Wedding Woes

Start offering to host yourself and make a 'no Carl' policy.

Dear Prudence,

My friend “Laura” moved into a new house three years ago, and occasionally hosts get-togethers. Usually when people come, they bring food and/or beverages. Except, whenever her mom and stepdad “Carl” come (which is pretty much every time), not only do they not bring anything, but Carl mooches everything. I don’t just mean he just naturally eats more than other people, I mean he goes out of his way to take food/drink, purposely hoards it, and almost always takes stuff when he leaves. One time, one of the guests brought gourmet cookies from a local bakery. There were only six of them, but they were big, so the idea was that people could split them (they were also each a different kind). As soon as she put them down, Carl came over and immediately grabbed three. The woman got pretty upset, because they were expensive cookies! Another time, Laura put out a six-pack of a craft beer that she had brought home from a vacation, and Carl takes two. Most recently, Carl and Laura’s mom were actually getting ready to leave, when Carl overheard me tell someone that I was going to order pizza. He then stayed, and when the pizza came, he helped himself to four slices from one of the pies, which he put it silver foil and then left.

I know I’m not the only one that notices; even Laura herself is embarrassed by it, but she’s not a confrontational person, and won’t say anything. As far as I can tell, they aren’t food insecure—I’ve known Laura for more than 10 years, we are very close, and she has never mentioned anything about them having financial problems (and believe me, Laura is a sharer). I know they have good jobs, and I’ve been to their house a couple of times. Myself, and a couple of other people, have started just bringing less food (for instance, we’ll just bring some chips and dip, instead of hors d’oeuvres), though I do feel icky being a spoilsport. My question is, can I say something to Carl? Next time, I really want to make a comment, like, “Hey Carl, why don’t you leave some for the rest of us!” I don’t want to cause issues for Laura, but this is just so annoying!

— Get Your Own, Carl

Re: Start offering to host yourself and make a 'no Carl' policy.

  • Stop bringing the good food to Laura's house.  Carl's a mooch.  That's what mooches do.

    You know Carl is like this and still uttered that you were going to buy pizza.  Stop doing this or start to mention that you'll need $ from anyone who wants it.  But do not expect Carl to change and absolutely do not speak up if this is happening in a place where you are not living. 
    charlotte989875
  • Offer to host. 

    But here’s the thing- if you keep going to Laura’s place he’s going to keep doing it and it would be rude to police his food there. So go knowing that’s how he is, or tell Laura it bugs you so much you’re skipping. 
    mrsconn23short+sassy
  • What does Carl dislike or is allergic to?  Bring a delicious version of that.

    I think there are specific instances where it's okay to say something to Carl.  Like if he's about to take the last two strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, "Carl, I was really wanting to try that, do you mind if I take one?"

    But, overall, it's Laura's parties.  If she has a mooching guest she keeps inviting, that's her business.  The LW doesn't have to go to the parties, if it is bugging her.

    Though I might make a mild, offhand comment to Laura.  Like, "I was just curious, but how come your mom and Carl never bring anything to your parties?"

    Because, let's keep in mind, it's not just Carl.  Laura's OWN MOM is coming to potlucks at her daughter's house and not bringing anything.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    charlotte989875
  • What does Carl dislike or is allergic to?  Bring a delicious version of that.

    I think there are specific instances where it's okay to say something to Carl.  Like if he's about to take the last two strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, "Carl, I was really wanting to try that, do you mind if I take one?"

    But, overall, it's Laura's parties.  If she has a mooching guest she keeps inviting, that's her business.  The LW doesn't have to go to the parties, if it is bugging her.

    Though I might make a mild, offhand comment to Laura.  Like, "I was just curious, but how come your mom and Carl never bring anything to your parties?"

    Because, let's keep in mind, it's not just Carl.  Laura's OWN MOM is coming to potlucks at her daughter's house and not bringing anything.
    Right!

    And we've also established it can be SO HARD to confront a parent.  So Laura can be stuck between a rock and a hard place.  The entire thing is odd.  My parents and ILs don't come to friend parties and now knowing MIL enjoys the expensive treats I'll ask her to do something like bring a salad because it's heavy on produce but she also can't cook it (read: screw it up). 

    Do these people not have another place to go to?  It seems weird that everything is at Laura's.  Did Laura get Nana's apartment after Chandler and Monica moved out? 
    short+sassycharlotte989875mrsconn23
  • ei34 said:
    A former coworker of mine used to race to be first in line at work parties, and she literally had tupperware in hand.  She would frequently take certain items as leftovers before some coworkers would even get any in the first round.  So I believe that people like Carl exist. 
    Agree with the advice to start hosting your own events (anyone else think it's a touch weird that LW so frequently hangs out with someone else's parents?) or to bring a simple bag of chips and call it a day.
    BIL has a friend where it was running joke for years that he'd either show up empty handed or bring like, Budweiser, drink everyone's craft beer, and then leave with the beer he didn't drink at the end of the night.  He did this several times.  He also did some other ridiculous things that irritated the shit out of me at the time, but now it's a funny anecdote.  His 'cause' was helped by being an extremely charming, good-looking, actor (and bartender, since don't have a huge scene here).  So yes, he was definitely a version of Carl. 

    And I agree that I find the parents having to be at every event sort of off, but I also have a person like FIL in my life and we've definitely had to be 'strategic' in the past about plans with people he'd want to hang out with (like when our friends from San Diego are only here for a night to have dinner at our house, we don't tell FIL because he'll suck up all damn air in the room).  It's annoying to have to 'consider' him sometimes. I don't want to hang out with a 67 year old with narcissistic tendencies. 
    Casadena
  • mrsconn23 said:
    ei34 said:
    A former coworker of mine used to race to be first in line at work parties, and she literally had tupperware in hand.  She would frequently take certain items as leftovers before some coworkers would even get any in the first round.  So I believe that people like Carl exist. 
    Agree with the advice to start hosting your own events (anyone else think it's a touch weird that LW so frequently hangs out with someone else's parents?) or to bring a simple bag of chips and call it a day.
    BIL has a friend where it was running joke for years that he'd either show up empty handed or bring like, Budweiser, drink everyone's craft beer, and then leave with the beer he didn't drink at the end of the night.  He did this several times.  He also did some other ridiculous things that irritated the shit out of me at the time, but now it's a funny anecdote.  His 'cause' was helped by being an extremely charming, good-looking, actor (and bartender, since don't have a huge scene here).  So yes, he was definitely a version of Carl. 

    And I agree that I find the parents having to be at every event sort of off, but I also have a person like FIL in my life and we've definitely had to be 'strategic' in the past about plans with people he'd want to hang out with (like when our friends from San Diego are only here for a night to have dinner at our house, we don't tell FIL because he'll suck up all damn air in the room).  It's annoying to have to 'consider' him sometimes. I don't want to hang out with a 67 year old with narcissistic tendencies. 
    We have an annual turkey fry party with friends (well - we did until 2019) and FIL and MIL now live locally.  FIL sometimes wants to insert himself into the party and has "offered to help" and MIL has THANKFULLY told him in no uncertain terms to stay home.  
    mrsconn23
  • banana468 said:
    What does Carl dislike or is allergic to?  Bring a delicious version of that.

    I think there are specific instances where it's okay to say something to Carl.  Like if he's about to take the last two strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, "Carl, I was really wanting to try that, do you mind if I take one?"

    But, overall, it's Laura's parties.  If she has a mooching guest she keeps inviting, that's her business.  The LW doesn't have to go to the parties, if it is bugging her.

    Though I might make a mild, offhand comment to Laura.  Like, "I was just curious, but how come your mom and Carl never bring anything to your parties?"

    Because, let's keep in mind, it's not just Carl.  Laura's OWN MOM is coming to potlucks at her daughter's house and not bringing anything.
    Right!

    And we've also established it can be SO HARD to confront a parent.  So Laura can be stuck between a rock and a hard place.  The entire thing is odd.  My parents and ILs don't come to friend parties and now knowing MIL enjoys the expensive treats I'll ask her to do something like bring a salad because it's heavy on produce but she also can't cook it (read: screw it up). 

    Do these people not have another place to go to?  It seems weird that everything is at Laura's.  Did Laura get Nana's apartment after Chandler and Monica moved out? 
    That's a good point also.  It's a friend group.  Sounds like it is always/usually Laura hosting.  Maybe the LW and the mutual friends are being a little moochy themselves, by not having parties at their place.

    Confession.  My H and I were like that with friends, but we were upfront with them about it.  I love my house, but it SUCKS for hosting.  Added to that, they had three young children.  My house is also not child friendly.  At all.  "No Toddler Johnnie, please put down the automatic drill."

    After they invited us over twice and we didn't return the favor, I apologized and told them that...as much as we'd love them to come over to our place...it's smaller and we just don't have enough places for everyone to sit and eat.

    I don't know if they were trying to help us save face or also meant it or both, but they always said they were the ones who felt bad that we were always traveling to where they lived.  But it was so much easier for them that we did, so they didn't have to pack diapers and a bunch of toys.

    However, what we did do is bring plenty of food and drinks to try and make up for our non-hosting.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    Casadenacharlotte989875
  • banana468 said:
    What does Carl dislike or is allergic to?  Bring a delicious version of that.

    I think there are specific instances where it's okay to say something to Carl.  Like if he's about to take the last two strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, "Carl, I was really wanting to try that, do you mind if I take one?"

    But, overall, it's Laura's parties.  If she has a mooching guest she keeps inviting, that's her business.  The LW doesn't have to go to the parties, if it is bugging her.

    Though I might make a mild, offhand comment to Laura.  Like, "I was just curious, but how come your mom and Carl never bring anything to your parties?"

    Because, let's keep in mind, it's not just Carl.  Laura's OWN MOM is coming to potlucks at her daughter's house and not bringing anything.
    Right!

    And we've also established it can be SO HARD to confront a parent.  So Laura can be stuck between a rock and a hard place.  The entire thing is odd.  My parents and ILs don't come to friend parties and now knowing MIL enjoys the expensive treats I'll ask her to do something like bring a salad because it's heavy on produce but she also can't cook it (read: screw it up). 

    Do these people not have another place to go to?  It seems weird that everything is at Laura's.  Did Laura get Nana's apartment after Chandler and Monica moved out? 
    That's a good point also.  It's a friend group.  Sounds like it is always/usually Laura hosting.  Maybe the LW and the mutual friends are being a little moochy themselves, by not having parties at their place.

    Confession.  My H and I were like that with friends, but we were upfront with them about it.  I love my house, but it SUCKS for hosting.  Added to that, they had three young children.  My house is also not child friendly.  At all.  "No Toddler Johnnie, please put down the automatic drill."

    After they invited us over twice and we didn't return the favor, I apologized and told them that...as much as we'd love them to come over to our place...it's smaller and we just don't have enough places for everyone to sit and eat.

    I don't know if they were trying to help us save face or also meant it or both, but they always said they were the ones who felt bad that we were always traveling to where they lived.  But it was so much easier for them that we did, so they didn't have to pack diapers and a bunch of toys.

    However, what we did do is bring plenty of food and drinks to try and make up for our non-hosting.
    I also like that aspect.  We try to do the same for bigger events because our house holds more and is more child friendly.
    charlotte989875
  • My house has an armoury and is not child friendly, so we don't have child events often, but DND and Larp is usually at our place.  We've had a lot of Larp parties, but fortunately we've never had a mooch.  Unless .... unless I'm the mooch!

    short+sassycharlotte989875
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