Nov. 28, 2022

Double-Dipping in Fondue, Ignoring Grandchildren, Squeaking at the Theatre, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating fondue, ignoring grandchildren, making squeaky noises at the theatre, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating fondue, ignoring grandchildren, making squeaky noises at the theatre, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: Fondue
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: How do I get people to stop giving me peach-themed items? What is to be done about grandparents who are addicted to their cell phones?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Locking bathroom doors, Theatre noises
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Thanks for the book help, A nice review







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



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Episode 164


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Nick: Do you double dip in fondue? Do you spoil your office Secret Santa? Do you ignore your grandchildren? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better

When we have to live together

We can all use a little help

So people don't ask themselves

Were you raised by wolves?

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

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.

Leah: [singing] Let's get in it!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about fondue.

Leah: [gasps]

Nick: So Leah, do you like fondue?

Leah: I love fondue!

Nick: So fondue is pretty good. And so let's talk about it. But first, a little history. So fondue, this is sort of like a little bowl of melted cheese, and we're gonna dip stuff into it. That's kind of the outline. And I think most people think it's Swiss. And it's not not Swiss, but the idea that we've been dipping things in cheese, we've been doing this for a long time. I mean, there's references to it in The Iliad. And of course, many different cultures have come up with this idea. But the Swiss, they really own it, I think, at this point.

Nick: And apparently, this comes back to the 1930s when Switzerland was like, "Oh, we're making way too much cheese and we can't eat it all. We gotta export it." And so they decided to popularize cheese as a Swiss thing. And fondue was definitely part of that. And it started as sort of like a peasant thing to, like, use up old bread and cheese rinds. But now it's just like a great sort of Swiss tradition.

Nick: And in the United States, it really took off in the 1960s. And this was when there was the World's Fair in New York, and Switzerland actually had a little pavilion where they served fondue, and a lot of people think that that's when it took off in the United States. And that's also during a time when in the United States when we were eating a lot of things out of chafing dishes. Like, that's when we were eating a lot of, like, crepe Suzette and steak Diane. And so the idea of, like, oh, cheese with like a burner under it tableside, like, that was part of this thing that we were doing in the United States, and that just made sense to a lot of people.

Nick: And then it really got going in the 1970s. I think every listener who got married in the 1970s probably got a fondue set as a wedding gift. And then it kind of petered out a little bit, but I think it is having a little bit of a resurgence. And so if you encounter it, here is some etiquette of what to do.

Leah: I actually just visualized—I'm pretty sure my parents have a fondue set that looks like it came from their wedding.

Nick: Of course they do.

Leah: It's in the ...

Nick: [laughs] Of course they do. And sidebar, we're talking about cheese fondue, which is really sort of the traditional fondue. There are other types of fondue. And chocolate fondue, interestingly, was invented in New York in the 1960s by a Swiss person, but it was in New York where that took place. So fun fact. So here are some fon-dos and some fon-don'ts.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Yes, Nick!

Nick: You like that?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Like that?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So ...

Leah: Let's end the episode right there. That is more than I've ever wanted.

Nick: [laughs] So long story short, you will be attending a fondue meal, and it's typically gonna be the main event. It's not an appetizer. It's not, like, part of a multi-course meal. It's like, this is the main event. And so there's gonna be the bowl of cheese. There'll probably be a little burner or candle or something under it keeping it warm. And it's communal. This is a communal activity. And you're gonna have a little long fork, a fondue fork, and it's gonna look like a long kind of skewer thing. And there'll probably be a bowl of bread cut into cubes. So what you do is you take a piece of bread and you skewer it onto your skewer fork thing and you dip it into the cheese. That's kind of the idea.

Nick: And so when you dip, you're gonna want to go one at a time. Let's not have too many forks in there. Let everybody have their turn. And you're gonna take the bread and you're gonna dip it in, get it fully submerged. And a lot of people like using a figure-eight pattern into the bowl because you also want to keep the cheese moving. You don't want it to get hardened onto the side of the bowl. So it's important for everybody to kind of keep the cheese moving around. And then you are going to lift it up and you are gonna twirl, twirl, twirl, because there's gonna be cheese strands, and you're gonna pause, pause, pause, pause. And you're not gonna tap, you're not gonna scrape, and then you're gonna take the whole thing back to your own individual dish, and then you're gonna take your own fork and remove the cheesy bread thing off of your fondue fork, and then you're going to eat it with your own fork and knife because this is a communal dish.

Nick: Now you do see some people eat directly off of the fondue fork. This does happen. A lot of people do it. And if you're gonna do it, you're gonna want to make sure that you just get your teeth on it and you don't put your whole mouth on it because this is a communal dish and we don't want your germs on the fork that goes now back into the cheese. But I think more elegant would be to fully remove the cheesy bread to your own plate and use your own fork on that.

Nick: Now you don't want to drip. Dripping is bad. And Miss Manners says, quote, "You are not allowed to drip on the table on the way from pot to plate, but unfortunately you are going to do so anyway. Fondue hosts should not use their best tablecloths."

Leah: You know, I've never been in a communal fondue situation. The only fondue I've experienced is on, like, dates. So it's just, you know, two people.

Nick: Well, that's communal. It's not solo. It's not you in front of the television watching Love Island.

Leah: Well I mean, it's never been like a full family, you know what I mean, where everybody's sort of taking their turn. It's just sort of like a back and forth.

Nick: Yes, that happens. And I think that's a shared dish, though. I think the same idea applies. It's sort of like a bowl of guacamole for two people. We don't want to double dip. Like, double dipping is not allowed here either.

Leah: Also, I don't know how you get two bites out of a little nice morsel. That's a popper.

Nick: Well, sometimes people, like, eat the cheese off of it and then expose some bread again and then want to go in for more cheese. It happens. I've seen double dipping in the fondue, and I don't like it.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Don't do it. So another thing to note is you don't want to drop the thing into the cheese. So if you have bread or anything else you're dipping, if it falls into the fondue, that's not good. And a lot of times there's gonna be some penalty, some traditional penalty from your host or the venue or somewhere that requires you to do something as punishment, if you drop something in the fondue.

Leah: Like the dishes?

Nick: Do the dishes. Run outside naked in the snow. Kiss everybody at the table. Pay for it all. Buy a round of drinks. Like, there's all sorts of, like, penalties that people come up with if you drop, like, your cube of bread into the cheese.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: Don't do it. Don't do it. If you do do it, don't leave it there. Try to get it out. So do it as elegantly as possible.

Leah: Start fishing. Start fishing.

Nick: And then if you're resting, don't rest your fondue fork against the fondue pot like it's, like, skis at a lodge. So don't do that. Just rest it on the side of your plate. And then at the very end, there's gonna be this circle hopefully of sort of crusty cheese in the very bottom of the dish. And this is called "The nun." And why it's called that? There's a lot of different explanations, none of which are satisfying or believable. One of them is, like, it looks like what nuns wear. Uh, okay. Another is that nuns were hiding cheese in their habits for some reason and, like, that was happening in some sect in Switzerland, and so this is about that. I don't know about that.

Leah: I would like to believe that everybody is hiding cheese, to be honest. Like, just a little piece in your pocket, you know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah, like the nuns were hiding cheese rinds in, like, their habits somewhere. So it's called the nun. But it is a delicacy. And you are allowed to, like, scrape that off, and ideally, that would be shared with everybody. Another very tasty thing that does happen sometimes is you crack an egg into the very bottom of the dish and you kind of create a scrambled cheesy egg thing, and then you kind of eat that with the bread.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: So that's something that happens. And then in terms of what to drink, Swiss people would tell you a very dry white wine, the same wine maybe that went into the fondue. or kirsch, which is sort of like a cherry liqueur, or tea. They do not typically drink cold beverages because Swiss people feel like that would, like, turn the cheese in your stomach into a hard rock. It is not true, according to people who actually studied this. And people have studied this, like, whether or not the Swiss tradition of not drinking, like, cold beverages is true, but that is the tradition anyway. But there's a lot of different ways to do fondue and a lot of places in the world that eat fondue. So do whatever you want to do, I guess. But that would be traditional in Switzerland.

Leah: Fon-do whatever you want to do.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Exactly. So fondue is great. And I think if you've never had it, you should try it. And there's a lot of different recipes, and you can find the fondue that's right for you.

Leah: Oh! I got hungry just thinking about it.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to go deep.

Leah: Deep and festive.

Nick: So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about Secret Santa, which is sometimes called Kris Kringle, depending on where you are in the world. So what is Secret Santa? And I guess Secret Santa is when a group of people get together and they decide we are going to draw names and we are going to randomly assign people a different name, and you buy that person one gift. And so everybody gets a gift, but you are not now buying gifts for everyone. You're only buying one gift. So it's economical, but it's still festive. And so you see this a lot in offices or bigger families or groups of friends. And so that's what Secret Santa is, I guess.

Leah: And then sometimes people will do Secret Santa for, like, a whole month. And so maybe you do, like, three gifts and you leave them a little something on their desk one week, and then a little something on their desk. And then the other part of it is that they don't know who their Secret Santa is.

Nick: Yes. The key is that it's supposed to be a secret. The secret, I think, is inherent to the Secret Santa. It is supposed to be a surprise at the end.

Leah: Yes. It's not just you don't know who you're going to get, it's that who's getting the present didn't know who gave it to them.

Nick: Exactly. And so I guess the key etiquette rule for Secret Santa is you gotta participate and you gotta keep the secret. So you can't not get somebody a gift that you've been assigned. Like, that's terrible to just not do it. And then you've got to keep the secret.

Leah: Yeah. If you've agreed to partake in it, you're partaking.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, can you imagine how terrible someone would feel if, like, they didn't get a gift?

Leah: I can imagine.

Nick: Yeah, that's not good. So don't do that.

Leah: And also, don't just be like, "Oh, I don't want to be a part of this." I think up top you could tell people, "I really don't want to be a part." Nobody's gonna force you into a Secret Santa.

Nick: Hopefully not. That seems aggressive.

Leah: "You're Secret Santing!" So don't just be—don't get something that's so blasé that it says to your Secret Santa person that I didn't put one ounce of thought into this. Don't do that either.

Nick: Yes. Typically, there will be a budget that everybody agrees on, and you should buy something for your person that maximizes that budget, but is also a really good gift. And that's the key. You don't want to just do something that's sort of thoughtless. You know, a gift card? Sure. But, like, can we not do something a little more personalized?

Leah: Unless it's to their favorite place.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, perhaps that is super thoughtful if it's a gift card to, like, the place that they love.

Leah: Like, suppose it's to Sephora. Do you know what I mean? And you're like, "Oh!" I also think I really do like the "secret" part of it. So don't say—say you know your friend has so-and-so. Don't then tell so-and-so, "Oh, I think so-and-so has you." Like, don't ruin it.

Nick: Oh, yeah. No, I think you have to maintain the confidentiality of the entire process. Of course.

Leah: Yeah. This is like undercover. This is like espionage. You don't give up friends.

Nick: And then there are some variations on the theme. There is the Yankee swap, it's sometimes called, or the white elephant, which is where after there are gifts sort of opened and exchange, there can be some swapping that takes place. So the rules for that get a little complicated.

Leah: It's not after they've all been opened. The way I've done it, and maybe people do it differently in different—you know, maybe it's different all over. One person gets to—you draw numbers, and then the first person gets to pick a package and open it. But you don't know what the other packages are.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So then the next person can either take yours or take something from the group. So the person who drew the last number gets to actually see all the presents and pick which one they wanted.

Nick: Hmm. I see.

Leah: Diabolical. Diabolical.

Nick: It can be. It can be.

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: And I think it's a good occasion to practice being gracious, because it is possible that someone will get you a gift that you do not like. This is very possible. And so I think it is good practice to receive that gift with gratitude and with thankfulness and with enthusiasm, even if you hate it. Because it happens, you might get something that you don't like. And so that's kind of the deal, unfortunately, with Secret Santa. But just be gracious about it.

Leah: Yes. I think it is really fun, the idea that you don't know when you're getting it and who it is. And so maybe the thing isn't your favorite, but what a fun experience!

Nick: Yeah. I mean, it should be fun. The idea is it's fun. And usually the budgets for these are not, like, outrageous. So these are not like crazy, expensive, extravagant sort of gifts.

Leah: Yes. But I don't know if you saw Four Christmases? Have you seen that movie?

Nick: I have not seen this movie.

Leah: Okay. So it's very funny.

Nick: It's about four Christmases.

Leah: Yeah. Well, it's Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are a couple and they have—both their parents are divorced, so they go to every single ...

Nick: I see.

Leah: And at one of the houses, it was a $10 gift limit.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And they didn't know and they overspent. And then the whole family is, like, super mad at them. [laughs]

Nick: But yeah, you gotta follow the rules. Whatever the rules are.

Leah: Gotta follow the rules.

Nick: Gotta follow the rules.

Leah: It's a $10 limit. It's a $10 limit.

Nick: That's what it is. So yeah, I think the general etiquette is just be mindful of other people as it so often is. And then Secret Santa can be fun.

Leah: And if you're gonna participate participate.

Nick: Yeah. You're either in or you're out. Yeah, you can't be 50% on it.

Leah: No. Because it'll hurt the other person's feelings. Because they're doing it too.

Nick: Yeah. And like so many things, if everybody's committed, everybody has a better time.

Leah: I'm excited. I was gonna say we should do Secret Santa, Nick. Who do you think we'll get?

Nick: [laughs] Can you imagine if I guessed wrong?

Leah: You're like, "Is it Leah or Leah?"

Nick: It's like, "Oh, well, I guess it's Lord of the Rings stuff, so Leah."

Leah: I obviously would not get you Lord of the Rings stuff. That would be moved out of your house. I don't even know if it would make it into your house. It would be ...

Nick: Am I allowed to regift something that you gave me if it's Lord of the Rings stuff?

Leah: If it's Lord of the Rings? Yeah, you can give it right back to me. [laughs]

Nick: Loophole! [laughs]

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is quote, "I use the word 'peachy' when people ask how I am. I've used this word so often that people have started calling me 'Peachy.' Well-meaning people, including family and close friends, have started purchasing things that say 'peachy' or 'just peachy.' My house is not decorated in any of these items. I feel obligated to put them out, but I don't want them in my house. How do I tell people to stop giving me things I don't want? My sister-in-law and I did come up with a humorous way to deal with it. And I'm wondering what you think. I could frame some $100 bills and put those up around my house. And when people ask how I'm doing, I'll say, 'cashy.' Maybe they'll start giving me cash instead?"

Leah: I love that.

Nick: [laughs] That's a good idea.

Leah: I wrote the LOLs after it like nobody's business. LOLs and infinity sign. I think it's very creative and funny. It made me laugh.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I think you don't have to put the things out. You said you feel obligated. I don't think you need to put them out at all.

Nick: Definitely don't worry about it. Yeah, and I think you sort of put it away, and then eventually it makes its way from the back of your closet to regifting, to a second hand store, to some other home that is not yours.

Leah: And I mean, I don't know about telling people you don't like it.

Nick: Yeah, it's really hard to tell people that you don't like their gift, which is basically what you would be doing.

Leah: Yeah, I think you can say something like, "Hilarious!" Like, you know what I mean? Like, "Oh, what a funny joke."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think you have to accept the gift graciously and say thank you like you would for any other gift. And that's all you can do. Because you can't be like, "Oh, I don't like this."

Leah: Yeah, I think that you could just be grateful for the gift and then don't feel bad about not using it and not liking it, and just move it right to the Goodwill.

Nick: But this happens. I mean, I definitely know I have some relatives who you had mentioned something that you like and now they have it in their head that that's what you like forever. So, you know, we do evolve in our tastes, and sometimes our gift givers don't evolve with us or don't know that we've evolved. So it's not their fault that they're trying to be thoughtful.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Maybe an idea is that we have a conversation at some other point divorced from any gift giving, which is just about collecting things, and how you're trying not to collect so many things anymore, trying to get more minimalist. You're trying to cut down on the things that say "peachy" in your life. And so maybe there's some sort of a conversation that's sort of divorced from any gift giving that kind of lets these people know that, like, oh, your tastes have changed.

Leah: And I mean, let's just walk this out and then see how it feels. We may walk it back.

Nick: Okay, let's go on that walk.

Leah: You know, because it says these are close friends and family. I think you could say—or maybe I don't know if you could. I'm gonna see how it feels when it's out there, and then maybe we want to take it back in.

Nick: *[laughs] Okay. You're so timid on this walk.

Leah: Because my initial response is just to think, you know, we can't say it. If we just say thank you, and then we don't feel bad about not putting it out. But I wonder if at a later date, we could actually say, "I have so many—so much peachy stuff, you guys. I really appreciate it, but I've really—I think I've reached my maximum capacity. Super grateful."

Nick: Okay. Group email.

Leah: No, just one where, like—because it says it's family and close friends. So it's like ...

Nick: So we're gonna make an announcement, though.

Leah: No. Like, when people are talk—you know, when things come up like birthdays or Christmas, you know what I mean? In that kind of a ...

Nick: Okay. Like, "Oh, just by the way, everybody. Like, I'm really kind of not doing peachy stuff anymore. Just FYI."

Leah: But we don't say that we have disliked them intensely this whole time.

Nick: Yes. "Everything that you gave me in the past was garbage, and you have ruined my decor." So we don't want to say that.

Leah: We do not say that. We just say ...

Nick: Okay. Moving forward.

Leah: "I love that you guys think of me and know what I say. I love how you know me and the phrases I use. I really—you know, I have so much peachy stuff. I don't have room for any more." Some nice form of that. Not in a gift giving moment. I wonder if that would be okay.

Nick: Yeah. I don't mind that if it's done in a nice way. I think you'd really have to land it, but I think it is possible. There is probably a way to do it.

Leah: You know, when you have enough hats. I have enough hats. I can't wear any more hats. I've reached hat capacity.

Nick: Yeah, sometimes we hit our limit. So give that a try. Let us know how it goes.

Leah: Also, maybe we have a listener—how fun would it be if we had a listener who loves the word "peachy?"

Nick: Oh!

Leah: They write in. We write to this person. She just boxes the whole peachy up, sends it to our listener.

Nick: Oh, I love that. Surely we have somebody out there that collects peach stuff, right? We must.

Leah: That would be amazing. And then we could—it's like we could just ...

Nick: Oh, let's just connect these people and we can solve two problems. Oh!

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Maybe that's the new show, Leah. We just connect people who want to get rid of something that they don't want to people who collect that thing.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: This is basically Nick and Leah's list.

Leah: This feels really good. This feels good. This feels good.

Nick: It does feel right. Yeah, this feels right. So okay, out there, if you collect peach stuff and you want excess peach stuff sent to you for free, no cost, let us know. We will—we will hook you up and we will get a box of peach stuff your way ASAP.

Leah: Well, somebody's gonna have to pay for the shipping.

Nick: That's not us. Yeah. And we also take our cut. You know, there's obviously a transaction fee.

Leah: We are not taking a cut.

Nick: Oh, well, we should discuss it.

Leah: Our cut is joy.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. And 10 percent. No? Five percent?

Leah: No!

Nick: We will suspend the fees for the first 90 days.

Leah: I can almost imagine myself driving it. I'd be like, "You let me know where you are."

Nick: That is true. [laughs]

Leah: That's totally me. I'll drive it. I'll drive it.

Nick: Yeah. Leah's courier service. Door to door.

Leah: I'm making people happy on both ends. I'm taking the peachy. I'm delivering the peachy.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, it's peachy. Definitely peachy. So our next question is quote, "What is to be done about grandparents who are addicted to their cell phones? They hardly ever come around, and when they do, the grandparents frequently make and answer calls on speaker, talk to text about personal issues loudly and watch videos on YouTube on speaker and loudly. I have asked politely and directly for them to please set the phones down and be present with the family, only to have them get exasperated with me, dramatically flop down their phones with an eye roll, and exclaim that they're just, quote, 'Trying to stay in touch.' No fail, within 10 minutes they pick up their phones again. It has gotten so bad that I've executed the phone basket. The phone basket is just an old bread basket that I walk around with while I silently eye-shame the grandparents to deposit their cell phones into it during their visits with us. I try to explain it's the same thing celebrities do at their weddings, but the phone basket isn't working. What is the next step in proper etiquette?"

Leah: Are we gonna assume that this is the parents of our letter-writer?

Nick: I am assuming this is the parents of the letter-writer. Yes, it's the generation above.

Leah: Yes. But my question is is it the parents of the letter-writer, or is it the parents of the letter-writer's spouse?

Nick: Oh. Uh, that's probably not not what it is.

Leah: Because I feel like if it's your parents ...

Nick: Right?

Leah: And they're coming over to your house. And I mean, you've really tried everything.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I always feel like it's different if it's not your parents. Like, if it was your spouse's parents, I would have your spouse step in.

Nick: Right. I mean, they didn't say "It's my in-laws."

Leah: Right.

Nick: Which would typically be what our letter-writer would say when they're complaining about their in-laws.

Leah: Yeah, I just wasn't sure because they never said "My parents."

Nick: But I think before we even get there, what I do love is that very often we hear complaints about "Kids today. The younger generation, they're so rude, they don't know manners, they don't have etiquette." And what I love is that, oh, no, everybody can be rude. And it transcends age. It transcends generations. Everybody can be rude. It is universal.

Leah: I just feel like you want them to spend quality time with their grandkids. They're not listening to you.

Nick: I think you've done everything you can.

Leah: The only thing that's left is a lockbox. And ...

Nick: Oh. Yeah.

Leah: It goes in the lockbox. And it's like a lead box, so, like, they can't even—you can't hear it vibrating. There's no alarms. They want to come over. They come in the house, it goes in the lockbox. You turn the key and they spend quality time. You go, "You're spending quality time with your grandkids. They love you. They want to hang out with their grandparents. Phone's going in the lockbox."

Nick: That's it. Yeah. Get out there and go love your grandchildren. [laughs]

Leah: Go love your grandchildren. And then you let them eyeroll at you.

Nick: Yeah. Tough it out.

Leah: I mean, it seems like the only other option is to be like, "I guess this is how they are." Which you don't seem happy with.

Nick: I mean, related to that, I did have on my list you can line the walls of your entire home with lead to prevent any cell signals from coming into your house. So that's sort of related.

Leah: I love that Nick always has an option that's very like, you could go to the nearest cell tower and block all cell phone use.

Nick: I did think you could turn off the Wi-Fi in your house, so at least you could actually make no Wi-Fi available to force them to watch any videos on cellular connections in the hopes that your cell service in your area is not that good.

Leah: And the only reason I asked if it was your parents or your spouse's parents is because I feel if you're gonna—you've done so much that I feel like if you're gonna take that last step and go in hard, it should be whoever's parents it is to go in the hardest. You know what I mean?

Nick: Yes. But I think you might just have to accept this for what it is, and use it as a good teaching example for your kids about what not to do, which is like, "Oh, see what happens when you're a guest in someone's home and you are on your phone the whole time? And how does that make you feel as a host? And it doesn't feel great." And so kids, use this as an example. When you're a guest in someone's home, don't be on your phone because this is how your hosts feel about it and it doesn't feel great. And so don't do it. And so maybe you'll at least teach the next generation that this is not something they should emulate.

Leah: And I want to add a caveat to what I said, because when I—I just came in, and, you know, I love caveats.

Nick: You sure do.

Leah: If you're the person who is like the person who's home with the kids and your spouse is always out and it's your spouse's parents, but you're the only person there, then I think you can still step in and be like, "No. Going in the lock box." Because that's more like my mother-in-law rule, where I always want the person whose mother it is.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So that's why I brought it up. But I actually—this could be—this involves the kids and you're home with the kids. So I feel like just tell them to put it in the lock box.

Nick: But I think because the grandparents don't seem to want to change their behavior, I don't think they will. I don't think there's anything that's gonna make them change at this point.

Leah: The other option, which I think is not—you know, I think probably your kids want to see their grandparents is to say, "Hey, if you're gonna be on your phones, you shouldn't come over."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if you're gonna bother coming over, then come over. And if you don't want to come over and really, like, spend time with us, then, like, don't bother. Yeah, that's a little harsh.

Leah: It's harsh.

Nick: But that might be something that would get their attention.

Leah: It's very harsh. And then you also might—maybe they don't come over, you know what I mean? You ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: ... are floating that out there. And it feels very harsh to say. I'm just throwing out all the options.

Nick: But yeah, I think if you have a "no phone" household, and that's sort of the house rules in your house, it would be nice if all your guests respected that rule.

Leah: And I mean, you could handle it like a left-handed scorpio Italian, where you've said it multiple times, people don't listen to you. You turn on the tap water, you fill a pot, and you just drop those cell phones in water and then you say, "Well, now you never get to use them."

Nick: [laughs] We could put that on the whiteboard.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. That's it.

Leah: "Well, I guess there's no cell phones at all."

Nick: [laughs] Oh, you think Leah's joking? Not entirely. So letter-writer ...

Leah: I can let go and let go and let go and let go. And then I go over that point and it's I'm no longer in charge.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Point of no return. So let us know if you try any of those things—including boiling the phone—and let us know. And you out there. Do you have questions for us about revenge or anything else? Let us know through our website, Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call, Vent or Repent?

Leah: Vent or repent!

Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently, or we can repent for some etiquette faux-pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?

Leah: [sighs] I'm gonna repent.

Nick: Oh! What did you do?

Leah: And I don't know if I'm repenting to one person in particular.

Nick: [laughs] Or society?

Leah: I feel like I'm—I think at one point you said "The moral fabric of society." That's a quote I remember.

Nick: Uh-huh. Okay. So you have ripped it a little bit. A little tear.

Leah: I think I have perhaps torn open the moral fabric of society.

Nick: Okay. [laughs] Well, walk me through it. Paint the scene.

Leah: So the scene is I'm out at a—it's called a city market. You know, it's one of those places that has lots of different food vendors.

Nick: Okay. It's like a food hall.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And then the bathroom is ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: It's just a whole—oh, it's Leah Bonnema in bathrooms. It's like a whole bunch of stalls, like little separate, full closed doors.

Nick: Little rooms, okay.

Leah: Little rooms for everybody. And anybody can use that bathroom. And then there's sinks in front of them. I go into the stall room. It's a room.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: There's two locks. I lock one of them.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: It wasn't an arrow that said, "Lock this one." I lock one of them. I am going to the bathroom. A man opens the door. I apparently locked the wrong lock.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Now that I say it out loud, he didn't knock. The door was closed. He didn't knock.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So I think the move would have been to lean forward and grab the door.

Nick: Sure. I mean, as opposed to what did you do?

Leah: What happened was ...

Nick: What are my options?

Leah: I just stood up.

Nick: Oh, okay.

Leah: I looked him in the face and I said in this very weird—and I don't even know what happened to my voice.

Nick: I don't even know what's happening but I already love it. Are you just standing up now? That's weird.

Leah: I'm standing up in, like, a t-shirt with pants around my ankles. I didn't pull up my pants or anything.

Nick: No. Okay.

Leah: I just stood up panicked, and in this panicked voice, I said, "I'm here."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Uh-huh. Okay.

Leah: I mean, mortifying!

Nick: "I'm here." Yeah.

Leah: But I didn't even say it like, "I'm here." I said it like, "I'm here." I mean ...

Nick: I mean, it's true. It was true. And so ...

Leah: I could have pulled up my pants. I could have leaned forward. What?

Nick: Well, you were caught off guard, and so I guess you panicked.

Leah: I panicked.

Nick: Standing up is a bold choice.

Leah: It was such a bold choice.

Nick: And then sort of a weird, creepy "I'm here" statement.

Leah: A very creepy "I'm here."

Nick: Definitely adds a nice layer. Yeah.

Leah: And then I just stood there staring, and then he closed the door.

Nick: Mm-hmm. So you really ruined his day.

Leah: I think we were both equally traumatized, to be honest. And I think I blacked out then for, like, three to five seconds.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And then I had to go back out there.

Nick: Into society.

Leah: Where I was actually performing at a comedy show in this public market.

Nick: Oh, so this person is now in the audience, potentially.

Leah: This person is now in the audience.

Nick: I see.

Leah: So I can't go on stage and be thinking about something because it will get in the way of my whole set. So I just addressed it up top.

Nick: At the beginning of your set, you're like, "Oh, by the way, I just stood up naked in front of a stranger in the bathroom. FYI, everybody."

Leah: I said, "FYI, because I know you're in here."

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: "And you're thinking it and I'm thinking it. And if I don't call it out, I can't move forward. So I would like to ...

Nick: Acknowledge this?

Leah: " ... Acknowledge that this is what happened."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And that I seem to regularly embarrass myself in bathrooms. It seems to be a place where I don't go to—like, there's the way to handle things, and then there's the way that I just in the heat of the moment choose to go. And it's never called for.

Nick: I think what's interesting, knowing this about yourself, that the bathroom is a problematic place for you, that you are not more diligent in the bathroom, to try to hedge your bets.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: You know, you saw two locks, and knowing this about yourself, you're like, "I'm a person that things go wrong in bathrooms. Maybe I should use both of these locks just in case because there's two locks here." And yet you decided, "No, no. I'm gonna roll the dice because what could possibly go wrong?" And you decided to not lock the door. That's basically what you decided. And so that is what is confusing, that knowing this about yourself, you actively choose to put yourself into peril.

Leah: In my defense, it's pre-comedy show, so I'm running my set in my head. It's then—when I go into bathrooms, I'm often thinking about other things.

Nick: I see. You're not focused and present.

Leah: I'm not focused.

Nick: So we really need to create a meditation practice to make you present.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And make it a bathroom-based mantra.

Leah: I think that's a good idea. Because when I leave the house, I always stop and I say, "Do I have all these things? Is everything off?" I have, like, a meditation practice for leaving. I should totally do that when I go into a public restroom.

Nick: All right, so we need some Zen Buddhist bathroom practice.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: It's a very specific sect.

Leah: There's one bathroom story that I will never admit to in the whole world to anybody. It's between me and the man upstairs. But had I—it was also recently. Had I had a Zen practice, it could have not traumatized myself and the woman who worked in the furniture store.

Nick: Okay. Zen mind, beginner mind in the bathroom.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So for me, I would like to vent. So I recently saw Into the Woods on Broadway. It's a great musical by Stephen Sondheim, and great cast, big stars, fun production. And it was a drizzly night, which will be a detail that will become relevant in a moment. And so I am waiting for the show to start, I'm reading my playbill. And in front of me, directly in front of me is a mom and her son. And why do I know this? Because the woman next to them, a stranger, is grilling them about their lives, and just doing that small talk before the show starts. And I'm thinking, "Oh, this is my personal nightmare." But I heard all about them. The son just got a job in New York City. Very exciting. He just graduated. Mom's visiting for the first time to see how he's doing. And so, like, that's their backstory. Okay, great.

Nick: So now the show starts, and we're well into the show. And the show has a lot of themes about parenting and children. And there's two characters that actually don't have a child and they really want to have a child. And there's actually a really touching song about it. And during this song, the mom right in front of me takes her hand and puts it on her son's back to rub it. And I'm like, "Oh, what a sweet, tender moment that is." The power of live theater, that this person was so moved by the performance on stage. And I'm like, "Oh, how wonderful." But remember how I said it was a drizzly night? Well, the son was wearing a raincoat, and it had some coating on it. And as the mom was rubbing her hand on the coat, it made that sound like you're rubbing your hand across a balloon.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: And so I have a balloon. Let me demonstrate. [balloon squeaking] So this is happening, and I'm like, "Surely she realizes that it is making this noise." And she kept doing it. It's so loud!

Leah: I'm passing out. I'm passing out!

Nick: [laughs] So here we are having this really tender moment on stage, and then this loud, weird rubber friction sound happening and echoing throughout the entire auditorium. I'm sure everybody, including the actors on stage, could hear this. So I appreciate the sentiment, but I wish the people in front of me were a little more mindful about the noise that that sentiment was making.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So that's my vent.

Leah: What a horrible noise.

Nick: What a horrible noise. Yeah, isn't that outrageous?

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned that the bottom of the fondue pot, when there's just a little—that little cheese ring in the bottom, we're calling it the nun.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And I learned that one of the possible options, however unlikely, was that nuns hid cheese in their habits. And I choose to believe that one because I love the idea that people are hiding cheese for later.

Nick: And I learned that you are starting your own courier service for peach-themed items.

Leah: I would do this for our listeners. If somebody had something and they wanted to, and then they—I feel like making everybody happy.

Nick: Yeah, this is absolutely something you would do. Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.

Leah: He would!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we want you to go to wherever you listen to our show and leave us a nice review. Because it makes us feel good, and also it helps other people learn about our show and encourages them to take a listen. So please do that. And thank you.

Leah: Thank you!

Nick: And we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!

Leah: So some of our listeners may remember that during the pandemic, I wrote a Kindle holiday romance.

Nick: Called The Holiday Breakdown.

Leah: The Holiday Breakdown.

Nick: Available on Amazon.

Leah: Available on Amazon. And this year I decided I wanted to make it a softcover. So I re-edited it and then I had a friend, Mark Masters, help me format it, and then you guys have all been so supportive. Nick's been supportive, Amber Gavin. I've had all these friends help me get it out there, and I'm just deeply, deeply, deeply appreciative.

Nick: Oh, that's very nice! And yeah, go get Leah's book, Holiday Breakdown.

Leah: Now available in softcover!

Nick: So for me, I would like to read a nice review we just got, which is quote, "Some people have a functional, informed and well-adjusted family. Others like myself have Nick and Leah. Three cheers for gracious, thoughtful and humorous podcast hosts to fill in the gaps of what your parents didn't tell you."

Leah: That is so nice. We're fam!

Nick: Happy to fill in the gaps.

Leah: I'm excited to be family.

Nick: So thanks for that. That really makes our day.

Leah: So nice!