DEAR ABBY: I'm writing you about a disgusting, rude and, in my opinion, obscene habit -- the bride and groom shoving wedding cake in each other's faces. The couple are all dressed up in their beautiful finery. They have a wonderful ceremony and a perfect reception table. How rude and insensitive to the person he or she has just promised before God to love, honor and cherish -- not to mention disrespectful.
What do you think of this "custom," and do you agree with me? -- FAITHFUL LITTLE ROCK READER
DEAR FAITHFUL: I do agree with you. The cake-in-the-face custom should have been retired at least 50 years ago. The significance of the "ritual" is extremely demeaning to women.
According to the book "Curious Customs" by Tad Tuleja (Stonesong Press, 1987): "The cake-cutting at modern weddings is a four-step comedic ritual that sustains masculine prerogatives in the very act of supposedly subverting them.
"... in the first step of the comedy, the groom helps direct the bride's hand -- a symbolic demonstration of male control that was unnecessary in the days of more tractable women. She accepts this gesture and, as a further proof of submissiveness, performs the second step of the ritual, offering him the first bite of cake, the gustatory equivalent of her body, which he will have the right to 'partake of' later.
"In the third step, the master-servant relationship is temporarily upset, as the bride mischievously pushes the cake into her new husband's face. ... Significantly, this act of revolt is performed in a childish fashion, and the groom is able to endure it without losing face because it ironically demonstrates his superiority: His bride is an imp needing supervision.
"That the bride herself accepts this view of this is demonstrated in the ritual's final step, in which she wipes the goo apologetically from his face. This brings the play back to the beginning, as she is once again obedient to his wiser judgment. Thus, the entire tableau may be seen as a dramatization of the tensions in favor of the dominance of the male."
DEAR ABBY: After 24 years of a committed relationship with my boyfriend, "Jesse" -- who I thought was my knight in shining armor -- I have decided to end it because he doesn't want to marry me or have children with me. We're in our 40s now and have dated since high school. We don't live together.
If I leave Jesse, I know I'll be broken-hearted, but there's another man, "Pete," I have known almost my entire life, who has made it clear he'd like to be more than friends. I have recently found myself becoming more and more attracted to him.
Should I allow the friendship with Pete to develop into an intimate one, or could it spell disaster? -- MIXED UP IN MONTANA
DEAR MIXED UP: Because Jesse refuses to make a commitment, you're right to end the romance. Frankly, I'm surprised you hung on as long as you have. However, before becoming intimate with Pete, be sure you clearly understand what he means by "more than friends," or you could wind up in another long-term relationship that's headed nowhere. See him for a while and find out if he's serious and whether your values and goals are similar. And if he's not The One, recognize it and keep moving on.
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