“Not Done”


I’ve mentioned my mother was judgmental, notably free of the self-doubt that prevents people from making a choice. Or so it seemed to me, the entire time I knew her. Once she decided, that was it. How often I envied her certainty and lack of dithering.

SueG also had a bulletproof set of rules and principles by which she lived her life. She viewed the world in handy (though sometimes arbitrary) categories of “Done” and “Not Done.” I agree with many, but not all, of this list.

“Not Done” (meaning socially inappropriate, wasteful or in bad taste):



Kleenex (to my eternal embarrassment, she kept a roll of toilet paper on the kitchen counter to be used as tissue)

Cool Whip

Miracle Whip

Gravy in a jar

Non-dairy creamer


High-quality paper napkins (she would buy the cheapest ones for daily use or tear higher quality ones in half or else use cloth for nice occasions)


Lack of discipline

Eating in between meals

Paper plates/plasticware/plastic cups for anything other than a picnic


Going back on one’s word

Daily dessert (she did not much like sweets)

Buying a bottle of water or soda when out


Excess (unless specifically approved)

Baked goods purchased in a store (she had a point)

Gaining weight




Bare feet

Public disgrace

Making “personal comments” (which could range from something suspect like “Wow, what a haircut” to “You’ve lost so much weight!” Utter neutrality regarding one’s person was to be maintained at all times.)

Children watching TV (“dissipated”)



Girls treated as “princesses” (One of her worst put-downs: “Stop acting like a princess!”)


Physical disabilities

Marrying a Frenchman

Cheating (on anything)




Store-bought Halloween costumes

“Spending money like water”

Scandal (which could include seemingly blameless things like being in a car accident)


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