Dec. 6, 2021

Choosing Cake Flavors, Embarrassing Teenagers, Showing Up with Wet Hair, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about choosing cake flavors for birthdays, embarrassing teenagers with table settings, showing up to work with wet hair, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about choosing cake flavors for birthdays, embarrassing teenagers with table settings, showing up to work with wet hair, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Have a question for us? Call or text (267) CALL-RBW or visit



  • Do I have to consider my guests' tastes when selecting a cake flavor for my birthday?
  • What do I do about roommates who are using too much toilet paper?
  • What should I do about headphones I was gifted but don't want?
  • I'm hosting teens for my daughter's sweet sixteen party and I'm not sure if they'll be familiar with my table setting...what should I do?
  • Is it OK to show up to work with wet hair?
  • Vent: Returning dirty containers







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 117


Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: That we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "Is it rude to make a birthday cake for yourself in quote-unquote 'unpopular' flavours? It's my birthday soon, and I'm inviting friends over. Would it be rude if I made a cake that I would love, but perhaps others would not? I'm thinking coconut, peanut butter or coffee as examples, not all in one cake. People might like the flavours—I haven't asked. But there's a possibility that they won't. So is it rude to bake a birthday cake on your birthday with niche flavours as a host? Should I also provide more popular choices like chocolate or lemon?"

Leah: A) I love that "Flavours" is with an "OU." Reminds me of my time in Oh Canada.

Nick: Yes, this is definitely either a Canadian listener or European, or somebody who is not using the American spelling.

Leah: I still use "OU" in everything.

Nick: Really?

Leah: And it kind of gets flagged on everything.

Nick: I'm sure!

Leah: I say to my email, "I'm just international." Also, I just want to say up top, I don't think of peanut butter, coffee or coconut as niche flavors.

Nick: So let's start there. What flavors would you consider to be quote-unquote "bad" flavors or "unpopular" flavors? I actually really had a hard time thinking about what flavors I would not enjoy in a cake.

Leah: I wouldn't enjoy pea. Like a pea and gravy. Like a—you know what I mean?

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Although there is pea and gravy candy corn.

Leah: [laughs] I know.

Nick: Have you had that?

Leah: I've looked at the bag intensely, and even as a candy corn fan, I said, "No, thank you."

Nick: But in terms of non-savory flavors, because yeah, nobody wants fermented tofu cake. Okay, fine.

Leah: Exactly. And that's the only thing that I could think of as a niche cake flavor.

Nick: I mean, there's definitely flavor combinations that I'm not super excited about. Like, I don't love chocolate and citrus, and I don't love tropical fruits and chocolate. So I could see, like, a lychee-chocolate cake maybe not my thing.

Leah: I'm not a huge fan of, like, the lavender or over-rosed.

Nick: Sure. Yes. I mean, we've all seen Bake Off. We all know how far some floral flavor can go.

Leah: But that's what I would consider more niche. A peanut butter, coffee or coconut, I think delicious flavors.

Nick: Yeah. But I think in general, the idea is to offer something to your guests that they would like, hopefully. Like, that's the principle. So I don't think we want to go out of our way to offer something that they will actively dislike or actively are allergic to. But it is not your responsibility to, like, do a survey first.

Leah: No. But A) as we already stated and I'm gonna restate, I don't think any of those flavors are things that people actively dislike. There obviously will probably be one person who doesn't like coffee or coconut, but like, oh well. I also think—my immediate thought was: it's your birthday.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: Treat yourself! And then maybe if it's an exceedingly odd flavor that, like, half the world—then have—"Oh, this is my birthday cake. I love this flavor. I know it's a bit divisive." Which I don't think any of these flavors are. "So I also made some chocolate cupcakes."

Nick: Okay. I mean, that's thoughtful. That's thoughtful for your guests. Although there is as many people who don't like chocolate or lemon, you know? Which would be quote-unquote more "popular" flavors. So it's like you can't win this one.

Leah: No, I don't think you can, which is why I think you should just do what you love. It's your birthday.

Nick: What's your favorite cake flavor?

Leah: Icing.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Okay. Noted.

Leah: What's your favorite cake flavor?

Nick: I really like ispahan.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: Speaking of lychee. That's invented by Pierre Hermé, and it's rose, lychee and raspberry, and I really like that flavor combination. And then I also just love anything hazelnut and chocolate. Like, Nutella? They're really on to something with that.

Leah: Well then I'm writing this down.

Nick: Leah's actually writing this down.

Leah: I am writing it down because I have a list of things Nick likes. So in the future ...

Nick: Oh! This is for my benefit?

Leah: Yeah. If I—that toilet's on there. I mean, it's just very—you know, you never know when you're gonna be in a situation where some ispahan becomes available and I got to get that to Nick. So I just like to have a running list.

Nick: Okay, noted. Well, I have a bag of savory candy corn with your name on it. So we're even.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I live with two housemates, and they're both very lovely people. However, I have noticed that we go through toilet paper so quickly, like ridiculously quickly. I have never lived with anyone who went through this much toilet paper. It's to the point where maybe we go through a roll every two days. There's only three of us in the house and two of us are gone maybe 80 percent of the day. In addition to the toilet paper, we also go through bottles of hand soap so quickly. Last week, I put out a new bottle of hand soap in the bathroom and it's already gone. Which is great. I'm not gonna complain that hand soap is being used, but it's mind boggling how quickly these things are being used up. I also seem to be the only one who is actually buying the soap and toilet paper. Nobody else is buying them, and when they run out, it's like, "Oh, how did that magically appear?" So should you say something? I'm in shock at how quickly these things are being used up."

Leah: May I? Because I had a very strong opinion on this one.

Nick: Sure, absolutely!

Leah: I think you definitely can't bring up how strongly the toilet paper and soap is being used because we don't know what the personal issue the person is ...

Nick: Right.

Leah: And that may embarrass them.

Nick: Yes. I would like to think that there's a good reason for this.

Leah: Yes, there probably is. I think that the issue, as a good roommate conversation, is you shouldn't be buying—you shouldn't be the person who's always replenishing the toilet paper and the soap. And I think the conversation to be had is a version of—which I think we can work towards—"I find that I'm often replenishing the soap and the toilet paper. Can we get on a group schedule for this where I'm not the only person doing that?" I think that's the conversation.

Nick: Well, the conversation is just household expenses, and what do we want to do about it?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Because I mean, there's the cable bill. There's the electric. I mean, there's probably a lot of bills that we're all sharing. And so this is just part of that. It's just like, what do we want to do about household expenses?

Leah: Yes. I think move it into that conversation, and not, "What are you doing in the bathroom?"

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yeah. And that conversation would be hard and awkward. Right. So we don't want to do that. And I get that you have taken it upon yourself to buy the toilet paper and then you don't want to run out, but it is sort of one of those things that people do just assume like, "Oh, there's just always toilet paper." And so like, "Oh, how did that magically appear?" And I get that. You know, especially if this is your first apartment, maybe and you lived at home, and toilet paper really actually did magically appear because your parents bought it for you. Like, I could see how that doesn't occur to some people.

Leah: So I think that's why we just bring it up as a household expense.

Nick: Right. And we want to just do it in a value-neutral, non-judgmental way, which is just like, "Hey, let's have a house meeting and let's talk about household expenses, and what would be fair to divide it all up."

Leah: Yeah. You could also say, "Hey, should we all go to Costco together and buy ...?"

Nick: Oh, yeah.

Leah: "Large amounts of toilet paper and soap, amongst the other things we're buying?" I think that's the—this is the conversation.

Nick: Yeah. And I think once you have that conversation, you'll feel much better about it because I think you'll find it's not that difficult to have.

Leah: Once it's out there, yeah. Because it doesn't have to be about—it could just be like, "Hey, let's all chip in." Boom!

Nick: Okay, done.

Leah: Done.

Nick: Our next question is quote, "I recently had my birthday, and a good friend of mine consulted my significant other on what I would need so she could get me a present that was useful. I've been looking for a new pair of headphones for work, so my partner told my friend that new headphones would be a good gift. I received the gift just now from my friend, and the headphones are the opposite of what I was looking for, tech-wise at least. I know that the pair she gifted is a more expensive model than the pair I had my eyes on. The headphones I received don't have the classical features that I prefer for my headphones, such as a physical cord so that I don't have to be charging it throughout my workday. Also, the friend who gave these to me is currently unemployed, so I know the gift cost her quite a bit of money. How should I move forward? Should I just start using the headphones and just get used to new habits such as charging it throughout the day? Should I thank her and just not tell her I don't use them, and buy a pair that actually fits my needs? Am I being too picky with my tech? What do you suggest?"

Leah: My first—I think there's layers here. The first layer I think we take off is the line, "Also, my friend who gave these to me is currently unemployed, so I know the gift cost her some money."

Nick: Yes.

Leah: It's not for us to decide how our friends want to gift us something, and I don't think we—I think we just remove that.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, because there is no good way to approach that question that is not problematic. So right. It's not for you to say, yeah. It's not for you to say how somebody spends their money. I think the only exception is if this person is being put in imminent financial peril by this gift, which would have to be much more extravagant than a pair of headphones. But, like, if they just bought you a house or a boat, I guess, and you knew they couldn't afford it definitively and that was putting them in, you know, bankruptcy? Then okay, maybe there's a way to have a conversation. But this is not that.

Leah: And then the other part that's easy to answer is, "Am I being too picky with my tech?" I think outside of the question of the gift in general, we can have what kind of tech we like because we use it all the time, especially in this new world.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Where everything is technology-based. So I think that's not the question, either. You like what you like. What we do with the gift, I think, is the question in hand.

Nick: Right. And I think some gifts do require some level of specificity. So, like, tech gifts? Yeah, it's not enough to say, "Oh, I want a pair of headphones." Like, there's a lot of headphones out there. And I think you do have to be specific if you are gonna be asking for something or being told this is what somebody wants. Like, I need a model number, I need the UPC code. Like, I need the style number. Because I mean, I think we all have stories where, like, grandma saw a Gateway 2000 computer at a yard sale and was like, "I bought you a computer! You can use it for school!" And it's like, "That's not—thanks, Grandma, but I can't use an 8086 Intel processor. But thank you."

Leah: "But I can make it into modern art."But I mean, this was out of her—her friend consulted her significant other. So that was sort of ...

Nick: Yes. But the significant other said, "Oh, headphones would be good." But that does require a little further sort of exploration because, like, headphones is a big umbrella category. And I think if I was told, oh, you want headphones, I would probably want more information as the gift giver. Like, over the ear headphones, or these earbuds? Are you using it for work? Is this for jogging? And if I didn't get answers to any of that but I still wanted to get you headphones, I would buy you headphones and here's the receipt and, like, "Hey, I got you headphones. I have no idea what type you want. Here's where you can go exchange these for the thing you actually do want." No problem.

Leah: Yes. I think that's how I would give headphones as well. But if we're at the point where we're at in this scenario ...

Nick: Okay, fine.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: ... if I was the headphone receiver, I think what I would do is buy the headphones I like for work.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And then I would keep the headphones my friend gave me and try them out when I was on a walk or listening to, say, Were You Raised By Wolvespodcasts in the kitchen while I was doing something else hands free.

Nick: Ooh, slick!

Leah: You know? And then write a thank-you note. "Thank you for the headphones. I haven't tried these before. I'm excited to see what it's like." And then buy your work headphones that you wanted.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, how do you feel about just exchanging these headphones for the ones you actually want?

Leah: I don't know if you can without the receipt, without asking your friend "I would like to exchange these."

Nick: I see. Okay, yeah. We definitely don't want to tell our friend we want to exchange them. So if the receipt was there and you could just do it, I think you could just do it. But if that's not an option, then yes, I think we just thank the friend for the headphones and then just move on with your life.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah, okay. Our next question is quote, "I spent the majority of my weekend polishing the silver for my daughter's sweet 16 dinner party next weekend. It will not be a large group as there's only 12 girls invited, but this morning I had a disturbing thought: I do not know around half of the girls attending and have no idea if they'll understand the table setting. I certainly don't want to be responsible for embarrassing any of them or making them uncomfortable. As the hostess, what should I do? Even though these are teenagers, I hate to just assume they don't know how to choose the correct fork. Thoughts?"

Leah: My immediate thought was—my first thought before I could have a clear thought that overran all the other thoughts was: do we think that 16 year olds at this point in time have all seen the movie Pretty Woman?

Nick: Oh! Ooh, good question!

Leah: That was my first thought. Because if we think they have, don't even worry about it. Julia Roberts has covered it for us all.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yeah, I mean, you've learned most of your etiquette from that movie, sure.

Leah: I can't wait 'til somebody snaps something on my hand and I go [laughs].

Nick: Big mistake. Huge!

Leah: Big mistake!

Nick: So yeah, I mean, I had some thoughts. I mean, what is this table setting? I mean, how complicated is this? That's really the question is sort of like, I assume these guests have left the house before and have dined in a regular restaurant that has forks and knives and spoons set out. And so unless you have extra courses, unless there's like an escargot course or there's some new cutlery that's just, like, very unfamiliar, I think everybody is sort of familiar with the outside-in format.

Leah: I think so, too. I also think that they're teenagers and they're gonna be into—if somebody feels insecure about it, my guess is that they can—there'll be other things happening where they can just figure it out watching other people. Do you know what I mean?

Nick: Oh, absolutely, yes. I mean, I think there's two types of guests here. There's the guest that does not care if they embarrass themselves and isn't bothered by it. And for them, okay, fine. And then there's the guest that is very nervous about doing the right thing, and that guests will be hyper-attentive to everybody else and what they do and what fork they pick. Absolutely. And I think in general as the host, because I think the question is like, oh, as a host, what should I do? Is that guests look to you for signals and instructions and information about what is supposed to happen. They look to you when we can start eating. They look to you in terms of, like, what fork to use. So as long as you demonstrate the correct behavior, then your guests will follow your lead.

Leah: And I don't think we demonstrate it in a "For anybody who doesn't know," we just do it.

Nick: Yes, we do not announce what we're doing. Like, "Oh everybody, we use this fork."

Leah: "Excuse me, Lydia. In case you didn't know, this is the fork. I know you don't know." We don't do that.

Nick: Yeah. No, I do believe I have told a story on this show before about being told what fork to use and how I don't appreciate that.

Leah: Whoo! That made the highlights reel.

Nick: Right, yeah. It was so bold it came back again. Episode 100. So yeah, I don't think you need to do anything other than model good behavior. I mean, there's also that famous story about a guest using a finger bowl wrong where they actually, like, drank the liquid from the finger bowl, and to not embarrass this guest the host at that table actually then took a sip from their finger bowl as well, even though they knew it was wrong. But it was just to, like, put the guest at ease. So as a host, there's a lot of things you can do to put your guests at ease.

Leah: I love that. I love that so much.

Nick: I wonder, though, if that's actually a true story. You hear this repeated a lot in, you know, finger bowl forums. But I wonder, though, did that ever happen? Did anybody actually drink out of a finger bowl, and then the host did it to make them feel comfortable? I wonder.

Leah: Well, we can just decide it did, and live in a world in which people are just dedicated to making people feel welcome.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, okay.

Leah: I also want to say to our letter writer, it's lovely that you want to make sure everybody feels included. I think it's going to be great.

Nick: Oh, yeah. I'm sure this is gonna be totally lovely. And at the end of the day, let people use the wrong fork. What difference does it make? Like, it really doesn't matter.

Leah: And you know I'm using the wrong fork.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, because at the end of the day, you know, as long as you're able to eat your food neatly and not make anybody else feel uncomfortable at the table, then, you know, have at it. Yes, it's nice to use the "correct" fork, quote-unquote. But, like, if you use the salad fork on your dinner, like, it's not the end of the world.

Leah: But I do think that Julia Roberts got a lot of us out of this. Saved us.

Nick: I mean, from so many things.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote—and they actually specifically identify that this question is for Leah.

Leah: I'm already honored. I'm honored.

Nick: "As a fellow curly girl, is it okay to show up to work with wet hair? I work in an office. In the morning, I work out and I shower before heading to work. And because I have curly hair, I put product in my hair, scrunch and go. This means that I usually have wet hair for the first one to two hours of the day. I'm always self-conscious about this, but I also refuse to straighten my hair every day to quote, 'Look professional.' What is the proper office or work wet-hair etiquette? And is it different for curly versus straight hair people?"

Leah: This is a great question.

Nick: So I mean, you're on your own here.

Leah: Makes me feel emotional, because I do feel like some world we've decided, and it took me a long time to be comfortable with it, that straight hair is somehow more professional than curly hair. As if we have to be taken seriously and straighten our hair. And I say no!

Nick: Yeah. And where do you think this comes from? How did this start? What is this about?

Leah: Same people who hammer down on left-handed people.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: And I—some people who have curly hair use a diffuser. I need to air dry. I air dry, just like our letter writer. I scrunch because you don't want to use, like, a rubber band because it could break your hair when it's wet. I product, I scrunch, I go.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'm not ruining my hair because I'm somehow less of a great employee when my hair is wet. Absolutely not. Show up to work with your hair wet. If I have a big thing in the morning that's gonna be taped or something like that where my hair should be dry and ready, then I don't wash it that morning. But a regular workday? I mean ...

Nick: Right. And you do make a good point. Your ability to do your job is not affected by the moistness of your hair.

Leah: Yeah, I just—if people are like, "Wow, you should have straight blow-dried dry hair at 8:00 a.m."

Nick: Right. Yeah.

Leah: I rally against this world.

Nick: Because otherwise, it's you just getting up a couple of hours earlier than necessary for this.

Leah: And it doesn't affect other people.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And the thing is is that straight-haired people's hair dries faster.

Nick: Right. It's physics.

Leah: It's just physics. I guess you could say that somehow wet hair looks unprofessional, but I—obviously, if you have a meeting, you want to look ready. And that's when you pull the hair back or you wash your hair the day before. But a regular workday? I mean ...

Nick: And I think the broader point is that, if there's something about yourself that is just who you are, well then, that's obviously fine. Of course. Like, you're not gonna change who you are. So of course it's fine.

Leah: I love that. I love that.

Nick: Right? But I mean, at the end of the day, I think, isn't that true? Like, I'm not gonna change who I am for some arbitrary reason. Like, that's not necessary.

Leah: I love that. I think that's very important.

Nick: Yeah. So, great. And I didn't know about, like, the rubber band scrunchie thing. So okay.

Leah: Yeah, it's just—I mean, curly hair, we're still in the '80s. We need a scrunchie, like a fabric scrunchie, because our hair breaks.

Nick: Okay. I mean, do you also do, like, asymmetrical?

Leah: Do you mean, do I do a side pony? [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Yes, that's what I mean.

Leah: I will, yeah. I mean, I'll take a side pony. I love a side pony.

Nick: Do you have a Hypercolor or acid wash scrunchie?

Leah: I've actually been looking for some neon scrunchies, because who doesn't want that?

Nick: I mean, I think I have a list, but okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next thing is a vent, and it is quote, "A friend just gave me back a Christmas platter and a little Christmas container I gave her two Christmases ago. I get home and I take out the container and the lid is dirty. And then I open it and there are still crumbs in there. Who gives back a dirty container from two years ago? The platter does look clean, though. I am so grossed out and disgusted that a person would return a dirty, crumb-filled container. How hard is it to wash? Disgusting!"

Leah: I love that we're here for people to get it out. You know what I mean?

Nick: Get it out!

Leah: Get it out!

Nick: Set yourself free.

Leah: [laughs] Because I felt that "disgusting."

Nick: I mean, yeah. Wash the container, everybody. Yes.

Leah: Just wash it!

Nick: Wash it before you give it back. How hard is that?

Leah: You've had two years. You could even just—it's crumbs. You could have just given it a rinse, you know what I mean? That's just a—that's not even. That's a wipe-down, that's a tissue. You know what I mean?

Nick: But how hard is it to wash? Not very.

Leah: Not very.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, clean it. Yeah. I mean, I can see what happened here from the other side, which was like, "Oh, I'm getting together with Lisa. Oh, I think I have her platter and her container. Let me grab it and so I give it to her when I see her." And grab. In the back of the car. "Oh, here it is. Thank you!" And that was the end of it.

Leah: Yeah, absolutely.

Nick: And I can see that the person returning it probably thought it was clean, because why did I have a dirty container in my house for two years?

Leah: For sure. I still want to support their vent, though.

Nick: Oh, absolutely. Because here's the thing: this is happening across the country all the time.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: There are so many dirty containers being given back as we speak.

Leah: Especially as we come into the holiday season. It's about to happen more.

Nick: Yeah. And I bet this is global. I bet this is happening across the world, because containers are universal and people not washing things is probably also universal.

Leah: The things that tie us together, you know, as global citizens.

Nick: Yeah. No, we all can relate to this, I think. So yeah, I'm sorry this happened. I mean, luckily, it won't be too difficult for you to clean it.

Leah: And probably your friend will soon start listening to Were You Raised By Wolves?

Nick: Oh, yes. Yeah, we can shame her.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: We don't want to shame anybody. It's not Game of Thrones.

Nick: Not yet. Winter is coming.

Leah: I'm doing a shiver with our people at home. I don't know. What's the noise of a shiver? Bluh bluh bluh! No, that's like a ...

Nick: No, it's "Brrr." Think "Brrr."

Leah: Yeah, but have you ever said "Brr? Brr!"

Nick: I mean, I think that's better than "Bluh bluh bluh!"

Leah: I was like, "What am I? Like, a goat waking up?"

Nick: Okay. Very cold goat. Sure.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So do you have questions for us? Let us know. You can let us know through our website, Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!