Aug. 23, 2021

Eating Croissants, Pretending Not to Notice, Missing Plumbers, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating croissants, pretending not to notice, missing plumbers, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating croissants, pretending not to notice, missing plumbers, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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



  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: Croissants
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Pretending not to notice
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: When eating ice cream cake, do you have to wait for everyone to be served before you can start eating? How do I tell a former coworker I don't want to see them socially? Should I bring a gift to my new neighbors?
  • VENT OR REPENT: An unflattering photo, A no-show plumber
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Thanks to chauffeurs, Thanks for the pecans







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 102


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Nick: Do you eat croissants with a fork? Do you say whatever's on your mind? Do you prevent people from going to bed? 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 I'm Leah Bonnema.

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

Leah: [singing] What is it gonna be today?

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about croissants, or croissants, if you will.

Leah: And I would.

Nick: So first, just what is a croissant? Basically, it's a yeasted dough, it's laminated, and the idea is that you have dough and butter layers together and that, when you put it in the oven, the steam from the dough rises and it makes all of the layers expand and you get very flaky, flaky goodness. Croissant. How delightful. So when you think of croissant, what do you think of, Leah? Paint the scene.

Leah: I think of, like, it's on a little—a little plate?

Nick: Mm-hmm. Okay

Leah: Like, a little plate, and it's, you know, shaped like a crescent moon.

Nick: And where are you? Where is this happening?

Leah: I'm probably in, like, a little cafe.

Nick: Sure, okay.

Leah: I'm probably having a coffee.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Maybe I'm wearing a hat. Am I wearing a hat? I think so.

Nick: What kind of hat?

Leah: Oh, I'm wearing a fashion hat, because as I learned from another episode, I would not be wearing a utilitarian hat at the table.

Nick: Okay. I was hoping you were gonna go more of a striped shirt, wearing a beret, strolling down Rue Cler in the 7th arrondissement saying, "Ooh, la, la," while there's Edith Piaf playing in the background. I was hoping that was the scene you were gonna paint. Instead, I got generic cafe with a fashion hat. But okay.

Leah: [laughs] At least I wasn't like, "I'm home, I'm in my pajamas. I couldn't get out of bed."

Nick: [laughs] Also a realistic scene. So many people do think of croissants as a very French thing, and it is actually originally Austrian.

Leah: Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nick: The very same. And actually in the French language, there's a whole category of breakfast pastries like croissant and brioche that in French are called viennoiserie. And the "vienn" in viennoiserie is Vienn, as in Vienna. As in the capital of Austria. So these are Viennese style of things. So actually that is how the French refer to, like, this entire category of breakfast pastries.

Nick: And so long story short, here's a little brief history. There is this roll in Central and Eastern Europe called the kipful. And it goes by many different names, depending on where you are. And it has been around since, like, the 1200s at least. And it is a crescent-shaped, like, roll thing. So the story is that in the 1830s, there was an Austrian guy who went to Paris and opened a bakery. And it was all the rage. It was like the hottest thing ever. Everybody went nuts for it. And of course, as things happen, things get copied. And then the French sort of innovated it and started making this kipful thing with puff pastry—the layers of laminated dough that creates that flakiness.

Nick: So while the original shape and idea was Austrian, the French really kind of elevated it, and really made it their own. So I think it is fair to say that the modern day croissant as we think of it, is a very French thing. There are two alternative stories that you do hear about, and I believe they're both wrong, but I will mention them so that we can all know that they're wrong. The first is the story that there was a siege of the city of Vienna in the 1500s by the Ottomans. And a couple of different variations of the story, but basically the Ottomans were digging under the city walls in the middle of the night so that nobody would hear. But the bakers were up baking because bakers bake in the middle of the night so everybody could have bread in the morning. And the bakers heard this happening and they alerted the guards and the city was saved. And the crescent shape is a symbol of the Ottoman Empire, this crescent moon and the star. And so the idea was that this pastry was shaped after that to commemorate this event. So that is one story you hear. Unfortunately, there has been this shaped pastry for, like, hundreds of years before this. So this story? Not true.

Leah: But very fun. I love that visual ...

Nick: Very fun!

Leah: ... of the bakers saving a city.

Nick: Saving the day! Yes!

Leah: I love it. I often feel saved by bread. You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah, it's not wrong, but it's not true. The other story is that it was Marie Antoinette who popularized the croissant in France, because she actually was from Vienna. She is Austrian before she moved to Paris. And the reason why I think this is wrong is that Marie Antoinette was probably the biggest celebrity in France of her day. Like, she was the Kim Kardashian. And there is no written record of any croissants around her at any point. And it would be inconceivable for her to have shoved a croissant in her face and no one to have noticed. And so it feels like I don't think Marie Antoinette had anything to do with this. I think it was just the Austrian guy in the 1830s who basically brought this to Paris and, like, started the craze. That's my feeling. So all right. That was the history.

Leah: I think if we know anything, it's that we should trust Nick's feelings because they're usually ...

Nick: You know, it's a good start, at least.

Leah: ... on point.

Nick: So Leah, how do you eat a croissant?

Leah: I tear it with my hands.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And then I—you know, obviously people at home can't see what I'm doing. I'm putting pieces into my mouth with my fingers.

Nick: Okay. So I was actually just at my local pastry shop, and I saw someone using a knife and fork on a croissant, which is why I was inspired to talk about it today. Because I do think there are people out in the world who are using a knife and fork on this, and I think they should not. And there is this feeling sometimes that "proper," quote unquote, involves not using your fingers, but there are a lot of foods where it is actually proper to use your fingers. And so the rules for croissants are the same for rolls. You tear off a piece that is the size of one or two bites with your fingers and then you eat that. That's it. That's the rule. So you don't pick it up and, like, chomp down on it like a hoagie, but you just tear off a piece—one or two bites—and then you eat that. Like, that's how that goes. Now, what about the flakes, Leah? What do we do about all the little flakes on the plate?

Leah: I pick up the plate and then I lick it. No?

Nick: Mm-hmm. Uh-huh. Okay. [laughs]

Leah: I think I sort of—you know, there's two choices here. Three choices. One, leave it. That seems egregious.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: We could get a fork at this point and sort of mush it into the fork, or we take our finger and we sort of delicately—which I feel insults Nick in some way, I don't know. But you know me, I'm always in finger on the plate. I love a finger on the plate. Have at it.

Nick: [laughs] So Miss Manners has some thoughts about this. And normally she's very fussy. We know Miss Manners's deal, but sometimes she throws you a curveball. And so she says, quote, "Officially, one has to leave the flakes because they are impossible to pick up." And then she trails off and then she says, quote, "Come closer. Miss Manners is about to tell you a secret." So get ready, Leah. She says, quote, "Unless you lick your fingertips while nonchalantly passing your hand near your face, then transfer the flakes to your mouth in the same undetectable fashion. But if you get caught, you must deny that Miss Manners told you this." So you have official permission to do this.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: Wow.

Nick: I know. How liberating, right?

Leah: I feel liberated.

Nick: Yeah. So, you know, I think be discreet, but you can do it.

Leah: I mean, I felt—I think probably I was doing that before, but now I'm gonna do it with much more vim and vigor.

Nick: With abandon. Now let's talk about jam and butter. In France, this is very controversial. A lot of French people would be like, "Why would you put butter on a croissant? There's plenty of butter." So some French people are like, "Uh, don't do that." French people are a little on the fence about jam, whether or not you should or not. So just know in France, you're not gonna necessarily be served jam and butter with a croissant. And if you ask for extra butter and jam, you might get some looks. So I'm just warning you, you might get some dirty looks from a French waiter if you ask for butter with the croissant that they just brought.

Leah: I mean, I've been getting looks my whole life, but I personally don't put anything on my croissants.

Nick: Yeah, I think they're great as they are. But interestingly, I was reading, in the UK at Tesco—which is one of their big supermarket chains—they had croissants that used to be the croissant shape, that curved, you know, crescent moon shape. And they did some market research, and too many of their customers felt it was too difficult to spread butter and jam on them with the curve, and that they preferred a straight croissant so that they could just do one motion of butter and jam, rather than have to have an arc shape. So their market research said they had to have straight croissants. And so Tesco actually changed the shape of their croissants. Isn't that amazing?

Leah: Got a lot of information coming in hard. I mean, you can also just turn it while you ...

Nick: Oh, but why would you? Why would you rotate your wrist? No, no. An arc shape? So inefficient. Yes. No, isn't that not unbelievable? But they did market research. An overwhelming number of people said that, oh, the crescent shape, too difficult to butter and jam, must be straight. To the point where they actually changed the shape.

Leah: I mean, if you get a straight croissant, how are you gonna pick it up and pretend it's a phone?

Nick: [laughs] True. How would you, Leah? How would you?

Leah: Which is one of my favorite parts about the croissant? Hello?

Nick: Wait, what? Leah, no, you've not actually done this. Are we just joking, or you've actually done this?

Leah: Of course I have, Nick.

Leah: I mean ...

Leah: I do it with bananas, I do it with croissants.

Nick: I mean, bananas are more of a phone than a croissant.

Leah: A croissant is a little phone.

Nick: [laughs] I see. It's a Motorola StarTAC. Okay, I got it. So one last thing about the shapes, though. So in France, there is gonna be two shapes, mostly. Straight croissant and the curved croissant. And curve being like the crescent shape as we think of when we think of croissant. And so in France, if it is made with all butter, it will typically be straight, but if it's made with any other fat like margarine, it has to be curved. You're not allowed to make croissants that are straight if they aren't all butter. So that's like an insider tip about French croissants.

Leah: Very interesting.

Nick: Right? Yeah. I mean, I love that France has rules about such things, that they care so much about their baked goods, that they have rules. And I love rules.

Leah: Yes, I know. And it also seems very, very French.

Nick: Oui.

Leah: Oui.

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

Leah: Very deep. Possibly dicey.

Nick: [laughs] So for today's deep dive, I want to talk about the idea of pretending not to notice.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Miss Manners calls this a lost art, and I think we should bring it back.

Leah: I think we should bring it back depending on the circumstance.

Nick: Oh, absolutely. Yes, for sure. I think, though, what I'm thinking of when I think of this topic is there are times when people just feel free to speak their mind at all times with no filter and no respect for the circumstances or the relationship or anything else. And I think it comes from social media where we're just sort of primed to always comment in real time about everything. And so I think that's probably where it comes from. But the result is that people are out there just commenting.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And so let's not.

Leah: Can I just say very quickly ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I absolutely agree with you about the social media. I was looking for water sounds. I needed, like, some calming ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You know, I have it on my iTunes, but I went to YouTube just to see what they had.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And somebody had posted a video of a waterfall. And underneath the video ...

Nick: The comments?

Leah: The comments. Somebody was like, "I don't like this waterfall. I've seen better waterfalls." And I was like, is this where we are?

Nick: Yes!

Leah: That you are going to comment on a waterfall?

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Waterfall? B-minus.

Leah: I wasn't shocked, but I was also like, unbelievable!

Nick: But even if you felt that this waterfall wasn't so great—and let's be honest, not all waterfalls are great. Some are average. Do you feel the need to weigh in in a YouTube comment?

Leah: Why? Why would you weigh in?

Nick: We don't need your thoughts of the waterfall. And if you didn't like it, you know, keep your mouth shut, yeah.

Leah: Move along to the next waterfall. You don't have to weigh in.

Nick: Yeah. So the idea that we're primed to weigh in, I think that's an underlying theme with this concept. So the idea of pretending not to notice is often throughout our day, we encounter moments when we might see something happening. Like, we see somebody who's very tall, or we see someone with spinach in their teeth, or whatever it is. And we pretend we don't notice these things. And that's polite. We don't actively call attention to them. We don't be like, "Hey, stranger, you're tall!" Like, that's not a thing we do. And we just pretend we don't notice.

Leah: Obviously, the spinach in the teeth is different if it's a friend.

Nick: True. Yes, the pretending we don't notice thing is something that is more, I think, common for acquaintances or strangers, that we kind of let things go and we don't necessarily call attention to them. Yeah, with spinach, if you have spinach in your teeth, I'm gonna let you know.

Leah: Yeah, and if you didn't, I'd be like, how could you not let me know? I've been walking out here with spinach all day.

Nick: But it also comes up, like, say we're at a dinner party and you're, like, eating the pasta and it's super salty. We just pretend we don't notice. You don't call it out to your host and be like, "Hey, it's really salty." No, you pretend you don't notice.

Leah: I think all of these things are under the guise of let's not make people uncomfortable or feel bad.

Nick: Well, yes. I think why this is an etiquette topic is that etiquette is about being mindful of people's feelings. And when you make people self-conscious, which is what happens when you notice something and notice it to their face, is that you make them self-conscious. And when you make people self-conscious, it can make people feel anxious or embarrassed, or can have remorse or jealousy or all these other emotions that are uncomfortable. And making people uncomfortable is rude.

Leah: And I also have noticed this huge influx of people needing to tell you that they hated something when you say that you like it.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You know what I mean? "Oh, those are the worst."

Nick: Like that waterfall, that garbage waterfall.

Leah: Yeah. Or I love—you know, I, like, love cheesy movies and people will be like, "How can you like that? It's horrible!" And I'll be like, "You could just not give me ..."

Nick: Yeah, you could also not. Right.

Leah: Or you could even say, "That's not my taste, this is what I love." But people love to dive in. Like, "Oh, that's the worst thing I've ever seen. How could you like that?" Your know what I mean? You're like, "Did that need to be that much?"

Nick: Yeah, you can just pretend to not notice your bad taste in movies.

Leah: [laughs] Let me be.

Nick: Yeah. No, exactly.

Leah: Where we do weigh in is when, like, we need to stand up for somebody.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I never want to be part of a group where people are insulting somebody and they're not there. I will always raise my voice and be like, "I don't like that." And I don't feel bad about—also, I'm not gonna be a part of some kind of like, moral—if somebody's saying something that I find egregious, I'm gonna step in. I don't want to be complicit in it.

Nick: Yes, yeah. No, definitely the idea of pretending not to notice doesn't apply when it's standing up for yourself or when it's standing up for somebody else, or correcting a wrong or setting a boundary. Like, it's none of those things.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: The pretending not to notice, it needs to be things that are not consequential, that don't matter. Like, if you're on a Zoom call and somebody's roommate walks in the background in a towel, that's not consequential. Pretend you don't notice.

Leah: Yeah. Or if somebody—you're in a group of people and somebody mispronounces a word and you don't know them very well, why would you bring it up?

Nick: Right. Yeah, just let it go. Pretend you didn't notice, move on. Yeah, that's a perfect example.

Leah: I mean, it's wild.

Nick: It is wild.

Leah: So funny that I agree with this as a person who loves to say wild things, but it's like I don't understand why people need to say things to people when it's not important, and you're just making people feel insecure.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, part of it, I think, is that people don't know better. Part of it, I think, makes people feel better or more superior when they do it. They feel like they get a little thrill out of it. And some people just have an inflated sense of self and think that their opinion matters.

Leah: Well, I think that's what these people—we have grown into a culture where everybody's opinion on everything matters. And oftentimes, it does not.

Nick: Many times does not. That is true. Yes.

Leah: And I mean, I mean that with myself, too. I'll be like, people don't want to hear my opinion on this.

Nick: Yes, I don't weigh in on comment sections because, a) they don't read them anyway; and b) it doesn't matter. No one cares what I think.

Leah: I also only leave comments when I—because I feel like people never get the positive comments. I think I've told you this. Once a month, I go to things that I've enjoyed and I just comment on them.

Nick: Yeah. Do you just go on Amazon and just, like, rate the salad spinner you love?

Leah: Yep. I'll do it with every website on anything that I've enjoyed, I just go in and I say, "This was lovely, I enjoyed it. What a win. Great job."

Nick: [laughs] Pay it forward, Leah.

Leah: [laughs] Once a month, I go in there on those waterfalls and I say, "I love this waterfall, thank you for sharing."

Nick: A-plus waterfall.

Leah: [laughs] I mean, there are, like, videos of, like, little kids dance recitals where people are like, "Ah, they'll never be a dancer." You're like, "Stop it!"

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. I mean, what a world we live in.

Leah: It's just malicious at a certain point.

Nick: Yeah. No, it's impolite. So we have our work cut out for us.

Leah: [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, "Do you wait to eat ice cream or ice cream cake until everyone is served? Or can you dig right in due to the risk of melting? In this particular instance, this was an outdoor dinner party with 12 guests and a hard-to-cut ice cream cake that took a while to serve."

Leah: I mean, what a fantastic question. Anybody who knows me knows huge fan of ice cream. Huge fan of ice cream cake.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: Nothing could be more important than this topic.

Nick: Yeah, it's the pinnacle. Mm-hmm.

Leah: I think, as the host—may I jump in?

Nick: Oh, absolutely.

Leah: I think as the host in this situation, I would say if I was cutting the cake, I'd say, "Hey, please jump in."

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Ice cream melts. I don't want you to miss a moment.

Nick: Yeah, okay.

Leah: I don't expect everybody to wait, you know? But I would let everybody know: get in there.

Nick: Yeah. No, I think this is correct. But I think let's add a little to it: the rule is that you should wait until everyone is served before you start eating. Like, that's the rule. But there's actually this great book about dinner manners by Margaret Visser which I really like. I'll post a link to it in our show notes. She actually talks about how polite customs have to interlock correctly. So that polite custom about everybody waiting has to interlock with the host giving permission for everyone to start early. So these two things have to come together.

Nick: So for ice cream cake, we need both of these things. Everybody has to wait until the host gives permission, and then harmony is restored to the universe. But I do think that at this event, the ice cream cake is the wrong thing to serve. I think there's a failure in menu planning. I think we should not serve this thing because it does take too long to cut and serve everybody. So I think we should have just done ice cream sandwiches that are individually wrapped and we hand them out and we're good. I think that would have been better.

Leah: I feel like there's never an appropriate time to have ice cream. I see what you're saying. Ice cream sandwich is lovely, but also you want to have an ice cream cake. Is there ever a wrong time? I say no.

Nick: Okay. Well then, yes, the host should say, "Oh, no, no, no. I insist. Please start." And then everybody can start.

Leah: I want an ice cream cake right now, now that this has been brought up. Ah!

Nick: I have actually only recently become aware of Fudgie the Whale. Are you familiar with this?

Leah: No!

Nick: So this is apparently a famous thing that I'm sure half of our audience knows about. It's from a place called Carvel.

Leah: Oh, I know Carvel.

Nick: Which is an ice cream store. And I guess Fudgie the Whale is their signature ice cream cake, and so millions of children who I guess are from the East Coast are familiar with this. As a West Coast person, I didn't know about this until relatively recently. But Fudgie the Whale ice cream cake. Get into it.

Leah: May I bring up a story that is for sure non-related for our new listeners, so they know right away that I go off subject, but sort of related.

Nick: Okay. I feel like people have caught on, Leah. But, yeah, what's your non-sequitur?

Leah: No, I'm saying if we have new people listening.

Nick: Oh, if they're this far into the episode, they get your deal. They know. They know it's non-linear.

Leah: [laughs] I never had Carvel. And my one Carvel experience was quite possibly the worst bomb of my entire comedy career.

Nick: You performed at an ice cream store?

Leah: No, I was performing—I was in Connecticut. It was a private gig.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Worst gig of my life, for sure.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I mean, it's in the top three.

Nick: And what made it so bad? What made it like the worst?

Leah: Literally, everything that could go wrong went wrong.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: The list is so long that I had to like—you know when you're talking and the rest of your brain is just gone into survival mode where you're like, "I can live through"—you know what I mean? It was just ...

Nick: I see. You had an out of body experience.

Leah: Yeah. I was like, "You just have to be here for 45 minutes." I mean, people yelled at me, the lights went out, somebody's kid came tearing through. A woman got mad at me, literally unrelated to the comedy. I can't even imagine in my life why you'd be mad at someone you'd never met. I mean, it was just so much.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So I get in the car, I'm leaving. I immediately need ice cream. There's no other way to fix this.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: There's a Carvel off the side of the road. I've never been to one. I go in, they have like a menu book. I pick the biggest thing that has, like, lots of ...

Nick: Sprinkles?

Leah: Yeah, I love that kind of stuff. The guy actually says to me, "I'm gonna have to get the how-to book out. I've never made this."

Nick: [laughs] What did you order?

Leah: It was like this huge thing. And I was like, "Get it out, let's do it."

Nick: All the accoutrement.

Leah: "I want everything in there." And then I just sat there and I just ate the whole thing. And he was like, "Wow!" And I was like, "I know!" So Carvel has been there for me in moments of possible emotional annihilation.

Nick: Okay. Well, and if you're eating alone, you can start whenever you want.

Leah: [laughs] I almost started before he was finished.

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "I am wondering how to gently let a long ago coworker know that I don't want to hang out with him anymore. It has been many years since we worked together, and we have very few things in common. However, a couple of times per year, they still reach out to me hoping to get together. I have kids now and have moved on to a new town and now live over an hour away from this person, and I don't have time to continue to invest in this relationship. They are genuinely kind, and I don't want to hurt their feelings. But after listening to your episode on ghosting, I sent them a text thanking them for wanting to hang out and letting them know that I don't have the time to do so anymore. They responded incredibly graciously, and I thought I'd reached a peaceful conclusion to our relationship until I began receiving more invitations from them asking to hang out. I declined the first one by letting them know I was busy and hoped they would get the hint. And now I'm just ghosting them. Is it okay for me to resort to ghosting, or should I be more forward in letting them know I am no longer interested?"

Leah: I just—I mean ...

Nick: Have you ever ghosted a former coworker? Do you have coworkers? [laughs]

Leah: I don't know. That's such a great question.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I mean, the thing is is you did explain to them you've moved, you have kids, you're not going to be hanging out. You had that.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And so you did do—I think if you wanted to just move on, you can. But I also think you could just text back, "I'm busy. Thanks for thinking of me."

Nick: Yeah. And just to recap, ghosting, for anybody who is not familiar with the term, is basically when you stop responding and someone has the expectation that you're gonna respond. So it'd be like, "Oh Leah, let's hang out on Friday," and you never write back. That's ghosting. And why ghosting is sort of so terrible is that you just leave someone hanging, and that person doesn't know why. And it's that not knowing which is, like, very emotionally uncomfortable. So that's why ghosting is wrong. And you should always just be upfront and just let somebody know, like, "Oh, we're not gonna hang out again," or, "Unfortunately we're not gonna do business," or, "We're not gonna go out again," or whatever it is. And just end it nicely and politely.

Leah: But I think in this circumstance, our letter writer has done that.

Nick: Yes. So that's why this is not ghosting. You have said your piece.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And so you are free to stop responding, absolutely. Because it's not ghosting at that point.

Leah: That's actually exactly what I wrote. "You told them. You are now free to go." That's what I wrote: "Free to go."

Nick: [laughs] You are dismissed. Yeah, and so there's no wondering. This person should not wonder because you have said explicitly there will be no more of this. So it's not ghosting because there is clarity and closure. But you are right. I think this person's only in town once or twice a year and asks to hang out once or twice a year, you can just be busy every time.

Leah: Yeah. And I think it's whatever makes you feel—like, if you're still thinking about it, the amount of energy that it takes to text back, "I'm busy, thanks for thinking of me" is minimal. So if that makes you feel better about not responding, just text that.

Nick: Have at it, yeah. "So sorry, I'm not available, but I hope you have a great time this weekend."

Leah: Boom.

Nick: Boom, done, sent. So our next question is, quote, "I live in the suburbs of central Florida. When we purchased our home three years ago, it was surrounded by empty lots. Now homes are being built and a new neighbor just moved in to one across the street. As far as meeting new neighbors, my husband, who's a bit of a hermit, would prefer to just wave if by chance we see a new neighbor while we're working in the yard. But I wonder if we could greet the new neighbors with baked goods or a gift of some sort. Or is my husband right? Are the days of knowing and greeting new neighbors over in suburbia? I've also lived apartment life where, like you, I've had zero interest in interacting with my neighbors, because apartment dwellers have so little square footage for themselves. But in suburbia, is it now intrusive to show up on the doorstep with gifts? I don't want to make my new neighbors feel uncomfortable."

Leah: I feel like in this circumstance, it's what do you want to do?

Nick: Right. But before that, in the letter, they referred to "us"—and probably just me—of not wanting to know neighbors. And it's true, although I don't think it's true because I have so little square footage. I think it's just true because I don't want forced friendships.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And when you live in a building with a lot of people that can happen, and it's a slippery slope. And then things get awkward. So I think the cordial distance with my neighbors, I think I prefer because it kind of keeps everything just sort of placid and polite. Is that what it is? Is that why I don't want to meet my neighbors?

Leah: I don't know why you don't want to meet your neighbors.

Nick: [laughs] I know I'm not alone. There's eight million New Yorkers who agree with me, so ...

Leah: Oh, of course, there are.

Nick: I've got a lot on my side.

Leah: I'm sure it's for varying reasons for different people.

Nick: Yeah. I like people, I'm very social. I just would prefer to not get too close with the people who live four feet away.

Leah: What's so funny is I didn't even think about that sentence, but I'm glad you specified that that is not why you don't want to meet your neighbors.

Nick: Right, yeah. No, it has nothing to do with the square footage, it is purely just to deal with not being interested in having a deeper relationship with the people I live with.

Leah: So Nick is saying is that when he is in a larger square footage, he still does not want to meet anybody.

Nick: Yeah. No, if I have a penthouse floor through? Same deal, yeah. And it is true that in New York City at least, people that live in larger buildings have a more distant relationship with their neighbors than people who live in smaller, more intimate buildings. So, like, if you live in a six-unit walk-up, that's gonna be a very different flavor than me. I'm in a building that has, like, hundreds of apartments.

Leah: And per this question, I also think that, like, say you're in a couple and one of you wants to go meet people, which I'm not 100 percent, and the other one doesn't. I think that both needs could be met.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: He can wave, and if you want to go over and introduce yourself, totally fine.

Nick: Yeah. I think it's also very common for people to have different relationships with their neighbors too. Like, it doesn't have to be united front in your household.

Leah: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. People's comfortability levels are different, and I don't think either is rude, a nice wave, or if you want to walk over and say, "Hey, I'm across the street, I'm your neighbor. You know, everybody's moving in. I wanted to introduce myself. If you need anything," boom!

Nick: That's great, yeah. And I think nobody is gonna be upset if you bring baked goods. Like, I don't know who that neighbor is. It's if you show up on my stoop with baked goods and now you want to come in and you want a tour and you didn't call first, and you're just unexpectedly expecting to want to hang out? Now that's rude. But if you just show up on my doorstep and be like, "Hey, here's some muffins. I'm your new neighbor. My phone number's in the card. Call if there's anything I can do. Great to meet you." And it's a 30 second interaction with baked goods? I'm all in.

Leah: Yeah, absolutely agree.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Absolutely agree.

Nick: So you just want to read the room.

Leah: You know, maybe you want to eat a cookie in front of me, so I know that you're not trying to murder me.

Nick: Okay. Assuming you don't already have your own official taster.

Leah: Yeah, if you don't have an official taster, maybe, like, you could have a list of ingredients of what's in the baked good. I mean, that's very specific. I think what Nick said is exactly correct. If you're just dropping by, being like, "Hi," introducing yourself. Everybody loves baked goods, you know?

Nick: Right. And even if you don't eat sugar or gluten and someone brought you gluten-y, sugary muffins, take them, say thank you, write a thank you note, throw them away

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Or give them to somebody else.

Leah: Done.

Nick: Like, it's fine. Like, it's the thought.

Leah: And nobody is going to be insulted, as Nick said. It's like, "Oh, this person brought me cookies and just introduced themselves and asked if I needed anything?"

Nick: Horrible people!

Leah: How dare they ask if I need anything! And welcome me?

Nick: [laughs] How dare they bring a basket of baked goods? The nerve!

Leah: But I do think it's totally fine if one of you wants to and one of you just wants to wave.

Nick: Yeah, that could be the relationship. "Oh, Chad? He's the waver. Lisa? We do book club with wine every Thursday." Like, that could be what it is.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Whatever it is. That's great. So do you have questions for us about the suburbs or anything else? Let us know.

Leah: Especially since neither of us have ever lived in the suburbs, but we would love to weigh in.

Nick: I grew up in the suburbs!

Leah: Did you grow up in the suburbs?

Nick: Excuse me! Yes, I'm from Marin County. You cannot get more bedroom community than that., yeah.

Leah: I never thought of that as a suburb.

Nick: Well, it is. I mean, sidebar, everybody. Marin County is a wondrous and unusual place. It is sort of in its own category because it's like its own thing, but it's also not. So we have mixed feelings about what we are and our relationship to the rest of the Bay Area. But yes, technically, it is a suburb of San Francisco.

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: But yes, did I grow up in a suburban life? No, definitely not. Not in my Buddhist commune.

Leah: Yeah, that's why I think it sort of threw me off. I definitely take my small town sensibilities to any building I live in, and I'm actively trying to make friends with everyone in my building constantly.

Nick: Yeah. That is why we're different, Leah.

Leah: And let me tell you, I have made some lovely friends in this building.

Nick: And I am so happy for you and the new friendships you have. I think that's wonderful. Enjoy. So do you have any questions for us about making friendships or anything else? You can 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: You know what, Nick?

Nick: Hmm. I don't, actually.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: I can't tell if a vent or a repent is coming here.

Leah: I thought that tone was just very—now that I heard it I was like, "That was a weird tone." But it was that I don't have a lot to vent to repent about except for one thing that happened in the middle of my week that bothered me so much, And I thought we've discussed this before, but nothing except for one thing that was so specific that everybody listening would know what I was talking about that I can't use ...

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: ... bothered me to this extent. And I was like, "You know what? I guess I'm just gonna have to double down on a vent because I'm bringing it up again."

Nick: Well, you know, the thing with the vents and the repents, they can happen again. The same bad things can happen to you twice. So what has happened, Leah?

Leah: So I got tagged in a photo.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: That there's no way that it could have been taken any other way than this person was mad at me.

Nick: Wow!

Leah: I had to go through our relationship in my mind and be like, "Where did this happen? What went wrong?"

Nick: "What did I say?"

Leah: Is this a conspiracy against me? Is it a personal attack? What happened that you would think that this photo should exist in the world, and you shared it with people?

Nick: And how did you look? Describe yourself in this photo.

Leah: I mean, horrible is not a good enough desc—and I mean, I've seen photos where I look bad.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I mean, there's photos where you just look bad and you're like ...

Nick: We all have them, yes.

Leah: It's not your favorite.

Nick: Not all of us are camera ready at all times.

Leah: And then there's photos that make you pull your curtains and lie on the floor, and just be like, I don't know if I could ever go out in public again, if that's what's happening. You saw that one that one time where you agreed with me that, yes.

Nick: Yes, long time listeners to the show will recall a time when Leah had a photo broadcast on the internet that looked like that face-aging app without the face-aging app. And it was a remarkable combination of crepe-y skin. And, yeah, it was definitely what you would look like in 30 or 40 years. Yeah.

Leah: Ugh! And I mean, I've always—you know, obviously the upward angle photos, there's like six chins and it's, you know, never attractive. I can deal with that. This was—a) I was making a face that was just horrible; b) it was a bad angle; c) I don't even know what happened. It was like a spell had been cast where everything that could possibly—and then multiple people reposted.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: And I was like, I'm just gonna have to live out this 24-hour cycle. But then it just sits in your head, that that's what you're walking around presenting to the world. And it just feels like, I don't know why we tag people that we—you don't post that and think, "Oh, I thought you looked good."

Nick: Yeah. No, it's inconsiderate, which is why this is a good vent. Is that this person was not mindful of your feelings when they posted this. And that is rude.

Leah: I mean, it was more than not mindful, it felt personal.

Nick: It was hostile. Yeah, this was malicious.

Leah: It was a hostile photo.

Nick: Well, maybe you deserved it. What did you do? I don't know.

Leah: I went through everything. I actually—I'm always happy to say I deserve something because I'm ready to self flog, but I didn't do anything. If anything, I've been too kind.

Nick: Well, maybe that was your mistake.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Well, for me, I would also like to vent. So I get home on a Sunday evening, and I'm in my kitchen and I notice there's like some black, like, coffee grounds in my sink. And it looks like something came up my sink, and then, like, drained and, like, left these coffee grounds. And I was like, "Oh, that's weird." And I live in a very old building. It was from 1930, '31. So, like, you know, there's a lot of old pipes and it's like, weird stuff happens in the building. That's part of the deal. And so I sort of rinsed the sink out. And then the sink is, like, a little slow. It's, like, a little slow and draining. And I was like, "Oh, that's not good. All right. So I'll file a ticket with maintenance online, and they'll come tomorrow and they'll do whatever they do and it'll be fine." And then an hour later, I go back in the kitchen and now there's a two-inch layer of water in my sink.

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: And it is the blackest, thickest water. I don't even know if it's water. It is the texture of an iPhone when it's turned off. It was translucent but impenetrable. And you're like, that can't be good. And there was like, a little bit of, like, this oil slick on top. And I was like, "Oh, there's now a problem." So I call maintenance because there's, like, some 24-hour guy who's, like, always on site for emergencies and it's like, I think this counts. And so by the time he comes, the water is now two inches from the top of the sink. So it is rapidly rising.

Leah: Oh, my goodness!

Nick: And it's the thickest water. And you're like, if this goes into my apartment, like, this is terrible. So he gets the wet vac, and he vacuums the water that's in there and he's like, "We should call a plumber." I'm like, "We should do that." And so we call a plumber, and the plumber's like, "I'll be right there. No problem." So now it's 10 o'clock at night. And so now it's 11 o'clock and there's no plumber. And so we call the plumber and the plumber's like, "Oh, I'm gonna be right there. No problem." Now it's midnight. No plumber. And it's sort of like, "Are you coming?" He's like, "Yeah, no problem. I'll be there." 1:00 a.m. and it's like, at what point can I go to bed? Do I have to stay up all night? Like, what is happening? Like, are you coming or are you not coming? So cut two, it is now 2:00 a.m. I have a bucket nearby so I can, like, scoop out the extra water and, like, dump it down in my bathtub, and I have my phone on in case they call. And now it's like, what is happening? Like, why am I now having to sleep lightly tonight and, like, be bailing out my sink of this black liquid?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And then I'm thinking like, oh, actually it'll be great if it does overflow and trashes my apartment because then I can get new flooring, and now I'm thinking about new tile I can get. Like, Ooh, do I want to do mosaic? Or do it like herringbone or terrazzo? So now I'm thinking about the insurance claim. So then I set my alarm for every two hours, and I get up and, like, make sure it hasn't ruined my apartment, and the plumber never came. Never came.

Leah: What?

Nick: And so why this is a vent is that a) I think any time you make someone sleep deprived, this is a particularly heinous crime. Like, etiquette crimes that involve making people not go to bed. I mean, I think that there's a special category for this. And then also there's a special category of telling people what you think they want to hear when you know it's not true, when just being honest with them would be so much better. Like, this plumber knew at 10 o'clock at night the night before he was not coming. He knew, but he just decided to, like, string me along and be like, "Oh, I'm coming." It's like, you weren't coming. Why are you telling me what you think I want to hear, which is that you're coming? But if you're not, then I definitely don't want to hear it. So I just want to remind everybody: don't do that. If you're gonna say you're gonna do something, do it. And if you're not gonna do it, well then say that too.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Right?

Leah: Oh, I absolutely agree that something that affects your sleep ...

Nick: The worst! It doesn't get worse than that. I think that's the pinnacle, that's the pinnacle.

Leah: Just say you're not coming. That's so true.

Nick: Right. And if you're not gonna come, then okay, I will figure out. We'll call a different plumber or we'll, like, leave the wet vac with me in my apartment and I'll wet vac throughout the night or, like, I'll do something else. I'll make alternative plans other than having to just, like, wait by the phone throughout the night when you're definitely not coming.

Leah: As you're, like, bucketing yourself out. This sounds like the beginning of, like, an apocalypse movie, where it just sort of slowly comes and envelops you and your whole apartment.

Nick: Well, and who knows what this was? I mean, hypothetically, it was just other people's drains. They eventually did snake in, and it turns out it was some blockage two floors down.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So, I mean, like, big deal. So it got sorted out. But I'm annoyed. Definitely annoyed.

Leah: Yeah, and you're tired.

Nick: And tired, yeah. Well, me being annoyed and tired? This is not a combination anybody wants to see.

Leah: Whew!

Nick: Yeah, can you imagine?

Leah: I'm sorry!

Nick: Mm hmm, yeah. So I'll get my revenge. Don't worry. I don't know how, I don't know when, but I will. Oh, just you wait.

Leah: [laughs] I can't wait to hear about it. I would love to have a book that's like "Nick's Revenge," and it's like all the people that you took years, and ...

Nick: Oh, no. The way I do it, you'll never know it's coming.

Leah: Yeah, but I want to know after, so I can just bask in it.

Nick: No, It's all about plausible deniability.

Leah: Just me. Just tell me.

Nick: [laughs]

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: Well, I learned that if you're in France and you have a croissant and it's straight, it's all butter.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And if it's a crescent shape, it could be all butter, but it could be other fats.

Nick: That's right. And I learned that if you bomb, I can look for you at the Carvel afterwards.

Leah: [laughs] That is so accurate.

Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

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

Leah: He would if he could.

Nick: So for your homework this week, I want you to follow us on social media. That's Facebook, that's Twitter, that's Instagram. So go follow us right now, and we'd love you forever for doing it.

Leah: Forever.

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: I want to say that in LA, I've been driving more and more, I'm getting better at, getting more used to it. And I was always very grateful to all of my friends who have come and picked me up. Previous visits when I've come here in the past, my friends have picked me up places, they've offered to drive me places. I was always very grateful. But now living here, I'm 900 times more grateful to those people.

Nick: Oh, you realize how big of a thing that is?

Leah: That's really just unbelievable, the kindnesses that have been extended to me. And I've actually reached back out. I've said thank you when it happened, but I want to thank you three years later for that time because—whew!

Nick: Yeah. No, the traffic in LA? It's a thing.

Leah: Well, it's also the parking.

Nick: Oh, yeah. It's a whole thing.

Leah: It's a whole thing, and I have just been lifted up by so many helpful people, and I'm greatly appreciative.

Nick: Well, pay it forward!

Leah: Trying.

Nick: And for me, I want to say a special thank you to Rachel, one of our listeners who sent Leah and I the largest jar of pecans you have ever seen. I think it's like a quart-sized container. And she's one of our listeners, and she sent the nicest note to go along with it. It was really nice and sweet. And she actually said that she was intimidated to write me a note.

Leah: [gasps]

Nick: And I was like, "Oh, don't be intimidated." And if anybody out there is intimidated by me, well, don't be, especially if it's preventing you from sending us stuff.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So don't be intimidated. Our P.O. box is on the website. We're happy to take your pecans. So I have pretty much eaten this entire jar. So thank you, Rachel. They are delicious. And it was such a treat.

Leah: Thank you so much!