avoid the situation you got yourself in, I typically ask my lawyer to draw up a standard Birthday Dinner Responsibility Contract detailing expectations regarding who's paying for food and drink along with a basic waiver of liability for any physical actions I may take while under the influence of pork belly.

I have a real pet peeve with people who, at parties, fill their appetizer plate, then stand and eat right at the appetizer table, blocking the table from other guests and creating what, in my opinion, is a sort of gross situation of dropping crumbs and so forth over the untouched appetizers. Am I being way too anal about this, or is it better form to move away once you fill your plate so others can get to the table?

That is completely fucked up. It's a real pet peeve of mine as well. I usually try a progressive approach to dislodging people from the appetizer table, beginning with verbal communication and elevating to physical confrontation if necessary. Start with a tactful, "WHAT THE FUCK? MOVE!" If that fails, you may need to move on to more advanced techniques, like a kick in the knees. In the most stubborn cases, consider Tasering, waterboarding, and—the ultimate threat—a TSA-style pat-down. It works every time. No amount of cheese and crackers is worth that kind of humiliation.

Got an etiquette dilemma for RuBo? Email ruth.bourdain@chow.com.