Let’ s Discuss: Who Gets To Go Into Your Fridge?

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Hello lovelies,

This post was supposed to be yesterday’s post but, due to unforseen circumstances, I didn’t get that far. Too make up for that, today will be another double-post day – you lucky things!

Today, I actually wanted to invite some discussion on this post. I always encourage discussion anyway, but today, I actually want to know how you would handle this situation, It’s rather odd, so do please bear with me.

So it goes, I am what I’d describe as a middle-grounds host. I’m not so uptight that I ask you to take your shoes off as soon as you enter my home (it is typically considered rude in the West as it implies your guest is dirty) and I don’t mind some emphatic foul language, but shoes on the furniture are a no-no and you certainly don’t get to enter my bedroom without good reason. I was raised to have very ‘traditional’ values when it came to hosting, including that:

  • You make sure your furniture is comfortable and clear for your guests to sit, and the home is tidy and there certainly aren’t any tripping hazards for them to fall over.
  • You dress nicely to host them. Not formally, but nicely. Jeans and a t-shirt are fine, as long as they are clean. Your pyjamas and jogging bottoms are only okay if you are sick or just got back from the gym.
  • You offer your guests tea or coffee, something stronger in the evenings. Alcoholic beverages for Sunday dinners and barbeques are also acceptable.
  • If providing drinks, you also provide some sort of snack to accompany it.
  • You clean up once your guest leaves, never in their presence (though moving things to make room for a serving tray is okay) and you certainly never ask them to remove their shoes.

And as a guest, I was always taught that:

  • You present yourself clean and tidy, no messy clothes, no muddy shoes, hair brushed and tied back or styled.
  • You say please and thankyou and address parents as Mr and Mrs/Ms, unless instructed otherwise. You mind your language too, unless your hosts are swearing.
  • You keep your personal items on you. If you want to take your shoes off, you can, but put them out of the way and don’t blame your host if your socks get dirty or you hurt yourself. It’s an ‘at your own risk’ sort of situation.
  • Similar to the above, take your plates or mugs out to the kitchen when you’ve finished with them and generally tidy up after yourself. If you accidentally knock a sofa cushion on the floor, pick it up, don’t leave it for your hosts to do.
  • Never, ever go into personal spaces (bedrooms, cupboards, refridgerators.. I could go on) without permission or invitation, not even if you know your host well.
  • You don’t know your host’s kids and pets, don’t treat them how you treat your own. You follow your host’s rules in their home, regardless of what you think of them.

And so on, all seemingly logical things. n

When I posted my scenario on Reddit, I asked for some advise on handling this situation, It was a bit of an oddball occurrence but also something that I was keen to avoid a repeat of. Instead, I got asked if I was serious as an English person because guests going into your fridge is normal (not to me, it’s not) and told that I was a controlling person . I have standards in how I treat people and allow myself to be treated, yes, and I am driven. But controlling? I don’t think so. The only time I’ll whoop your butt is if you’re putting me in danger!

But while all of this is well and good, we aren’t really getting to the bottom of what today’s post is about or why we’re here. Dear readers, this is how last Saturday went down:

On alternate Saturday’s, we host Matt’s father. As a rule of thumb, everything goes well and the whole evening goes without a hitch. Just occasionally, though, there are minor incursions. These incidents are bothersome, but they are much more of a bother for Matt than me.

Last Saturday, I was changing my t-shirt in the bedroom when Matt’s father turned up. As is the norm, Matt beckoned him in and boiled the kettle to make tea, but then had to backtrack briefly to use the facilities. When he returned to the lounge, Matt’s father was nowhere to be seen.

When Matt went into the kitchen, he found his father offloading some freshly purchased milk and butter into our refrigerator. It wasn’t groceries intended for us, it was produce that he had purchased and intended to take home after his visit, he’d just assumed that it was okay to do so and loaded his purchase into our refridgerator to keep fresh without our permission.

Now pause right here, because let me say that it absolutely would have been okay if he’d asked one of us first. We wouldn’t have been affronted in any way, and most likely, Matt would asked me and I would have hauled the ingredients for dinner out of the refridgeror to make some room, then more or less got on with cooking for everyone there and then! This isn’t about anyone but me using my refrigerator or leaving something in it that I hadn’t asked for (because receiving chocolate or wine is awesome), this is purely about the principle of using my refrigerator for his personal benefit, without asking.

When Matt spoke to me about the situation, I was almost as shocked as he was.

“The trouble is,” i explained in a whisper, “I can’t really do anything about it until I’ve seem it for myself, if that makes sense? But I will.” I gave him the kind of smile that is solely reserved for my most sinister plans.

“Love, how come you bought more milk? We’ve already got a full bottle in the door” I called from the kitchen. Wolfie looked back at me as I gave him a wry smile, game on,

“That’s mine, you leave that alone” Matt’s father said without looking up, it was enough to wipe the smile off of my face. Matt didn’t seem too impressed by it, either. Not only was that outrightly rude, but he’d plonked his groceries on top of my groceries – the groceries that I needed to cook our dinner.

“Oh.. okay..” I said, audibly annoyed, more annoyed now by what was said rather than what had happened. The idea that I would use his milk or his butter when we already have plenty of both seemed absurd and offensive above all else. Even if I did need to use a splash of milk or a knob of butter, I was about to cook his dinner!

Now, I’ll admit, I decided to serve him up the smallest dinner (I normally serve guests the largest so that they don’t go home hungry) as retribution for his rudeness and I bluffed about not having a dessert, too. Matt’s father resorts to the silent treatment when he feels wronged and rather than trying to negotiate with him and make the entire evening uncomfortable, I resorted to some passive-aggressive personal satisfaction instead. As it was, he didn’t even notice and when I told him, Wolfie found it funny, too. I know that it was spiteful, but by that point, I was so aggrieved that all perception of right and wrong went out of the window. I now know that spite can be driven by a desire to teach offenders a lesson and I believe that’s what it was. I don’t ask for a lot in life but I do ask for respect. Respect me, and I will respect you, too. Disrespect me in my home, you get less food for dinner – it’s just that simple!

I should say here that I have a long history of doing things for Matt’s Dad that are perhaps almost unheard of in most relationships. Barely a year into dating Matt, I was in a courtroom to stand against his Dad being evicted for rent arrears (we won) and I’ve had to print off a mass of recipes for him to cook as he gets confused by even the simplest dishes. When I started keeping tropical fish, he purchased himself a tank and has asked me regularly about fish care and maintenance ever since. Matt insisted that his father has kept tropical fish before and will remember how to keep them, he’s more than familiar with the look that he receives every time the phone rings and his father’s name pops up on the screen!

Wolfie and I have since discussed the situation and we have agreed, essentially, never to leave his father alone again.

“You mean babysit him?” Wolfie asked, grinning from ear to ear.

I shrugged and returned his grin, “you got me”.

It’s unfortunate that we have to take such measures around family visits as treating fully-grown loved ones like children is something that you should never have to do. My family isn’t perfect (I don’t think any family is!) but they would never use anything other than the bathroom without asking first. Okay, so my brother might pre-boil the kettle if I was trying to pull the dog off of my mother’s lap for long enough that we can say hello, but my family is just pretty awesome like that. My mother worries about my spending to the point that she can become harshly critical and my brother has remarkable ability to come up with some emotional prose that few can even start to comprehend in the moment, but we can get around that by keeping our budget to ourselves and smiling and applauding my brother even if we haven’t got a clue what he was just talking about. Familial relationships aren’t about creating a model family, they are about simply accepting their small imperfections and just tackling the bigger ones. I love my family and I love Matt’s Dad, too. They’re humble, humorous and imperfect people, and they’re all mine.

So I ask you dear lovelies, what would your handling of this situation be? Would you have flipped out? Would you have said nothing? Would you have done something else entirely?

Tell me..

Who gets to go into your fridge?

Until next time!

Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Beautiful,

Helen xx

10 thoughts on “Let’ s Discuss: Who Gets To Go Into Your Fridge?

  1. Please know that I am offering no judgment on how you feel about this whatsoever. You have invited discussion on this and I would like to provide my viewpoint. My husband and I host parties quite frequently. We are always sure to clean up the house prior (as you suggested), and offer the appropriate food and beverages. We leave our shoes by the door, but do not suggest that guests do…if they do, they do, and if they don’t, they don’t. Something that I always tell my guests is to please make themselves at home, and I mean this. Especially if it is family. I want them to feel comfortable and at ease. With that said, should my father-in-law put something in our fridge to keep cold until he left, that would be absolutely welcomed. He does not need to ask. And, should anyone we invite over put something in our fridge, it would be welcomed. I find that the less connected we are to someone (perhaps a new friend, who is over for the first time) are more likely to say, “hey, do you mind if I put this in the fridge?”. Having been in this exact scenario many times, I have never felt that it was an affront or that it was rude in any way. A fridge is a fridge…not exactly personal, or private space, in my opinion. Now, I do feel that our home office and our bedroom are “private” spaces. I’ve never had anyone breech this, except for small children who haven’t learned about that yet. If someone were to enter these spaces uninvited, I would simply communicate to that person that we prefer them not to. In any case, those are my thoughts 🙂

    1. Of course! I invited your thoughts and any opinion (different or similar) is welcome. I find your thoughts about being disconnected from material belongings really interesting and I think, could help so easily to dissuade feelings those feelings of being threatened. Now that I think back, my family were all working class and usually lived paycheck to paycheck. Could it be that those feelings are connected to having worked hard for food? It’s certainly possible. My parents particularly used to get very stressed about not having enough money to feed us and I think to them, feeding guests absolutely anything from their refrigerator or cupboards was simply unaffordable. At the same time though, you never sent a guest home hungry. Even a slice of cake or a biscuit was okay if that was all you could afford.
      I don’t host dinner parties (we simply don’t have the room!) but at the same time, when we host guests, we always prepare a full meal for them, plus a dessert. Unlike my parents, my husband I do have enough money that we can afford to do that, which I guess is why guests entering our cupboards and refrigerator may also be somewhat confusing and alarming. We plan meals based on the particular guests that we are entertaining, we choose meals that we know they will enjoy. I suppose then, it sort of creates the anxiety of “Is what I had planned not good enough?”.
      Bedrooms were definitely always an off for us, although perhaps most interestingly, not office spaces. Growing up, my aunt was a writer and she used to encourage me to use her office, even. To her, it was a space that I could harness my creativity. Isn’t it interesting how attitudes vary between homes? In any case, I thankyou for sharing your thoughts and thankyou for supporting my blog 🙂

      1. I greatly enjoyed reading this response, Mrs. Wolfie! Socio-economic status may have something to do with it, and I’m guessing culture does as well. While we host quite a few gatherings, when it comes to family gatherings it is almost always a potluck (just in case you don’t know the term, this is where everyone brings something to share). Especially during those types of gatherings, everyone is in and out of the fridge, and cupboards looking for serving dishes etc. I thought that was very interesting what you wrote about your Aunt’s office space. As the nature of my work is confidential, keeping that space private is paramount. Interestingly enough, I’ve never had to ask anyone to stay out of there…except the occasional naughty child wandering around.

      2. Thankyou naughtynora, it’s a pleasure to read your thoughts too. I am familiar with potluck, so it would make sense to make your home more accessible. We have had a few pot luck events ourselves, though it’s usually more of a family barbecue than a dinner party. It’s not so much potluck with me though as I think if I didn’t turn out a lemon cheesecake, my mother would be bitterly disappointed!

  2. I say to each their own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you run your house! And I applaud you for standing up for that. We personally do things differently and treat our home as if it belonged to everyone. After all, everything belongs to God and we only have it for a short time. With that being said, absolutely anyone is welcome in our home, our bedroom, our fridge. But if you are rude or disrespectful verbally or physically to another, then you can hit the road🙏🏼 There is no right way or wrong way. Just what works individually! Just be certain you communicate your expectations so there will be no confusion.

    1. Thankyou! Apologies it’s taken me a few days to get back to this comment too. Shorter ones I usually do on my phone, but longer ones are much easier on my laptop as it doesn’t put so much strain on my wrist. It’s really interesting how perceptions and feelings towards the home seem to pan through countries and religions. My family were Church Of England and there was very much the sentiment that the home is a gift from God to those who live in it and those who visit it must be humble towards it and its guests, isn’t that interesting? It wasn’t even just my parents, my grandparents and great grandparents carried the same sentiments too, that’s why I guess I was so shocked to read that the way I had been taught and raised wasn’t the norm! Oh no, absolutely disrespect is a no no and disrespect was usually something that got a guest banished from our home for good, too. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts on this post, and thankyou for continuing to support my blog! 🙂

      1. I have also noticed that different regions bring different perspectives! I myself was raised in a well to do family with cold and callous parents, whom had a living room we could not go in!!! Why have a living room you can’t go in?? And never visitors. So maybe it’s past trauma that causes me to open my home this way! In fact you may be the normal one🤪

      2. A living room you can’t go in? So… a deathing room then? That doesn’t sound very lively tot me! My parents weren’t perfect but nowhere was off limits in our home! Well.. except Dad’s suitcase, but he was a children’s social worker so I can’t imagine some of the information that he was handling.

      3. I mean my Mum thought I was autistic for 30 years and now admits that was mostly about her. I’ve got it on my planner to write about that in the next few weeks so watch out for that one! I think sometimes stories like these are what horror movies are inspired by!