What Do You Do, Dear?

Picture courtesy of harpercollins(dot)com

Two books from my childhood (though written 11 yrs before I was born) were “What Do You Do, Dear?” and “What Do You Say, Dear?” by Sesyle Joslin.

The books offer a funny approach to manners. For instance, if a lady, captive on a pirate ship, drops her handkerchief while walking the plank, “What do you do, Dear?” Or, if a nice gentleman introduces you to a baby elephant, “What do you say, Dear?”

The titles of the books came to my mind recently, after reading an email from my nephew.

As I have said in previous posts, I have five siblings. All of my siblings have kids, which means I have many nieces and nephews. Rather than exchanging Christmas gifts with everyone in our family, the aunts and uncles only give gifts to the nieces and nephews. We put all the names of our nieces and nephews in a hat, and we draw names to see who is giving a gift to whom. This year, my husband and I picked two of my nephews, and one of the nephews is an atheist.

Dun dun DUN

“Excuse me.”


“Are you going to get all religious with your readers?”

“What do you mean ‘get all religious’?”

“Are you getting ready to preach? You know some folks don’t take too kindly to preaching.”

“No, I’m not getting ready to preach about religion. Though, this here is my blog, and if I wanted to preach, I’d preach. For the record, one can preach about things other than religion.”

“Seems I hit a nerve.”

“Maybe. But mostly, you’ve intruded into my post without an invitation.”

“Oh wait, I’ve got a good one … ‘One of your personalities interrupts your train of thought while writing, ‘What do you do, Dear?”

“Please stop.”


Shortly after picking the names of my nephews, I sent my atheist nephew an email, asking him what he wanted for Christmas. I wrote, “So, whatcha want? Books, movies, a Bible?!”

“Hahahahahaha! I get it! You asked your atheist nephew if he wanted a Bible! Oh, Lenore, you are a HOOT!”

“I know! I love me! But seriously, let me continue.”



My nephew is a great sport. He is not much of a talker, but he will engage in a discussion with me regarding his non-religious views and my religious views. Then again, he may just sit quietly, while I engage in a dialogue with him about my religious views.

No, he’ll talk with me. Once he spoke up and told me he had to go meet friends at the movie theater. That counts as dialogue, right?

“Well, I’m not -”

“HUSH! That was a rhetorical question! I had no intention of having a conversation with you today. Please. Just be quiet.”


My nephew responded to my email.Β  He wrote, “Oh boy, I’ve mostly got books for infidels on my list…” (He gets his sense of humor from me.)

My nephew is not subtle, and I laughed out loud when I read his list of books. He included The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer, by Christopher Hitchens and The End of Faith, by Sam Harris.

Don’t you find that funny? I find it funny; in fact, I find it hilarious. Don’t you?

“Hello?! Are you there? Don’t you find it funny?”

“Oh, you’re talking to me again? I didn’t see any quotations, and you snapped at me to hush. Are you PMSing?”


“Well, maybe you need to re-read those books. Seems you need a refresher course on manners.”

“You’re right. I apologize. I hate it when we fight.”

“Me, too. Now, focus on your nephew. What are you going to get your nephew?”

“That’s the question which inspired this post: What do you do, dear? I’ll probably buy him a cookbook. In fact, I could buy him the cookbook Amy mentioned in her post, “It’s a cookbook! A cookbook!” I think my nephew would love it.”

“Yeah, that will certainly change his view of religion.”

33 thoughts on “What Do You Do, Dear?

  1. 1. That cookbook scares the bejesus out of me (pun intended).
    2. I would like that first book he suggested please because…wait for it…I too am an atheist! HAHAHAHA!! YOU THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME! You thought I was gonna come visit and we were going to go to church together! BWahahahahaha!!

    Did I overdo it?

    Okay please still love me. Jesus would want you to (or so I’ve heard).

    1. You sound just like one of my sisters! I’m laughing!
      I’ll still save a space for you and my nephew in church – you know, just in case you decide to walk towards the light. (smile)
      You crack me up, Kim – almost as much as I crack myself up! HA!

    2. That last line cracked me up. I’m Jewish, but every time someone says they’re Christian and then says words of hate against a group of people, I get a little perplexed and think, “Because . . . that’s what Jesus would do?”

      I love seeing that dilemma addressed in this fashion. πŸ™‚

      1. I’m glad you liked it, Deb. I have a strong faith, and I feel I would do my faith a disservice if I scoffed at other beliefs or non-beliefs. Keep the dialogue going – that’s my goal.
        Thanks, Deb!!

  2. Reading that cookbook would probably reassure him that he’s made the right life-choice. And I love that he’s an atheist but has no qualms about accepting Christmas presents. πŸ™‚

    “β€˜One of your personalities interrupts your train of thought while writing, β€˜What do you do, Dear?” – Hahahaha!!

    Thanks for the link appreciation!

    1. I sent my nephew a link to the post I wrote, and I asked him to make sure he read your post, too. I’m certain he’ll stand firm in his faith – or lack of – or something. πŸ™‚
      And yes, he is a kind person to accept presents during a Christian holiday. Rumor has it – he accepts gifts year round. Must be an atheist thing. Dunno.

      I’m glad I made you laugh. Thank you for sharing the cookbook!

  3. Tee hee…this post had me giggling. See, this is why I love your blog, Lenore– you can make atheism and even a delusional woman talking to herself funny! (By the way, I’m also one of those things…can ya guess which?)

    1. Well, you are by no means delusional, Darla. So, I’ll put you on my prayer list right next to my nephew and Kim. (smile)
      I am glad this post had you giggling. Tell me honestly, are my public conversations with myself becoming old? Have I taken the conversations too far?
      I ask, because I have these conversations daily, and well – I wonder if I should put the lid back on it. Do let me know what you think.

      1. Oh, no never stop these conversations, Lenore! I enjoy them.

        See, now she thinks because you used the word “delusional” you were describing her.

        But I meant that I was delusional, not her. I was trying to be funny.

        Yeah, well, try harder.

        Why don’t you just shut up.

        No, you shut up.



      2. *giggle*

        Thanks to you guys, being awake at 2:30 isn’t nearly as heinous as it might otherwise have been! πŸ˜‰

        Also, I’m going to think of Julie @ GGP every time I say the word “heinous.” For the rest of forever.

  4. Thanks for the laugh! Sometimes it takes the slower ones of us a while to figure out just what we believe in. I’m getting there…bit by bit. As for your nephew, hmmm, if you’re hell bent to give him a book, I bet he’d love some Clive Cussler! (Or I’d happily donate to you my Emily Post book that I don’t believe I’ve opened since my SIL gave it to me years ago, for your nephew).

    1. Clive Cussler …. I did not recognize the name. His work (and background) seems interesting.
      By the way, you saying ‘hell bent’ cracked me up. I am glad my writing gave you a laugh, too.
      Thanks for visiting, M2M!

  5. Aren’t teens great? I love all their defiance and determination to be monosyllabic. But then, like you, I’m an aunt and not raising the little schemers!

    I visited Amy’s site and I think you’ve nailed it! That cookbook would be perfect for his dry wit!

    1. Ah Soul Dipper…. he’s not a teen. He’s in college. 3rd year, I believe. (I’m a bad Aunt when it comes to keeping track of ages, etc.)
      With regards to the dry wit – you are absolutely accurate! I’m hoping he reads this post and check’s out Amy’s writing.
      I suspect he’ll smile – or smirk.
      Thank you for visiting!

    1. MJ, if I could order the cookbook, I would certainly order the cookbook. Maybe I can get Amy to copy it for me. I am certain my nephew would love it.
      I am glad you enjoy my sense of humor, and I am happy to see you here. Thank you!

  6. You are soooo funny. Reminds me of my mother’s question, “What are LD’s”. Answer: Well, I have this blogging friend with two names who talks to herselves.
    hmmm…the Christmas gift dilemma…instead of a Bible, or a cookbook, unless of course he has a friend to cook for him, how about a book with blank pages?

    1. I love your Mother’s question. I would love to have you respond to the question with the answer you gave here, too. The ‘herselves’ made me laugh hard. I love it.
      A book with blank pages … something to consider. Thanks for visiting, Georgette! Glad you liked the post!

  7. This post is really funny. Combination of you, yourself & your nephew is just perfect to add sense of humor to this post. I was laughing through out this post, while reading. Keep this talking (Writing) going on.

    1. The skit hasn’t grown old yet, Arindam? Thank you for your kindness. With such strong ‘other’ personalities (smile), keeping the voices quiet would prove more difficult. I suspect the conversations with myselves (smile) will continue. Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Hahaha…
    I have this mental image of a tiny Lenore, perched on one of your shoulders having this conversation with you. Kind of like the tiny angel and devil thing they used to do in cartoons. Which also seems (very loosely) related to this post, too!
    You should be proud of yourself, S.I.G.!
    Why thank you! I believe I am!

    1. That’s funny, SIG. Though I’m not sure how ‘tiny’ she is. She seems heavy.
      Did I mention it is good to have you back? Well, yes – it is.
      And yes, be proud of yourself. Yeah – you, too. πŸ™‚

  9. Delightful. I love your errant conversations. Someone else doing that would send me packing, but you do it very well.

    Heck, every Athiest should have a Bible on the bookshelf. To be a true athiest, you must have a full command of all sides of the issue, and how can you do that without a bible in hand? In fact, a stable of bibles of different translations would be even better. There should also be a Torah, a Quar’an, well…a whole bunch of holy books. The only reason I can’t call myself an athiest is because I haven’t spent the time and energy studying theology. (And that comment is not intended as an offense against your beliefs, Diane.)

    A cookbook is a splendid compromise, though. May your nephew be forever nourished by the religion of food.

    1. Forever nourished by the religion of food… Linda, I like that. Goodness knows I tend to worship my ice cream.
      Thank you for putting up with my errant conversations. I know there is a fine line between annoying and entertaining. I also know my husband feels I teeter more towards the line of annoying … at least “LIVE” an in person. (smile)
      You know… everyone of every faith should have every book about the various faiths. You’ve made an excellent point!
      And my nephew? His atheist beliefs stem from his lack of questions – similar to you, he doesn’t spend time and energy asking ‘why’. He just lives day to day and enjoys science.

    1. Country Wife, thank you for checking out this post. My nephew and I differ on beliefs, but I respect the fact that he will listen to me and let me speak openly, just as he speaks openly and I listen to him. It did make me feel good to hear he liked my post. There is hope for him! (smile)

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