May 10, 2021

Inviting Yourself To Other People's Vacations, Handling Unwanted Art, Wearing White to Weddings, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about inviting yourself to other people's vacation, chewing on ice cubes, wearing white to weddings, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about inviting yourself to other people's vacations, handling unwanted art, wearing white to weddings, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • Is it rude for my husband's ex-wife to invite herself to our family vacation?
  • What do we do about a friend's art we no longer want to hang in our home?
  • What's a good hostess gift for a girls' weekend to Florida?
  • Is it rude to chew on ice?
  • Do I need to return a voicemail just to say "thank you"?
  • Repent: Telling someone not to wear white to a wedding
  • Vent: Dog-earing books from the library






Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: That we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is, quote, "My husband and I both have children from previous marriages, and they all live with us full time. Earlier this month, my husband's ex-wife emailed my husband and told him that their youngest daughter told her about our upcoming spring break vacation. She then asked my husband if she could join us on the beach for a few days. Immediately, my head began to spin, thinking of the pure awkwardness of sharing our Airbnb. My husband laughed, and told her very plainly that wouldn't be an option. But now I'm curious. We wouldn't be comfortable with her being there for lots of complicated reasons surrounding their custody dispute, and all of the issues that came along with that endless journey. But maybe the polite thing is to let her. Should we be trying to co-parent, or am I right in thinking she's completely out of bounds for asking such a ridiculous favor?"

Leah: Up top, what I love about this question ...

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: ... is that the person—much like myself and how I think—goes full circle. Immediately, they were like, "What? What are you talking about? You're going to come with us?"

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And then her husband says—also says that to the person. And then she's like, "When I thought about it later, I thought, 'Should I be doing this?'" And then she got back to, "It's ridiculous that she asked, right?"

Nick: *[laughs] Yeah. No, really went a full journey. Yeah.

Leah: Full journey. I loved it.

Nick: So the general rule, I think, that applies here is that it is rude to invite yourself to other people's things. Like, that's just rude. We don't do it. You don't invite yourself to someone else's wedding. You don't invite yourself to someone else's party. So you don't invite yourself to somebody else's vacation.

Leah: Yeah. Can I come?

Nick: Yeah. No.

Leah: Can I come?

Nick: Yeah. That's awkward, because we don't do that. And now you put the other person on the spot for having to tell you no? Like, ugh.

Leah: I did have the caveat that some—I don't have children, so I can imagine it's a little bit different when you just want to be with your kids. Like, I want to give that woman that little bit of a ...

Nick: I mean, the question of like, should we be trying to co- parent? We are not the show for that. That's not—that's not a thing that we weigh in on. But I think it is a good reminder just about boundary setting in general, whereas it is okay to set boundaries. And you can be polite and set boundaries at the same time. So if you do not want this person joining you on a beach vacation, you can just say, "No. Unfortunately, that won't be possible." I don't know if we need to laugh, and I don't know if the husband's laughing was to her as he said that wouldn't be an option, or if that was just when he got the email, and then he was a little more polite when he declined. But I think we don't want to laugh.

Leah: Well, I mean, it's him and his ex-wife. I think they probably know how they communicate with each other.

Nick: Or they don't, and that was the problem.

Leah: But he could be like—but I read it as like, "Come on, you know you can't come."

Nick: But I think there is a world in which the request could have been like, "Hey, I heard you're gonna be doing this vacation. I was wondering if I could get a separate Airbnb, and so I could spend time with the kids during the day and maybe I'll join you for one meal." Like, I think there's, like, that world. So I don't know if that was the request, or if it was more of like, "Oh, can I please join you and your Airbnb and somehow have you guys pay for this as well?"

Leah: And your new significant other.

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I think you should feel fine saying no. Like, you obviously want to say no for a myriad of reasons. So does your husband. It's not a good idea. That obviously feels like the right thing.

Nick: Right. Also, the fact that it was referred to as a ridiculous favor does make me think that the ex-wife's request was to have it paid for as well. Like, that would be a ridiculous favor. So there's that.

Nick: Our next question is, quote, "We have a really good friend who is an artist, and he is very generous with his art. And he's gifted us a few pieces, which we've had in our house for about four years now. We just bought a new house, and our esthetic is changing and we are redecorating, and we don't really think his pieces match our new style. And if we're being honest, I just don't want to hang his art anymore. However, we worry about hurting his feelings, and him noticing that his art is not in our house. Do you have any thoughts on how we should handle this?"

Leah: I got, like, acid reflux halfway through this conversation.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Just because I felt this so deeply that I was like, I don't think I can answer this one.

Nick: Well first, congrats on a new house. That is very exciting.

Leah: Yes! Congratulations.

Nick: I mean, I've been in the same place forever, and I feel like it took me nine months to pick a wall color for paint, and I cannot imagine starting over in a new house and, like, picking it all over again. So I think I would just replicate the exact esthetic I currently have wherever I go, regardless of the architecture, the city. If it's Palm Beach, if it's Iceland, like, I'm gonna have the same esthetic. Because I cannot spend another nine months picking a gray paint. But that's me. So the key thing that I love in this letter is the, "If we're being honest." So it sounds like we just don't want this art anymore, regardless. It has nothing to do with moving, nothing to do with esthetics. We just don't want this art.

Leah: Well, I think they've—it's had its time, and now they're on to something else.

Nick: Yes, okay. And it sounds like this is a friend who probably comes over quite often, so he's gonna know.

Leah: Yeah, because otherwise you wouldn't have to worry about it.

Nick: Right.

Leah: They would never know. But they must visit often.

Nick: So I guess I would probably say nothing unless they brought it up. I think that would be my first strategy, and just let them bring it up. Otherwise, we ignore it.

Leah: And what would you say if they brought it up?

Nick: "Oh, we're just trying something a little different for a little while. Oh, we're just rotating our collection. Oh, we hate your art." [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, I think I would do something like a, "Oh, we're trying this for a little while." So I think I would leave the door open that the art would return. But just for right now, we're just trying something different. So I think I would kind of have it in that world.

Leah: That's very nice. I like that a lot.

Nick: One idea I did have is, if you like this art, but it just was the current collection wasn't working for you, you could commission him to paint something specific for the new place. So if your color scheme was very different or, you know, you needed something figurative instead of something abstract, maybe you could ask for something specific from this person.

Leah: That's a great idea. I do get the idea that they're done with this person's art.

Nick: We are done. Yeah, I don't think that's probably gonna be the way we go with this. But I do think we should not get rid of the art. So if you can store it, that is ideal. Like, you should not deaccession.

Leah: Oh, yeah. They have to keep it.

Nick: Yeah, you have to keep it. Yeah, you can't send it to Goodwill.

Leah: No, they can't see they're already out on the street. I just ... [laughs]

Nick: And I think if you do need to get rid of it because you just don't have storage for it, I think then you would need to offer to give it back to the artist and be like, "We're just trying something different right now. We want to make sure it's being taken care of properly. Would you be interested in having it back?" Something like that.

Leah: Yeah. Oh, I just get anxious just thinking about it. Not that I think it's the wrong thing to do, I just—that is exactly where I struggle when you know ...

Nick: Well because, like, what are you supposed to do? Hang this art, even though you don't want it because of this person's feelings? Like, no. Obviously, we don't live in that world.

Leah: You obviously do not—should not hang the art.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And I don't think you should rehang—like, they're coming over, so you redo the whole living room for them. That's just too wild.

Nick: Right. So we don't live in that world.

Leah: Even for me, that's wild. So I think what Nick said is perfect. "We're doing something different right now, switching it around."

Nick: And hopefully your friend will understand.

Leah: That's why I think if it's possible to keep it, and you have storage space, that's nice, because then it still feels like it's a part of your collection, even if it's in the attic.

Nick: And if there is a spot in the house where you can just toss one of these things up—because it sounds like you have quite a few pieces here. So if you can take one, put it in the hallway, the laundry room, foyer. You know, somewhere a little out of the way, that could be one way to solve this problem. Just, like, toss it somewhere and be like, "Oh, yes, your clown painting? It's in the arboretum." You know, whatever.

Leah: But if you really don't want it, don't feel obligated.

Nick: You are not obligated to hang it. Yes, correct. So, I'm sorry.

Nick: Our next question is, quote, "I'm joining a group of friends on a girls' trip to Florida. We're staying in one of the friend's condo, and I'm trying to think of a thoughtful hostess gift that would not be an inconvenience to my host, but shows I really appreciate her. We are flying, so I need to be able to put the gift in my bag, and I think it needs to be something she won't want to bring back with her. I want to know: what's the proper etiquette for this situation? Is it rude to bring a gift to a vacation home? Any ideas?"

Leah: It's always so hard if you haven't seen the place.

Nick: Oh, interesting! Okay.

Leah: So you have no idea what the color is or, like, how much space they have, or if they have a lot of one thing already. So is there a way where you could gift them an activity? "I would love to take you out for a day to this place where we'll do this thing that I know you love."

Nick: Oh, that's nice. I mean, I think my first thought, though, is the gift that you bring doesn't have to actually be related to the condo that you're staying in. The gift is for your friend, not for the physical space. So it doesn't have to be, like, something for the condo.

Leah: You know, I didn't even think about that. It could just be like a lovely bracelet.

Nick: I mean, that's what I'm here for. But I think it actually is nice to do something that we can all enjoy. So my first thought was actually coffee, because I think we're all gonna want coffee in the morning at this condo. And so that's something nice for the household. And the other thing I thought of, like, is if we're gonna be doing, like, barbecuing? Like, maybe a spice rub mix. You know, something, you know, dry that you can easily pack. No TSA liquid rule issue. So maybe like a dry rub. And then I was thinking, like, oh, if we're gonna do baking, maybe I would bring a mason jar full of, like, crumble mix. You know, like oats and flour and sugar. And so we could just, like, toss that with butter and put it over, like, cut fruit. And then now we have a crisp one night. So I thought, oh, that could be kind of a nice thing. So something for the household, and for this weekend that's also sort of for the friend. Because you just want that moment of like, "Oh, I brought this," and then you hand it to them. Like, you just need that.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So what that is could be a lot of different things.

Leah: I think those are all lovely options.

Nick: And I think it would also be nice if everybody takes this friend out to dinner, like, your last night as a thank you.

Leah: Oh, definitely.

Nick: And as a reminder, when you get home, you should also send this friend a handwritten thank-you note in the mail.

Leah: I was gonna say there also should be a thank-you note.

Nick: There should also be a thank-you note. Right? So all of those things are required. But I think a consumable is very nice. And if you aren't actually all flying from the same city down to Florida, like, if you live somewhere else, something that is local to your area? Extra thoughtful. So, like, coffee from the roaster that you like or, you know, the homemade granola from the bakery down the street that you always go to. Like, I think that's very nice if you live in a different town than all your other people.

Leah: Great!

Nick: I kind of want to go on a girls' weekend to Florida.

Leah: Me, too.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: May I say, because I'm still thinking about it from the first question, so I got to get it out.

Nick: Oh, bring it. Let it out.

Leah: I just want to say that when I initially read it, I was like, of course, she's completely out of bounds and absolutely ridiculous for asking.

Nick: Which I think is a fair read of the question.

Leah: I just wanted to throw in, seeing it from the ex-wife's point of view, of maybe she just wanted to see her kids, and she was trying to be down the beach or something in case that was an option. But I do want to say that my first read was ridiculous, if I hadn't made that clear before.

Nick: I mean, I think we weren't there, so we don't know what tone was used.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And how the request was made. And the method, the tone, very crucial detail. So it would have been nice to have had this recorded and sent to us so we can analyze it. Unfortunately, this is not an option.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah, next time, if you could record a conversation that you didn't know was gonna be coming in, we would appreciate it.

Nick: And then send it to us, and we will parse it and then we will tell you exactly what it means.

Leah: Wouldn't it be fun if people started, like, recording with those little mini-cassettes? They had it in their bag, and they recorded and they sent us mini-cassettes and we listened to it like detectives from the 1950s?

Nick: Or everyone should just wear a wire. Just wear a wire, FBI-informant style, send it in. Yeah, we're ready. Bring it.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "Is it rude to chew on ice?"

Leah: Sometimes I feel like "rude" is, like, not the right word.

Nick: Yeah. I guess, is it "improper?" Is that a better word?

Leah: Is it possibly annoying to others' ears if you're crunching down?

Nick: I mean, is that not rude then? Is being annoying to other people's ears considered rude? Yes.

Leah: Yes, but I feel like there's this category of ...

Nick: Rude is a big category.

Leah: I know. Oh, the layers, the layers!

Nick: [laughs] I mean, my first thought when I read this is like, "Ah, who am I today? Am I someone who's bothered by this? Or am I somebody who's like, 'Oh, what difference does it make? Doesn't really affect my life. Live your life.'" So I wasn't sure, like, who I am today. I have decided that I'm bothered by it today. So—so that's my answer today. Like, don't do it. I'd rather you not. Because that is annoying, that crunchy sound. It does catch your eye. It's distracting. You worry about their enamel. You know, it just—I would rather you didn't.

Leah: Or if you're in a closed group of people who—you're an ice chewer and they all know that about you.

Nick: Right? I mean, it definitely—this is—depends on who you're with.

Leah: Yeah, it really depends on who you're with. That's how I feel about it.

Nick: And if they're bothered by it. Because there are people that don't care, and then there are those people that actually have that sensitivity to certain sounds where this is like nails on a chalkboard. It's, like, primordial.

Leah: That's called misophonia.

Nick: Do you have it?

Leah: I mean, I'm arguing that I have it with my boyfriend, and that certain noises that he makes are setting it off. And my needing to flee or amounts of rage is out of control because I actually have misophonia. And I really think that. But ice chewing is not one of my things.

Nick: Not on your list. I see.

Leah: Scratching? Oh, I can't take it!

Nick: So I guess ...

Leah: If you were at a board meeting, or even like a luncheon with—and then you just threw your glass back and just started chawing down on ice? I think, inappropriate.

Nick: Yeah, I guess, know your audience for that. And if you're trying to impress, let's not.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: That's good advice.

Leah: You're out walking with a friend, you get, like, a fountain drink and you spin it around. It's nice and cold, it's got that ice, and then you drink it all and then the ice is at the bottom, you want to throw some back?

Nick: Have at it.

Leah: Have at it. Unless your friend has misophonia, and it's ice that sets them off.

Nick: In which case, don't have at it.

Leah: Don't have at it.

Nick: Also, all of our international listeners are like, what is with American's obsession with ice? And what can I say? It's cultural. It's just we're into it.

Leah: I don't know if some—when you go to other countries, a lot of times they don't have ice.

Nick: Definitely, if there's ice in your drink, there is literally one cube.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah.

Nick: So they're definitely not as into ice as we are in the United States.

Leah: We are really deeply into ice. Like, I love—I love ice so much.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: It's so true.

Nick: Yeah. No, it's definitely like there are certain things that are just super American and, you know, our love of ice and super cold beverages all year.

Leah: All year.

Nick: You know, four seasons. Give me an iced coffee in February. Absolutely.

Leah: Absolutely.

Nick: What can I say? Je suis American.

Leah: Yo, también.

Nick: [laughs] So our next question is, quote, "If I leave a question on a voicemail message to someone and that person calls me back and leaves a message on my voicemail answering my question, is it necessary to call them back? Or should I email them to let them know I've received their answer? This is for a work situation." Hmm, interesting.

Leah: You know me. I always think the less calling the better.

Nick: Yeah, I don't want you taking the time to call me just to say you've received it. I think I'm kind of gonna assume you receive it. And an email saying like, "Thank you?" That's good. I like that. Or I would take a text, just an acknowledgment that I don't need to reply to. So I think that would be fine. But yeah, don't create more work for me.

Leah: Yeah, originally I thought text, but then when they said it's business, I was like, okay, maybe they don't have a texting relationship.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So that's why I'd email and I'd say, 'Thanks so much. I got your message." Great. Boom.

Nick: Yeah, email. The more I think about it, email's better, yeah. So just write back, like, "Thank you. I received your voicemail. Thank you for the answer. Best wishes."

Leah: And then if it was a friend, I would text back, "Got it. Thanks!"

Nick: Yeah, I think it is nice to acknowledge, I guess. I guess on some level it's nice to acknowledge. Although I don't think that's even required.

Leah: I don't think it's required, but I think it's nice.

Nick: It's nice, although when is it actually annoying?

Leah: If then you wrote back and then you wrote back again and then you wrote back, which I could see myself doing, but I've been trying to hold back on that.

Nick: Right. We never want to send the "You're welcome" email, or the "You're welcome" voicemail. Once we've said thank you, that's the end of it.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Yes. Okay. Our next question is, quote ...

Leah: Can I just say something really quick?

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: May I just say—this is not related, but it is related to a previous Were You Raised By Wolves episode.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Now when I'm watching television, I notice when candle wicks aren't blackened.

Nick: [laughs] Oh, no!

Leah: And I go, "Nick!"

Nick: I warned you. I said once you know this thing, you cannot unknow it.

Leah: You did warn me. I literally was watching—and I was like, somebody should have blackened those.

Nick: Yeah, what production design! Sloppy, sloppy. All right, our next question is, quote, "My family was at a wedding and my sister in law decided to wear a long white dress with red flowers. I joked, 'Oh, no, you're wearing white to a wedding. You're not supposed to. Uh-oh!' And she glanced down at her dress and looked thoroughly uncomfortable. I realized that I should have kept my mouth shut, and that making a joke about someone's clothing is never okay, especially when it's not like she could have gone home and changed. I reassured her that I was kidding and she looked great, but I still feel bad about it to this day. So I repent for my etiquette faux pas. But seriously, was she raised by wolves? Who wears white to a wedding?

Leah: I love this person says I still repent about it to this day, because I definitely wake up multiple times and think about things that I wish I hadn't said.

Nick: Yeah, and as somebody who says things for a living, this is tough.

Leah: It's a really long, long list.

Nick: Yeah. So the whole point of not wearing white to a wedding is that you're not wanting to confuse people and make them think that you're the bride. Like, that's the point. You don't want upstage the bride. You don't want to make people think you're the bride.

Leah: You don't want to take attention away from the bride.

Nick: We don't want to take attention away from the bride, right. So that's why we don't do it. And just a sidebar, the whole white wedding dress thing is actually relatively recent. It started with Queen Victoria when she married Prince Albert in 1840. So when she did that, people were like, "Oh, that looks good. Let's do that." And so the white wedding dress actually, like, became standard, I guess, at this point.

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: So I think if you're gonna do it, if you're gonna wear white, then you need to make sure it has color on it, like this red thing, and you need to make sure you don't have it strapless.

Leah: Can't be wearing a veil. You absolutely cannot be wearing a veil.

Nick: [laughs] You can't be wearing a veil.

Leah: You do not carry flowers, because—I actually wrote—I think what you said earlier made me laugh so much. "Who am I today? Am I a person who would be annoyed or not?"

Nick: Right.

Leah: Obviously, reading these questions, I'm like, "Today I'm a person who has to ask all these extra questions about the questions. Like, was this presented this way?" Because I wrote underneath this one, "How big are the red flowers?"

Nick: Oh, that's true. Yeah, is it very subtle, or is it like big, four-foot hibiscus?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: If it's like huge red flowers ...

Nick: Right.

Leah: Or is it these little red, and she's got, like, a dress that has, like, a train behind it that's white, with these little red flowers, and you're like, "You can't get away with that."

Nick: But it is so easy to not wear white. Like, in New York, I don't know anybody who only wears white, you know? Like, there's nobody who's like, "Oh, I only wear white." That'd be like saying, like, "Oh, I only wear bus exhaust and turnstile grease," you know? Like, no. In New York City, we wear black.

Leah: When I see people wearing white, I'm like, you are living on the edge.

Nick: So bold!

Leah: Because that's gonna be white for less than 30 seconds.

Nick: Right. I mean, I spill coffee all the time, so there would be no way for me to own white clothing.

Leah: Like, can you imagine getting on the subway with white?

Nick: Oh, I mean, come on, who are you? Yeah. No. So I think there is a world in which somebody would be like, "Well, just ask the bride if it's okay." No, do not ask the bride. Because the bride doesn't want you to wear white. And you're gonna make them be like, "Oh, I don't want to be a Bridezilla. So maybe I should let them. But, like, I really don't want her to." And so, like—so don't even ask. Because there are other colors.

Leah: Yeah, just don't do it.

Nick: Just don't do it. It's, like, easy enough to not. Unless there is a trend in weddings where the bride wears, like, navy and asks all of the guests to wear white. If that's the instruction, then of course wear white. Follow the instructions. But if that is not the instruction, then just wear something else. And don't even get close to white.

Leah: Just don't do it.

Nick: Don't even get to be like, "Oh, is this white?" Like, if you have to ask, yeah, it's white.

Leah: You're like, "Is this an off-white?" Just don't wear it.

Nick: Yeah. "Is it ivory? It's more obelisk." No, don't even.

Leah: It's a cement.

Nick: [laughs] Well actually, now we're getting into gray tones. Now I'm intrigued.

Leah: [laughs] I know. I was like, "What if we step towards a color that you're into? Would you continue?"

Nick: So yeah. It's just a risk. And, like, who needs that? Who needs that? So the next thing is a vent. Quote, "I would like to vent. Why do people think it's okay to dog ear the pages in library books? On page five, no less! Obviously, they were raised by wolves."

Leah: I love the “page five.”

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Just to point out, like, you didn't even get that far!

Nick: Yeah. Like, why do you got to dog ear that? Yeah.

Leah: You know, I love the library. And I use the receipt from when I get the library book out always as my bookmark.

Nick: Oh, okay. Yeah.

Leah: But I have accidentally once dog-eared a library book.

Nick: [gasps]

Leah: And as I did it, I was so mortified. You know, you try to bend it back. You, like, get an iron out. You're, like, trying to ...

Nick: [laughs] Now you're burning the pages.

Leah: Now you've—now you've set it on fire, you know? Because you know I'm not supposed to do this.

Nick: No, it's not your book. You're borrowing it. Yes.

Leah: It's like when you get a library book and it has chocolate in the middle.

Nick: That happens?

Leah: Oh yeah, I've had books where people have chocolate fingerprints. Like, they were eating and turning the pages.

Nick: Is this mostly just like the ghost novels you're interested in?

Leah: [laughs] Yes, it's always the ghost novels. I just think they were having a good time.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. So do you have questions for us? Or a vent? We would love to hear it. Please send it to us through our website, Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!