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Felix Adamo / The Californian

Heather Ijames

There's been a debate in my house about leftovers. I know that once I lay the problem out, many will agree that my husband, Charles, has been slighted. But what everyone fails to recognize is that I have very non-specific and wholly unreasonable facts to support my contentions.

Here's the groundwork: Leftover food is not safe around me because I tend to consume it.

Here's the next level: Charles has known this about me from the beginning.

Here's the final prong: Charles used to think this was a cute quirk of mine.

Used to.

The bottom dropped out a few weeks ago when he scarfed down my leftover chow mein. I had purposefully not consumed the whole thing so I could have another visit with it the following morning for breakfast. So, what was he thinking?

Apparently, retribution.

This all started back on our first date, when he took me to this Vietnamese place when we lived in San Diego. He ordered the garlic chicken and I wanted the ginger chicken, and the server accidentally swapped them as he set them down in front of us. Charles said what he was eating wasn't that great. I tried it, and agreed. Then, I said mine was the best chicken in the world. To which he replied, "Because the guy gave you my garlic chicken."

I asked if Charles wanted his plate back and he said no, adding it was clear to him I was enjoying what he ordered. Ah, chivalry! Then, I thought it a bummer to be him because that chicken really was delicious, not to mention he was also setting the bar pretty low for me getting my way when it comes to food.

Yet, this is what Charles does for me. All the time. He's extremely gracious and generous, so when it comes to things that I'll start an alley fight over, like, for example, tasty leftovers, of course I take advantage of him.

He's also aware that there are three categories of leftovers that he should never, ever take from me. The first is Chinese food, the second is meatballs, and the third is any sort of noodle. (Which then begs the question, again, of what was he thinking when he consumed my chow mein? It's both Chinese and a noodle. He's lucky I didn't fork him.)

When the chow mein was gone, I asked him why. He shrugged. I pushed him further. He finally mentioned the numerous times I've snaked his food. Ah-hah! See? Retribution. He brought up his blue cheese linguini from Cafe Med and all I could do was laugh. I gave that man a 24-hour window of when I wouldn't touch it, and it still sat in the fridge staring at me 24 and a half hours later. In a clear box, no less. I could see the wee little crumbles of blue cheese winking at me. Since I had just worked out, I figured it would've counted as the perfect protein. (I took some noodles, too, but I don't think he was really going to miss those.)

His famous line went something like, "But I put my name on it to make sure you knew it was mine."

Like a little blue ink was going to stop me.

He also added, "But you already ate yours."

That's precisely why I moved on to yours. It seemed rather self-explanatory to me, but I think I'm alone in that regard.

Of course, I realize I'm being asinine and greedy, but this is one of my few areas of weakness, and Charles is well versed in my lack of control when it comes to this subject. Thus, I figure he's saving food at his own peril. I do try to make up for it, such as making a greater quantity of fancy meals and desserts that Charles enjoys, not to mention bequeathing him the 24-hour window of "Heather no touch." That was a huge step for me. Sometimes, it's hard to sleep at night because I know it's there. Waiting for me.

Charles has made several attempts to curtail the problem. I already told you about how he writes his name on the leftover box. (It is seriously so cute that he keeps doing that!) He's also asked for a 36-hour window of non-consumption, and my personal favorite, he hides it in the back of the fridge. Such a rookie move, though. Like I'm not going to wonder why the cans of pineapple juice from 2004 are suddenly in the front.

I'll make you a deal Charles: Leave the chow mein alone, and you can have the 36 hours. Deal?

-- Heather Ijames is a community columnist whose work appears here every third Saturday. These are the opinions of Ijames, not necessarily The Californian. Send email to her at