Jan. 20, 2020

Extra Helpings: Returning Wedding Gifts, Paying for Birthday Parties, Locking Out Relatives, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about paying for your own birthday party, picking the right urinal, bumping into passengers on an airplane, distracting relatives, trying to exit a crowded bus, choosing between the banquette and the chair, sending wedding gifts back after a wedding is called off, refusing to eat at a dinner party, bringing opened food to a dinner party, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • Is it rude to not pay for your birthday party?
  • What should you keep in mind when using a urinal?
  • Is it rude to bump into people when boarding a plane?
  • What do you do if an older relative is distracting you at work?
  • How do you get off a crowded bus if you're far away from the doors?
  • Who should get the banquette and who should get the chair?
  • The wedding was called off and I already sent a gift...should they send it back?
  • What do you do if you simply cannot eat something at a dinner party?
  • Is it OK to bring something that's opened to a dinner party?




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Introduction]

Nick: Hey, everybody, it's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: We're in New York today, and we had so many great questions come in from the wilderness-

Leah: Amazing questions!

Nick: -that we have a bonus episode.

Leah: Wooo!

Nick: So, here we go. Our first question is: "Am I rude for having an expensive birthday dinner out with several friends? Is it rude not to pay? I have an upcoming birthday, and my friend who booked it said it will be a fun night out, but I feel a little diva ..." So, is this rude? What's the right thing here?

Leah: Well, I feel like the person writing this actually feels uncomfortable about it.

Nick: Yeah. Well, I think it just comes down to who is hosting this?

Leah: Yeah. If your friend is hosting it, then I feel like it's your friend's responsibility to pay for the evening. If I was to have a party for myself, for my birthday, and I picked a restaurant, and I invited people, I feel like it's under the assumption that I'm paying for everyone.

Nick: Yes. You are the host of the evening. You have selected the venue; you've selected the guest list; you've selected the time-

Leah: Especially if it's expensive, then, and it's a party, I feel like whoever sets it up is under the assumption that that person's paying.

Nick: Right.

Leah: If you want people to pay for themselves, I think it's more that you go to a more bar atmosphere, where people come in, and go in, and have separate checks, and just swing by- swing by, and say-

Nick: Drop in, yeah.

Leah: -"Grab a drink," and that's when people are paying for themselves.

Nick: Yeah. I think the way to think about it - a restaurant is like your home, when it comes entertaining. So, if you come over, I'm not going to charge you for the pretzels.

Leah: Right.

Nick: I'm providing the pretzels. Similarly, if I invite you to a restaurant, I'm not going to charge you for the things I am providing vis-a-vis the restaurant.

Leah: I think that if a group of friends get together to have a birthday party for you, and it's an email, then everybody-

Nick: Everybody's the host.

Leah: Then, everybody's the host, and everybody's probably going to pay for themselves, and then split your dinner.

Nick: Right, and that's totally fine.

Leah: That's a different situation.

Nick: Right. So, it just comes down to who is hosting, and then, whoever is hosting - either you, the birthday person, your friend, or a group of friends - that person or people are the host, and then they take care of the bill.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I think it's very nice if you have a birthday, and you wanted to celebrate with your friends, no problem. Host the evening, but what you should then do is make payment arrangements with the restaurant in advance, so that there isn't this weird awkwardness at the end of the meal, where your friends are like, "Oh, should we pay? Should we not pay?" Just take care of it in advance, so that it's just like, "My treat. Thank you for joining me on my birthday!"

Leah: Yeah, I always ... Because I think, in New York, everybody's in different financial situations, and you never know; sometimes, people are very tight. I always address money right up top, so people don't have to worry about it. I don't know if that's gauche, but I just want it off the table. "Hey, I'm celebrating my birthday. Come to this. You don't have to get anything. It's on me, or it's just a bar. You can come in; you don't have to get anything ..." Just so people don't ... Sometimes, people really want to celebrate you, but they don't- they can't afford whatever was picked.

Nick: Right. I think, because the rule on this has become so murky, nobody knows what is actually supposed to happen.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So, sometimes, that clarity of like, "No, no, I'm taking care of the evening," even though you don't want to actually have to clarify that, sometimes the clarity actually is more polite because then it kind of just makes everybody feel more at ease.

Leah: Yeah, and they know what's happening.

Nick: Putting people at ease is actually part of etiquette.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: So, for our birthday girl, I think she knows what to do.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Our next-

Leah: And to have a wonderful birthday!

Nick: Happy birthday! Our next question is about urinal etiquette. So, Leah ...

Leah: I actually have a lot of my guy friends complain to me about this.

Nick: Okay. "If there are three urinals in a men's bathroom, and urinal one and three are occupied, but number two in the middle is free, should you wait, or is it okay to use urinal number two?"

Leah: This one, I'm going to defer to you.

Nick: Okay ... So, in general, in the bathroom, when there are urinals, you want to leave a buffer. We like a buffer. If you're going in, and all urinals are unoccupied, do not go in the middle because if somebody else comes along, there is no buffer.

Leah: Right.

Nick: You want to pick number one, or three, given all the options.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Now, if one, and three are occupied, you are allowed to use two; no problem. You do not have to maintain a buffer, but you have to create one, if the opportunity arises.

Leah: That seems completely logical.

Nick: This is how it goes. And, as long as we're on the subject of urinal etiquette, no talking ... No talking to other people; no talking on your phone! Also, don't hold your phone-

Leah: While you're at the urinal?! This is happening?!

Nick: It happens. Sure.

Leah: No!

Nick: Yeah, this-

Leah: Nooo!

Nick: Yes.

Leah: If I was an emoji, I would be that emoji, right now, with the exploding head. People are using their phone at a urinal?

Nick: It is possible.

Leah: I can't handle it.

Nick: Yeah, it is-

Leah: I cannot handle this!

Nick: Mm-hmm. Yeah, do you want to just take a moment to let that sink in?

Leah: I don't know ... I almost just want to go wash my hands.

Nick: Yeah. So, the phone at the urinal - whether or not you're on it, or you're just using it - let's just not do that.

Leah: Yeah! Wow!

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: The same thing happens with the leaving a buffer in women's restrooms.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Where there'll be a long line of stalls; say, for example, at a rest stop, or a restaurant ... But rest stops, it's even more apparent because there are so many. I'll go in; I'll go to the end. Then, even if it's empty, somebody will come in, and then, they'll somehow manage to take one near me. I'm like, "There is a whole ..."

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: A whole ... What's happening? Are we a group mentality?

Nick: Herd mentality, yeah.

Leah: You know, I feel like I'm about to get murdered! If you come in, and come directly next to me-

Nick: It's close.

Leah: -in a huge bathroom?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: It feels like something nefarious is about to happen.

Nick: This is also just your Maine background, I think, kicking in; the Stephen King thing.

Leah: Is it?

Nick: Yeah, where, just like, things happen at rest stops in Stephen King novels, I think.

Leah: That is true. That happens everywhere. I-

Nick: Yeah, but it is true. We want to always leave a buffer.

Leah: If possible!

Nick: If possible. It is kind to leave a buffer, yeah. Then, lastly, in the urinal etiquette - don't spit your gum in the urinal.

Leah: What?!

Nick: Yeah ...

Leah: I mean!

Nick: Yeah ... I mean, you didn't know this was a problem?

Leah: I didn't know this was a problem!

Nick: But, yeah, don't spit your gum in it ... Or anything else.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Did you know, in a urinal, there's actually like ... Sometimes, they - in the urinal, itself - there's like a little black fly that they put on the urinal, like embed into the porcelain to give people a target?

Leah: No I didn't know this.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Is it actually a fly?

Nick: No, but it's- it looks like a fly.

Leah: That's what I mean. They make it look like a fly?

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Why a fly?

Nick: Fly as in the insect that flies around. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Leah: Yes, I understand, but why? Why would you make a fly?

Nick: As opposed to what? A rainbow?

Leah: A dot ... Just a dot! This is where- your target. How about a target, like an arrow-

Nick: Oh, no ... Uh-huh, the bullseye? Uh-huh. I don't know how the fly happened.

Leah: Why ...? What did flies do that they deserve ...?

Nick: I guess ...

Leah: How odd!

Nick: Yeah, the science behind this, I'm not sure, but I'm sure somebody's researched it at some PhD dissertation out there.

Leah: Disturbing.

Nick: Yeah. So, urinal etiquette ... A lot to say ... Our next question comes from Down Under. I think we have a lot of fans in Australia.

Leah: Well, a fantastic set of Australians-

Nick: Which is great. Yeah. So, this is painting a scene. This is from a flight. So, I think they wrote this mid-flight, from Sydney to Brisbane. "Is it appropriate to wear shoulder bags and backpacks after boarding a plane and making your way down the aisle? If someone slams your shoulder with their shoulder bag or backpack as they pass, and you're already seated, is it appropriate to say something or shove them back? What if airline crew repeatedly bump you as they stride up and down the aisle?" So, it sounds like somebody is not having a very good flight.

Leah: No.

Nick: Sounds very unpleasant. I mean, I think, in general, you want to be mindful that you don't hit other people with your luggage.

Leah: Yeah, I try to hold mine in front of me in the angle that it's least going into ... The most aerodynamic angle.

Nick: Yeah, yeah ... Aerodynamics - that's a good way to describe it, yeah. You like to put the bag in front of you rather than behind you-

Leah: Yeah, so I can see ... I can make sure that it's not hitting people.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Okay, that's-

Leah: Sometimes, there's a little bump, and I always apologize.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: "Oh, so sorry!" But I'm very aware of where my bag is.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't keep it on my back because that's when you hit people.

Nick: And when people have a shoulder bag, and it's actually over their shoulder, this is not aerodynamic.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: It's inherently sort of off to the midline of your body.

Leah: Well, see, this is why you take it down and put it in front of you.

Nick: Yeah. So, I think you kind of have to shimmy down the aisle. So, yeah, don't do that, I think, in answer to this question. What do you do about the airline crew?

Leah: Well, I don't know ... Also, if you shove them, when people do that-

Nick: Oh, do you shove?

Leah: I think you could just go- you could say something, like-

Nick: "Oh, so sorry."

Leah: -or, "Oh, pardon you!"

Nick: Well, I'm a big fan of the apologizing for the bad thing you did; like, "Oh, I'm so sorry," when you bump into me.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: Yeah. Oh, you don't agree with this?

Leah: Well, I mean, sometimes, I apologize when people bump into me, and I think, why did I apologize?

Nick: Because by apologizing, what you're really saying to them is, "You're an animal."

Leah: I know, but ... Maybe we should just say it directly, but politely.

Nick: "You're an animal."

Leah: Like-

Nick: "You're welcome ..."

Leah: -"Oh ..."

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: "Oh!"

Nick: Oh ... That's a different style, yeah. No, I think I like the "Oh, I'm sorry" response. It's very Canadian.

Leah: It's very ... Well, but it's Canadian to mean it. You're using it, not meaning ... When I moved here, I said sorry to everybody, and I meant it.

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: So, then, I'm trying to not say sorry-

Nick: Oh, yeah, I don't mean it ... Yeah.

Leah: Then, I don't want to say something I don't mean.

Nick: Etiquette is not about sincerity.

Leah: No, but I want to be sincere.

Nick: I see. Okay, well, that's why we're different.

Leah: Yeah, I know. But I think that you can be like, "Hey ..." You're finding a way to make somebody recognize they're smashing into you because- not because it was a mistake, but if they just don't care, I think you're allowed to do that.

Nick: Okay, yeah, that's fair. Now, about the crew, I don't know what you do about the crew.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Crew, sometimes it's ... If they're having a bad day, they can get a little aggressive down the aisle.

Leah: Yeah, they really can.

Nick: Yeah. So, I guess-

Leah: I mean, can you imagine the questions that people get- stewardesses, or-

Nick: Flight attendants-

Leah: Flight attendants! I'm so sorry! Are getting?

Nick: Oh, to be a flight attendant, I think, is definitely one of the harder jobs.

Leah: Yeah, I think it definitely is. Their patience must be so thin some days. So, I think, sometimes, they're just trying to get up and down the aisle.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I think, with them, maybe we let a little extra-

Nick: We let it go, with the crew, maybe-

Leah: They're just trying to serve- get drinks down the aisle, and imagine how many people just keep their feet out, and their bags?

Nick: True. Yeah, yeah ... Just give me a stroopwafel and keep going, yeah ... Have you ever had a stroopwafel? Do you know what I'm talking about?

Leah: Are you talking about the Dutch, with the-

Nick: It's like the waffle thing with the caramel-

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Yeah, that's good. Our next question- it's a little long. Stick with me. "My husband, a Mainer - so, somebody from your neck of the woods - works in the family business and enjoys working with my mom, who is the boss. My 80-year-old grandpa, however, still comes in every day and spends most of the day chatting, i.e. distracting people. He routinely plops himself at my husband's desk at around 4:00 and proceeds to tell him repeat stories of the old days and ask [nonsense] questions like, when are we moving to his town, and when we are we gonna go to his church, all the way up to the close of business while my husband is trying to get work done. My husband will try and say, 'I've got a lot of work to do,' and my grandpa will not get it and will just respond with, 'What are you working on?' So, you will be a miracle worker, if you have any tips on what to do!"

Leah: Well, I'd like to say, off the top, I'm very honored that this wonderful person is trusting us because this is a very layered situation.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Not just because somebody involved is from Maine.

Leah: Yeah, no.

Nick: No.

Leah: From any ... I'm obviously extra-honored that one of my peoples is reaching out, but this is very layered.

Nick: Very layered. No good answers here.

Leah: But I think we can find a reasonable way-

Nick: Oh, we're going to come up with something.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I guess the first question is - is this even an etiquette question?

Leah: Well, I think the part of it that's etiquette is that grandpa is ... I think the part where she's saying grandpa's like, "When are you moving here? When are you ..." It's these-

Nick: You want to be polite.

Leah: You want to be polite-

Nick: We don't want to be rude to grandpa to get him out of the way.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Then, there's the other issue of, obviously, it's a family business, and then, the husband's coming in, and he probably sort of wants to still be the head honcho - grandpa. Then, also, I feel like- I guess we don't want to have mom talk to grandpa.

Nick: Yeah, it feels like that's not an option in this scenario, as presented-

Leah: Yeah because, otherwise, that would have been brought up, but I do think that grandpa is also A) wants to still be in the business because that's what he knows and where he feels important ... So, my first thought was to find a thing for grandpa to do.

Nick: I was also thinking this. Yes, yes, that he's a little bored.

Leah: Yep, and he wants to be involved.

Nick: He wants to feel useful.

Leah: Yeah, we're not going to change somebody basically being like, "When are you moving here? When are you doing ...?" That's ... But if you occupy his time otherwise - because he clearly likes to be there - then that may be the best move.

Nick: Yeah. It feels like if there's copying or, at the end of the day, post office run, or maybe some filing, or maybe there's some task or errands, maybe this is something we can occupy his time with.

Leah: Yeah, and grandpa seems to really like to be ... If grandpa could somehow be involved in a community outreach? He seems so like talking to people.

Nick: Okay, so we'd want to-

Leah: So, if there's meeting/greeting thing that grandpa could do, or-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You know what I mean? Because he clearly wants to talk.

Nick: True. Okay. So, how do we turn this into an asset?

Leah: Yeah. Make it an asset-

Nick: That's good.

Leah: -where he's away from your husband's desk, so your husband can work. Then, grandpa feels important.

Nick: Mm hmm.

Leah: I would just create a thing for grandpa to do.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because he clearly has to be there because of some reason we don't- isn't addressed, and mom is not dealing with the situation, who would be the closer person to deal with it-

Nick: Yes.

Leah: -so, to not overstep, I would brainstorm on possible things that grandpa could do and be like, "This would be a really helpful thing that he's- this is within his wheelhouse."

Nick: Right. Another thing I was thinking of - can we get an office with a door that has a lock? Can I just lock him out?

Leah: No!

Nick: No?

Leah: This is Maine. We don't have locks on our houses.

Nick: That's true.

Leah: You think we have locks on our office doors inside a building?

Nick: Yeah, sorry, sorry!

Leah: Stop! Stop!

Nick: That was fantasy.

Leah: Also, the idea that you would lock somebody in your family out, to be like, "I'm just working in here ..."

Nick: No? Okay.

Leah: No!

Nick: Okay, well, I was just brainstorming. I just had it on the whiteboard.

Leah: It's ...

Nick: No bad ideas on the whiteboard!

Leah: No ... My family? I'll be in the bathroom, and my mom will be like, "There's a phone call for you," and stick her hand ... I'll be like, "Yeah, I'm in the shower. I'm not gonna ... You don't need to bring it!"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: People don't lock doors.

Nick: Okay, so, then, I guess the idea that we would rearrange the office to remove any seating near the desk so grandpa can't sit near you ...?

Leah: I mean, that's an option.

Nick: Okay. We like that, maybe.

Leah: We would just make it a subtle, "Oh, I just took away all of the chairs."

Nick: Yeah. What if it was like those little spikes that prevent birds on ledges? Can we just put that around the office?

Leah: I mean, that seems ... It's a new art thing we're doing. We just put spikes on things.

Nick: Uh-huh. Another idea I had was like noise-canceling headphones? At the end of the day, we just like put really big headphones that are very like headphone-y on and be like- try to create a little bubble world, where you try and just ignore him?

Leah: Yeah, I guess you could put the headphones on; then, when he comes in, which he clearly will, take them off and be like, "Oh, I'm just right in the middle of this. I got- let me get ..." and then you put them back on as a visual signifier that one has to go back to work.

Nick: Yeah. So, I think I still like the 'let's lock him out' idea, but ...

Leah: That is not gonna happen.

Nick: That's not gonna happen ... What about the husband goes somewhere else at the end of the day? The husband changes venues. The husband goes to the public library to finish his work today?

Leah: That's, I think, also an option.

Nick: Yeah, I think maybe the husband just has to go somewhere else, if he can't go into an office with a door and a lock-

Leah: Yeah because they're saying it happens every day around 4:00; that's in there. So, maybe he goes somewhere else.

Nick: Yeah, so 3:30, we're heading to the local Starbucks, or ...

Leah: Right, which I understand - we're all working around grandpa - but sometimes, you have to, when it's older family members and-

Nick: There's not other options here.

Leah: Yeah, we wouldn't do this with somebody who was just working; an employee, and be like, "Hey, you can't talk right now. I'm working!"

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I feel like these are special circumstances.

Nick: Yes. So, hopefully, we've given them some ideas.

Leah: Yes! Some options. I really hope one of those work!

Nick: Yeah, write back and let us know how it went!

Leah: Let us know!

Nick: Okay ... Our next question is: "When the bus you're on is approaching your stop, but you're a bit far away from the doors, and due to the bus being very crowded ..." Leah already is just like ... You should see what Leah's doing as I'm reading this question. You're on this bus. It's very crowded. You're a little far away the doors, and you're not sure if you're gonna be able to get out in time. So, our letter writer wants to know, "Would it be polite to ask the person around you if you can sort of get ahead before the bus comes to the stop, or is it better to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and then rush for the doors, risking accidentally pushing someone or stepping on someone's foot on your way out?" So, Leah has some ideas on this topic!

Leah: I don't have any ideas. What I have is a phobia of the bus because these kind of situations make me so anxious that I don't want to take ... People will be like, "Oh, we can take the crosstown." I'm not taking a bus. I will walk, where I don't have to negotiate all of these social things that I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I feel like if you're the next stop, you should get up the stop before and move close to the door.

Nick: Hm, pre-positioned!

Leah: Because you often don't have enough time to run.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But, when I'm the person standing on the subway, and people start to stand up before the train has stopped, I am, then, now ... I'm holding onto something, so I don't fall over. Now I gotta move everything while the thing is moving because you want to get up, pre-stop? Now we're all gonna fall!

Nick: So, the idea is you want to pre-position while the vehicle - subway, or bus - is not in motion.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But before your stop.

Leah: Yeah, so, so- go one before.

Nick: Okay. So, you want to kind of just like jostle ... Okay. That feels reasonable, yeah. Also, in New York, though, people just yell - "Getting off!"

Leah: Yep. "'scuse me!"

Nick: Yep, "Getting off! Getting off on this stop. Hold the door!"

Leah: Yep.

Nick: And you just kind of shove your way through. I guess- I wouldn't call it acceptable, but it certainly happens in New York City.

Leah: Yeah, it's just how you gotta get off!

Nick: It's just how we do it.

Leah: Because it is hard, if somebody's standing over you, and you're sitting down, and then you ask them to move ... Especially because the stop is coming. So, when the stop comes, that's when people want to be holding onto the thing they're holding on to because of the jostle.

Nick: True.

Leah: So, to ask somebody to move right before the jostle?

Nick: That is rude, yeah.

Leah: Because then that person, especially if they're carrying a lot, or maybe they have some kind of a balance issue you don't know about ...

Nick: Okay, so I guess the rule is everybody stays where they are while the vehicle's in motion.

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: Nobody moves anywhere if we're in motion, but once we stopped, either get off or you pre-position.

Leah: Yeah. Pre-position for the next one, or you can get yourself ready, you know what I mean? Have your bags up - duh-duh-duh - so when it's about to stop, then you can move as fast as possible.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Then, you're also signaling to the person in front of you, "I'm gonna move as soon as we stop."

Nick: Mm-hmm. Okay. One thing that I don't like is that, in New York City, when you're on a subway and it's approaching Times Square-

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: -and someone in the middle is like, "I'm ready to get off at the station ..." It's like everyone's going to get off at this station.

Leah: Everybody's getting off here.

Nick: You don't need to ... We're good. Don't worry about it.

Leah: Yeah, I've had this girl behind me go, "Can you move? I'm gonna get off," and I go, "Yeah, yeah, I'm also getting off. The train is still in motion."

Nick: Yeah, yeah ...

Leah: This is a major stop. Most of us are exiting.

Nick: The car will be empty.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Our next question is about banquettes and chairs. Our letter writer wants to know: "When dining out, who should get the banquette, and who should get the chair?"

Leah: Nick?

Nick: Okay. So, historically, this question is a little sexist. There's some gender roles at play ... Because that's what we're really asking - does the man or the woman get the chair-

Leah: Oh, is that what we're asking?

Nick: Oh, is that not what you got from this question?

Leah: I didn't get that, but that doesn't mean that that's not what this is.

Nick: What were you getting from this question?

Leah: Who should get the banquette and who should get the chair?

Nick: You've just read this ... That's just- Top level, that's all you got from this ...

Leah: No, but, I mean, I think some people think that the person who needs to sit down more gets the banquette.

Nick: Okay. I see. Okay, so-

Leah: Like, if they're pregnant, or older, or-

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: Because it's the bigger area.

Nick: Typically, yes. Although I think, in New York City, the banquette is actually not always the more desirable seat because, in some restaurants ... Ever experience this, where-

Leah: Oh, yeah, there's so many people.

Nick: You get to the restaurant, and they actually take the entire table out, and move it completely out of the way, and you just walk to the banquette. Then, they put the table back, and there's only maybe two inches of space between you and the next table, so you could not get out again.

Leah: Right.

Nick: This is not necessarily a more desirable spot.

Leah: Yeah, I think, sometimes, it's like, do we recognize ... I always just say, "Which would you rather sit in?"

Nick: So, I think the way to think about it, if we're not thinking about it in traditional gender roles-

Leah: Which is maybe a great thing to think about because I didn't-

Nick: It didn't even occur to you.

Leah: No.

Nick: Okay. Yeah, I think there is a sense of like chivalry, in general. Chivalry doesn't necessarily have to be gender-related. If you just want to offer the nicer seat to the other person, then you could give them the choice.

Leah: Right.

Nick: If they want to take the banquette, then great, if that's the nicer spot [crosstalk]

Leah: -yeah, I just ask people what they prefer.

Nick: Yeah. I do think some people prefer the chair. Sometimes, the chair is more comfortable. If you're tall, or you need the back support, or you have longer legs ...

Leah: Yeah, and some people like to be able to get out quick.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because of, like, claustrophobia.

Nick: I think, if you do sit in the banquette, and the banquette is looking out over the restaurant, it is important to try and keep your focus on your guests, though.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: You know, don't ... If you find that you get distracted; you're a magpie, and you see little sparkly objects all over the rest of the room, and you can't just focus on your dining companion, maybe don't take the banquette.

Leah: Yeah, I just ... I don't have a preference. I always love to not have my back to the door.

Nick: Oh ... Well, that's just a Mafia thing.

Leah: So- Yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I always offer, "Do you have a preference? I'm happy to sit in either," and then, if people are like, "No, do you?" I'll be like, "I'd love to not have my back to the door."

Nick: Okay. What is that about?

Leah: I just wanna see if somebody's coming in that I should know about.

Nick: Okay. Hmm ... Our next question is: "The wedding was called off, and I already sent a gift. Should they send it back?" So ...

Leah: Do you want me to go?

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I feel like that person is going through something, and unless it was a new house, or a wildly expensive present, we could just let it go.

Nick: Oh! Interesting!

Leah: Because they're probably right in the middle of a crisis.

Nick: So, I've sent a wedding gift somewhere. They've called off the wedding. You're gonna let it go.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay. I think-

Leah: Because I do think that your friend will, once they come out of this cloud of 'what just happened to my life?' will deal with the presents.

Nick: Right. I don't think-

Leah: Give them an amount of time to figure it out.

Nick: Yes. Broadly speaking, the wedding gift should be returned.

Leah: Oh, definitely, it should be returned, but I do believe that that person will come to the right-

Nick: You can wait.

Leah: Yeah. Give them a little time.

Nick: Yeah. It does not need to be like on the next-

Leah: "Oh, heard you're not getting married anymore. Can I get my vase back ASAP? I need that to be the thing you do today ..."

Nick: Yeah, and it was engraved, but I'll use it. Yeah, I think you do need to send the gifts back eventually if you call off a wedding.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: If you get divorced, you do not need to send gift back.

Leah: No!

Nick: A wedding gift is just if a wedding happened at all, not whether or not it worked out.

Leah: Right.

Nick: If your marriage was annulled, I think you give the gifts back.

Leah: Mmmm ...

Nick: Right? I think you give the gifts back if it was annulled, because a wedding technically never happened, right?

Leah: Right. Oh, I definitely think they should send them back if it didn't happen. I'm just saying the person-

Nick: Yeah ... But speed ...

Leah: Yeah. Give them a hot second.

Nick: Yeah, okay-

Leah: Because they're dealing with, I guarantee you-

Nick: Yeah, and when you-

Leah: A lot ...

Nick: And when you do give a gift back, I think they should include a thank you note.

Leah: "Thanks for sending this."

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: "Thanks for sending this. My life fell apart."

Nick: Yeah, kinda ...

Leah: No, "Thanks for sending this. I dodged a bullet."

Nick: Could be! Whatever it is ...

Leah: Whatever it is.

Nick: Yeah, but I do- I do think it should be accompanied with a thank you note, which does feel like a little insult to injury, but ...

Leah: I didn't think about it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But ...

Nick: "Thank you so much for the gift. Sorry that we weren't able to keep it." Yeah.

Leah: You know, I don't you know.

Nick: Yeah ... Well, no, this the answer.

Leah: No, I mean, I'm saying I don't know what I would write, but I see what you're saying.

Nick: Oh, yeah, what the actual prose would be?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah, well, it depends on the circumstances.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. Who coulda seen that coming?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Who would've known he was ...

Leah: I would obviously write a joke.

Nick: You would have to. Laughter's the best medicine.

Leah: Laughter is the best way to be like, "Whew!"

Nick: So, our last question actually comes in two parts, and they're both food-related.

Leah: I just want to say, really quick, that last one - this happens, and people-

Nick: Oh, the weddings get called off? Oh, sure.

Leah: -yeah, all the time, and I don't think that, sometimes, people-

Nick: Well, not all of the time.

Leah: Sometimes.

Nick: Sometimes, it happens.

Leah: So, sometimes, it happens. I think your friends know you, and love you, and ... Don't feel-

Nick: Oh yeah.

Leah: -don't worry about it.

Nick: Sending the gifts back is probably the least of her problems at this moment, yes.

Leah: Yeah. Don't feel bad.

Nick: Also, if you feel like you need to call off a wedding, do that and don't not do that because you're worried about gifts and all that other stuff.

Leah: Right. I feel like a lot of people don't call off the wedding because they're worried about other people.

Nick: Yeah, and they feel like, "Oh, we have to go through with this because we sent out the invitations."

Leah: And people sent presents. Better to call it off.

Nick: Definitely.

Leah: Send back the gifts.

Nick: Definitely. Our next question - food-related - two parts; or, it's just one person had two questions for us, which we're happy to answer. Our first question from this person is: "How does one go about politely refusing food that host has prepared, if it is not appetizing, or if you are concerned about how it was prepared?" Mmmm.

Leah: Well, we've had this discussion for the Thanksgiving, when we were talking about hosting.

Nick: Right.

Leah: You and I came in differently on this.

Nick: We did.

Leah: I don't think you have to eat things that people have prepared-

Nick: Especially if it's pee-related.

Leah: I mean, obviously, pee-related, but people don't know why you can't eat things.

Nick: Well, there's two parts of this. One is the, "Oh, I would just rather not eat something." The second part feels like a food-safety question.

Leah: Right, but I don't think you need to tell your host, "I don't trust your ..." You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah. I feel like that cutting board was used-

Leah: I was gonna say 'sanitation devices,' but that's absolutely wrong. I don't think you need to comment on your-

Nick: Oh, you can't give a reason that's honest!

Leah: Yeah, don't comment!

Nick: Like, "Oh, I saw that cutting board was used for poultry and for vegetables."

Leah: Yeah because it's just gonna come across as, "You seem gross!"

Nick: Right.

Leah: Which we don't want to do that-

Nick: That's not a thing we say.

Leah: -but I think you can politely decline. "Oh, I'm not ..."

Nick: I mean, that's tough, though ... If you're a guest in someone's home, and they're serving you food, and you'd be like, "Oh, actually, I would just rather not eat this."

Leah: Yeah, but there's other food. There will be like a side.

Nick: Hopefully, there is something else at this dinner that you can eat and that your concerns about food safety, or whatever's happening is not about everything at the meal.

Leah: Right.

Nick: That would be ideal. I think if you just cannot eat anything ... If you just can't touch anything-

Leah: You're gonna have to-

Nick: Illness?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I think we have to feign illness.

Leah: I really am against dishonesty, but if you absolutely can't do it, and you're not going to touch any of the food, you're going to have to come up with something.

Nick: Yeah. We have a stomach problem that is kicking in.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yeah. There's no real polite way to decline food.

Leah: Or you could actually say ... No, I'm not going to invent lies, but you're going to have to invent one.

Nick: Okay. But, yeah, it's hard. It's a tough situation. Ideally, you would do it whatever you're about to do in a way that the host doesn't notice.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Or is subtle. Then, if the host does notice, it's on them to not comment.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So, everyone has their part to play.

Leah: But I do think it's totally fine if you're at a meal and there's multiple foods on the table, you don't have to take all of them. You're not responsible to like all the food.

Nick: I think we come in differently on this.

Leah: We really do because when I host, I don't want people to be eating things they don't like because they want ... I want them to be happy and comfortable. Eat what you want to eat!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't mind.

Nick: That's a nice host position to take, but as a guest, if everything's sort of being served ... I mean, also, it depends if this is French service, or if this is ‡ la russe service ... We'll talk about that in another show.

Leah: Right. Because, well, that's not happening at my house, but I wouldn't take it in any way if people didn't want one of the items.

Nick: Yeah, I would not personally be offended. But, as a guest, if something is being passed around, I would know that my host knows that I'm not taking something, so ...

Leah: You could also ... Unless you think that it's so contaminated that it would contaminate everything-

Nick: Like peas.

Leah: I mean, obviously ... Move them to a different room! Otherwise, you could just take a little, put them in a-

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: -not make a deal of it. Just put a little, and then just move the plate along.

Nick: Shuffle it along, yeah.

Leah: Shuffle it along, and don't touch it.

Nick: Yeah. Then, our next question here is from the same author: "Is it ever okay to bring a food item to a social gathering that is open, or has been partially consumed? I know the answer is no, as I think that it is rude, and I would never do it, but it's been done to me. The circumstances were special, but not extenuating ..." Thoughts?

Leah: [Laughing] I just, sometimes ... And I love this! I think people write in, so they feel supported-

Nick: Yes!

Leah: -that we agree.

Nick: Yes. You are not insane!

Leah: That a wrong has been done to you!

Nick: You have been wronged.

Leah: You have been wronged!

Nick: An etiquette crime has been committed.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Cuff 'em!

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Yeah, this is wrong. Yeah.

Leah: I would love to know what the special circumstances are that were not ... I assume, in extenuating circumstances, that you're on the way to a party, and you are hijacked, and kept in a room for days, and the only food you are allowed to eat is the food that you've brought with you-

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: -at which time, you show up at your friend's house late with half-eaten food.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Otherwise, I can't understand what extenuating circumstances are.

Nick: No other reasons ... Also, I think there are slightly different degrees of this, too. I mean, well, there's different flavors. One is how formal is this event that we're going to? If I'm just coming over to your house and we're watching 90 Day Fiancé, and I brought a bag of chips that I had at home, and I already ate some of them, this feels slightly less problematic than like dinner party at your house!

Leah: Absolutely. Like, if you came over, I wouldn't even think twice about it.

Nick: Right. Then, it also feels like the item, itself, sort of matters. If it is a chunk of a whole.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Like, if it's a loaf of bread, or a bottle of wine-

Leah: Or a lasagna with a missing piece!

Nick: Right. Versus a bag of chips, where you could eat one chip, but just the bag, itself, was opened; or like a box of cookie- where one cookie was removed, but there are still whole cookies available.

Leah: I also think, like if you're going eat a cookie out of a box, take all the cookies out of the box, put it on a plate, and throw some cellophane on that, because then nobody knows it's missing!

Nick: Oh, that's also nice. Yeah, that's a smart way to do it.

Leah: I feel like if you're gonna eat some of it, take the chips out of the bag, put it in a bowl. You know what I mean?

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Throw a topper on it.

Nick: Yeah. Okay, this is a nice, clever loophole. Yeah. But, yeah, to just bring something that's opened to someone's house? Provocative.

Leah: Provocative!

Nick: Provocative.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I think that you, as a host, could be like ... I honestly would just think it was hilarious. So, I would be like, "Did you start that sandwich on the way over here?" Then, we would just have a laugh.

Nick: Yeah. I don't think I would be so charitable, but that's why we're different.

[Instrumental Theme Song]

Nick: So, do you have questions out there?

Leah: Are we going to label this episode - "That's why we're different"? [crosstalk]

Nick: -we're different? That's the only reason we're different.

Leah: That's the one.

Nick: Yep.

Leah: Plus the one that we started the episode-

Nick: Yeah, so we'll bookend it. Do you have questions out there? Oh, of course, you do! So, send them to us. You can send them to us at our website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com, or, and this is what we would prefer, leave us a voicemail.

Leah: Please?

Nick: We want to hear your voice because we get tone, and nuance-

Leah: And we can understand it.

Nick: Yeah. So, leave us a voicemail. (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729). You can also send us a text message there, too. We'll see you next time.

Leah: See you next time!

Nick: Bye!

Leah: [Whispering] Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]