Oct. 14, 2019

Leaving Your Spouse in Coach, Confronting Celebrity Neighbors, Avoiding Obnoxious Colleagues, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about whether you have to upgrade your spouse if you're flying in business class, how to avoid inviting an obnoxious colleague to a party, when it's appropriate to burp in public, what to do about a celebrity neighbor who won't take a hint, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • Do I have to upgrade my spouse if I'm flying business class?
  • How do you not invite someone to a party who's a bad guest?
  • Is it OK to burp in public?
  • What to do about neighbor won't take a hint about their obnoxious leaf blower?
  • What do you say to people who comment on your food choices?




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Intro Music]

Nick: Hey, everybody. I'm Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we're in New York today. And we had so many questions from you guys that we have a bonus episode.

Leah: Thank you so much for writing in. It's so exciting.

Nick: So our first question is: "Is it OK to upgrade myself to business class and leave my spouse in coach?"

Leah: I mean...I didn't even know this was happening in the world.

Nick: That spouses would get separated in classes?

Leah: Yeah, that this was an issue. I've never been in business class.

Nick: What do you think happens up there?

Leah: I think there's probably dance numbers...

Nick: Oh, sure.

Leah: ...and heated seats.

Nick: Heated seats.

Leah: And they're making homemade candy for people.

Nick: Yes, there is the taffy machine.

Leah: And I'd like to think that people are just walking around giving you compliments because that is what I want more than... People are like, "Do you want a blanket?" "I would like a compliment, please."

Nick: Yeah, that is what happens. Oh, yeah...you should upgrade next time. So, this does apparently happen a lot and there is a lot of different opinions about is this OK or not. I do not think it's that complicated. I think if you are not traveling in the same class as your spouse, you are going to get divorced. I think it's as simple as that.

Leah: I think that's very heavy handed.

Nick: You don't think that...

Leah: I can see situations where that's just what is going to have to happen. Maybe they don't have enough points for both persons. Or maybe one of the couple has flying issues and they really can only afford one? So, it's like the one person's like, "Hey, I get it...you have panic attacks. Let's put you up front and I'm fine in the back."

Nick: Ok, I mean I guess if it's sort of like a communal decision.

Leah: Yeah, it has to be a communal decision.

Nick: But a lot of times this comes up where — it's the man who's asking this question, probably — who is being sent somewhere on a business trip and the spouse wants to tag along and work is only paying for the business class upgrade for him. And so he's wanting to know is it OK to leave the wife in the back.

Leah: OK.

Nick: And so I think this is very problematic. I mean, I think you can but she's not going to be happy about it.

Leah: I mean, I immediately assumed it was a woman in the business class?

Nick: OK.

Leah: And then the guy was like, "Hey, I see that you're going to, you know, wherever...can I come?"

Nick: So, this is a fantasy because in the world...

Leah: There are no women with jobs. So, I immediately saw it from that point of view...

Nick: Right, OK.

Leah: ...where I was like, "I'm going somewhere and my spouse wants to come and that would be great. But I'm not... We both can't be in business class. I don't have that. So, if you want to come, absolutely. I want you there. But if someone can't upgrade, we can't upgrade."

Nick: So, I think if that's the argument, then I think you upgrade as the business person, man or woman, on the way there and then you let your spouse have the business class seat on the way home.

Leah: I think that's a lovely idea.

Nick: That could be the compromise, maybe.

Leah: That seems like a nice compromise. It just seems like you'd have to talk about it.

Nick: I think you do need to talk about it. I think the issue with this question is, they're wanting our blessing...

Leah: Mmmm.

Nick: ...for leaving your spouse in coach. And it's like, "Mmm?"

Leah: The other thing is, if the event you're going to is a very high stress, high pressure event and you're just trying to get yourself into a good mind space, you know what I mean, and you can only afford one ticket in, you know?

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I understand that.

Nick: Sure. OK. But then on the way home, trade.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And I think if you're traveling with friends and it's not a spouse, I think do whatever you want. If you want to upgrade and leave your friend in coach, like, that's fine.

Leah: Yeah, no bigs.

Nick: I think it would be nice to fly up front sometime.

Leah: Oh, I've never flown up front.

Nick: Yeah, all those heated seats and can-can dancers?

Leah: Oh, I hear about the can-can dancing. I heard sometimes they do a little flamenco and you're like, "What? Flamenco dancing? This is phenomenal."

Nick: I gotta say, the flamenco on Cathay? On point. OK, our next question is: "We have a problem with Doug." And so our writer has written in... this is long, I'm going to paraphrase. She works in an academic department and it's fun, it's low-key, they like to get together after work. They gather, they socialize. But then there's Doug. And Doug apparently is a bad drunk. He gets belligerent, he gets a little handsy, he gets inappropriate. And they don't like Doug. And so our writer is about to have another party and she doesn't want to invite Doug. So, the question is how does she do that? Can she have the party and just keep it a secret from him? Apparently other people don't want Doug to be there and so they won't go to the party if think Doug's there, so she has to tell all those other people Doug won't be there. And do you explicitly tell Doug that he's not invited?

Leah: Also his name's not Doug. From now on, everybody's a "Doug."

Nick: Everybody's a Doug.

Leah: We want to protect our listeners.

Nick: So, sorry if you actual name out there is Doug.

Leah: This wasn't about you.

Nick: No. Unless you are the Doug in this story, then follow our advice. So, what do we do about Doug?

Leah: I feel like this one's really loaded because you're talking about somebody who has a drinking problem.

Nick: Right.

Leah: You either...Everybody has to suck it up and continue having horrible parties where Doug crosses the line or you have to be like, "Doug, I really enjoy you as a colleague during the day, but when you have a few too many drinks, I don't know if you realize, but you say inappropriate things and make people uncomfortable, so I'm not inviting you, because when you get drunk, you're a different person." And just have that really uncomfortable, honest conversation.

Nick: So, in this letter, they actually have done this with Doug. And Doug, I guess is an ethnic minority and threatened a discrimination lawsuit against the University if he wasn't invited to the party, which is now a total HR question, not an etiquette question.

Leah: Yeah, I feel like this has gone into an area where I don't...

Nick: Do not send this question to our podcast. We are not qualified.

Leah: This is past our abilities.

Nick: My initial thought on this was: If this is not a work event, if this is not a work party, and this is just a private event in your home, I think you can invite or not invite whomever you'd like. No questions asked. Do not have to justify your guest list.

Leah: Right, which I felt like this was a personal party. It wasn't at the school.

Nick: Right, so it happens to involve a lot of work colleagues that you're also friends with. So, I think if this is in your home and you don't want to invite Doug, you do not have to invite Doug.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Now, you do not tell Doug he's not invited.

Leah: You just don't invite him.

Nick: You just don't invite him. And now it is impolite to ever ask why you're not invited to a party. Like you should never ask. Like, "Oh, why am I not invited to your wedding?" You cannot ask this. But Doug, being sort of a rude person it sounds like, he will probably ask.

Leah: Oh, it sounds like Doug's going to ask.

Nick: In which case I think you just say, "Oh, this wasn't a work event. It was just a private party with some friends. Sorry." And I think you kinda leave it there.

Leah: Yeah, I would agree. It's very uncomfortable, but sometimes we just have uncomfortable things we have to deal with.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: Because the other option is you invite them and continue on being uncomfortable.

Nick: Right. So, that's no way to live, right. So, I think you have our permission to have your party, not invite Doug, don't tell Doug he's not invited, and if Doug has a fit about it afterwards, I think that's not your problem.

Leah: And then if it's a work event? Everybody gets invited.

Nick: Everybody gets invited and it's not a great event and so, sorry.

Leah: Yup.

Nick: So, that's the answer there. Our next question is from Patti in Alabama.

Leah: Let's take a moment to say how amazing Patti is, shall we?

Nick: So, Patti saw Leah Bonnema perform on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Leah: Oh my goodness!

Nick: Yeah, a little plug for Leah. If you have not seen her set on Late Show, you should check it out. And so Patti saw this and at a 12:36 am after seeing her set immediately wrote in saying how much she loved Leah and then she bought some mugs and some t-shirts and wrote in this question.

Leah: Also, I just want to say, Patti: I screen-shotted your message and I put it in a little file that's like saved for a rainy day and it really made me feel special and I'd like to personally thank you for being amazing.

Nick: Like when you're having a bad day and you just need some affirmations, you're just going to flip open Patti's email?

Leah: Yeah, because sometimes comedy is so hard and people are just so mean and then you're like, "You know what? There's been nice things." And Patti's in there.

Nick: OK. Well, everybody should be a Patti. So, Patti wants just to know: "What are our thoughts on burping in public?" Do you have thoughts?

Leah: I know what the answer is.

Nick: OK, but is your answer also THE answer?

Leah: No.

Nick: OK, so the correct answer is: No, you're really not supposed to burp in public.

Leah: Yeah. Well, I think we've all agreed that you're not supposed to burp in public.

Nick: Well, we've all agreed. Do you agree, Leah Bonnema?

Leah: I think there are moments with certain friends of yours where it's just funny.

Nick: OK. So, "no" is the correct answer, but you are welcome to follow Leah Bonnema's advice should you choose.

Leah: Obviously I'm not talking about on a train or at a work event or... But if you're with, like, that one close friend and you accidentally burp and then both you fall over giggling? I think that's delightful.

Nick: OK. Do you have a good burp?

Leah: I can't burp on purpose. That's not a skill set that have worked on in college. Sometimes a little bubbly like a seltzer water, you know...

Nick: Anything can happen.

Leah: Anything can happen.

Nick: Our next question is about leaf blowers. So, when we started this little podcast, I was expecting to get questions about, like, "Oh, can I wear white after Labor Day?" Things like that. We get the longest email...

Leah: And this is complicated.

Nick: Complicated. Legal. Political.

Leah: I feel like they're really putting a lot of trust in us.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if it's come to this that you're coming to us with this question. Alright, so it comes from Los Angeles. I will paraphrase, but basically, " Our neighbors gardeners come twice a week and use a gas-powered leaf blower really close to our house. We have single-paned windows and so our house quickly fills up with the fumes. I texted the husband of our neighbor a couple of times to tell them this and suggested that electric leaf blowers would be really great. He agreed and loves the electric leaf ones, but ignored the idea of actually getting one for the gardeners to be using. And then they spoke with the gardeners and nothing changed. And so the question is, how do you approach a higher-than-mighty neighbor about this touchy subject when they are totally in the wrong? Now, two other things to add: The neighbors are apparently celebrities of some sort whose personal brand is about being green and eco-conscious. So they have, like, some vegan dog food company, I don't know. And the gas-powered blowers are actually illegal in Los Angeles, apparently. Like you're not allowed to use them within 500-feet of a residence, but I guess there's no enforcement. So, what do we do about the celebrities and the leaf blower?

Leah: I feel like this person had three options.

Nick: OK.

Leah: One of them is: They're just going to have to accept that this is what's happening, which seems like an option that nobody likes. The second one is: They're going to have to have a direct confrontation and possibly have an uncomfortable relationship with said neighbor.

Nick: So, there's going to be words.

Leah: Well, they're going to go over and say, "The fumes are coming into our home and it doesn't make us feel good. So, what can we do to change this? Like a face-to-face because the texting is clearly not happening. Or, they're going to have to call somebody and file a complaint and then bring in outside people and that's going to be a whole thing.

Nick: That's a whole thing.

Leah: So, I feel like these are the three options because it's clearly not... This person isn't caring enough to be like, "Oh, I get what's happening here. They're suggesting, you know..."

Nick: Yeah, I mean etiquette at the end of the day is about subtle hints and euphemisms.

Leah: And this person has tried subtle hints.

Nick: And some people just don't pick up on those subtle hints. We call those people, "Rude People." So, for people who do not pick up on those subtle hints, that's rude. And so, clearly these neighbors are definitely, like, "those people." But I think there's a way to have a more pointed conversation with the neighbor without it being sort of aggressive.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So, I think I would start with complimenting the neighbor and the lawn. Be like, "Oh my gosh...your blue Chinese wisteria are delightful and love how your lawn looks..."

Leah: Oh, I love that.

Nick: "...however, your gardeners and their leaf blowers are killing me slowly."

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But maybe you can make it a medical thing. Like, "I'm actually having medical problems because of this. And so how can we together solve this problem?"

Leah: I think that's really terrific.

Nick: The other option is, if you do not want to go that route, is you do file a complaints with the city. But you can do one or the other because if you complaint to the neighbor and then complain to the city, well now it's obvious who's complaining to the city.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: You want plausible deniability about the complaints to the city.

Leah: I think it's going to be obvious who complained to the city no matter what.

Nick: Yeah, probably...yeah.

Leah: But I really like your... I really think that's a perfect plan.

Nick: Chinese blue wisteria compliments?

Leah: Yup. "And then how can we... I don't know if you know this, but it comes into our building and then it affects my breathing, so what's the best way we can handle this?"

Nick: Right. But I think you are correct that it is possible that they're just people...

Leah: Yup.

Nick: ...and there's nothing to be done here except move.

Leah: Or cause a scene.

Nick: Or you cause a scene. Or you hire a publicist and you destroy their reputations.

Leah: Right, that would be in the "cause a scene" section.

Nick: OK, subset. Yeah, so those are, I think, your options.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, I'm glad that we're your go-to source for leaf blower etiquette.

Leah: Yes, thank you so much for writing in. I feel very trusted that all these people would... Like the colleague party, I feel like people are like, "We're going to give you these really complicated issues."

Nick: Well, our last question: Not complicate. "How do you respond when someone you're eating out with comments on what you're eating or not eating. Like, if you're at a wedding and you don't want cake and people are like, 'Oh, just have one...you can afford it' or 'What, are you on a diet or something?'" So, what do we say? What do we do?

Leah: Well, I have a very deep history with this.

Nick: OK. As the aggressor or the aggressee?

Leah: Aggressee.

Nick: OK.

Leah: So, I handle it a very certain way because I've reached my limit.

Nick: Oh, that sounded very serious.

Leah: But I also was a cater waiter and I watched people do this to each other, so it's really amazing how many food issues people have. But as a kid, I have this clear memory: I was at, like, the one store in our town where they sold ice cream treats and I had one — it was delicious — and then I was going to buy one to have for later. And the owner, in front of a large group of people was like, "I think you shouldn't be eating two of those. You're already very big."

Nick: Wait, what?

Leah: Yeah, and I was like... Because he thought he was being helpful or, you know what I mean? He's like, "You know, you have to watch it." And I was mortified.

Nick: I mean...

Leah: So, I feel like that's where it started with people feeling like they were just... How much people comment on what you eat? Recently, I was eating at a show. You know, you're running from one show to the next and a guy was like, "Are you going to eat that whole bag?" And, you know, it was chicken jerky and I'd been eating it all day as my meals in between. But it's not his business. I'm not going to explain myself.

Nick: And he wasn't asking, like, "Oh, can I have a bite?"

Leah: I'd already offered.

Nick: It was just, like, "Oh..."

Leah: "Oh, are you going to eat that?" So, what I do, because I want to make people aware that it's not OK is I repeat the... "Are you asking... why are you asking me about my food?" You know, I try to find a way to be like, hear their question back.

Nick: Yeah, although it goes back to that subtly thing. These people do not pick up that subtle hint.

Leah: But I feel better about it. I don't feel like I took it, you know what I mean? Because I'm not going to participate in my own shaming by answering a question that I refuse to answer.

Nick: Right. Yes, under no circumstances should you actually answer the question.

Leah: Never answer the question.

Nick: Yes. If you don't want cake? There is no reason to justify this.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Because also, chances are, it's not good cake. I've been to a lot of weddings.

Leah: Or you're not eating cake. Or you have an allergy. Or you have a stomach issue you don't want to talk about in front of everybody. It's just not other people's business.

Nick: So, I think a nice way to do it is just thank them for their concern and that's it. Or just be like, "Oh, thank you, I'm fine." And they'll ask the question again, and you just keep saying, "Thank you, I'm fine," again and again until they take the hint.

Leah: I think that's really good.

Nick: And I think you can be colder and colder with that response if they don't get it. "Thank you...I'm fine."

Leah: I just find it very controlling when people talk to you about your food.

Nick: Yes. Well, food and control are inextricably linked.

Leah: Yeah, because people will be like... There's also that where people are often like, "Eat some, eat some."

Nick: Right.

Leah: And you're like, "Please, back it up."

Nick: Yeah, yeah. It goes both ways. So, under no circumstances should you ever comment on what someone's eating or not eating.

Leah: Just don't do it.

Nick: Ever. And then if someone does say this to you, do not engage. Just thank them and say you're fine. And that should hopefully be the end of it.

Leah: Ugh. But then also put them on a mental list.

Nick: Yes, yes. Never talk to this person ever again. So, these were really good questions.

Leah: These were amazing questions.

Nick: And if you have questions out there, send them to us. We will answer almost anything.

Leah: We'll give it our best shot.

Nick: Yeah, if you have a tax question? We'll try.

Leah: I do my own taxes.

Nick: Oh, is that a good idea? So, maybe don't send us tax questions, but everything else, send them to us through our website — wereyouraisedbywolves.com — or you can call us — (267) CALL-RBW — and you can also send us a text message there, too. And please subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and leave us a review. We would be delighted if you would follow us on Instagram. And, buy some official merch. Be like Patti. Get a mug.

Leah: We love you Patti.

Nick: Get a mug and we'll see you next time. Bye!

Leah: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]