TRANSCRIPT Judge John Hodgman Ep. 445: Reheat Offender

This week, Reheat Offender. Brandy files suit against her husband Shaun. Brandy believes leftovers should be consumed in a particular order. Shaun doesn’t always want to eat the leftovers according to Brandy’s schedule.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one can decide!

Podcast: Judge John Hodgman

Episode number: 445

Transcript

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse thorn

Welcome to the Judge John Hodgman podcast. I'm Bailiff Jesse Thorn. This week: "Reheat Offender!" (Repeat Offender.) Brandy files suit against her husband Shaun. Brandy believes leftovers should be consumed in a particular order. Shaun doesn't always wanna eat the leftovers according to Brandy's schedule. Who's right? Who's wrong? Only one can decide.

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[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman enters the courtroom and presents an obscure cultural reference.

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[Door shuts.]

john hodgman

I've walked across the surface of the sun. I have witnessed events so tiny and so fast, they could hardly be said to have occurred at all, but you... you're just a podcaster. The world's smartest Internet judge poses no more threat to me than does its smartest termite. Bailiff Jesse Thorn, please swear them in.

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[As Jesse speaks below: Chairs scrape.]

jesse

Brandy and Shaun, please rise and raise your right hands. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God or whatever?

brandy

I do.

shaun

I do.

jesse

Do you swear to abide by Judge John Hodgman's ruling, despite the fact that he uses leftovers in his baths? [The litigants laugh.]

brandy

Yes.

shaun

Yes.

john

...What? [Laughs quietly.]

jesse

Yeah, it's good for the skin.

john

What specific leftovers am I using in the bath?

jesse

Meatloaf. [Brandy laughs.]

john

It's one of those things that gets better the next day.

jesse

Yeah. That's why you're so vibrant, John.

john

Let me just get out of my chili hot tub first. [Brandy and Jesse laugh.] Mm. There we go. The flavor's really mellow after a night in the fridge, you know what I mean? Like, it's not as spicy. It mellows.

jesse

Yeah, I mean, I think this chili hot tub really answers the question of whether chili should have beans or not. I mean, it's the meat, the fats from the meat, that really give you that glow.

john

And also, of course, chili being a soup or a stew was the subject of the very first Judge John Hodgman case back when it was on Jordan, Jesse, Go! And I can definitively say now, [stifles laughter] it is a stew. And I'm steeping in it. [Jesse laughs.] Okay. Brandy and Shaun, you may be seated.

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[Chairs scrape.]

john

For an immediate summary judgment in one of yours' favors, can either of you name the piece of culture that I referenced as I entered the courtroom? Brandy, you guess first.

brandy

I have... no idea. The one I had in my pocket was a, like, Better Homes & Gardens article about leftovers, and that's not it, but we'll go with that.

john

Shaun, do you know it?

shaun

I do not, because I also directed towards leftovers, and I was gonna go with Love Your Leftovers.

john

What is that?

shaun

It's a book by Nick Evans.

john

Is it a novel?

shaun

No, it's a cookbook for leftovers.

john

Oh, okay. Cool. Well, I'm gonna give you a hint. A lot of real nerds listen to this show, and they know it. They're screaming it into their car radios right now. You can get at this from two possible angles. One is where you live. According to your petition you both live together. You're married, correct?

brandy

Correct.

shaun

Yes.

john

You both live in... Manhattan, Kansas, is that correct?

brandy

Uh-huh.

john

Alright, so that's one way to get it. The other way to get it is there was a TV show called The Leftovers on HBO, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. This quote is not from that TV show, but from the property that has been adapted to a—TV by the co-creator of the Leftovers TV show.

jesse

John, I know this one, and as everyone knows, I'm not even a nerd! I'm artsy.

john

[Chuckles.] That's right. It's an artsy nerd one. [Brandy laughs.] Does that help in any way?

brandy

I'm a little bit of a nerd and it doesn't help. [Laughs.]

shaun

Yeah, that doesn't help me at all.

john

Damon Lindeloft co-created The Leftovers, a TV show based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. Tom was the other co-creator. And Damon Lindeloft has a new adaptation, or I should say a continuation, a very famous comic book called Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. And the character that I was quoting was the superpowered atomic god-man named Dr. Manhattan.

brandy

Ah. [Shaun laughs quietly.]

john

So... we have to go on and hear the case. But now—now I know you guys aren't deep into the Alan Moore canon. [Brandy laughs.] I get it. It's cool. Take a—you should read it. Watchmen, it's good.

brandy

Alright!

john

I also like the new TV show. But that's neither here nor there. I am here and you are there, and we're gonna solve this problem regarding leftovers. Non-metaphoric leftovers, but actual, honest-to-gosh—or whatever—foods in your refrigerator. Brandy, what's the dispute all about?

brandy

So I cook dinner most nights. Probably half the time we have leftovers from those meals. I feel like to prevent food waste, we should be consuming them in the order that they get put in the fridge. Shaun will eat whichever one he most wants to eat, or he will make himself something completely different. I think that's ridiculous, and he should go by my first-in, first-out rule.

john

First-in, first-out for leftovers. What kind of food do you cook, Brandy? Like, what kind of leftovers are we talking about?

brandy

Kind of a typical leftover is tacos. We have tacos every week. And so that's definitely one. And then just soups and maybe casseroles and things like that, usually, are kinda the typical ones.

john

So Shaun just gets in there and takes whatever his favorite thing is and leaves the rest behind. Doesn't matter how new or old it is.

brandy

Correct.

john

Shaun, what's your favorite leftover?

shaun

Probably the tacos.

john

In fact you sent in some evidence, right? Which is available on the Judge John Hodgman page at MaximumFun.org, as well as on the Judge John Hodgman Instagram page, which is of course @judgejohnhodgman at Instagram. Specifically, there are two pieces of evidence. I would ask my bailiff Jesse Thorn to not look at the second piece of evidence yet, if he can avoid it.

jesse

Yeah.

john

Evidence number one, of course, is a recipe for "easy salsa shredded chicken," which is what you use for the tacos. Is that correct, Brandy?

brandy

Yeah, we do those and like, some—like, ground meat tacos. We kinda alternate between those.

john

Right. But this is an Instant Pot recipe.

brandy

Right.

john

So you have an Instant Pot. How do you like it?

brandy

I love it.

john

Really? What else you make in it?

brandy

We make spaghetti. I make yoghurt in it, not for dinner. I make soups and things like that.

john

Wait, did you say you make spaghetti, and then you said but not for dinner?

brandy

[Stifling laughter] No, no, no, I make spaghetti for dinner. But I make yoghurt in it also, but not for dinner. [Laughs.]

john

[Stifling laughter] Oh, I missed the yoghurt. I missed the yoghurt part. [Both laugh.]

brandy

Okay.

john

[Laughs.] I should say—I should say that, you know, [laughs] before we started recording, you know, we were testing the mics and we asked Brandy what she had for lunch—which is how you sometimes get levels, you know, like, "Tell us what you had—what you did this morning, or what you had for lunch," and she mentioned that she had a tuna sandwich. And that made me realize I really like tuna sandwiches a lot. I was especially yearning for a tuna melt. And Brandy was like, "I've never heard of that." Is that correct, Brandy?

brandy

Oh, no, I've heard of 'em; I've never had one.

john

Oh, okay. [Laughs.] I was beginning to think that maybe there were more cultural differences— [The litigants laugh.] —between Park Slope and Manhattan, Kansas, beyond merely... they don't read Watchmen there... [Brandy laughs.] And they've never heard of tuna melts.

brandy

No, no, no, I've heard of 'em.

john

"Oh, and spaghetti is never served for dinner." Are you kidding me? That would be insane. [He and Brandy laugh.] No. There is more that unites us than divides us. We all have spaghetti for dinner sometimes.

brandy

Yes.

john

What would you say, Brandy, are the foods that Shaun passes over rather than eats the leftovers? What does he leave behind rather than eat?

brandy

The spaghetti he often passes over, which—he's not a huge spaghetti fan, so that doesn't bother me as much. But I make like, pork chops, or if I make like, chicken breasts or something like that, he typically won't eat those leftovers. I make like, a beans and rice that he usually won't eat those as leftovers.

john

Here in Park Slope it's 5:02 PM. I am now incredibly hungry. This all sounds delicious; I wanna eat all of it. Why do you pass over what you pass over? Why do you leave behind stuff?

shaun

It's just there's other things available that are more appealing at the time. Or that might be quicker and easier. Or things that maybe it's lunch and the kids will eat if I make that, and so I'll skip the leftovers and make the kids and I something.

john

So you're basically—you wanna eat what you wanna eat, when you wanna eat it.

shaun

Pretty much.

john

Like a human being. [John and Brandy laugh, Shaun stifles laughter.]

shaun

Yes.

john

You don't want your next day meals to be decided by a schedule, but by what you want to eat that day.

shaun

Yes.

john

And when you're going in for leftovers, what's the situation? Are you getting—are you going in next day for lunch, or are you eating like weird, cold taco breakfast? Or like, why are you going in for those leftovers?

shaun

It's usually lunch. Sometimes lunch is at home. If I'm home for lunch it's leftovers. Or on the weekends.

john

Do you work at home? Or do you work outside of the home?

shaun

No, I work outside of the home.

john

Okay. So are you bringing stuff along to work for lunch? Like leftover tacos?

shaun

Uh, not usually. I don't have a way to heat it up.

john

Oh, okay, gotcha. So Brandy, has there ever been a case where you made spaghetti—not for dinner, obviously. [Brandy laughs.] Not for dinner. Like for luncheon, or supper. And you put the spaghetti away, and Shaun has never touched it, and it just goes bad and moldy and you have to throw it away?

brandy

Oh, yeah. Yeah. That definitely happens.

john

Oh! Really! [She laughs.] So there are damages that are being incurred here. There is food that is going to waste. Shaun would rather choose what he eats rather than told what to eat by you and your system.

brandy

[Laughs.] Yes, that's correct.

john

Why don't you eat that moldy spaghetti? [Laughs.]

brandy

Well—[laughs].

john

I mean, before it gets moldy.

brandy

[Laughs.] I do. Sometimes there's a couple days of leftovers. I mean, that's why we have the issue is 'cause there's more than one thing. And what also happens is that if—sometimes if he is eating—like, we already had, say, beans and rice in the fridge, and there's also tacos. I'm eating the beans and rice, because that's what needs to get eaten, even though I'd rather have the tacos. And he'll have the tacos, which means I don't ever get the leftover tacos.

john

You're stealing tacos outta your wife's mouth, Shaun! [Brandy laughs.]

shaun

If you look at it that way, yeah.

john

That doesn't seem fair!

shaun

Yeah, kind of. But... beans and rice reheated isn't the same.

john

Yeah, that's not what you wanna eat, [laughs] I understand. [Brandy laughs.] You're absolutely right that they are different foods. [John and Brandy laugh.] That's for sure. I can't—I can't deny that. When you open the fridge and see that Shaun's eaten all the tacos and left you only the rice and beans, how does that make you feel?

brandy

Pretty annoyed, and like I've been eating beans and rice like a chump and he's getting the good stuff 'cause he's... you know, ignoring the system.

john

Right! 'Cause he has no principles.

brandy

[Laughing] Exactly.

john

[Laughs.] And Shaun, when Brandy tells you "You need to eat some of these rice and beans before they go bad; you can't just eat the good stuff," how does that make you feel?

shaun

That I'm being forced into a system. [Brandy laughs quietly.]

john

Mm-hm. Mm-hm. Alright. Do you think, Shaun, that you and Brandy have the same sort of feelings about food? In other words, you know, some people think a lot about food. I think about a tuna melt probably... every half an hour. [Brandy laughs.] You know, I think about food, I love reading about food, I love cooking. I love eating. I love the social events and the rituals around going out to eat. But some people just think of it as—you know, think of food as just like, uh, "Oh, that's calorie ballast for me. Those rice and beans are nutrients and it doesn't matter what they are." Do you think that you guys feel the same way about food, one way or the other?

shaun

No, I think she's probably more nutritional about the food, and I more like the taste of the food and go for that part of it.

john

Well, okay. I mean, that would definitely support your case that because you care about food, you get to eat the chicken tacos.

shaun

Right.

john

Since your wife is a nutritional pragmatist, she gets to eat just the calorie ballast of the rice and beans. But is that how you feel about food, Brandy?

brandy

I mean, I like food that tastes good. I think I probably do put more thought into like, you know, wanting to have something that's gonna be nutritious and uses, you know, the food we have on hand I guess. I prob—definitely think about it more that way than I think Shaun probably does. [Laughs.]

john

Right! Well, are you responsible for most of the cooking? I think you said that you were, right?

brandy

Yeah. I do almost all the cooking.

john

Do you do the grocery shopping as well?

brandy

I do. [Laughs.]

john

You mentioned you have children. How many children do you have?

brandy

We have three kids.

john

And how old are they?

brandy

They are 11, 9, and 6.

john

Yeah. So that's a full-time job right there. Do you do any other work outside or inside the home?

brandy

I do. I have like, kind of three part-time jobs. [Laughs.] Um...

john

Yeahhh.

brandy

So, yeah.

john

Gig economy! [Laughs.] Right?

brandy

[Laughing] Yeah, pretty much.

john

No one ever gets to rest.

brandy

Exactly. [Laughs.]

john

But obviously one part of your life is managing the pantry.

brandy

Mm-hm.

john

Restocking it, cooking it, and everything else. That's your job.

brandy

That's correct.

john

And Shaun, you said that you cook for the kids sometimes, when there's only garbage rice and beans in the fridge that no one wants to eat. You'll initiate some kind of food for your kids, right? Is that what you said, Shaun?

shaun

Yes. And I volunteer to cook other times.

brandy

Yeah.

john

What do you like to make, Shaun? What's your thing?

shaun

Usually it's a go-out-and-grill. We're having hotdogs and hamburgers or steaks or pork chops on the grill, something like that. But there's times that I'll offer to cook, and Brandy says "No, I've got it."

john

Okay. But like, tell me a situation where rather than use something that Brandy's already prepared, something left over from the night before, you just look in the fridge and you're like "This is all garbage. I'm gonna make something fresh." [Someone laughs.] Like, how often does that happen, I guess I'm asking?

shaun

Maybe once a week, twice a week? Usually on the weekends more, for lunch on the weekends and dinner or something like that.

john

And do you ever do the grocery shopping?

shaun

Uh, I try to. [Brandy laughs.] She's very controlling over that grocery list and... and when she gets to go.

john

Shaun, would you say that the control that Brandy is attempting to exert upon you with regard to... the grocery list that she has pre-ordained— [One or both of the litigants laugh quietly.] —the food that is cooked, and when it is cooked, and then this concept of making sure that the last or the oldest leftover in the fridge gets eaten first... this might all be easily explained as a matter of simple thrift. Right?

shaun

Yes.

john

Would you say that Brandy is being thrifty? Or controlling? For other reasons beyond thriftiness.

shaun

I think it's a little of both. I think it's a... controlling of her thriftiness? She doesn't want anyone to impede on how thrifty and organized her whole system is. So she has to control every step of it.

john

Does that ring true for you, Brandy? Or is Shaun just making up a psychological profile of you in order to justify him getting the good stuff out of the fridge and leaving the rest for you?

brandy

No, I think that's probably fair. I think it's kind of a known thing in our marriage that I do like to be in control of things. And I feel like I'm really good at maintaining a good food budget. Part of that is that we are, you know, wasting as little food as possible. And so I think feeling like he's stomping on that system is probably triggering some of my, like... "Just follow the system. Just do what I say we should do with the leftovers." [Laughs.]

jesse

Let's take a quick recess. We'll be back in just a moment on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

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john

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jesse

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john

What?

jesse

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john

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jesse

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jesse

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john

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sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

I just want to say thank you to all of the Maximum Fun members who support this podcast in the past, present... We got a MaxFun Drive coming up in a couple of months! But we also get some support from other friends, such as Firefox. Firefox, the browser! You know it! You use it! I hope you do. Did you know that 81% of web traffic is tracked by Google? And 61% of the top 10,000 websites are watched... by Facebook? Hmm. Firefox says that's an invasion of privacy. That's why the Firefox browser blocks ten billion trackers for users every day, automatically. Including trackers from Google and Facebook! That means Firefox for the win. Get privacy! At Firefox.com/privacy. That's a URL that makes sense! Firefox.com/privacy. Now let's get back to the case.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

john

I would imagine that thrift is, for a young family with three growing children—you have three part-time jobs on top of that— [Brandy laughs.] Obviously—not to be indelicate, but it's not like you're, uh... you're rolling in cash money down there. You gotta—you gotta watch your budget!

brandy

Sure.

john

You're on a budget, right?

brandy

Sure. Yeah.

shaun

Yeah.

john

This matters.

brandy

Yes.

john

How long have you been married, Brandy?

brandy

Fourteen years.

john

So you've now served a lot of dinners.

brandy

Yes.

john

There is a solution to this, which is adjusting the amount of food you're making to minimize actual leftovers.

brandy

Sure.

john

Speak to that.

brandy

Our oldest is pretty good about eating whatever, but our two younger girls, they are extremely picky. But it's important to us that we kind of keep offering them things, and so I feel like we need to make the portions that would amount to enough, if by a miracle they actually ate dinner, they would have enough of the dinner.

john

Ohhh, I gotcha. You're making full dinners for your children.

brandy

Yes.

john

But sometimes the kids are like, "Mm... one bite of pork chop is enough. Goodbye!"

brandy

[Laughs.] One bite of pork chop some nights would be glorious. [Laughs.]

john

Right, okay, I gotcha now. Your children are the problem.

brandy

[Laughs.] Sure, why not? [Laughs.]

john

We normally don't hear disputes against, or between, people under the age of 18. Very rare exceptions. [Brandy laughs.] And I presume you don't have your children with you right now.

brandy

No.

john

But I am willing to make a summary judgment against them. [Brandy laughs.] They should eat the food that their mom is making for them. And occasionally their dad, too.

brandy

Yes. That would be glorious.

john

Sounds like Shaun, your husband, is—[laughs] as my grandmother once described my uncle, "He's a nice-sized eater." Right? He cleans his plate, correct?

brandy

Sure. Yeah.

shaun

Yes.

john

See, Shaun, I have a profound issue with you. [Brandy laughs quietly.] 'Cause at some point Brandy suggested that you would not eat a leftover pork chop. I mean, look. People like what they like, but I have to say, how dare you? [Laughs.]

brandy

[Laughs.] Right?

john

I mean, I know that a lot of our listeners are not carnivores, and I apologize to offend you with this, but boy, I would like to eat a pork chop out of your refrigerator. [The litigants laugh.] I wanna go to Manhattan, Kansas, and do that! First of all, you have one of the greatest privileges in the world, which is that you have a life partner who is doing almost, it sounds like, all of the meal planning, shopping, and preparation. That's a huge amount of work. I'm always the one who's like "No, I'm gonna make dinner, and I'm gonna plan it all out, and I'll buy all the food and everything else." I also know that as much fun as I—and satisfaction as I gain from it, it's work! It's real work. You know? So you have that advantage. And you also have this other incredible advantage, which is that your kids don't finish their food. [Brandy laughs.] And you know that food that is abandoned by children has zero calories. You know that, don't you? [Brandy laughs.]

shaun

Yeah.

john

This is like, the greatest situation to be a dad in. [Brandy laughs.] Your beloved partner is making pork chops, and your evil children are not eating them. [She laughs again.] And then you can just grab up those pork chops and eat 'em all night long! Or have 'em later on! An abundance of opportunities to eat good food. Correct?

shaun

Yes.

john

You just don't like a next-day pork chop.

shaun

Yes.

john

Alright. Fair. I guess not everyone is exactly the same as me. [Brandy laughs.] I'll learn to accept that one of these days. So Brandy, what would you have me rule? You want him to follow the system, right?

brandy

I do. Yes.

john

Like, what's the oldest thing in your fridge right now?

brandy

[Laughs.] Well, actually right now we do not have any leftovers, which is why I had a tuna sandwich for lunch.

john

You just had to bring that up again. That's my favorite sandwich. [She laughs.] I'm so hungry now!

brandy

Yeah, we don't have any leftovers in the fridge currently.

john

This is a clean slate. I was gonna order him to eat whatever the oldest thing was in the fridge if I found in your favor. [The litigants laugh.] But since it's all hypothetical now, if I do find in your favor, what do you want me to do? Tell him to eat the oldest thing in the fridge first?

brandy

I think that we should eat leftovers instead of making something new, and that if there's more than one leftover in the fridge—assuming it's not like something that he really truly does not like, or that did not turn out well or something like that; I don't expect him to eat, you know, stuff that he will have to like, force himself to eat. But if it's a reasonable leftover, I think we should eat the leftovers, and I think we should eat 'em in the order that they got put in the fridge.

john

Shaun... I don't know. There's not a lot of people listening to this podcast who's gonna be rooting for you, I'm afraid to say. [The litigants laugh.]

shaun

Yeah.

john

We have, obviously, some settled law that is in your favor. Some precedent that could be cited. That people like what they like. And when you have lunch, and you open the refrigerator and you see a food that you want to eat, and you see another food that you do not want to eat, that maybe you have a basic decent human right to eat the food that you want to eat. Because this is not a dress rehearsal, we're only here once. [Laughs.] We might as well eat the food that we enjoy, rather than the rice and beans that no one likes. No—no offense. I'm sure your rice and beans are great. [Brandy laughs.] The other piece of precedent and settled law that you might cite is that spouses should not be enslaved to the other spouse's systems. I think I heard you kind of poking at that particular piece of settled law, right, Shaun?

shaun

Yes. That's correct.

john

And yet, I think a lot of people will be listening to this going like, "Brandy's out there, you know, cooking up the food and buying the groceries and laying out the feedbag, and then carefully storing the food so as to minimize waste. And you're just going into that fridge willy-nilly." [Someone laughs quietly.] What would you have me rule if I were to rule in your favor?

shaun

In my favor, that she lets up on her system a little bit, and the control of things, and lets me do things more frequently to help her and let her let go of the control. Um—you know, like, go shopping once in a while. She can write the list; that's fine! I can handle going to the store.

brandy

You don't do it right. [Laughs.]

shaun

[Laughing] See?

john

[Bursts out laughing.] Tell me what Shaun does wrong when—the one or two times you allow him to go to the grocery store? [The litigants laugh.]

crosstalk

Shaun: "The one or two times" is about right. Brandy: Okay, well—[laughs].

brandy

To be fair, my grocery shopping is a little, um... I'm very specific in what we're buying, and what price I wanna pay for things. And so it's not that he's incompetent; he is perfectly competent to go grocery shopping, and most of the time he does just fine.

john

He just doesn't do it right. I mean, we were rolling on that. We know what you said. [She laughs.] Don't try to—don't try to backtrack. Don't gaslight me and tell me you didn't say what you said. He doesn't do it right!

jesse

It's not that he's incompetent, Judge Hodgman! [Brandy laughs again.] It's that he has a deficit of competence!

john

[Laughing] That's right. It's not incompetence so much as low competence. Low-C. [Brandy and Jesse laugh.]

brandy

He does fine, but if there's something like—you know, he might get the wrong brand. He won't get the one that's on sale because he's, you know... doesn't see that one, and he—I don't know. Like, he won't necessarily buy the correct thing, or maybe doesn't buy enough of 'em, or he ends up having to call me to ask me where something is. And so by the point that he's gone—you know, by the time I've prepped the grocery shopping list and everything, it's usually easier for me to just do it myself.

john

So in other words, his offer to take the—some of the burden off of you... in order to make up for him stealing your tacos from your very hands... [Brandy laughs.] ...is actually just more burden. 'Cause he doesn't do it right, and he has to call you. [She laughs again.] And it just doesn't end up being correct, in your mind.

brandy

Um, yeah. That's fair.

john

Do you have any hope that he might be able to do it right someday?

brandy

[Hesitantly] Yeah.

john

I'll allow that answer to reveal itself. [Brandy laughs.] It's a different low-C. Low confidence. [She laughs again.] In possibility of change. Let me ask you this, Shaun. Do you really wanna do the grocery shopping? I mean, would you like Brandy to be less controlling about this stuff?

shaun

Yeah, I wouldn't mind doing grocery shopping! Just to give her a break away from having to do the same thing all the time.

john

Well, no. That's not quite my question, I think. What Brandy has pointed out is that your helping her with the grocery shopping is no help at all. It would not be a break.

shaun

Right.

john

It would just be an annoyance to her, 'cause you would do it wrong. And you could probably learn to do it more correctly, but I guess what I'm feeling is, when Brandy says you don't do the grocery shopping correctly, and when Brandy says you're not eating leftovers correctly, how does that make you feel? "Infantilized" might be a word?

crosstalk

Shaun: Yeah. John: I'm not saying that's the one you'd use. [Brandy laughs.]

shaun

Yeah, that's a good word for it.

john

"Untrusted"?

shaun

Yeah. Not—um, not worthy of her system? [She laughs again.] Yeah.

john

Do you think she loves her system more than she loves you? [Brandy cracks up.] Speak your truth!

shaun

No—[stifling laughter] no, I don't think that's the case.

john

Brandy, do you feel that the system is more important than Shaun's happiness?

brandy

[Laughs.] No, and if I thought it was truly affecting his happiness, I would be willing to adapt my system. But I don't think his happiness is in jeopardy with this.

john

Brandy, is the system for you something that gives you pleasure? Do you enjoy, like, getting the most out of your dollar? Does that bring you satisfaction? Or is it servicing anxiety?

brandy

No, I think it's more just the satisfaction. I put a lot of energy into sticking to a food budget. Yeah, so feeling like we've, you know, fully stretched—you know, done what we can do with that, that does bring me pleasure. I like doing that.

john

Alright. Brandy, Shaun, I think I've heard everything I need to in order to make my decision. Before I go—[laughs] into my chili vat, though, to think it over, there is one more piece of evidence that you sent. Bailiff Jesse Thorn, may I direct you to exhibit number two? Which is a photograph of Brandy and Shaun's cat Pip.

jesse

[Bursts out laughing.] What is it doing? What kind of chair is it sitting in?

john

It's a child booster seat!

jesse

[Laughing] That's a child booster seat that's lying on its side, or on its back I guess you would say, and the cat Pip is lying in it on—his back, I presume. [Still laughing] Also acting like a—like a four-year-old in a car.

john

We'll have this photo posted, obviously, at @judgejohnhodgman. Uh—

jesse

[Laughing] It looks like—John, it looks like Pip is piloting a rocket to the moon.

john

That's right. Pip is beginning the countdown for the mission to Mars.

jesse

Getting ready for the Gs.

john

Yeah! [Laughs.] This photo will be available at the Judge John Hodgman Instagram account @judgejohnhodgman, and also on the show page at MaximumFun.org.

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

jesse

Brandy, how are you feeling about your chances?

brandy

I wanna feel really good. I feel like... my system sounds really ridiculous once I actually have to say it, [laughs] and so I worry that that will work against me.

jesse

I mean, you're the one who put in the effort to put together a system. [Brandy laughs.] I know one time my wife and I tried to put together a system for food and grocery shopping and meal planning, and... I don't think we've ever failed at anything more colossally than we failed at that. [Jesse, Brandy, and John laugh.] It went back to just us each being mildly resentful of the other one for buying the wrong things at the store. [Jesse and Brandy laugh again.] Shaun, how do you feel?

shaun

I was feeling... um, feeling good about the system. The leftover food waste part—I don't like that part of the, um, equation to it. But overall I think I'm—I'm feeling okay with it.

jesse

Well, we'll see what Judge John Hodgman has to say when we come back in just a second.

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[Three gavel bangs.]

john

Bailiff Jesse, here we are. It's December; it's the holiday time. We've got some great live shows coming up. I wanna do a special plug for one show that I'm doing with our good friend Monte Belmonte right up there are the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, up in my old stomping grounds of Western Massachusetts, on December 21st! It's coming right up! It's just gonna be me and Monte having a grand old time, talking and telling stories and talking to you. All the proceeds go to support the Shea Theater, which of course does incredible work up there in Turners Falls. So won't you please consider checking us out? You can go to Bit.ly/HODGMONTE. H-O-D-G-M-O-N-T-E, all capital letters, all one word. Or check out the John Hodgman tour page, JohnHodgman.com/tour, where you will also get details for our January Live Justice shows! Jesse, where are we going in January?

jesse

We'll be in Brooklyn, New York, at the Murmrr Theatre, a new theater. We'll be in Boston, Massachusetts at an old friend, the Wilbur Theatre, and then we'll be headed to San Francisco Sketchfest in my hometown of San Francisco, California. Tickets are on sale now, and we want you to buy them! So that we can tour further. And we're taking cases in all of those places! So if you're in Brooklyn, Boston, or the San Francisco Bay Area, submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho or email hodgman@maximumfun.org. And there you can share with us your specific disputes in those places. And we hope that you will mention that you are in those places, so we'll know. We're always looking for great cases for our live shows.

john

Indeed we are! So just write me an email at hodgman@maximumfun.org. And just make sure it says right up in the subject line, "For the live show in Boston," or Brooklyn, or San Francisco. And if we choose your case to be heard on stage, guess what? You get to come backstage and I'll say hello, and we'll have a good time. It's better when you're there.

jesse

And we've got all kinds of cool stuff in the MaxFun store right now. MaxFunStore.com. If you're looking for a last-minute gift for a Judge John Hodgman fan in your life—even if that fan is you!—they are available online now at MaxFunStore.com. There are like six different super cool T-shirts. We've got a tote bag, we've got pins. All kinds of cool stuff. Along with stuff for other great Maximum Fun shows. All of it online at MaxFunStore.com. And hey! John, speaking of last-minute gifts...

john

Yeah, what?

jesse

I run the Put This On Shop that's full of beautiful gifts at PutThisOnShop.com. If you use the code "vintage justice" you can get free shipping on almost everything in the store. Everything except the super big stuff. A few super big things, but mostly not. Everything from vintage clothing, which I think is what people often assume we sell, to tons of beautiful vintage jewelry and home goods. Pins—if you wanna find a very special pin—if you wanna let everyone know that you're a member of the Tooth Brigade, for example?

john

Uh-huh?

jesse

Which is a toothbrushing—[stifles laughter] group.

crosstalk

Jesse: [Stifling laughter] A pro-toothbrushing group. John: A toothbrushing proficiency organization.

jesse

[Stifling laughter] Yeah.

john

Yeah, that's right.

jesse

[Laughing] Exactly. [John laughs quietly.] Or if you wanna let everybody know that you won the oratory prize from the ladies temperance union? All of those are available for you at PutThisOnShop.com. I also would like to say that if you are in Southern California, we're doing our annual Put This On holiday sale on Sunday! Sunday the 15th of December. It's gonna be a really good time. It's at the future headquarters of Maximum Fun. Currently the, uh—[stifling laughter] we're making sure that the electricity is turned on. Currently the shell of a former hardware store in Lincoln Heights. It's gonna be a really great time. We'll have Put This On Shop stuff there. I'll be there. We'll have some of our friends. We're gonna have records and clothes, and other dealers there. So if you wanna come get a last-minute holiday gift for someone else, or for yourself, it's Sunday the 15th, ten to four, at 2613 Pasadena Avenue in Los Angeles. That's 2613 Pasadena Avenue on Sunday the 15th from ten to four. And you can find the details at PutThisOn.com. Let's get back to the case.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape on the floor, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman re-enters the courtroom and delivers his verdict.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

john

So... [Sighs.] Brandy, Shaun... You know—you have to know, if you've ever listened to this podcast before... that if the genders were reversed in this situation, and it was a heterosexual married couple, and the guy did all the shopping, did all the meal planning, and then also instructed his wife how to eat the leftovers and in what order... [Brandy laughs quietly.] ...and then the wife said "I would like to go shopping sometimes" and the husband said publicly, on the podcast— [Brandy laughs louder.] "You don't do it right..." You know how this would go.

brandy

Uh-huh.

john

A gavel is a hammer. And that hammer would come down so hard on that husband, so fast. Because there are systems that are designed for efficiency, and then sometimes there are systems that are designed for maintaining control over another human being. [Laughs.]

brandy

Uh-huh.

john

And balancing those two things is sometimes a challenge. But this is complicated, too, because the genders are not reversed. And in many ways, you guys are living in a highly... sort of super traditional heterosexual marriage paradigm. Just in regards to the kitchen; I don't know how it works in the rest of your family life. But where, you know, Mom is doing the cooking and the shopping and household management and budgeting. And Dad is going out to work, and every now and then makes hamburgers and hotdogs for the kids, but otherwise is not involved. And as someone who in my relationship, in my marriage, the shopping and planning and meal preparation and then meal storage and leftover deployment falls to me because that's my interest area, and I love to do it... I must respect that not only are you doing something to keep this family going, that deserves honor, that is not designed by pure des—a desire to control, but in fact is a desire to be thriftful and mindful of your budget, as a system of nourishing others in a highly traditional quote-unquote "women's work" kind of way... there is an equal balancing impulse where I feel like saying Shaun gets what he gets and should not get upset. The way you tell children to act. [Brandy laughs.] The way you tell children to deal with it. [Laughs.] It's hard to balance those things! It sounds to me that you do a great job at meal planning, preparation, leftovers. You're dealing with, obviously, a challenging situation. Kids are finicky, and you end up trying to make everybody happy, and it's really hard to do. And it sounds like you're doing a good job doing that. Everyone loves those tacos. Only make tacos. [Brandy laughs.] Then there's no problem. Probably make tacos, right? And I think that you are to be commended, and I think that Shaun, you should be considerate of—and it sounds like you are—of the work that your wife is putting into this. But at the end of the day—or should I say at the beginning of the next day—when leftovers are concerned... Yes, food waste is an awful thing, and you want to minimize it at every turn. However, as I said, we are only human beings. Whatever comes after this life, I do not know. As far as I am concerned, this is the one we've got. And you are allowed to choose to eat the things that you want to eat, that are good!

john

I don't think that I can properly enforce your system, to be consistent with the principle of "People like what they like" and "Systems should not be onerous upon the other person." I think I cannot fully enforce the last-in, first-into-Shaun's-stomach rule that you want me to enforce. [Brandy laughs.] He is a whole human being, who has tastes and desires and agency. And even though he doesn't do the grocery shopping right, he wants to help. His heart is in the right place, and he just wants those tacos! You gain satisfaction from planning and executing the shopping and the meal preparation in the most efficient way possible, but ultimately making food for others is an act of generosity, and obviously he loves those chicken tacos and he doesn't love the rice and beans that much. So I would say that you can make adjustments to make sure that the things that are left over are things that everyone would want to eat the next day? I'm not gonna rule in your favor here, Brandy. And I'm sorry about that. I hate food waste a lot, and obviously it's a huge problem in the world. We waste so much food. But I—you know. Everyone needs to eat the food that they wanna eat. And Shaun deserves the agency to pick what food he's going to eat, and not just get rice and beans through a hole in the wall because that's the calories he gets that day. [Brandy laughs.] But though I am not ruling officially in Brandy's favor, Shaun, I hope and trust that you are hearing what she is saying. Don't just grab the chicken tacos! That's the best stuff! [She laughs again.] That's what everyone wants! Don't just grab the good stuff and leave the rice and beans! Honor the work that your wife is doing for your family! I trust that you do. Eat some of the other stuff, too! I mean, just 'cause I'm not ruling specifically in her favor doesn't absolve you of the right to be a good leftover citizen here. Snaking all the good stuff for yourself? You wouldn't tolerate in a shared refrigerator in an office situation someone just taking all the good stuff! Take some of the less good stuff! Do your part. Eat—find a way to eat a leftover pork chop. I guarantee you it's good. [Brandy laughs.]

john

The final element of settled law that is being referred to, and just struck me, is—you know, "Help in the way you are asked to help, not in the way that you want to help." Your offer to do grocery shopping is a good faith offer of help that obviously Brandy rejects outright, 'cause you do it wrong. Sorry. [The litigants laugh.] You might get there someday. [John and Brandy laugh.] You know, you should do a ride-along with Brandy a couple of times, like you're doing research for a role as a police officer. [John and Brandy laugh.] Like, see what she does. Let her explain to you why she's doing it. And maybe after a few times, she'll relinquish that control to you, and that will be a help to her. But the way she's asking you to help now is just eat some of the rice and beans along with the good stuff. That would be of help to her! For you to do that. That is merely me suggesting you to take what you've heard today and put it into practice, and be a little bit more flexible as you steal those leftovers for yourself. Ultimately, I do not rule in Brandy's favor, but in fact... in your favor, Shaun. I know that you're grateful for what you have in this life. Show it by modifying your behavior. [Brandy laughs.] This is the sound of a gavel.

sound effect

[Microwave powers down and beeps.]

john

Judge John Hodgman rules; that is all.

sound effect

[As Jesse speaks below: Door opens, chairs scrape, footsteps.]

jesse

Please rise as Judge John Hodgman exits the courtroom.

sound effect

[Door shuts.]

jesse

Shaun, how do you feel?

shaun

Good. I think I still have to adjust my leftover habits a little bit. But overall, I won, so... I'm happy with that. [Brandy laughs quietly.]

john

I'm not sure you're taking the message from my verdict. [The litigants laugh.] You have to modify your leftover habits—let's just not say a little bit. Period. You know what I'm talking about. [Brandy laughs.]

shaun

Yes. Yes.

john

And winning isn't everything.

crosstalk

Shaun: Right. John: Go ahead, Jesse, I apologize. [Brandy laughs.]

jesse

Brandy, how do you feel?

brandy

I—I'm fine. I think that I kinda had a feeling that the "You like what you like" might work against me, so I'm not super surprised. So, you know, I appreciate—you know, that I think Shaun does appreciate what I do. So hopefully going forward, even though it wasn't in my favor, you know, hopefully he'll think about that.

jesse

Well, Shaun and Brandy, thanks for joining us on Judge John Hodgman!

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[Three gavel bangs.]

promo

Music: Upbeat, fun music. Lisa Hanawalt: Hey, if you like your podcasts to be focused and well-researched, and your podcast hosts to be uncharismatic, unhorny strangers who have no interest in horses, then this is not the podcast for you. Emily Heller: Yeah, and what's your deal? [Lisa laughs.] I'm Emily. Lisa: I'm Lisa. Emily: Our show's called Baby Geniuses! Lisa: And its hosts are horny adult idiots. We discover weird Wikipedia pages every episode. Emily: We discuss institutional misogyny! Lisa: We ask each other the dumbest questions, and our listeners won't stop sending us pictures of their butts. Emily: We haven't asked them to stop! But they also aren't stopping. Lisa: Join us on Baby Geniuses. Emily: Every other week on MaximumFun.org. [Music ends.]

promo

Music: “Switchblade Comb” by Mobius VanChocStraw. A jaunty, jazzy tune reminiscent of the opening theme of a movie. Speaker 1: [Severely distorted.] I’ve got a message for you. April Wolfe: Hi! It’s me, April Wolfe! The host of Switchblade Sisters and co-writer of the new horror film, Black Christmas. Katie Walsh: And I’m Katie Walsh. Film critic and occasional host of Switchblade Sisters. April: We’re here to announce that, for one episode, we will be doing something a little different. Much like Jeff Goldblum in David Cronenberg’s The Fly, I will be going through a truly disturbing transformation! Katie: April will transform from the interviewer into the interviewee. I will be asking her all about her new film, Black Christmas, her writing process, and ongoing existential dread. April: But I will also be discussing John Carpenter’s perfect masterpiece, Prince of Darkness. Speaker 2: You guys seen any movies you like? Katie: So, tune in to Switchblade Sisters for a one-of-a-kind episode, with April Wolfe. And me! Katie Walsh. April: See you then! Speaker 3: Only the corrupt are listened to, now! [Music ends.]

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[Three gavel bangs.]

jesse

Another Judge John Hodgman case in the books. In just a minute, Swift Justice, but first we wanna thank Jon Porobil for naming this week's episode: "Reheat Offender." If you'd like to name a future episode, make sure that you like Judge John Hodgman on Facebook. You can follow us on Twitter at @hodgman and @JesseThorn. Hashtag your Judge John Hodgman Tweets #JJHo, and check out the Maximum Fun subreddit at MaximumFun.Reddit.com to chat about this episode. We're also on Instagram! @judgejohnhodgman. Follow us there for evidence and other fun stuff. This week's episode recorded by Randy Wills at Exception Studios, produced by Hannah Smith, edited by Jesus Ambrosio. Now, Swift Justice! Where we answer your small disputes with a quick judgment. Skip asks: "Is it petty to request that my family dry off their feet after a shower before stepping on the bathmat, so the mat doesn't turn into a soggy mess? I've stepped on a soaking wet bathmat while wearing socks too many times."

john

[Audibly shudders.] This is very—very, very visceral for me. Because you know what I hate, Jesse Thorn?

jesse

Standing on one foot in the shower? [Laughs.]

john

No, I hate wet socks. If I'm wearing socks around the house and I step in the bathroom and there's some water on the floor from the shower or whatever, and then my socks are wet, that will ruin my life for the—forever. I hate it.

jesse

You're saying that when it comes to socks, wet is your "moist."

john

Ew. Right. Moist socks are the worst. You know what's even worse than that? Drying off your feet in the shower! You know why that's worse? 'Cause it's impossible! [Laughs.] [Jesse laughs.] The whole shower's wet!

jesse

The floor of the shower's wet!

john

There's no way to do it! That—it is petty to request that, Skip! The rule that you are asking is not only impossible, but more onerous than your practicing some simple self-discipline, which is... don't wear socks in the bathroom! You know what's gonna happen in there! It's wet in there! Don't wear socks in the bathroom! Bare feet! That's how you do it. Ah! You know what I used to have? A teak bathmat. A wooden platform. That was the best. You ever use a wooden bathmat, Jesse Thorn?

jesse

No, what—what role does it play? [Laughs.] Just a place to put the water on?

john

I don't remember where I saw it. I think they may have had it at the hotel I stayed in in Little Tokyo in San Francisco once. I think that it might be a Japanese home deal. But like, teak or bamboo or cypress wood. It's raised, with slats. You step onto it and water, you know, drips through. But it dries quick—ugh, never mind. Forget it. My wife threw that thing away as soon as she could and I miss it every day, that's all I'm saying. Teak bathmat. Look into that, Skip.

jesse

[Laughs.] That's it for this week's episode. Submit your cases at MaximumFun.org/jjho or by email at hodgman@maximumfun.org. No case is too small! You know what I say? Submit 'em over and over and over, I don't care. [John laughs.] Not the same one, but just dif—just come up with different ones. Pick fights with your friends. Submit 'em! We need more submissions. Submissions are more important than quality submissions. We're—we're in the volume business here.

john

That's exactly so.

jesse

We'll decide on quality. [Laughs.]

john

Also I love hearing from you! So just write me. hodgman@maximumfun.org, or MaximumFun.org/jjho. They all come to me. I'll read 'em. And, uh, if we hear 'em on the case, then we'll get to talk to each other!

jesse

Okay. We'll see you next time on the Judge John Hodgman podcast.

sound effect

[Three gavel bangs.]

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A cheerful guitar chord.

speaker 1

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