Nov. 16, 2020

Eating French Cheeses, Going Home for the Holidays, Blowing Up Other People's Credit Cards, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating cheeses at French dinner parties, going home for the holidays, blowing up other people's credit cards, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd write you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: The cheese course at a French dinner party
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Being a good houseguest when home for the holidays
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: How do I stop my mother-in-law from blowing up our credit card when dining out with her? How can I tell a friend she texts too much? Is it OK for a passenger to touch a car radio without permission?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Not taking "no thanks" for an answer, A quick coffee turns into a long Thai meal
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Friends supporting a show, Thank you for a book




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Introduction]

Nick: Do you take seconds from the cheese plate? Do you invite people to dinner and not pay? Do you change the radio without the driver's permission? 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
people don't ask themselves
Were you raised by wolves?

Nick: Hey, everybody, its Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: Let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche!

Leah: Let's get in it!

Nick: So, for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about the cheese plate in France.

Leah: I love cheese so much.

Nick: Specifically, this is going to be if you're at a dinner party in France, with French people, and we're doing it the French way.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: It is an understatement to say that the French are really into cheese. I think cheese, and French culture? Very linked. In fact, I have been told that the French citizenship test involves questions about cheese.

Leah: Really? [laughter]

Nick: You've got to know your cheese if you want to be French. Here's how the cheese course works at a French dinner party. It's going to be after the main meal, but before dessert. That's where it exists on the timeline. Sometimes, it's going to be served with salad, and it's alwaysgoing to be served with wine.

Traditionally, the cheese platter is going to be passed to the oldest female guest first. She will start by selecting the cheese she wants, and then she'll pass it down to all the other women, and then it will go to the oldest male guest, and pass through all the males, and then the platter will end with the host. At a lighter dinner party, after a few glasses of wine, there might be some joking about who's actually older, who should take the cheese platter next. The idea is that it does traditionally go through this age, and gender process.

When the platter comes to you, the cheese is going to be whole. It's not going to be already pre sliced like you might see in a restaurant. A cheese platter is going to have a bunch of different options. It's probably going to have a soft cheese, a hard cheese, a blue cheese, and then, it might have cow, sheep, goat. A good cheese platter is going to have all this variety, and you can select two, or three of the cheeses. That's it.

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: Two, or three. You're only going to want to take a teeny-tiny bit. You're going to want to cut off the size of cheese, like the thickness of your pinky finger. That's the amount of cheese you want to take, and you're not going to want to touch the cheese with your fingers. You've got to use a knife to cut it. You're going to cut the cheese, and you're going to move it to your own plate. Now, how to cut the cheese? This is a major minefield.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Minefield ... Even French people can be a little confused about the proper way to cut certain cheeses, and it can be terrifying. Yeah, it can be terrifying. Here's the general rule: like all etiquette, it's about showing consideration for everybody else at the table. The way you cut the cheese needs to be with consideration of the next person. You don't want to leave the last person with all rind. You've got to cut the cheese in such a way that everyone has the full spectrum of flavor in their slice.

If it's just a circle of cheese, obviously that's easy. You just cut it into little pizza-wedge shapes. If it's a log, you can just slice it like it's a loaf of bread. Easy peasy. If it's a wedge - if it's already in a pie shape - this is where it gets little tricky. The rule is you don't cut the nose off of the cheese. The little pointy thing- you don't cut the nose off. You've always got to maintain a little point. We'll post some cheese-cutting diagrams on our website, so you can get a visual of this. Basically, the idea is don't cut the nose off; keep creating little angle-y points as you go up.

If you're confused, ask your host. It would be much better just to ask your host, like, "Oh, how should I cut this?" rather than just do it wrong, and then everybody's mad at you. Ask if you're not sure. That's the general idea is that you want to allow everyone to have equal opportunity to enjoy all of the majesty of all the different parts of the cheese.

Leah: I'm in shock.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I was in shock from the beginning. I didn't know about the age process the cheese goes through - that the oldest person gets it.

Nick: Right.

Leah: This is all brand new to me. I didn't even know there was a cheese course. Then, when you said it was the sizer of-

Nick: You didn't know there was cheese course in French cuisine?

Leah: No, no! I've never been to France.

Nick: When did you think cheese happened?

Leah: All the time!

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I thought people just were walking around with cheese in their pockets-

Nick: Uh-huh. That's true.

Leah: Because that's how I live. I don't think I realized it was its own course. I also didn't realize that you took something the size of your pinky? I mean ... Then, that you could only take two, or three, if it was a whole thing, and then, that you have to leave a point. It's it is definitely a minefield of anxiety, and I cannot wait to look at the diagrams, so I make sure that when I, sometime in my life, go to France, I will know how to cut the cheese.

Nick: Oh, but there's more.

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: It gets even more complicated. Now, you have the cheese on your plate. We haven't even gotten to the rest of it. Now, there's bread. Of course, there's always bread at a French meal. There's always going to be bread, and you actually can pass it around a lot more casually, but you take one piece; only one piece. Just take one piece of bread.

Here's how you eat it. You break off a little piece of bread with your fingers, and with your knife - because, as we remember, we don't touch the cheese with our fingers - you cut off an even smaller piece of the cheese, and put it on the bread, and then you eat the bread, and the cheese together, but it's about the cheese. The cheese is the star here. The bread is just the vehicle. It's just the mechanism to get cheese into your face. So, you don't want too much bread. It's really about cheese.

Leah: As far as I'm concerned, everything is just a vehicle for cheese.

Nick: [Giggling] In terms of how you should be eating the cheese, you'll probably go from the mildest flavor to the strongest, so that you can taste them all, as you go along. If you want to eat the rind, you can. You can totally do that if you want. You can also cut the rind off if you don't want to eat; that totally up to you. French people do it both ways, depending on your taste. Now, here are some things not to do.

Leah: I'm going to guess you don't lick the cheese.

Nick: Don't lick the cheese. That was not on my list, but I'm going to add it.

Leah: How about lean over to the person sitting to your side and be like, "I didn't get that one. Can I try that one?" Then stick your fingers onto their plate. That's probably a no.

Nick: Uh-huh. Yeah, that's also frowned upon, right.

Leah: How about cutting a little extra and putting it into your pocket because it's so good, you want to eat some later?

Nick: That's definitely no! [Giggling] On my list of things not to do, you don't want to spread the cheese on the bread. Cheese is not butter. Don't mash the brie into the bread because so much about the cheese-eating experience is about the texture of the cheese, and if you smoosh it into the bread, you lose the texture part. Don't use a knife to spread the cheese into the bread. Also, don't say that cheese is stinky. It's just strong. That's also a good tip.

With the salad I mentioned earlier, if there is a salad, you can eat it with the cheese, or you can wait until you're done with all of your cheese, and then eat the salad afterwards. One thing about the cheese plate is that it only goes around once. You don't take seconds from the cheese plate. You can ask for more bread, but you can't ask for more cheese. Any follow up to that?

Leah: No, I just feel sad.

Nick: [laughter] But, because French people also like sometimes breaking rules, you might get somebody at the table who reaches for the cheese platter, and says to you, "I know we're not supposed to do this, but do you want more?" Then you can be like [gasping], "I don't want to break the rules!" Then, they'll be like, "Oh, I won't tell," and then you can have more cheese, but you have to acknowledge that it is not proper to ever take seconds from the cheese plate.

Leah: I hope, when I eventually go to a dinner in France, that there's one of those people at the table, and they sit directly next to me.

Nick: [Giggling] They'll be like, "Oh, you're naughty!"

Leah: "You naughty cheese stealer!"

Nick: "But I'll take more Roquefort ..." Do you have a favorite cheese?

Leah: I really like a lot of cheeses.

Nick: Okay. What's your desert-island cheese?

Leah: I think it's going to be a smoked gouda.

Nick: Oh, good choice. Good choice.

Leah: What's your desert-island cheese?

Nick: Well, I've been watching a lot of cheese YouTube videos lately, so, it's really hard for me to choose right now because I've just been in a lot of cheese caves, mentally.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: I would say Pecorino Toscano, which is a sheep's milk cheese from Tuscany. It's sort of flaky, and you can eat it alone, or it can go on top of salads, or pasta. It's a very versatile choice. I figure if I can only have one cheese on my desert island, that would really cover a lot of emotional bases for me.

Leah: I love it. I love it!

Nick: One thing I did see while I was watching all of these YouTube videos about French people eating cheese - of which I watched a lot - I was watching this one where it was a French countess giving etiquette advice, and she was saying that it's okay in France to put your elbows on the table because it allowed her to show off all of her rings.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: I though, okay. I like that. I never thought of, you know, that's the reason why you put elbows on the table. I don't know if that's actually a French etiquette rule, or if this is just what French countesses do, but if you're French countess, I guess that's fine.

Leah: You know, you want to shake what your mama gave you.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to go deep.

Leah: Fun deep. Holiday deep.

Nick: Well, it can be ... Depending. I want to talk about going home for the holidays, specifically like when you're going home, and you're a house guest in your parents' house, or it's a very close relative, or grandparents, or that type of relationship, which is sort of a unique etiquette experience, I think.

Leah: It really is.

Nick: Or is it?

Leah: Um, unique in that it's ... I don't think it's unique in that it's unique to each of us, but it's unique in that it's a stage in your life where you're not a guest in that house the same way you are in any other house.

Nick: Yes, I mean, it's very Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again. It's definitely a different relationship because it's not exactly just like being a house guest in somebody's house because the dynamic of, oh, it's your parents' house, or a relative, you know? It doesn't have to necessarily even be your parents. It could be the grandmother, aunts, the uncles, or even just that close family friend for a hundred years. Any time it's that relationship, it does change the quality of going home for the holidays, I think.

Leah: Yeah, and I mean, there's the emotional side of it, where it's so hard not to immediately take on roles that you took on as a young person.

Nick: Right. The first thing I had on my list was try not to fall into old patterns [Giggling] Which, then, in parentheses I said, "Easier said than done."

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Which is true. Right. Why that's an etiquette thing is that we want to show consideration for our hosts, even if we have a lot of baggage with them. We still want to try and be on our best etiquette behavior and be mindful of that, even if it's hard.

Leah: Yeah, and I think it's nice to pick a thing that's the thing that you do, you know, to be helpful.

Nick: Hmm. Right. Yeah, some chore, or some useful thing. Yeah, that's good.

Leah: Like, I'll get the groceries every day, or when I'm in Maine, I'll be like, "I'll help stack the whatever it is ..." I think it's good to not wait for somebody to ask you.

Nick: Yes. I think that's nice. Also, to not sort of take your host for granted and totally just pretend this is your vacation.

Leah: Because they ostensibly want to enjoy a holiday, too.

Nick: Right. Yeah, I don't think they want to be slaving over all their house guests 24/7. Yeah, they might want to break. That's a good point.

Leah: So, what's the conversation to be had, where we can figure out where all of us can pitch in, so everybody has the most maximum relax time?

Nick: That's a good point about communication. I think we want to just communicate with everybody about everything, because I think that's where things go south, when we go home for the holidays, when there's miscommunications or not enough communication. I think that works for mealtime, especially, because this is a very meal-heavy time, usually, for a lot of families.

Leah: Yeah, and I think it's like big meals. For example, my boyfriend, and I grocery shop completely differently than my parents grocery shop.

Nick: What does that mean?

Leah: They're like, "We'll figure out what we're having, and then we'll go to the store, and have it." They're like a little bit every day grocery shop.

Nick: Oh, they're very French. They go to the market every day to pick up that day's meal.

Leah: They have their basket. You know what I mean?

Nick: Yes.

Leah: They're going up-

Nick: Striped shirt. Yeah, there's an accordion. I got it.

Leah: Whereas we're like the- we're going to get a truck, and we're going to drive to a big store-

Nick: We're going to Costco.

Leah: We're going to go load it up. I think it's nice to cook for each other, so it's just nice to have this talk up top, who's going to do what day? How are we making sure everybody feels good about the grocery situation?

Nick: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's a good point. One thing I had on my list was that if you go out, you should tell your parents, or your hosts where you're going, and when you're going to be back, which feels like you're back in junior high again, but I think that is a nice courtesy.

Leah: Oh, absolutely.

Nick: Even though you're an adult. I think you should still tell your parents, so they don't wait up late for you.

Leah: Oh, definitely. I think under their roof, let them know where you're at.

Nick: Yes, and I think that general idea of house rules applies for everything, that's what it is.

Leah: Yeah, I absolutely agree.

Nick: Like, the first time you brought your boyfriend home for the holidays, what was the sleeping arrangements?

Leah: Well, I think we were already living together, and I'm pretty sure that we were put in different bedrooms.

Nick: Okay, and that's just what it is.

Leah: That's just what it is. I was like, "Hey, if you're going to let me use your washer/dryer, I'll sleep wherever you want."

Nick: Oh, washer/dryer! Oh, isn't that the best part of going home for the holidays?

Leah: [Singing] Dreams come true.

Nick: Not just any washer/dryer ... Side by side.

Leah: [Shouting] SIDE BY SIDE!

Nick: Not just side by side, front-loading side by side-

Leah: I'm gonna CRY!

Nick: Oh, the dream. The dream!

Leah: I'll do everybody's laundry. Can I just do everybody's laundry?

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: I just think about washer/dryers, sometimes, for hours . [Giggling]Nick: I think about what color I would get.

Leah: What color would you get?

Nick: I think I like a pearly red.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Because I want to open the laundry room and see it and be like, "Yeah ..." [Giggling]

Leah: You'd have an outfit that- I would have an outfit. This is matches my washer/dryer. You know what I mean?

Nick: No, that really ... It is really the fantasy to have my own washer/dryer, but ... Oh, one nice thing to do when you do go home is to take them out for dinner. I think that's a nice thing to do.

Leah: Yeah, or be like, "I want to cook you a special meal."

Nick: Yeah, be in charge of some special evening. Yeah.

Leah: Or do something that maybe they haven't been able to do, like they needed help with, or ...

Nick: Yes, definitely. I know when I go home, I'm like IT tech support for five days, getting everybody's operating systems updated, and getting the Wi-Fi to work again. That's usually my role.

Leah: Yeah, I feel like things like that are very helpful, to be like, "I'll do all that, when I get home."

Nick: Yes. They actually come up with a list, like, "Oh, I have a list of things for you to do when you're home."

Leah: [laughter] Absolutely.

Nick: I was like, "I could have helped you guys with some of the stuff over the phone. I could have made your Hulu work. I could've just told you what your password is." It's like, "Ahh, we'll wait til you come home." Like, okay ...

Leah: Yeah, we'll do it in one big shot, you know what I mean?

Nick: One thing I read while I was looking into what people said on this topic was if you bring your kids, or your dog home, don't expect your parents to babysit, or pet-sit for you. They may not want to do that. Don't just assume you could just leave the kids, or leave the dog, and go out for dinner one night, and be like, "Oh, great, you'll take care of it." You have to get permission for that.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I think that's important, yeah.

Leah: Oh, this made me- I don't know why this made me think of you. This is just related to the pets thing. I was at a comedy show recently, and my friend was up, and she has this great bit about her dog-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -and this woman in the audience just interrupts her and goes, "I'm not really into pet culture." [laughter]

Nick: What a heckel, what a heckel! Pet culture! [Giggling]

Leah: I don't know why ... At the time, I was like, "I have to tell Nick this."

Nick: I mean, I guess if you're not a pet culture, sure ...

Leah: "I'm not into pet culture."

Nick: Make it known.

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: Make it known.

[Musical Interlude]

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

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: So, our first question is: "When we go visit my mother-in-law, she invites us to restaurants that are new in her area. She raves about them, and then she says, 'Can't wait to take you there.' Every time we go, she orders extra apps, expensive glasses of wine, and very high-priced entrees. Then, when the bill comes, without fail, she excuses herself to the restroom. Inevitably, my husband pulls out his wallet and by the time she returns, he's usually signing the credit card receipt. Her standard statement is, 'Aww, thank you, son.' This even happened on his birthday a couple of years ago. We know she's a gold digger in other areas of her life, but how do we establish a financial boundary?"

Leah: Mother-in-law questions.

Nick: It's a theme. It's a thing.

Leah: We could do a whole book on it.

Nick: So ... Let's start with the "gold digger" reference. Very interested in learning more about that!

Leah: [laughter] I always wish that we could get the full back story with these questions.

Nick: I mean ... What does that mean?

Leah: What do you mean "In other areas of her life?"

Nick: Yeah! What other areas are we talking about? My mind spins!

Leah: With every mother-in-law, or family question, my first immediate response is that whatever it is should go through the person who's related to that person.

Nick: Yes, this is a good rule. This is a good rule.

Leah: I think it's for the son to say something if he wants to.

Nick: Yes. I mean, I don't know if he wants to because he's certainly going along with it, but let's answer the question - how do we establish a financial boundary? How do we do that here?

Leah: I think you pick the restaurant.

Nick: Yes. Although, it sounds like that's probably tricky because we're going to her town, and she is interested in like the hottest, latest thing, so she wants to influence where you're going.

Leah: How about you just bring lunch? "Oh, I found this place I love. I'm bringing food over ..."?

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think accepting the fact that if you go to dinner with this woman, you're paying, so if you don't want to pay, then you can't have dinner.

Leah: Yeah, that's what it seems like to me, as well.

Nick: If that's a picnic, then that's what it is, or it's a coffee, or breakfast is a probably cheaper meal. Maybe we just have breakfast. It's harder to booze it up at breakfast.

Leah: Yeah, I agree with all that.

Nick: Do we make excuses for why we can't do dinner with you, or do we just, like, "Oh, we're so busy every evening, but let's do breakfast ..."?

Leah: Well, I get the idea that it's not somebody that they see often. It's, "When we go to visit ..."

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: I get the idea that this is a travel day. It's not like she lives 30 minutes away.

Nick: Yes, we are visiting her area, and her area is different than our area, so we are deferring to her restaurant expertise.

Leah: I kind of feel like if- as you said, it seems that when you go and visit her, it seems that this is just what happens.

Nick: That's my sense. This is the deal and just accept it, and just know that this is the cost of doing business.

Leah: Unless your husband doesn't want to do it anymore, and then, I think it's for him * to say something because it's *his mother.

Nick: Now, there also is the option of, when she sneaks off to the bathroom, don't pay. Wait for her to come back.

Leah: I think it's sort of, at the end of the day, very hard not to pay for your mom.

Nick: Um, that's true, yes. I mean, even though, just to be perfectly clear, if you invite someone to dinner, and you've selected the restaurant, you are the host of this evening, and you are paying for the restaurant. But, yes, it is also nice for a son to pay for dinner with mom. It does feel like the letter-writer of the story is annoyed by this because it always happens, and it does not sound like there's reciprocation.

Leah: Yeah, the mother is just picking the most expensive places and being like, "Hey, can I blow up your credit card?"

Nick: [Giggling] Right.

Leah: I understand why that's upsetting, and it is, like you said, whoever invites should pay, but I think this is-

Nick: To be clear, this behavior is rude.

Leah: Yeah, definitely.

Nick: Inviting people to an expensive restaurant, blowing up the bill with extra apps, and bottles of wine - yes, this is rude behavior. Yes.

Leah: But it's so hard because it's a mother-in-law. I also think the other option is, if it drives you crazy, you could not go.

Nick: Oh, just make it a mother-son thing?

Leah: Yeah. "Why don't you two go have a great time?"

Nick: Oh, that's nice. Yeah, just sort of tap out of the ring? Yeah, okay.

Leah: You could say, "It drives me crazy, and I want you guys to have a good time, and I don't want to interfere with the relationship, so have at it."

Nick: Have at it. That'll be one way to bring down the cost, I guess; just have one less diner.

Leah: Yeah, there's one less diner.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay-

Leah: Or you could be like, "I'm only eating at McDonald's. Happy to take you out, but we gotta go to Mickey D's."

Nick: Bon appetite. Our next question is: "I have an acquaintance who texts me a lot, and the problem is that she hits the send button after every sentence, and often, more than once per sentence. In the space of a couple of minutes, I may get 10 or more texts from her.

'How are you?'
'We're going to the lake ...'
'This weekend.'
'If you're interested.'
'You can join us ...'
'If you want.
'Let me know.'

Is there a way to politely point out that this is driving me berserk? I've already figured out that there's a setting on my phone, so there's no audible alert when she starts texting, but that doesn't stop my phone from lighting up like a Christmas tree, over, and over, and over. My son says it's just a thing young people are used to doing, and it shouldn't bother me. That can't be true, can it?"

Leah: A) I would like to go to the lake.

Nick: [Giggling] Yes, I'm free! I'm interested.

Leah: You can actually put it on Do Not Disturb.

Nick: Yeah, I think technology is our friend here, yes.

Leah: I have people that I put on Do Not Disturb because they text like this. I'll see the message, but it doesn't light up my phone at all.

Nick: Yeah, I think that is the best solution because what is the conversation you're going to have with this person? Like, "Oh, your texting style annoys me ..."? "Can you please put your entire thought into one message before you send it? Thank you ..."? No!

Leah: Yeah. I can't think of a way that would be ... That you're not being like, "Hey, you text like a maniac, and if you could reel it in ..."

Nick: Then, in terms of what the son is saying - this is just what young people do - okay, yes. I think people of all ages do this, but, sure; and that it shouldn't bother you ...? I think you're allowed to be bothered by it.

Leah: Oh, absolutely. Be bothered!

Nick: You can totally be bothered by it. No problem. The other idea I had was you could tell the friend, if you want to just totally shut it down- you could tell the friend, "Oh, texting is just not a great way to communicate with me. I'm much more of an email person, so can we just move this to email?" People are less likely to send phrases via email. You might just get just one email with this invitation to the lake, instead. Maybe that's- problem solved.

Leah: I think that's very nice.

Nick: I guess that would be my choice. But I think, yes, if you've got an iPhone, or I'm sure Androids do this, too, or whatever phone you've got, I'm sure there's some technology available to you.

Leah: Yeah, it's in settings. It's called Do Not Disturb, and it has a crescent moon.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: It looks like nighttime.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: The texts still come in. They just don't- they're not on the front of your phone; they're just in your messages.

Nick: I think people get what we're talking about.

Leah: Well, I'm explaining it, in case they don't. I'm just explaining it in case they don't.

Nick: Leah's offering tech support, guys. Our next question is: "I always play music while I'm driving. When I have other people in the car, I feel like I should play music that the whole car will enjoy and that it would be rude to play music that only I like and to not consider what other people in the car might like. Sometimes, I tell myself to not feel so self-conscious and to just play what I want, but then the passenger will change the radio as I'm driving, which really grinds my gears. What are your thoughts on playing music that everyone will enjoy, and what are your thoughts on changing the radio, when someone else is driving, without asking? Maybe I'm overthinking this."

Leah: No one should ever touch your radio.

Nick: Un-uhm! No!

Leah: Period.

Nick: That is just so off limits.

Leah: It's so off limits!

Nick: Right? I mean, we both agree, and I think everyone agrees - you don't do that.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: What are you doing?

Leah: Someone touches your radio, feel free to pull over to the curb and be like, "What just happened right now?"

Nick: No, no, don't even do that! Open their door and push them out.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Yeah ... Why is that? Why do we both have the exact same strong reaction to touching the radio?

Leah: It's just not done!

Nick: Is that it? It's just, as a society, we've agreed that we all agree that that's just not a thing?

Leah: That is not- it's the driver's car. You just don't mess with people's settings!

Nick: Yeah, that's it.

Leah: It's just disrespectful!

Nick: I think the driver of the car, that's the captain of the ship, and the captain's in charge of all things that take place in the vessel.

Leah: Yes! You can offer ... "Hey, listen to what you want," and then you've given permission for them to touch the radio.

Nick: Yes, but I think that permission can also be revoked at any time. That power is not absolute, and the driver can always take it back.

Leah: Yeah, you can be like, "Okay, that's enough."

Nick: I think a nice thing to do, if you're the driver ... Because I think it is true, it would be nice if everybody in the car is having a nice time, so if there's some genre of music you really like that you know other people in the car really hate, I think it is considerate of other people to not play that genre.

One idea is to give a choice of three things that you know you like and give a choice to your audience of what they might want to hear. Like, "Do you want to play yacht rock? Do you want to play bounce, or do you want whale sounds?" Then, pick one of those, and if everybody's like, "Whale sounds!" Then, off we go.

Leah: I think that's great.

Nick: I think that would be the way to handle it.

Leah: I also think our letter-writer is clearly so considerate to even be thinking of all these things that I'm sure that they are very aware ... You know what I mean? This isn't a person who's getting in, and then playing thrasher metal-

Nick: [Giggling] I mean ...

Leah: -with the music all the way turned up. I've done it, but I don't think our letter-writer-

Nick: No, no, I'm not getting a sense that that's this person's musical taste, although I am concerned that our letter-writer does not know that it is super rude to touch someone's radio.

Leah: Well, that's why we're here.

Nick: That is why we're here, yeah.

Leah: Also, if our letter-writer wants to Google "Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Radio," there's a great clip because Jackie Chan touches Chris Tucker's radio.

Nick: I imagine it doesn't go well.

Leah: It does not go well.

Nick: I'll put a link to it in the show notes. Yeah, I think, full stop - don't touch it. Don't do it.

Leah: Don't touch it!

Nick: Un-uhm. Nope. Similarly, don't touch the A/C or the heater, either. I think you always want to check with the driver before you make any adjustments to any of the controls. "Oh, do you mind if I turn this up? Turn it down? More fan? Less fan?" Always check in with the driver.

Leah: I just don't know who's getting into people's vehicles and changing stuff without permission.

Nick: I mean, welcome to this entire show. [Giggling] Who are these people? Yes, these people-

Leah: I can't deal with it.

Nick: -are people who go into people's cars and touch stuff! Yes! That is keeping this whole show going - people like that!

Leah: You should be so lucky that you have a friend with a vehicle who lets you in it!

Nick: Well, that's, I mean, a friend for, we'll see how much longer, after you touch my radio.

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: Yeah. So, if you have any questions that we can help with, we would be delighted to help you. Just let us know. Send them to us through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail, or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729).

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent-

Leah: [Singing] Vent or Repennnnnnnnnt!

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: I'm going to vent.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay! Yeah, I feel like that's what's going on right now.

Leah: I had so many this week-

Nick: Oh, okay.

Leah: -that I found it hard to pick.

Nick: So, there's just going to be a big wheel behind you. We're going to spin it and see where it lands!

Leah: No, I decided I'm going to go with what I found to be the most egregious.

Nick: That's what I'm here for! Bring it.

Leah: I'm at a backyard. Small birthday gathering.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: We're obviously all following all the health things. No worries there. Friend of a friend comes up to me, offers me an alcoholic beverage.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I very politely decline; just a casual, "Oh, no thank you." For our listeners at home, I don't drink. Then, this person goes, "Why?"

Nick: Oooohhhhhhh.

Leah: With the tone ... Normally, I wouldn't answer. It's not your business, you know what I mean? I could ... For numerous reasons, I could not be drinking! I could also just not want a drink. I wasn't making a thing about it. I just said, "Oh, no thanks."

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I also had a water in my hand, you know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Anyways, normally, I wouldn't be so forthcoming, but I just was like, "Oh, I don't drink at all." And then, this woman ... I got a whole- I don't know what it was. I think it was a crisis. I witnessed a crisis, where, "Oh, I didn't mean to do anything to you. Did I upset you?"

Nick: Wow.

Leah: Have a drink! I don't care at all! You just asked me why! You have lost your mind! But the idea ... This happens a lot when you don't drink, people just don't let it go. They want to know why, and then they want to tell you about all their friends who don't drink, and how they somehow feel responsible when they drink around them, and "Should I not ... Oh, I'm so sorry! Does my drinking bother you?" No, your drinking doesn't bother me. I don't care if you drink. What does you drinking have to do with ...?! It just ... She wouldn't stop! Here I was, trying to be polite. She's a friend of a friend. It's a social gathering. When do we socially gather anymore? I learned this woman's whole life, and she was putting it all on me. "I'm so sorry to do this to you. Is it horrible that I'm standing here drinking?"

Nick: Well, she was "putting it on you," but she was really making this about herself.

Leah: Oh, the whole thing was about her!

Nick: This really, definitely didn't have anything to do with you.

Leah: Nothing to do with me!

Nick: Yeah, just shut it down, and that'll be the last time we chat at this little social gathering.

Leah: [Giggling] Yeah. Then I went to the bathroom, and I never came back!

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I cannot stand it! It's one of my ... If somebody says they don't want something, or they don't drink, okay, move it along!

Nick: Yes, I think you offer, and then, when that offer is declined, then that's the end of the story. We don't interrogate a person - why they have declined. That goes for anything; like, "Oh, do you want some chips?" No. "Why?" No, I don't want chips. I'm good!

Leah: Then, it's not like, "When I eat chips in front of you, do you feel bothered?" Can you imagine?!

Nick: Yes, I can imagine. Yes. Well, for me, I would also like to vent.

Leah: Do it!

Nick: I was going to meet a friend for coffee on the Upper West Side, here in Manhattan. I get there, and my friend had actually gotten there a few minutes early. This is 72nd Street, which is actually a pretty big, wide street, and all of the restaurants have outdoor seating, and it's wonderful. It's just very European in that way. My friend actually got a table already. Okay, great, we'll have coffee outside.

I sit down, and I'm taking off my coat, and we're just sort of starting to chat. I notice there is a big, laminated menu on the table. I was like, "Oh, okay ..." I look at it, and it's curries, and noodles, and rice bowls, and spring rolls. I look around, and I say to my friend, like, "Are we in a Thai restaurant?" What had happened was he thought he was being seated at the coffee shop outdoor space, but, I guess, talked to the wrong hostess, and didn't realize that the hostess he was talking to was for a Thai restaurant.

All the outdoor seating kind of looks the same because it's just tables, so he didn't realize that's what happened. I was like, "Oh, okay." That's sort of funny. I was like, "Well, we'll still have coffee. It'll just be Thai coffee." I don't like Thai iced coffee. It's too sweet for me. I mean, I take my coffee black. The idea that you're going to add condensed milk, and sugar to something is not my thing, but I was like, "I'll be a good sport. Let's not make a big deal about it. We'll just have Thai iced coffee." Fine.

Before I can make that happen, my friend is talking to the waiter, ordering lunch, and he's already starting to order ... He turns to me like, "Oh, are you hungry, too?" I was like, "It's 3:00." This was coffee. This is not a mealtime. This is not ... What are we doing? There was no opportunity to jump in, at this point. Then, he orders the Massaman curry, but now it's lunch special time, I guess, still, so they're like, "Oh, well, what soup do you want?" Then it was like, "Oh, it also comes with salad; Oh, and your appetizer choice? What would you like? Oh, and it comes with dessert."

Now, it's a 50-course meal that he has now ordered. I'm not going to be eating. I'm just going to have coffee. Now, this 25-minute coffee catch-up has now turned into like an hour and a half, and I was like, "What has happened here?" The etiquette train had left the station. There's no opportunity to leave, at this point, so now, I'm just along for the ride. It's like, "Oh, I'm clearing the rest of my day." I don't like that that happened because I think that is rude. The only silver lining of this entire experience was that, as it was happening, I was just saying to myself, "Well, at least I get to tell Leah."

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: We're going to just use this. We're going to just bottle this up, and we're gonna just tell Leah all about it, and we're going to do something with this horrible experience.

Leah: I'm honored. I'm honored!

Nick: Yep, that's what it is. That was my very short coffee, which turned into an hour-and-a-half Thai multi-course meal.

Leah: Well, you got ... Your time got robbed, and you weren't asked!

Nick: Yes, I guess that's true. I think that's why I'm so bothered because I had my time stolen. Yes. Yes. That was theft!

Leah: Nobody said, "Hey, do you have time for this whole other thing that is not the thing that we talked about?"

Nick: Yes. "I got us into the predicament, and I will also make this worse." Yes.

Leah: Without running it by you.

Nick: Yes. I think checking in, and being like, "Oh, should we even stay at this restaurant, or should we go to the coffee shop that I didn't sit at originally?" Yeah, that would have been nice.

Leah: Do you have an hour and a half for this quick coffee break that you ... Also, not in your area; you went uptown!

Nick: Not in my neighborhood, yes! I had to go there. Yeah, no, everything about this was horrible. We are currently reseating this person in my personal theater.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Oh, yes-

Leah: They have been resat!

Nick: Oh, yes. We have looked at their stubs, and we have determined that they were in the wrong seats.

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: So, we will be escorting them up to the upper balcony. Yes.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: So, Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned so much about cheese-

Nick: There was a lot to learn about cheese today, yeah.

Leah: -I'm still processing all the cheese knowledge.

Nick: Is it churning?

Leah: Yes, it's churning! [laughter]

Nick: I learned that we both have a love of washer/dryers.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: We do. We do.

Leah: When I have a washer/dryer-

Nick: Mm-hmm?

Leah: My dream is to have a postcard, or a holiday picture done where I'm just making it rain dryer sheets [Giggling] and it's falling down on me, and my luxurious washer/dryer.

Nick: You people outside of New York City, you don't know how good you got it.

Leah: You have no idea [laughter] how you have it!

Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note of my custom stationery. For your homework this week, I want you to buy some merchandise - get a mug, get a hat, get a tote bag, get a baby onesie, get a face mask. We have adorable merchandise. It's available. Go to our website, check it out, and we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye.

[Musical Interlude]

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. Ready, set, go.

Leah: I'm really grateful. I did a show in Pennsylvania - outdoor show - but it's outdoors, and starting to get cold, and it was nighttime. I was like, "I can't imagine that anybody's going to be able to make it." I had friends from different parts of my life come out, make the trip, sit outside in the cold to watch comedy, and it meant so much to me, and it was just a wonderful delight, and surprise. I'm so incredibly honored, and grateful.

[Buzzer Sound]

Nick: Aww, that's nice. For me, I want to say thank you to Emma, who is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, and she just sent us an amazing book in the mail called Service Etiquette.

Leah: Ooh!

Nick: It's a book that's all about etiquette for the military. It's so fascinating. There are so many interesting rules about military etiquette that I didn't know. Definitely, we're going to have some of those as amuse-bouches in the future, so get ready for some military themed amuse-bouches. I just want to say thank you, Emma. Super surprising, and delightful to go to the P.O. Box, and get that yellow slip saying you had something that was too big for the box.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Then, find your book, and really lovely note. Thank you. Really appreciate it.

Leah: That's so cool! And thank you for your service!

Nick: Indeed!

[Buzzer Sound]