June 20, 2022

Eating Pizza, Singing Karaoke, Criticizing Cultures, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating pizza the right way, singing karaoke in groups, criticizing other cultures, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating pizza the right way, singing karaoke in groups, criticizing other cultures, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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



  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: How do I clarify whether or not I'll be paid to paint at a friend's wedding? Is it rude for my mother-in-law to regularly criticize my culture? What should I do if I need to sneeze or blow my nose while on a Zoom call?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Early-ending breakfast buffets, Hogging the middle seat on an airplane
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Thanks for the hospitality, Thanks for the book







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 144


Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


Nick: Do you eat pizza the wrong way? Do you ask your friends to paint at your wedding? Do you get territorial on planes? 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: Mm-mm. Let's get in it!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about pizza. So Leah, you eat pizza.

Leah: I do.

Nick: Do you eat pizza with your hands, or with a knife and fork? Or a spoon? Or do you just do it hands-free and bring your mouth right down to the plate? Like, how do you eat pizza?

Leah: I'm gonna say something very divisive here. Or maybe it's not divisive, but I mean, very strong. This is very ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: If I see somebody eating pizza with a knife and fork, besides a square pizza? Like, sometimes they're square and you gotta cut it because it's a little thicker, but like a triangle-shaped pizza?

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: If I see you eating that with a knife and fork, I have to question our entire relationship.

Nick: Wow! Oh, that is a bold statement!

Leah: We eat pizza with our hands.

Nick: Okay. [laughs]

Leah: Unless it's a square piece. [laughs]

Nick: Okay. Well, let's get into it. So the idea of putting stuff on flatbread has been with us for thousands of years. It is as old as time itself. And when we think of pizza, we're probably thinking of, like, the modern version, which comes from, like, Campania, Naples, southern Italy. And it probably spread throughout the world in the late 1800s when a lot of Italians left Italy and they kind of took pizza with them. And that's certainly how it came to the United States. And so one way we can approach this question is: how do they eat pizza in Italy? Like, how do they do it? So if it's the kind of pizza that you eat on the street, or is the kind that they actually cut with scissors and, like, weigh out, yeah, that's totally like use your hands. But oftentimes in Italy when you order pizza, it's gonna be served on a plate, and it will come with a knife and fork.

Leah: Is it square?

Nick: [laughs] It is typically not square. It is typically round.

Leah: Okay. Well, as long as it's not the triangle slice, I'm fine with it.

Nick: Okay. Interesting. Oh, so if it's a whole round pizza individual size, you're cool with knife and fork.

Leah: Yeah, I just don't want to see people eating that triangle slice with a knife and fork.

Nick: Okay. Well, in Italy though, even though you are given a knife and fork, once you cut it—because usually the pizza that you get on the table is just like it's a round thing and they haven't pre-scored it—once you cut it into slices, then most Italians actually probably would use their hands from there. It is okay though to continue using the knife and fork in Italy, but it is certainly very common, especially if it's, like, less formal to use your hands in Italy.

Leah: So once it goes triangle it goes hands.

Nick: So yeah, I mean, I guess that could be the rule. If it's the triangular shape is really what gets your goat then yeah, if it's triangular, use your hands. So moving to the United States, let's turn to the etiquette greats and see what they have to say about this. Now Emily Post, she did not weigh in on pizza. Even though pizza was totally happening in New York City in 1922, she just never wrote about it. And so I guess the question is: do we think Emily has ever had pizza? Do we think she's had pizza?

Leah: I feel so sad.

Nick: Right?

Leah: At the idea that one would have never had pizza.

Nick: Imagine her life had she gone to Chuck E. Cheese. I imagine Emily Post in the ball pit. What could have been!

Leah: Do they do pizza at Chuck E. Cheese?

Nick: That's the whole thing. Have you not been to Chuck E. Cheese?

Leah: No.

Nick: That's the cheese in Chuck E. Cheese.

Leah: Oh, wow. I thought that cheese was for mice.

Nick: Well, Chuck E. Cheese is a mouse.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Wow. What? Is this something you don't know about?

Leah: I've never been to a Chuck E. Cheese.

Nick: I mean, even I've been to a Chuck E. Cheese, and I've never had Pepsi.

Leah: You've never been to a Walmart and you've been to Chuck E. Cheese.

Nick: Right? Yeah. Walmart, no. Chuck E. Cheese, yes. So I don't know what you're doing in your life. Anyway, Emily Post though, never weighed in. But the etiquette gurus who wrote more in the '50s and '60s and more modern have weighed in because pizza has become increasingly popular in the United States. So the rule is, according to most of the gurus, if you're in an informal setting, you can use your hands if you can do it without getting too messy. And Amy Vanderbilt, in one of her editions, says that quote, "Some actually swear that pizza tastes better when held in the fingers."

Leah: I think that's very true. Very true.

Nick: But for me, I think if it's a little fancier or you don't want to get messy, I have no problem using a knife and fork. So I think that is still okay.

Leah: I don't want to comment.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And of course Miss Manners, not to be outdone, she has some thoughts on pizza. But for her, the rules depend on how old you are. So she says quote, "There are gooey pizzas, and pizzas that have been baked senseless. No one should have trouble eating the latter by hand under all but formal circumstances. But the age of the eater affects the way gooey pizza is eaten. Grown ups with strings of cheese all over their faces look a lot worse than young people in the same condition. They should therefore employ forks on which to wind any hanging parts."

Leah: I mean, I think the point taken from there is if you want to maintain your youth ...

Nick: Oh! [laughs]

Leah: Eat pizza with your hands.

Nick: Okay. Yeah. And just get all the cheese all over your face. Okay. So I think you are correct. At the end of the day, it is an informal food. Informal foods like pizza can be done with the hands. And as long as you can do it without making too much of a mess, I think hands, I think fine. Okay.

Leah: I'm so hungry now.

Nick: Right? Now I don't know if we should even bring this up: Chicago-style deep dish? Would you eat that with your hands?

Leah: I don't eat deep dish.

Nick: Oh, we're gonna get letters!

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Oh, we're gonna get letters. I think if you can eat Chicago deep dish neatly and not, like, have it all messy, I think hands are also fine.

Leah: Oh, I will say, if I was going to eat it, I would eat it with my hands.

Nick: Okay, yeah.

Leah: I'm even eating square pizza with my hands, I'm just—I'm allowing that door open a little bit for people who need square foods to be used with utensils.

Nick: I mean, I don't even know what to do with that.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Square foods. That's the line now.

Leah: Well, I'm saying if it's in a triangle, it better be in your hand.

Nick: Or else.

Leah: Or people are gonna start thinking things about you.

Nick: Okay. And you don't want Leah Bonnema thinking things about you, so use your hands.

Leah: [laughs]

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

Leah: Deep and melodious.

Nick: Oh! So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about karaoke.

Leah: Woo!

Nick: So karaoke, for anybody who doesn't know, it's basically when you're singing and the music is provided for you. Originally it's from Japan, and actually literally it translates as "Kara," which means, like, "emptiness" or "void," and "Oke," which is, like, short for orchestra in Japanese.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: So Leah, do you like karaoke?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Okay. So this is a go to for you.

Leah: I haven't done it in so long. I used to do it all the time in college.

Nick: Oh, okay.

Leah: And then, you know, I don't do a lot of social stuff now. [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: Everything sort of centers around shows. But when I was living in New York, we lived right near a karaoke place, and I had rented a room and gone in the back and just been like, "I gotta get some energy out," you know?

Nick: And so what are your songs? Like, what are your go to?

Leah: I'd say when I was in college, I loved doing Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop."

Nick: Oh, classic. Sure.

Leah: And then I've recently done a little of Jethro Tull, "Locomotive Breath."

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Switch it up.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: I have done Faith No More but, you know, I like to pick songs where I can get away with not singing, and just sort of talking ...

Nick: Ah, more spoken word.

Leah: ... talking in the music.

Nick: Got it. Me personally, I actually do not love karaoke. It is not something I enjoy doing. I don't want to do it.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: I don't care for it. I don't enjoy anything about it. It doesn't hit any box for me. I will go. I have been. I will always be a good sport. I will always bring my A game. I'll always leave the audience wanting more. But for me, it's not one of my go-tos. I just don't—and I don't know why. I'm a fun time, but I guess karaoke is just not for me. If I go though, I would do Lesley Gore "You Don't Own Me."

Leah: Oh, that's a nice one. That's a nice one.

Nick: That's usually my go-to. It's a classic, yeah. And it really speaks to me. And then I do like "Torn" from Natalie Imbruglia. I think that's a good solid choice.

Leah: Oh, yes.

Nick: And then it depends on the crowd. It has to be sort of a Broadway adjacent crowd. I do like the song "Nothing" from A Chorus Line, because it's sort of in my range and it's about being dead inside. And so I think that really resonates for a lot of audiences.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So ...

Leah: Whoo! I have A Chorus Line on vinyl. I'm gonna play it right after this and sing along to "Nothing" so I'm ready for next time.

Nick: Yeah, feel the emotion. So let's talk about the etiquette though, because like anything social, unless it's you alone in the back room at your local karaoke place, it's a social thing. And whenever we're interacting with other people, things can go wrong. So what is on your list? What are things that people should keep in mind?

Leah: I think we want to let everybody have a turn. Like, sometimes people go and they just put in so many back to back that nobody else gets to go up.

Nick: Yeah, I think you need to make sure everybody else has a turn before you go up again.

Leah: Sometimes it seems that there's a little mic hogging.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: And I think that we—you know, you're in a group, you want to chat with your friends, but I always like to clap at the end of everybody's song.

Nick: Yes. Oh, I think that's a good subtopic, which is: be a good audience, be supportive, don't heckle.

Leah: No heckling!

Nick: Everyone's doing their best. Or even if they're not doing their best, you know, as long as they're doing it with enthusiasm, then that's all that matters.

Leah: I usually don't—if I wanted to do a song and then somebody else did it, I'll usually switch my song so people don't have to hear the same song twice.

Nick: Yes. And definitely you shouldn't pick the same song with the express purpose of showing who can sing it better.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Like, that's—that's not the world we live in.

Leah: No, no, no.

Nick: No, that's super rude.

Leah: There's always, like, the people that are there to have fun and then the competitive singers who are like, "Hey, I'm on America's Got Talent right now." There are always those people.

Nick: Yeah, it's not a competition. And I think if you approach it that way, like, oh, that's not good.

Leah: But I'll clap for you. This is the void you need filled.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yeah, I'll try and fill that coffer, that bottomless coffer.

Leah: We all have them. I'll clap and I'll say, "Great voice!" when you walk by.

Nick: And when you are selecting songs, I think it is important to be mindful of your audience, that they still have to listen to you hypothetically. So I don't think we want the eight-minute version of "Stairway to Heaven."

Leah: Oh, and sometimes you get in it and you're like, "Oh, wow."

Nick: [laughs] Right.

Leah: "Paradise By the Dashboard Light." That song is like 35 minutes. You think it's not, and then you realize, "Oh, my goodness, I got eight more minutes!"

Nick: Yeah. And something that just has the same chorus for the last five minutes over and over? Like, that's also not what we want. Or if there's, like, a two-minute guitar intro or there's, like, a two-minute dance break in the middle, like, what are you gonna do? Unless you're dancing, I don't want to see you standing around for two minutes.

Leah: Yeah, but if you're gonna bring the dance, I'm here for it.

Nick: Fair, yeah. No, as long as you're entertaining, then that's good.

Leah: I think also, if you're with a group and it's, like, sort of a party, don't get so loud and rowdy that nobody else can hear the singer. Don't do that.

Nick: Oh, that's true. Yeah. I mean, if you were with other groups, yeah, be mindful of everybody's happiness.

Leah: I mean, obviously you're gonna have fun together and chat or whatever, but don't overwhelm the whole bar.

Nick: And don't force anybody to sing. Like, I've been at karaoke where I'll do my one or two song obligation, and then, like, I just want to observe for the rest of the evening. Don't make me do it again. And I don't want to be pressured every two seconds and be like, "When are you gonna sing again? What are you gonna sing? Are you gonna sing? Go up there. Oh, you haven't sung in a while." Like, no. I said no politely and, like, leave me alone.

Leah: Yeah, some people just don't want to sing.

Nick: Yeah, some people don't. And that's okay.

Leah: Oh, let me just add something.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Say you're at a bar and you get surprise karaoke. You didn't know that at 4:00 it was a karaoke bar, and you're there with a friend.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I would put up that if you wanted to stay there and just have your conversation with your friend, you don't sit directly in front of the stage. You move to a corner in the back instead of being like, "I didn't want this to happen. I'm gonna sit directly in front of where the microphone is and continue to just talk to my friend, and not in any way alter." Because that happens at, like, comedy shows where it's a bar and then at 8:00 there's a comedy show, and people were there before.

Nick: Interesting. Oh, that's a good point.

Leah: It would just be so much easier if they were like, "Oh, I'm just gonna move to the back. I want to continue my conversation. I don't want to be a part of this." But you don't need to be directly in front of the stage.

Nick: Right. I guess it's sort of like proximity means attendance.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So if you do not want to attend the karaoke, then you cannot be that proximate.

Leah: Yeah, don't sit right in front because it makes it hard for the performer, people who want to cheer them on. You're, like, right in the middle. Just move to the side.

Nick: And it is hard to perform in front of people who are not interested.

Leah: Yes, it's very hard.

Nick: [laughs] And paying attention.

Leah: Very hard.

Nick: So I can imagine that that's not good. Yeah. All right. That's a very good point.

Leah: Happened to me a few times.

Nick: And finally, be mindful of what songs you choose based on where you are. So if you're at a wedding, I don't think we want to select the Tammy Wynette song about divorce.

Leah: Oh, that's hilarious.

Nick: Right? Or, like, "Say My Name." You know? We don't need that Destiny's Child song at this wedding. So be mindful of, like, oh, what is the occasion for which this karaoke is happening?

Leah: Very good point.

Nick: Yeah. Be mindful that, like, oh, the lyrics in this song may be inappropriate.

Leah: If you're at a children's party.

Nick: Also that. Yes, if you are at a children's party, there are many songs that would not be appropriate.

Leah: We don't need to be singing Eminem.

Nick: Songs about M&Ms? Fine.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So yeah, just be mindful of the context. Context is key when it comes to etiquette. So that's karaoke.

Leah: I want to have some pizza and I want to go sing some karaoke. And also, I wouldn't mind a bowl of M&Ms either.

Nick: And we're gonna post a link to all of the songs we just talked about in case any were unfamiliar or you just want to hear them again, in the show notes so you can check that out. And Leia really wants to sing right now.

Leah: I was about to start singing, but Nick is waving his hands "No."

Nick: Nope.

Leah: And I know why.

Nick: We don't have the rights.

Leah: We don't have the rights, but just know that I was gonna do "Locomotive Breath" for you guys.

Nick: We'll post a link to the professional singing that so you can check that out.

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, "A few weeks ago, I received a 'Save the Date' for a friend's wedding. This week, I received a text from her saying to check my Instagram DMs. She shared a post of a wedding painter. I guess it's a new trend where people hire artists to paint live at their weddings. The end result is a realistic painting of the bride and groom at the event that they can take home with them later. She dropped a message with a post saying, 'I want a painter like this at my wedding.' She then texted me and asked, 'Can you paint at my wedding?' with a laughing emoji and a heart after the message. She also asked for my most recent address, because she said she is sending out invites soon.

Nick: "As an artist, painting from life during an event is a lot of work, and something someone should normally get paid for. I can't tell if she's being serious or if she's joking—hence the laughing emoji. And if she's being serious, am I receiving the forthcoming invite to be a guest or a worker? Is there a not-rude way to ask if I will be a guest at the wedding in addition to being a painter, or to ask if I will be paid for this service? I am baffled."

Leah: Mmm.

Nick: So then I wrote her back. I was like, "Uh, I think you should just, like, clarify politely what her expectations are, because that's the thing I think you should do." And so she wrote back and said quote, "I ended up asking what her expectations were. She replied that I would quote, 'Be doing it for her as a friend, but that I would still be a guest and can bring a date.' I asked what she expected my date to do while I painted, and she said he could film me. Needless to say, sounds like if I go, it'll be a story to tell."

Leah: I was very much not happy with our letter-writer's friend.

Nick: Yeah, I don't love this. No, I do not.

Leah: A) It was a very passive-aggressive way to get into it. Said, "Oh, I want this in my—" like, if you want a friend who does a thing that is a job to do it at your wedding, you reach out directly and say, "I would love this. Is this possible? What would the terms be?" Straightforward at the top.

Nick: Yes. This oblique way makes it so much worse.

Leah: So much worse. And then the idea that—there's much more in there, but also, like, what would my date do? They could film. Oh, could they? Could they film?

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Could they just stand there and hold the phone?

Nick: Lucky them! What an honor!

Leah: Also, do you have any idea how long it takes to paint something? I find that it's also insulting to her artistry that this person's like, "Oh, can you just show up and do this real easy-peasy? No big deal?" Oh, no. It's an arc and it is a big deal.

Nick: Oh, live painting is very difficult.

Leah: Very difficult.

Nick: That's a specialty. That's a skill. And also what bothers me—I mean, a lot bothers me, but that the invitation that we're now getting is sort of conditional on me doing this thing. It does not feel like our bride would actually be happy for me to decline and to show up as a guest. Like, I think this person, the bride, would actually be mad at me if I took the invitation, ate her food and didn't give her the painting she asked for. I think that is a very real possibility here.

Leah: I just don't like any part of this.

Nick: And also what bothers me is that a lot of times people want this live painting at a wedding because it's actually like entertainment for the rest of the guests who see this happening and can check in on the progress. And it's like, "Oh, isn't that neat that there's an artist here doing this thing?" And so our letter-writer's actually being used as a prop. It's like, "Oh, I want you to be a prop at my wedding so that it makes my wedding seem cooler." Like, I get that flavor from this.

Leah: Oh, I get that too. And also it's like, "I want you to do it, but I'm in no way acting like it's actually a job, when it would take over your whole time at the wedding."

Nick: Yeah. No, you can't paint at this wedding and attend the wedding. Like, there's not time for both things.

Leah: I wouldn't go to the wedding.

Nick: Like, oh, maybe you can grab a bite of cake that your date can feed you as you're painting. [laughs]

Leah: Yeah, while they film it.

Nick: While they film it. Yeah.

Leah: Also they're gonna film it, and then this lady is gonna ask for the tape. "Oh, can I have the tape?"

Nick: Oh! Oh, a hundred percent yes. Oh, that's absolutely true. Yeah, I was pricing this out because I was not aware of this trend and I was like, "How much does it cost?" The cheapest I could find, the cheapest artist, minimum amount of time, I couldn't find anybody who would do this for less than $2,000. And that was the minimum. Most people are charging thousands and thousands of dollars for this service. It's like a big deal. Like, this is an expensive thing.

Leah: Well, not only are you painting from real life like a portrait, you're painting from people moving.

Nick: And then, of course, as soon as you do this painting, she's not gonna like it. She's gonna have notes and want changes. Like, of course she is.

Leah: And I mean, if your friend does have a skill that you would love, talk to them up front in an appreciative tone, and be direct and see what is the ...

Nick: Yes. "Hey, friend. I'm interested in having live painting. Is that something you do? If so, would you be interested in doing it at my wedding? If so, how much does that service cost, and would you be okay doing that instead of being a guest at my wedding?" Like, I think those are sort of the bullet points of the conversation we need to have.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So okay, we have an invitation coming that may or may not be conditional on me painting at your wedding. Do you think we can accept this invitation if we're not planning on painting?

Leah: Would we want to accept this invitation?

Nick: I think that's also a good question. Yes.

Leah: I don't know their relationship. I personally wouldn't want to accept it.

Nick: Yeah, I can't imagine that they're that close that this was cool, right? It feels like they know each other, they've been friends for a while, but they're not like BFF ride or die. And it's sort of that middle zone between, like, close friends and acquaintances where I think we exist here.

Leah: I think you could say, "Hey, I'd love to come to your wedding, but it's really hard for me to enjoy an event if I'm working. But here are some live painters I've researched for you."

Nick: Oh, that's good. Yeah, I think refer to other people that she might be able to hire to achieve this.

Leah: And I think it's fair to tell people "I can't relax if I'm working." Like, I don't like to do, unless it's a very particular thing, people would be like, "Oh, do you want to do some stand up?" I'll be like, "No, thank you. It's really hard for me to get into job mode when I'm trying to relax and have a good time."

Nick: Oh, you're just at, like, some party and they're like, "Hey, Leah. You want to do 15 minutes?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Oh.

Leah: Because people don't understand that it's actually work.

Nick: Right. Yeah, I guess people wouldn't go up to an attorney and be like, "Hey, can you do a contract real quick?"

Leah: "Do you mind reading this contract just really quick and giving me a few thoughtsies?"

Nick: "Real quick. I just need you to redline this paragraph for me. Thanks."

Leah: So I think you could explain it.

Nick: "Oh, I'll hold your plate of canapés while you do it. No problem."

Leah: I think benefit of the doubt, we explain it. "Hey, I can't relax, you know, and, like, enjoy the wedding if I'm working, but I'd love to come. Here are some recommendations." And see what they say.

Nick: Yeah, I guess that's the approach. And assume that the bride to be is not a bad person, just didn't know that what they were asking was actually a major ask, and was sort of like a little inappropriate. And then we just need to help them understand the true scope of this request.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's the way to go into it.

Nick: Okay. Yeah. All right. And then keep us posted. Did you go? Did you paint? If you did, what happened? [laughs] So definitely want some follow up on this, please.

Leah: Please keep us posted, because I don't really think that this is a benefit-of-the-doubt person, but I love giving them the benefit of the doubt, and then we'll see if they double down on it.

Nick: Yeah, I think I know how it's gonna go, but happy to be surprised.

Leah: Me too.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "My mother in law is from another country, and she regularly inserts into conversation how something we do here would be considered rude where she's from. I find it rather insulting and unnecessary since I do not ask for her opinion. Am I being too sensitive?"

Leah: I don't think you're being too sensitive because that would probably get under my skin too. But I would try to let it go.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, mother in laws.

Leah: I was also wondering, maybe they're just sort of homesick, and it would be nice to use it as a jumping off point to ask them questions about where they're from. Like, "Oh, what's something—" you know, maybe they just want to talk about home.

Nick: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah. I mean, I think that's a possibility.

Leah: And they're coming at it from, like, a negative place, but maybe you could flip that and try to open it up for them to share something positive.

Nick: But yeah, I mean, it's rude. Criticizing people's culture—which is what this is—is rude. And that's universal. I'm sure that's rude in their country too, you know? I don't think criticizing people's culture is allowed wherever this mother in law is from. So yeah, I guess you just have to tough it out if you didn't want to sort of say something.

Leah: But I don't think you're being sensitive. But I do think if it wasn't a mother in law, it would be fine to say, "Oh, I think criticizing people's culture isn't polite either." But I mean, it is a mother in law.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess you could say, like, "Oh, imagine all the things that are done in your home country that we consider rude. Isn't etiquette interesting?"

Leah: You could try to land that.

Nick: Yeah, you could really try. Good luck. [laughs]

Leah: But I don't think they'll stop.

Nick: Or I guess you could say, like, "I know. Aren't we the worst?"

Leah: No, I think that's fine. I've actually said that. But I'll say it about me. I'll go "I know. I'm the worst."

Nick: "I'm the worst."

Leah: But I mean, that has a flavor of ...

Nick: It has a bit of a tone.

Leah: It has a bit of a tone.

Nick: Yeah. I don't think that's actually good advice, but sometimes that's what feels tempting.

Leah: [laughs] It's definitely very tempting.

Nick: So what's our advice?

Leah: I think our advice is ...

Nick: Tough it out?

Leah: Yes, it's annoying. No, you're not being too sensitive, but if there's a way to just let it go, maybe try asking some questions. When she does that, ask some questions. Maybe she just wants to talk about her country, share some things.

Nick: And at the end of the day, pick your battles.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And is this the hill you want to die on? Maybe. Probably not.

Leah: And if it is, I think that you should try what Nick said, which was, "I bet you guys have a lot of stuff that's considered polite that we would consider rude. Different cultures."

Nick: Yeah. "Isn't it great? How fun!"

Leah: "Isn't it great that we're all different?"

Nick: "Different people."

Leah: I think that's a good way to do it. "Isn't it great that we're all different?"

Nick: [laughs] Right.

Leah: Do the positive version of it.

Nick: Yeah. No, "Our differences are what makes us interesting."

Leah: And then just swoosh out of the room. "Bye!"

Nick: Yeah. No, it definitely requires a nice little hair flip.

Leah: [laughs] A little hair flip and you gotta exit.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I just started a new job, and for the past few weeks, my allergies have really been terrible. Runny nose, constant sneezing. I'm frequently on Zoom meetings in this new job, and I don't know what to do. I don't want to blow my nose on camera. Should I turn off my video every minute just to sneeze or blow my nose? Do I get away from the camera and just not show myself? What should I do?"

Leah: Well, you should be muted.

Nick: Definitely should be muted.

Leah: Just stay muted until somebody asks you a question.

Nick: But what do we do about sneezing on camera? I think that's the question.

Leah: You can actually turn your head and move enough so you're not directly in the camera.

Nick: So am I still in the frame, though? Like, is my body in the frame? Leah's trying to demonstrate. We're on Zoom right now, for people who don't know. That's how we record the show in New York and Los Angeles.

Leah: I think that actually moving your head out of frame is less attention grabby than turning your video on and off.

Nick: I see. Okay. Because my first thought was, "Oh, just turn off your video if you have to blow your nose." But you feel like that's actually more distracting than turning discreetly to the side.

Leah: I think it will pull people's eye more than turning discretely to the side, because they see the black come up and, like, the camera off little thingy.

Nick: I see.

Leah: Especially if you're doing it, like, every 30 seconds.

Nick: And do I want to be totally out of frame with my body? Like, you don't want to see my head.

Leah: Well, how big is this sneeze? Also, you're—you know, I assume like a lot of people hold their computers up, so on a zoom they're not looking directly down into it.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So you can just sort of boop! Just sort of move your head, so at least half your face is out.

Nick: I see. So if you needed to blow your nose or sneeze, you could duck down on the frame where you just see the top of my head and my forehead. Is that the idea?

Leah: Yeah or just move to the side. I think moving to the side is less odd.

Nick: Okay. I'm just trying it right now to demonstrate.

Leah: Yes! That's perfect! Nick just sort of turned around, just a quick little turn.

Nick: Okay, yeah. I put my back to the camera, and that actually felt like the least weird option.

Leah: That felt—that definitely is better than the scoop down.

Nick: Okay. I'm really glad we workshopped this, because my first thought was like, oh, just turn off your camera. But that's incorrect. That instinct was wrong.

Leah: I mean, I could be wrong, but I do—if you keep turning it on and off and on and off, that is much more ...

Nick: Yeah, that is distracting. And what I would do, depending on how big the meeting is, like if it's an all-hands with 400 employees, like, don't worry about it. But if it's a meeting with, like, you and, like, four other people and you're, like, heavily participating, when the meeting starts, I think you can just say, like, "Hey, everybody. Pollen count in my neighborhood is really high today, so forgive me in advance if I have to sneeze or blow my nose. My allergies are real bad today."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And just like a heads-up, a light heads-up that, like, "Oh, if you're wondering what is happening, that is what is happening."

Leah: Yes, I think that's perfect.

Nick: And as long as you're muted while it's happening, I think that is the solution.

Leah: And maybe you get two air purifiers just for—and then you put yourself directly in the middle of them for the Zooms. Give yourself the best chance.

Nick: Yeah. Although, I mean, do you get allergies? Like, when I get them, there's nothing that can help me.

Leah: I got allergies for the first time two weeks ago, and it's my eye. I can't wear my contacts.

Nick: Yeah. Bienvenido. It's real fun.

Leah: No me gusta!

Nick: So do you have questions for us about allergies or anything else? Let us know! You can let us know through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com, 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: [whispers] 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: I'm gonna vent.

Nick: Okay, let's hear it!

Leah: And also this is very timely because we just discussed this I think two episodes ago.

Nick: All right. What happened?

Leah: I'm out of town for a gig.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I'm at a hotel that has a breakfast.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: It is not an included breakfast. It's a pay-for breakfast.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: They say—there's a big sign. It says "Breakfast closes at 10. Last guest is seated at 9:45."

Nick: Oh, that's actually very generous. Okay.

Leah: And it's a breakfast buffet. It's not like you're gonna be ordering from the kitchen. So it's like, you can sit at 9:45, you have that 15 minutes to get your stuff, then they're gonna clear the buffet.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I get there 9:36.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: I walk up to the seater.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I say, "Oh one for breakfast, please." He pauses, then he goes, "We close at 9:35."

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: A) I'm standing right next to the sign.

Nick: Right. Of course you are.

Leah: That has the times on it. B) Nobody closes at 9:35.

Nick: Yeah. What an odd time.

Leah: What an odd—it's not 9:30, it's not 9:45, it's not 10:00. It's that you close on a five minute directly into my face. Like, says it like it's a real thing. So I then was like, "Oh, well the sign—" I didn't say "Directly next to us."

Nick: Uh-huh.

Nick: "Says that you're seating until 9:45, and then you close down at 10:00." And then he, like, irritatingly grabs the menu and does, like, an eye roll and walks me over to a seat.

Nick: What?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Where does ...?

Leah: As if I was gonna be like, "Okay."

Nick: "Okay, bye." I mean what's it to this person?

Leah: What's it to you? You're just pulling the buffet. And I say this as a person who worked breakfast buffets for, I would say at least four years.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. You are an expert on the breakfast buffet.

Leah: Do you think that by making me uncomfortable I'm gonna leave? Because I am not missing a breakfast buffet.

Nick: I just don't understand why we would even come up with this lie.

Leah: Right? It's so ridiculous! Also, if you're gonna lie, nothing ends at 9:35.

Nick: Well, and also if you're gonna lie, don't do it by the sign that says you're lying. [laughs]

Leah: Move the sign! I mean, what's happening right now?

Nick: So ...

Leah: But he, like, stared into my face. Like, it felt like a dare. Like, he was gonna be like, "Are you gonna point to the sign directly next to my face?"

Nick: What a weird power trip. Is it a power trip?

Leah: What's happening right now?

Nick: Well, I'm sorry that happened. I'm glad you got breakfast at the end of the day.

Leah: I just was so annoyed. Like, it's so weird when someone lies to your face.

Nick: Because they have to know.

Leah: And there's the thing that proves them otherwise. He knows.

Nick: He knows.

Leah: Of course he knows. He's just trying to cut a—that's why he said 9:35. He's just trying to make it the one minute before I got there.

Nick: [laughs] Well for me, I would also like to vent. And so I was recently on a flight, and it was one of those single-aisle planes where it's three seats, three seats. And I'm at the window. The seat next to me is empty, the middle seat. And then there's a guy at the aisle. And we take off, and it's like, oh, how nice to have all this kind of extra buffer space around me. Love that!

Nick: And we are barely wheels up, and this guy at the aisle takes out his bag, takes out all of his accouterments and sets up camp into the middle seat that's empty.

Leah: Ugh!

Nick: He takes it over. He just says, like, "It's mine. This is mine. This is part of my seat now. I claim it. It is mine." And I don't love that energy. It was like, that feels very entitled. I feel like I should be able to have some say about what happens to this shared resource. Like, or at least ask. "Oh, do you mind if I put my bag here? Do you mind if we share the tray table?" But no, he took down the tray table and it was like 100 percent of it within seconds was covered with his stuff: book, laptop, cables, cords, cup of coffee. And it was like, where am I supposed to be? I would like to have half of this tray table too. And it just felt rude, and it just felt kind of gross. And I mean, I guess everything on an airplane is shared space so, like, nobody's entitled to anything. But I would have wanted to, like, share a little bit. I think that would have been nice if we shared this resource.

Leah: Yeah, that's so rude.

Nick: Very rude! And my options are, like, I can also be petty and just sort of like slide his stuff to the middle of that tray table or, like, shove his bag over on that middle seat. Like, put my own bag down and, like, claim my half of the territory. But it was like, it's not worth it.

Leah: Yeah, that's gross.

Nick: Right? I thought it was gross. So as a reminder: sharing is caring, and it's nice to do it.

Leah: I had—when you have the glorious moment of having nobody in the middle, even if I put something under the seat in the middle, I'll ask that person, "Hey, do you mind if I put this under the seat in the middle?"

Nick: Totally, yes. I mean, it would have been so lovely when he was taking the tray table in the middle seat, which felt provocative. Like, that actually felt more provocative than, like, putting something on the seat between us.

Leah: It is provocative.

Nick: That tray table felt like, oh, that's extra. That feels like another step.

Leah: Mm-mm.

Nick: So it's like, yeah, I didn't like the vibe. I didn't like the vibe that he was giving off the entire flight. And then I was sort of like, secretly resentful the entire time, which is not a feeling I like to have when I'm flying.

Leah: Yeah, I don't like it at all.

Nick: So that's my vent. It happened. And I guess it's why I just hate flying commercial.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned that you're not a fan of karaoke.

Nick: No.

Leah: But you will sing a Natalie Imbruglia.

Nick: I'll do it if I have to, it's true.

Leah: For the people.

Nick: And I learned that when it comes to pizza and hands, if it's triangular, you have very strong feelings.

Leah: And I won't apologize!

Nick: No! Nor should you. Well thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

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

Leah: He would!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we want you to follow our show in whatever app you're using to listen to us right now. There's probably a bell or a subscribe button or a plus sign. Click it, because that way you'll never miss a new episode.

Leah: And it helps us.

Nick: It does help us. And we need the validation.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So for all of those reasons, please follow and subscribe to our show. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

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

Leah: So I recently had a gig in Chicago, and I stayed with my friend's family, the Novotnys. And I had the most wonderful time with them and their dog, Riley. And it was such a delight. And I really appreciate you having me.

Nick: Oh, that's very nice!

Leah: It was so fun. I haven't stayed with a family in so long besides my family, and it was just so sweet and fun.

Nick: Yeah, that's lovely to be in someone's home like that.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: And for me, I want to give a special thank you to my friend Lonny, who just gave me the best etiquette book. It's called Don't. And it's from 1884, and it's full of advice that all begins with the word "Don't." And it's a really fun read, and it's interesting how much has changed since 1884, and how much has not changed. Like, there's all sorts of stuff about, like, "Be on time for a dinner party," and, like, "Don't criticize strangers." So all stuff, which is like, oh, that's very relevant to today's life. Also a little disappointing that we have not solved any etiquette problems in 130 years. But thank you, Lonny. This book is super fun to read. I'm really enjoying it, and I'll post a link to it in the show notes in case anybody wants to check it out.

Leah: I love that title.

Nick: Great title!