How much is that doggie bag in the window, and does using it label me as cheap or old?

Is using zip-locked bags at restaurants a sign of growing old? i asked myself this the other day in a luncheon meeting attended in the main by seniors or mature adults as they’re now called by some. At the end of the meal, several opened their purses and pulled out their own plastic sacks for leftovers, and i recalled times I’d seen my older relatives do the same. Indeed, my father at about age 70 raided the centerpiece on the buffet line at a steakhouse, claiming, “Oh, they want you to take the whole fruits and vegetables.”

As a self-proclaimed environmentalist of many years standing, I’m torn by this action. What if they favor bringing their own containers? That’s more acceptable. Obviously tossing some Tupperware Is a greater emotional challenge than ridding yourself of a flimsy sack. Or is my problem the association of baggies with aging? i have sufficient signs of my status, what with my gray hair and creaking knees, shortened temper, and equally shortened height. I don’t need anyone, or myself, using my salvage of leftovers as an additional indicator of my status.

In most of this country, it’s acceptable to pack and remove remaining food from your restaurant meal. Not always the case over the globe. Appears that Europe is exempt from this habit in the main, while Asians cheerfully carry nibblies out. However there are exemptions even here. The idea of toting goodies after a private dinner is widely disputed in advice columns, and I don’t think it’s ever been resolved. Should you, as the hostess, offer leftovers to guests, particularly if they potlucked the original dish in? Or do you, as hostess, deserve all the leftovers because you took the time and trouble to organize the party?

From experience I can tell you salvaging food after an event is not necessarily a happy situation, regardless of the money you think you’re saving on your food budget. Ask my husband who suffered through approximately ten dinners of leftover turkey, starting with sandwiches through tetrazzini and on to several days of turkey soup disguised as stew, then stroop, finally thin soup.

Certainly guests should ask, or, better yet, wait for the hostess to offer before knocking others out of the way to secret the remaining prime desserts in your tote made of any kind of material. Do you want to save a few pennies and, at the same time, lose a friendship?

Then there are business functions. The best advice is never to save remnants from these functions. Makes you appear desperate and cheap, two conditions to avoid if you’re hoping to impress bosses or clients.

I’ve strayed far afield from my original hypothesis—that carrying zip-locked plastic bags marks you as aging. Maybe my sensitivity to the potential of personality characteristics to adversely set me apart from the general population is too great. I need to decide if my over-riding concern is money, environmentalism, or stereotypes. I’ll ponder that question while I snack on some cheese tidbits I rescued from yesterday’s meal out with neighbors.

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