Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Can't Please Everyone

August 15, 2016

A well-used adage reminds us that you can’t please everyone, a fact brought home recently by a letter received by Mrs. Chatterbox.

           

Mrs. C. is the volunteer coordinator for our local police department. Among her many duties is planning our city’s National Night Out, a summer event designed to bring communities and police departments together on the second Tuesday in August.  Mrs. C. works hard to provide a fun event, coordinating vendors and local agencies. This year she had fire trucks, squad cars (kids love being photographed in the back of squad cars) and SWAT vehicles for kids to explore. The biggest hit, aside from free food, are the K-9 officers who put on a show for thousands of citizens who show up to enjoy the evening and engage with police officers and community leaders. For many years, vendors have been hired to distribute free pizza, sodas and ice cream. This year Mrs. C. had money left in her budget to add something extra.

           

A few Saturdays before National Night Out while strolling through our local farmer’s market, we encountered a colorful vendor selling bags of roasted peanuts. The fellow looked the part with his straw hat, red and white striped vest and vintage roasting machine. Mrs. C. took his card and later hired him to hand out free bags of peanuts at her event. Few things are as popular as free food and the peanuts were extremely popular. By all accounts, Mrs. C’s National Night Out was a tremendous success, as one would expect since she’s been responsible for this event for fifteen years.

           

As usual, Mrs. C. was flooded with congratulations for another fine effort, and then the letter arrived. A mother wrote to chastise Mrs. C. for having peanuts at her event, citing that some children are allergic to peanuts and all flyers and advertisement should have announced that peanuts would be present. She stated that had she known peanuts would be present she would never have brought her child, who was allergic to nuts. She claimed her son might have picked up peanut shells from the ground and that would have been enough to make him sick.

 

 

 

Peanut vendor at National Night Out

           

 

Of course Mrs. C. had taken into consideration the fact that some people are allergic to nuts, but she’d assumed they’d be smart enough not to eat them. I admit to being overprotective when it comes to my wife, but it seems to me that it’s a parent’s responsibility to monitor what a child eats, not those responsible for staging a public event.

           

It isn’t my intention to denigrate parents dealing with their children’s health issues, and a case can be made that small children don’t know if they’re allergic to certain foods, but isn’t this yet another reason small children shouldn’t be allowed to roam any public event unattended, even one with a lot of cops?

 

Mrs. C. and I passed along no food allergies to our son, but when he was small we closely monitored what he ate, never let him accept food unless we’d first given our approval. You can bet we would have instructed him from a tender age that certain foods were off limits if they were capable of making him sick, and it would never have occurred to us that everyone should be denied those things just because our son couldn’t enjoy them.

           

Does anyone take personal responsibility any more? If this child had eaten peanuts and gotten sick would his mother have sued the city? Would she have sued the farmer’s market for having a peanut vendor? Or for giving out free fruit slices when some folks in the community are allergic to fruits and melons? I’m thinking—probably. What about stores like Costco that routinely hand out samples of foods loaded with gluten, or chocolate or nuts, which many people can’t eat?

           

Mrs. C. is considering eliminating the nut vendor from next year’s event and I’m encouraging her not to. Instructions not to hand out bags of nuts to anyone ten or younger without a parent present should solve the problem. If parents have kids older than ten who haven’t been properly instructed on what they should or shouldn’t eat, shame on those parents.

           

Curiously, nobody complained about the free ice cream and there must have been lactose intolerant people present.

 

 

 

Hopefully not lactose intolerant

 

           

What do you think? Should Mrs. C. eliminate the peanut vendor from next year’s National Night Out?

 

 

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Comments

31 Comments
I agree with you. It is a parent(s) responsibility to teach their children. You cannot possibly safeguard a child 100% of the time... from everything. Besides, it was a public event.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 15, 2016
I guess some people have a sensitive enough allergy that just close contact can cause trouble. But I hope the kid never goes to Texas Roadhouse or Logan's Roadhouse, where they have buckets of peanuts on the table and encourage people to throw empty shells on the floor.
By: PT Dilloway on August 15, 2016
BTW, I don't think there's anything wrong having the peanut vendor but a warning on the flyers is a good idea with how litigious people are.
By: PT Dilloway on August 15, 2016
Sad when you have to post warnings. There are so many allergies though. Tell her to bring back the peanut vendor and don't worry about it.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 15, 2016
I have celiac disease. I would have avoided the pizza, asked the nacho vendor if his chips contained gluten and gladly accepted the roasted peanuts. My son is allergic to pectin. He has been from a very early age. He knew by the time he was 4 that he didn't want apples, pears or cherries, or any of a number of fruits. He would just have said "no, thank you." because he was self motivated not to get that sick and need to get an IV. I always assume that a public event is going to have foods that we need to avoid. The mother should have too. Keep the vendor, but cover by placing on the notifications that the event is not allergen free.
By: Lisa on August 15, 2016
It may "take a village" to raise a child, but the primary responsibility lies with the parents. That mother's tirade is unreasonable. It isn't the responsibility of people running a public event to eliminate foods her child can't eat; it's hers to be sure he doesn't eat them. I say have the peanut vendor return next year.
By: Susan Swiderski on August 15, 2016
I emailed you a cartoon!!
By: fishducky on August 15, 2016
You're right. It is the parents' responsibility and Mrs. C should not eliminate the peanut vendor because of one parent who wants to force everyone to march to her tune.
By: Catalyst on August 15, 2016
It's primarily on the parents -- and so I agree with PT Dilloway that there's nothing wrong with having the peanut vendor but a warning on the flyers is a good idea with how litigious people are.
By: Tom Sightings on August 15, 2016
There's people who need gluten-free, who don't like loud noises because of PTSD, who require accommodations because of disabilities, who have various food allergies, etc. No, the peanut vendor is fine. People with allergies need to carry an epi-pen with them. To do otherwise is irresponsible. However, it might be wise to consult a lawyer. Sometimes too many people just ruin the fun for everyone.
By: Michael A Offutt on August 15, 2016
another example of stupidity. Have your peanut vendor. put in the flyers that bagged peanuts will be sold and then expect people to solve that issue on their own. At least you will have resolved the legality.
By: Tabor on August 15, 2016
Next years advertising and posters could carry a line about fresh roasted peanuts. That's a neutral warning/promotional statement. You can't blame a mother for caring about her child's health, but that implies parental supervision is needed. BTW, congrats to Mrs. C for organizing such a great event.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 15, 2016
Keep the peanuts. It is a parent's responsibility to monitor the child. After all, there could have been nuts in some of the other foods available, too, you can't eliminate every allergen from every place on the planet.
By: messymimi on August 15, 2016
sadly, i saw that one coming as soon as you mentioned peanut vendor. yes, that mother would have been first in line to sue had her child had a reaction.
By: TexWisGirl on August 15, 2016
I'm sorry for Mrs. C. She works hard and gets picked on. I think she should do what's convenient and enjoyable for the largest number of people. I have a great-niece who is allergic to peanuts. She's old enough now to know better than to eat them, but when she was younger, her parents protected and guided her. Remember the cyanide in the Tylenol and Excedrin capsules? The decision makers at companies that used capsules changed the capsules to other methods of medication delivery and changed their packaging. However, if capsules were coated with a tiny bit of iron and cyanide was added, the capsules would turn an ugly blue and it would be obvious that cyanide was present. When the possibility of lining the capsules with iron was raised, some people nearly went insane because they cannot have iron added to their diets. Would it have killed them to forego the capsules and take tablets so that other people could be protected? You would have thought so. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 15, 2016
NO. However there show be very clear signage. some of these people don't have to eat the food but suffer while just being in the same are as the nuts.
By: red Kline on August 15, 2016
Next year she could post a sign at the entrance saying what all could be found at the event: peanuts, ice cream, pizza, etc, and if anyone wants to complain, they can go see the Complaint Manager, Helen Wait. If they want to complain, then can to to Helen Wait. :)
By: scott park on August 15, 2016
You're title sums up a lot of what is wrong with our society. Next year add the roasted peanuts to the list of possible enjoyment, then take joy in the fact that woman and her family won't be there to complain about anything else.
By: STL Fan on August 15, 2016
ABSOLUTELY NOT.....if my child had an allergy like that I would stick close by and make sure all was well. The mother sounds like a trouble maker. Maybe she needs to package up her son in a bubble? Bravo to Mrs C for doing this event!
By: Kathe W. on August 15, 2016
Until peanuts are illegal, it is up to parents and those who are allergic to make sure they are not consumed.
By: cranky on August 15, 2016
Sadly some people are professional complainers, ready to load responsibility onto everyone but themselves. If someone is truly dangerously sensitive then they have to get used to monitoring their environment carefully at all times and not expect everyone else to adjust their (perfectly normal) behavior. I get pretty sick of the vast majority having to curtail normal activities for the benefit of a few. *Lets steam vent from ears* Sorry, I'm not usually so harsh, but you've kinda touched a nerve here. I say keep the peanuts. Hey - how about asking the peanut vendor to stick a very large sign on his stall saying "PEANUTS". That surely should be warning enough.
By: Botanist on August 15, 2016
No, I don't think she should eliminate the peanuts. The majority of people love them. Why some people feel like the whole world should conform around whatever their issues are, I have no idea. I don't know if you have Texas Roadhouse restaurants there but here the local one is packed every weekend. They have buckets of peanuts on the tables. Guess the people with peanut allergies go over to Outback. Kudos to Mrs. C. for her volunteerism. She shouldn't be subjected to criticism at all considering she is giving selflessly of her time.
By: Cheryl P. on August 15, 2016
I'm with you on this one. I cannot fathom the thought process that would make this person feel compelled to send your wife that note. It's like warning messages on window fans. Had I been dim witted enough to put my hand in the blades of a window fan and hurt my hand, my parents would have been embarrassed at having and offspring that didn't know better. Suing the manufacturer would never have entered their minds.
By: Rick Watson on August 15, 2016
Keep the nuts! We at the teacher lunch table (and the majority of the student body) are still bitter about the loss of our peanut butter and Karo syrup sandwiches that used to accompany the chili.
By: val on August 15, 2016
That critic must be busy all year long. Think about all the cafes that sell cookies with peanuts, all the eateries that have some form of peanut oil in their food, all the family friendly events wherein peanuts can be found. She's a hater nobody would be able to please. Besides, the Peanut Man looks endearing in his red and white striped vest. Go nuts and keep going nuts, I say.
By: Robyn Engel on August 16, 2016
Yes, keep the peanut man and the peanuts!! I agree 100% with everybody here. Warning on the flyer and haters are gonna hate, hate, hate. Just shake it off, shake it off, Mrs. C!
By: Linda Morris on August 16, 2016
What a bully! This chicky bird is probably the first one to say no peanuts but gives her kids Coke, twizzlers, candy and all the other sugar foods that are horrible. Please tell your wife to have this nice man sell his peanuts at the event. I hate when someone bullies and feel they have the judgemental attitude to inflict on others. Your wife is doing something for the community and she should concentrate on the all the positive letters and calls not one twit who can't watch her kid or doesn't want to. Sorry but please...I know kids are quick to place something in their mouth( i, apparently, like to toss in flies, spiders and a worm when i was one....thankfully I don't remember) but it goes a little crazy. While everyone is fine with cotton candy, candy apples and every sugar concoction known to be sold at these events they complain about peanuts! My niece is allergic to strawberries and pineapple, should the stores ban these fruits because she may touch one of these fruits. The lady needs a vallium and your wife should stand tall and proud of her acheivement
By: Birgit on August 16, 2016
Many places have buckled under and placed more rules about health and allergies. My high school (in the 70s) had vending machines and often serves french fries and other "junk food" at lunch. Those are probably not allowed in schools anymore, or any type of peanuts. People our age have a hard time understanding. We had all that stuff and we turned out all right (if a bit chubby). But allergies have become a lot more prevalent along with autism, Crohn's Disease and other health issues. Although you can tell your kids not to eat peanuts, kids don't listen or want to rebel. And no one can watch a kid 24/7. I'm afraid the "new" America needs stricter rules. Interestingly, previous generations, and people in 3rd world countries, who didn't pay so much attention to parenting or washing or getting dirty had far fewer children with health issues or allergies. Perhaps by keeping kids away from germs, they're actually becoming more delicate and illness-prone than before.
By: Lexa Cain on August 16, 2016
absolutely not! (as in keep the peanuts). and yes, she probably would have sued. it sorely pisses me off when one complainer causes a change that affects everyone. what about all those people who didn't complain, who thoroughly enjoyed the peanuts? and really? just being in the vicinity of peanuts, touching a peanut shell would make him sick. I find that hard to believe.
By: Ellen Abbott on August 17, 2016
, I would tape signs at every booth that states the basic new warning that is on practically every product I buy at the grocery store. "This product may contain nuts or wheat". Mrs C is involved in a wonderful community activity, and should be commended for her efforts. I would not run the peanut man off- he would probably be my first stop!
By: Terri on August 19, 2016
For heaven's sake! A child that allergic comes into contact with nut-contaminated things ALL THE TIME - there are nut warnings on almost everything these days. People are also nuts. Sigh.
By: The Bug on August 20, 2016

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