Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about enjoying fancy baths in luxury hotels, waking people who are snoring, returning canning jars, and much more.
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about enjoying fancy baths in hotels, waking people who are snoring, returning canning jars, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
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Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...
Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "This past weekend, my fiance and I took a weekend getaway to a very luxurious, very fancy five-star hotel. In the bathroom, there was a menu for signature baths you could order for your room that included different oils, garnishes and accompanying drinks. What is the etiquette for this? What do I wear when I answer the door? A robe? And where do I wait while they prepare the bath? What is the customary tip for this? I was curious, but ultimately not knowing what to expect, I was deterred from trying this experience."
Leah: May I just say that something hit me so hard about this letter-writer's message. I underlined it, that "I was curious, but ultimately not knowing what to expect deterred me from trying this experience." I underlined and I wrote "Samesies," because there's so many things in my life that I really am interested in trying, but I'm afraid I'm gonna not know how to do it right, and then I get so anxious that I don't do it. So I thought that this was, like, such a—and it's one of the things that I really hope from our show that I work through, and along with our listeners that, like, we can figure this out, and we should try new experiences and just give it our best. That really highlighted for me one of the things that is one of my huge takeaways from this show.
Nick: Yes. Interesting you say this because that is exactly what I wrote down.
Leah: Oh, really?
Nick: Which was like, yeah—no, that point too, which was like, oh, I'm so sad for our letter-writer that not knowing the etiquette actually prevented them from doing something they wanted to do. And I wonder, like, oh, throughout all of our lives, how many other things are we just not doing because we are nervous or anxious or unsure how to proceed so we just decide not to do it? And it's like, oh, I don't want to live in that world. I want to live in a world where everybody feels comfortable to do whatever it is they want to do, and nobody feels like they should deprive themselves because they're worried about not knowing what to do. And so I do hope, I agree, that our show does help people feel more confident to do anything they want to do: eat escargot, have a fancy bath, like, everything in between. Hopefully there's things in between baths and escargot. [laughs]
Leah: And honestly, it makes me want to cry a little bit when you say it, because I'm reading this because even I think that if we haven't talked about the situation exactly, hopefully we—and this is myself included, somebody who has not done a lot of things because they were afraid of doing it wrong, that the big takeaway is if we just try in a nice way, it'll be fine.
Nick: Yes. Nine times out of 10, at least doing it with the right intention is fine. Absolutely. So one way to try and come up with the right answer when we don't know what an etiquette rule is for a particular situation is to try and come up with something that's adjacent. So what situation is sort of nearby the bath here? And so one way to think about it is okay, what other services come to your room? So room service? Like, that's kind of similar. So what are the rules for room service tipping? So maybe that's applicable. Or some very fancy hotels have a butler that's sort of assigned to your room for your entire stay. And so, like, maybe those rules apply.
Nick: So I would kind of maybe point to one of those and to see okay, is there information about the rules there that can apply to this? So for this, I would say room service tipping? I would maybe have the same rule there. Or if it's a butler situation, then we tip at the end for all the services provided, and we maybe wouldn't tip for this individual service.
Leah: I also would feel comfortable calling down to the front desk and saying, "Hey, I love this bath service that you offer. I haven't tried this before. Does one tip in person, or does one tip on the tab at the—" because sometimes you're just signing it.
Nick: Right. Yeah. I mean, when in doubt, ask. Yeah. And often, you know, you're gonna get a very nebulous, non-committal answer from a hotel, which is like, "Oh, some people do whatever and some people don't." But maybe you'll get some clues in that conversation if they're not gonna just be direct with you. But yeah, when in doubt, ask. I mean, that's usually a good etiquette answer.
Leah: And I think—I love what Nick was saying about something that's adjacent. I think a part of this is sort of like spa adjacent. And in a spa, you often have a robe on. I think it's fine if you have, like, a night—like, if they have a robe in your room. I feel like they do. It's a five-star hotel.
Nick: Well, because, like, what are your choices? You can be in full business attire, ball gown-tiara. You can be in your bathing suit. You can be nude. I mean, like, I feel like robe is, like, the right answer.
Leah: I think robe is the right way to go.
Nick: Because also room service rules, like, how would you want to answer the door for room service? And I feel like robe is allowed. So I feel like that would also apply here.
Leah: Yeah, I feel good about robe.
Nick: Mm-hmm. And then where to hang out while the bath is happening? I mean, I don't think we want to hang out in the bathroom. I feel like that's awkward because now are we making small talk? Like, what is happening? It's a small space. So I feel like you probably have another room you can go to where the beds are. And I feel like, hang out there while this is happening.
Leah: Yeah. I always get nervous about that exact same thing. So I always, like, show people where they're going, even though they obviously know, and then say, "Let me know if I—if you need me for anything." And then I just go in another room.
Nick: Yeah. So I think do that.
Leah: And thank you so much for sharing this question with us, because I think that feeling is a really—a lot of people have that feeling of not knowing what to expect causing you to not do something. And thank you for sharing with us.
Nick: I just flashed on that theater thing in the bathtub. Did I ever tell you about this? Do you know about this?
Nick: So I actually had an actor in my bathtub doing a whole show. You don't know about this?
Leah: Is this real?
Nick: This is real. Yeah. So there is this—I guess I didn't mention it.
Nick: So there is this theater company in New York City. They're called WalkUpArts, and they do really interesting theater. And one of the shows that they did was this show called "End of the World Bar and Bathtub." And basically, it took place in your bathtub in your apartment and—or my apartment, as the case was. And the actor comes, and the idea is that the world is ending and the only safe space left is your bathtub. And so it's for you and one other person. And it's sort of interactive, and it takes place in your bathroom.
Nick: And I gotta say, it was so great. It was so great! It was one of the best theatrical experiences I've ever had because A) super interesting. When was the last time you actually had, like, amazing theater in your bathroom? And it was also, interestingly, the first time I've ever had a Twinkie, because eating a Twinkie was actually part of the show—long story. And this was the first time I actually ever ate a Twinkie, which was with this stranger in my bathtub. So there you go.
Leah: Wow! It's so much to take in at the same time.
Leah: I have so many questions, like how do they vet you? How do they know that they could send an actor to your house?
Nick: So interestingly, there was another person that came with the actor who hung out in your living room the whole time just to make sure that you weren't a total crazy person. So there was some, like, safety available. And that person I think just, like, read on my couch while this was happening.
Leah: And now are you in the bathtub eating the Twinkie? Or are they in the bathtub and then you are outside the bathtub eating the Twinkie?
Nick: Not to give too much away because I hope other people go see this show, but there is a conversation about whether or not you want to join in the bathtub, whether or not you want to be saved and who gets saved, should anybody be saved. And so the Twinkie sort of comes up as something that happens. And so it was something I tried, and I ate the Twinkie. And I'd never had a Twinkie before, so I thought, you know, it's a night of firsts.
Leah: I love this about you, Nick.
Nick: I love a good theatrical experience. And interestingly—sidebar, everybody. Sorry. Another sidebar. The same writer wrote another show about Baby Jessica. Remember Baby Jessica?
Leah: In the well?
Nick: She was the baby that she fell in a well? Yes!
Leah: Of course I remember. It was ...
Leah: And that was before the internet, and we were all on it.
Nick: Oh, glued! Glued to the TV. Yeah. Will she make it? She made it.
Leah: She made it. Oh, thank goodness!
Nick: But this show is also in your apartment. And the idea is you go in your own closet, although in New York City, who can actually get inside their closet?
Leah: Who actually has a closet?
Nick: [laughs] Right? Or you create a little blanket fort. And so that's what I did. And so I created a little blanket fort, and so I was Baby Jessica and I was in the well. And then you're on your cell phone, and you're interacting with the actor in sort of this interactive play about being Baby Jessica, and how it felt and experience and, like, the whole story. And so super interesting. I'm not doing it justice. There was three acts to this play, and the second act blew my mind. And then the third act actually just came in the mail, like, two weeks ago, which was, like, totally unexpected and wonderful. So theatrical experiences. I really recommend getting outside of the box.
Leah: My mind is so blown right now.
Nick: Yeah, WalkUpArts. Look them up and sign up for their newsletter. Go see their shows.
Leah: I will!
Nick: Yeah, you should. So anyway, that's what I think of when I think of bathtub. I think of eating Twinkies with strangers. So our next question is quote, "I'm a parent of a Gen Z teen. Recently, a great aunt and a great grandmother took the teen shopping on two separate occasions. They went to all the trendy stores and purchased all the latest fashions her heart desired. I asked my teen to please send handwritten thank-you notes to both the great aunt and great grandmother. My teen said that she thanked them profusely in person and also sent thank-you text messages. She said that sending another note would be 'Doing too much.' The Gen Z translation of that is 'I'm afraid of coming off as contrived or insincere.' So my question is: is a heartfelt in-person thanking and a follow-up thank-you text enough? Would sending a card be overkill?"
Leah: I feel like question about thank-you notes? Let's get Nick's sense on this.
Nick: [laughs] Well, I get the sense the daughter does not feel like a letter is required.
Leah: Yeah, definitely does not.
Nick: And the letter-writer would like us to tell her daughter "You're wrong." I believe that is what we were being asked today. And I don't know if I'm prepared to do that necessarily, but I think I am prepared to walk through some thoughts about how we might come to an answer. How's that?
Leah: Let's take that walk. I'm ready for that walk.
Nick: So I think my first thought is that rarely do we live in a world in which there's too much gratitude, where it's like, "Oh, too much! Oh, dial it back. Oh, that was too much gratitude. It feels like it's excessive." Rare is the occasion where that is the case. So I think the idea of, like, oh, we are just gonna be thanking too much? I don't think we're in that danger. Let's not worry about that. And then I think it's up to the daughter to decide whether or not her expressions of gratitude are sufficient for the grandmother and the aunt, and whether or not the grandmother and aunt would agree. I think that's the question. Yes, you could have feelings about it, but the person you're thanking, how do they feel about it? Because we want them to receive the gratitude in a way that is received in the way you intend. And so is it being received in the way you intend? Are they actually getting the message of gratitude to the extent that you want them to get? And so I think that's a question. Because I think there is a generational question that comes up, which is like, oh, we have different generations here and we have different attitudes about this.
Nick: And so I think one question is: if we are sending a note to a different generation, what is that generation's expectations? And maybe we should actually calibrate what we do based on their expectations, not our own. So I guess a question is, yeah, is the great grandmother and the great aunt, like, what do they think about this? And then I guess the question is, is doing the bare minimum, the bare minimum that etiquette requires, is that the bar we want to set for ourselves? Like, just doing what is the least effort required by etiquette? Sure. Yeah, you could do the bare minimum, but I don't know if that's really how we want to live our lives. So I say to the daughter in this story, you do you. You do what you think is appropriate, but I think you might want to rethink it.
Leah: I love that walk. I feel like I'm on the exact same walk.
Leah: I definitely feel like as generations change, people say thank you differently.
Nick: Sure. Absolutely.
Leah: I love how you—I think you said it so well where it's like, if you're thanking a different generation, would it be nice to say thank you maybe more in their framework?
Nick: Yes. I mean, I think you want to speak in the language that they're speaking. So whatever language that is, whatever language of gratitude they speak, you want to speak that language.
Leah: And I definitely agree there can never be too much gratitude. And just to highlight this, this happened this week. I was out with a friend—we're writing buddies. We were working on something. She got a message from somebody that we both know who produced a show, and I did one of their projects I'm talking eight years ago at least. And she messaged them back, "Oh, I'm here with Leah." And they said, "Leah Bonnema! She wrote me a thank-you note eight years ago for this project, and I just found it again in my office."
Nick: Wow! They saved it!
Leah: They saved it.
Leah: And I was like, "Wow!" I mean, talk about ...
Nick: Yeah, these thank you notes, they seem like such an inconsequential thing, but the impact they have is really disproportionate to how much effort they are to write and send. And really, like, that person remembers you eight years later, and they remember you fondly. I mean, how wonderful.
Leah: And they still have the note! I'm just—I was like, "Wow."
Leah: And I do think it's very—it's nice to point out that even before Were You Raised By Wolves I was popping these notes out.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah. Oh, at the end of the day, Leah, you are a very thoughtful, polite person. I'm just trying to mold that clay into a vase.
Leah: [laughs] And I'm like, I will not be molded!
Nick: Oh, we'll—we're gonna spin you around. Yeah, we're gonna get a clear glaze on that eventually. Don't you worry.
Leah: Um, doubtful.
Nick: [laughs] So long story short, I think do whatever you think is appropriate. It's up to you to decide whether or not you've expressed gratitude sufficiently. I will say if you want to just be selfish about it, if you want more shopping trips, I would send a handwritten thank-you note because you are more likely to get more of those out of these relatives than a text message.
Leah: It also just really makes people feel good.
Nick: That, and also you'll get more free stuff. So, you know, it's kind of a win-win.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "I have a funeral to attend next weekend and I've never met the deceased or most of the family, but my husband is in a mentor-like position with the son of the deceased. So we were invited and will absolutely attend. The invitation specifies that the funeral will be, quote, 'beach attire.' I'm at a total loss as to what to wear. What do you think could pass as beach attire that would also be respectful? It will also be cold and rainy next weekend."
Leah: We're very sorry for the family's loss.
Leah: And I think they're letting you know that it's beach attire so you know that you may get dirty and particularly shoes. That was my immediate response, that they think, "Hey, so you guys know we're gonna be outside."
Nick: Hmm. Okay.
Leah: "Don't wear your, like, finest, you know, shiny black shoes and heels because you'll be sinking in." That was my immediate—I was thinking black raincoat.
Nick: Interesting. I guess the question is: is this a dress code or is this a location? Like, is this beach attire but not at the beach? Or is this beach attire and we're doing some ceremony on the beach? So I think we need some clarification there.
Leah: Oh, I didn't even think of that. I assumed it was on the beach, and that's why they're letting you know beach attire.
Nick: Right. So I think we want to clarify that, because if it's just beach attire because of some reason in this person's history, then I think we want to clarify because what that means. Because beach can be—San Francisco beaches are very different from Miami to south of France to Margaritaville. I mean, like, "Beach" has a very wide spectrum. And so I guess we would want to clarify, yeah, are we actually at the beach, or is it just the beach vibe we're going for?
Leah: Oh, that's such a great catch. Because if they were like a beach person and this is inside and you're just doing—it's like a celebration of life and everybody's wearing, like, white roll-up pants? That's a totally different thing than you're on the beach. Make sure you have a rain jacket and ...
Leah: ... shoes that don't sink in. So yeah, clarify that.
Nick: Clarify if we can. But if we cannot clarify, and I just had to answer the question with the information provided, I guess I would say beachy fabrics and fits but in muted colors. So, like, linens and, like, neutral colors and sort of muted. You know, a little somber if possible.
Leah: But I also think we're being told that it's cold and rainy so we know that it's gonna be cold and rainy outside on the beach. Because otherwise, cold and rainy doesn't matter.
Nick: Well, I mean, I still have to get to wherever I'm going. But yes, I think it is at the beach. I feel like this is something that's taking place on a beach.
Leah: I would do a light—a light rain jacket in a dark color.
Nick: Yeah, I guess that's what we're doing. Black umbrella.
Leah: Black umbrella.
Nick: Okay. I guess that's the etiquette answer there. But I think from an etiquette perspective, it's whatever the invitation specifies is you should follow those instructions. And I guess when we don't know exactly what an instruction means, then I think it is a good idea just to clarify with the host. Because what you don't want to do is show up and be totally wrong.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "Is it socially acceptable to send holiday cards with a boyfriend or girlfriend when you are not married? I live far away from friends and family, and would love to send out a photo holiday card, but I worry it's strange because my partner and I are not married. Thoughts?"
Leah: Coming into holiday card season.
Nick: 'Tis the season.
Leah: You know I love it. I think absolutely.
Nick: I mean, yeah, there's no requirement that you have to be legally married to send holiday cards. Like, have at it.
Leah: People want to know what's going on in your life and who you're sharing your life with. And I think it's always nice to put the people you care about in your photos.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess why wouldn't you? Is there a reason why you wouldn't do it? I mean, I guess if it was a big secret, I guess this is one way to announce it. Is there any reason why we wouldn't do this?
Leah: I think if anybody's sharing a large part of your life, it's great to put them on the holiday cards.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think if you're together enough where you would do a photo card, if that's like a conversation you would even have, like, "Oh, let's go to CVS and, like, make some photo cards," yeah, I feel like you're at the point where, like, you could send photo cards, right? I feel like that's the bar. Once you're at the point when you're in a relationship where you're having a conversation about photo cards, then I think you're there.
Leah: I think the point of cards is you're sending them to people you care about to let ...
Nick: And to show that your life is better than theirs.
Leah: Well, that's why Nick's sending cards.
Leah: I think you're sending cards to show people what's going on in your life. What ...
Nick: And how good the year was. And that I'm so sorry that our lives are going better than yours.
Nick: No? That's not what the letter is?
Leah: I mean, that's really writing cards in a different way. But in either of those circumstances, you would put your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you're having a significant relationship with somebody, they would of course want to go in your card because you're sharing that. And I don't see—I don't see the downside of that. I think that's always a yes.
Nick: Yeah. And I think if anybody's mad about receiving this card, well then just take them off the list for next year.
Leah: Yeah, I think definitely. And enjoy it. Have a fun holiday photo shoot!
Nick: So our next question is quote, "How do you deal with a snoring friend? I'm at a lake house weekend and sharing a bedroom with two friends. Last night, one person who I don't know super well snored extremely loudly. I eventually got out of bed, touched his shoulder, told him he was snoring and asked him to turn over. I tried to be very kind with my tone, but did I commit an etiquette crime? He hasn't mentioned it today. How do I handle it when he inevitably snores again tonight?"
Leah: I mean, you have to be able to sleep. I think that it's not rude to turn somebody over.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think it's okay to do a little tap. Sure.
Leah: A little tap is fine.
Nick: And there's no judgment in this. Like, he's not snoring on purpose. You know, he's not trying to keep you up.
Leah: Yeah, it's just like a, "Hey, how can we make this work?" Like I need to have—when I sleep, I mean, the list! I need a sound machine. I need some kind of a fan.
Leah: You know? So if I'm sharing a room with other people, it's just a conversation. "Hey, I need this sound machine. If that bothers you, I can go sleep on the couch." It's just there's no judgment in any of this. It's just you're negotiating as adults on how we can all sleep well.
Nick: Yes. And I think earplugs are always a good idea. I mean, I always have earplugs in my little toiletry kit. So I feel like everyone should have some earplugs, because you never know.
Leah: And I think you can also, if there's another room, you could also always go sneak out on the couch.
Nick: Yeah, I would go to the couch tonight. Why risk it?
Leah: As Nick said, this is—it's not judgmental. It's not any kind of—you're just like, "Oh, I need, like, total quiet to sleep."
Nick: Yeah. And chances are they probably don't even remember you doing this.
Leah: They do not remember. They do not remember.
Nick: [laughs] So you're in the clear. Yeah. But yeah, that's how I would handle it is just to be an adult about it and be polite and direct and non-judgmental, and use a tone that's just value neutral.
Leah: Or ...
Leah: You could put your face directly over their face.
Leah: Aggressively wake them up.
Leah: So the first thing they see is your eyeballs staring into their face.
Nick: Or you get a gorilla mask, and put that on and then hover over them.
Leah: And then go, "Snore again and see what happens."
Nick: [laughs] Yeah, I think that's also a great option.
Leah: But a lot of people snore, and it's no big deal. We can all just be like, "Hey, let's figure out how to make this work for everybody."
Nick: So our next question is quote, "What is the etiquette when receiving a canned good as a present, such as jam or canned veggies? Does the jar need to be returned?"
Leah: I feel very strongly about this, that that jar is a part of the gift and you are welcome to keep it.
Nick: Absolutely. Yes. It's not furoshiki. Call back!
Leah: Call back! [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] Yeah, I think it is definitely part of it. It's like a vase of flowers. Like, it's part of the thing.
Leah: I don't know if you know this about me, Nick, but I love drinking out of a jar. I feel like it really heightens the entire beverage experience.
Nick: Like, more so than a glass?
Leah: Definitely. I like the way ice cubes jingle in a jar. I think the acoustics are different. It just feels very festive. Maybe you could throw in a ribbon, something to—whatever upcoming holidays. You know, make it festive. Maybe I'll have a straw. Who knows?
Nick: Oh, can't put a straw in a regular glass. Nope!
Leah: It's not the same.
Nick: I mean, isn't it?
Leah: The depths of joy that I feel from a jar.
Nick: It is amazing the low bar you have for what brings you delight.
Leah: I mean, everyone should be so lucky.
Nick: Yeah. No, it is really remarkable. Like, I mean, to have this wonder of a child, to see the world through your eyes. I mean, what a remarkable experience just to see whimsy around every corner.
Leah: I mean, if you're—whimsy is the perfect word, because that is how I feel. Well, even just tap water from a jar with the ice cubes? It just jingles so nice.
Nick: Oh, wow.
Leah: It feels like a great time. It's a great time!
Nick: I mean, I envy you. I envy you, Leah Bonnema.
Nick: Back to the question, though. I think canners would appreciate getting the jar back. So I think you could offer. Like, "Oh, do you want it back when I'm done?" And I think nine times out of ten, they'll probably say yes. And as a reminder, when we return containers, we return them what, Leah?
Nick: Clean. Yes. Please don't return dirty jars. Like, don't do that. And return the ring and the lid too. Don't just return the jar. Like, return the whole thing.
Leah: But I think it's the gift to you that's up to you if you want to keep the jar and maybe use it as a lovely beverage holder.
Nick: Uh-huh. Also known as a cup.
Leah: Also, but you can also call it a B.H. "Thanks for the B.H. I love a beverage holder." You could also return it if you didn't want it and you know that they're canners. Either way. But I think it's your gift, your choice.
Nick: So do you have questions for us about canning or anything else? Let us know! You can let us know through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. Or you can leave a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time!