Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about invoicing guests for parties, spitting in public, ruining spa days, and much more.
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about invoicing guests for parties, spitting in public, ruining spa days, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
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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, "Two years ago, my wonderful mother-in-law gave me a wallet for my birthday of significance. It was a thoughtful gesture on her part, but unfortunately, the wallet just isn't my taste. It's rose gold with glitter flowers and butterflies. I asked my sister-in-law for advice. She too received a wallet for the same significant birthday, and she recommended that I just use it when I see her—about two weeks a year. I followed this advice and switched out my wallet before my in-laws visit or when we visit them, and no one besides my husband is any the wiser. Now we're moving across the country and will be staying with my in-laws while we house hunt, which might take several months. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I also don't want to be saddled with a wallet I don't particularly care for. The best solution I could come up with would be to fib and to say the zipper broke, so oh darn, I had to buy a new wallet. I hate to lie to her, but a polite-yet-direct conversation that I don't, in fact, like the gift seems inappropriate at this point. This is not some small matter that will go unnoticed by her. If she doesn't outright ask me about it, there will be a reference to it at some point and I want to be ready. Help, please!"
Leah: I think we don't want to lie about things.
Nick: We do not want to lie. Yes, I think that is a hard no. Because no good comes of that. No good comes of that.
Leah: Yeah. It will somehow come back in some way at some point.
Nick: Yeah. And that's worse. And, like, we don't need that.
Leah: I think you can just use your wallet and pack the wallet from your mother-in-law and put it in storage or for shipping. And then when she says—"Oh, I still have it. I just packed it for the new place."
Nick: Yeah. Or, like, people have more than one wallet.
Leah: Yeah. People rotate wallets.
Nick: Yeah. That's like a thing. And you're allowed to have more than one wallet. So I think it's just like, "Oh, I'm just like—swapped it out seasonally, and that's just, like, not the wallet that I'm using right now. But I love it. The rose gold with the butterflies and the flowers."
Leah: And the glitter.
Nick: So, you know, I think you could just say, like, it's not in the current rotation. Which is true. And I think telling the truth, I think, is key.
Leah: And I don't think we ever want to tell her that we don't like it.
Nick: No. No one wants to hear that their gift wasn't appreciated.
Leah: I currently have three wallets in rotation.
Nick: Okay. And so you rotate them.
Leah: I rotate them. I put them in different bags on different days. It might be a little haphazard, but ...
Nick: Oh, you don't have a system where every Tuesday we use this specific wallet? Oh, that's so weird, Leah.
Leah: But I think it's completely normal to say, "Oh."
Leah: And I assume you're moving, so things are packed. You packed that one. You're using your other seasonal wallet, ba boom boom boom!
Nick: And it's also not nice to put people on the spot and ask them about gifts. So I think that is not a great thing to be like, "Oh, where's the wallet I bought you?" Like, I don't love that.
Leah: But our letter-writer just wants to be ready in case it comes up because they feel anxious about it.
Nick: And it sounds like it's gonna come up.
Leah: It does sound like it's gonna come up. Yep.
Nick: Oh, it's gonna come up. Yeah. So I think that's the solution. Don't lie. Just say it's not in the current rotation—which is true. And that's the end of it.
Nick: Yeah. So our next question is quote, "My friend and I are hosting a murder mystery dinner party for 15 friends."
Leah: Oh, wait, can I stop—the other option ...
Leah: And this is—this is brave.
Nick: Ooh, I love a good, brave, Leah Bonnema option.
Leah: I don't know if it's that brave.
Nick: [laughs] Okay.
Leah: My third wallet is actually a no-wallet fanny pack. I just put the, like, whatever card, cash ...
Nick: That's not a wallet at all.
Leah: Exactly. So you go no wallet.
Nick: Oh! You're like, "Oh, I'm just doing fanny pack right now."
Leah: Yeah. I just want to have, like, my license and one card and a little cash. I'm not doing a wallet right now. So there's no wallet to see.
Nick: I see.
Leah: So they're not like, "What's this other wallet?" You're going no wallet.
Nick: Oh, okay. We're doing a no wallet moment. I mean, that invites a lot more conversation, which I think we're trying to avoid.
Leah: No, I think if people don't see any wallet, then why would it come up?
Nick: Well, because the mother-in-law is gonna see you, like, pulling out loose cards out of your fanny pack. And I guess that's interesting because she'll be like, "Oh, I guess my glitter wallet's not in your fanny pack."
Leah: No, you're like, "Oh, I've been running more." I mean, that's why I do it because I like to be more agile. [laughs]
Nick: I see.
Leah: You know, you don't—you don't want to have something heavy on you.
Nick: Okay. So you think not having a wallet doesn't call attention to the fact that we're using a different wallet?
Nick: No wallet is, like, neutral.
Leah: No wallet seems neutral.
Nick: I see. I guess in my mind, no wallet is also a choice.
Leah: But it's—no wallet is more like I don't want to carry that much.
Nick: I see.
Leah: It's not a comment on the wallet. It's a comment on how much you want to have on you.
Nick: But then if we're asked, like, "Oh, I see you're not using my glitter wallet," now you're explaining, like, "Oh, I'm not using any wallet right now." And so the same conversation could also just be like, "Oh, I'm rotating a different wallet right now." So you forced me to have a conversation about the state of where I'm putting my credit cards regardless if we're forced to have a conversation with this person.
Leah: I was just thinking maybe if they didn't see another wallet that it wouldn't come up at all. But I see what—I see exactly what you're saying.
Nick: I mean really, if I see you now have a fanny pack, I mean, that's a whole other conversation. Like, what are we doing with this?
Leah: Well, maybe the mother-in-law will just think, "Oh, this is like a thing."
Nick: Okay. And for some of our international listeners, I think a fanny pack is called a "bum bag" in other parts of the world, right?
Leah: It's a bum bag. And it's very—I always take my bum bag and I throw it over my shoulder.
Nick: Oh, okay.
Leah: Because I don't like to carry my full wallet when I go—when I'm not going—you know, why do I need everything that's important to identification in one place, you know?
Nick: Yeah. I mean, you don't always have to have your Blockbuster card with you.
Leah: I always have my Blockbuster card. That's the one of the three cards I always have.
Nick: Okay. Be kind. Rewind.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "My friend and I are hosting a murder mystery dinner party for 15 friends. We will be cooking a three-course meal, providing alcohol and facilitating the mystery fun for our friends. We're excited to host, however the preparations have become quite expensive. Would it be acceptable to ask friends attending to chip in for the cost of the food and drinks? Unfortunately, we did not think to ask this on the initial invitation."
Leah: I personally think if you didn't ask up top you can't ask later.
Nick: Nope. Sorry. We don't make the rules. No. Can't do it.
Leah: I do think you could—like maybe if there was a way to make something less extravagant.
Nick: No, there is no ...
Leah: No, I'm not saying ask your friends. I'm saying if you were like, "I'm gonna do martinis," you could be like, "Oh, we made—we're doing wine."
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think it kind of comes down to what was on the invitation. If the invitation was like, "Come over to our house for a three-course meal and martinis and murder mystery." And now it's sort of like, that's not happening. That's also a problem. But if you just said, like, "Come over for a murder mystery party and some nibbles," you can define what that means as a host. And so you might want to redefine what that means to make it more in your budget.
Leah: Yeah, I think if there's ways to pare down, I would do that. But I don't think we can—if invitations have already gone out and we've invited people, I don't think we can ask.
Nick: Yeah, you can't lure people to your house under false pretenses and then give them a bill.
Leah: [laughs] Lure. Lure.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah. But I mean, I feel for our letter-writer because it's like, "Oh, we're gonna have a fun party." And it's like, "Oh, this got real expensive." And so I think, yeah, you have to scale it back. I mean, I guess could you cancel the party altogether and then, like, reschedule it for another date, and then that new party is, like, more what the party needs to be? I don't love that, but I would rather you cancel the party rather than invoice me, I feel like, given those choices.
Leah: Could we—I'm just floating this out because I haven't said the words out loud, so I'm not sure how I feel about them.
Nick: Okay. I'm gonna write them on the whiteboard as you say them.
Leah: Depending on how close this friend group is, could we say, "Hey, the original thing said martinis and a three-course meal. We've gone—you know, we've gone a little wild. So now it's—it's wine and two courses, murder mystery. Can't wait to see you."
Nick: Okay. And are we inviting people to change their RSVP?
Leah: Well I mean, would you change your RSVP if it was a different—it's still the murder mystery and a dinner.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I probably wouldn't, but it does feel like I RSVPed for a certain type of thing. And so I guess if it changed dramatically, but I guess, you know, three courses to two courses, martinis to wine, this feels the same world. If you're like, oh, formal dinner party with tuxedos at your house and now it's ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese, like, oh, I might want to rethink my RSVP.
Leah: My thought was then—because you had said you didn't want to say what was one thing and then be another, is that then you're updating them on what it is. And then also if somebody was like, "I'm just coming for the martinis," then they can bring their martinis.
Nick: Umm, I mean, if I promise a martini party and I'm not gonna have a martini party, and now you're just like, "Oh, well, then bring your own."
Leah: No, I'm not saying bring your own. I'm just letting you know that there will be wine there. I told you I was just floating it out. I was just trying to see.
Nick: No, I appreciate it. No. Gotta talk it out.
Leah: I see how maybe this isn't the way.
Nick: I mean, because the general principle is just like, I have issued an invitation to my house for a thing, and that's my right as a host. I get to decide what it is and when it is and who gets to come. And, like, I get to decide all that. And as a guest, I get to decide based on the invitation, whether or not I want to come. Like, that's the relationship. So when you change the thing, then it's like as a guest, like, am I allowed to change my thing then? Because, like, I agreed to one thing and now it's like, not that thing, and maybe it's fine, but, like, it's not. So—but I think changing it is better than invoicing people. So I would rather you change your event and let me know rather than keep your event and then send me a bill. Sending the bill is like a—that's just like a hard no. Like, there's no further conversation about it.
Leah: That's right off the table.
Leah: I do think there would be ways to pare down that isn't changing the entire event.
Nick: Yeah. I guess that would be the solution. Yeah, don't charge people after you invited them to your house I guess is my point.
Leah: Or sometimes I will do this in my head. I'll say, "You know what? It's already done. I can't invoice people."
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think maybe it's just a valuable lesson. Maybe it was a little expensive and maybe you won't do that again.
Leah: But it can also—like, sometimes I'll be like, "I'm gonna think of this as, like, my birthday party or as, like, my gift." And I'm not gonna tell people about it. But that way I put it in my mind like I'm moving a budgetary thing from another thing to this thing and thinking of it as that.
Nick: Right. And it does sound like it's gonna be a fun party.
Leah: I think it's going to be an extraordinary party. A murder mystery? Come on.
Leah: Did I tell you that one of my first jobs in New York was I got hired for a murder mystery theater.
Nick: What? No!
Leah: Yeah. And I would show up early, like companies for company parties or at different events. I would go in early as a guest and mingle.
Leah: And then so I would get murdered halfway through and people would be like ...
Nick: You would get murdered?
Leah: "I didn't know you were with—" yeah, I got stabbed in the back and I had to, like, slide this knife that went on either side of my body and then, like, stagger out into the floor.
Nick: Oh, wow! Is there a video of this?
Leah: There must be somewhere.
Nick: Oh, I would love to see Leah Bonnema get murdered at a party.
Leah: On a regular basis.
Nick: [laughs] On a regular basis. Like, "Oh, who has murdered me? I have been murdered!" Is that what you're saying as you're stumbling through?
Leah: It was a lot of screaming? No, it was a lot of screaming. And then I got one of those things that you bite and, you know, so it's sort of like you're a little frothy?
Nick: Wow! A lot of special effects.
Leah: Yeah, a lot of special—we would do weekends where it would be like people would hire murder mystery weekends at hotels, and so you would go and then I would—I would get murdered on the first night, and then I couldn't leave my room for 48 hours.
Nick: Wait. They had to maintain the integrity of the event?
Leah: The integrity of the event.
Nick: So you weren't allowed to be seen since?
Leah: I was not allowed to be seen.
Nick: Oh, that's terrible! Wow! You could just be like, "Oh, I have a twin. My twin got murdered."
Nick: Wow. Okay. So I did not know that.
Leah: I love a murder mystery.
Nick: I do, too. Yeah. No, and I'm usually pretty good at them because I'm naturally suspicious.
Nick: So that serves me very well at these parties. So our next question is quote, "I'm a runner, and spend a lot of time on trails and sidewalks. And I also live in a densely populated and walker-friendly area. These are all great things, but I frequently end up being behind someone who finds it necessary to spit in public. Usually they don't even stop walking or running to check if there are others nearby who could potentially be rained on or even just grossed out. What, if anything, is an appropriate thing to say to these people? I don't want to be rude or start a fight or anything, I just want people to think twice before doing this sort of thing."
Leah: What's—A) I was really looking forward to what you were going to say because I couldn't think of what the right words were. B) This has happened to me recently where I was in the canyon with Lacey, and we were talking to one of our regular canyon friends. And this woman jogged by and spit right next to us.
Leah: Just not paying attention to anybody. Just did a runner's—like a big one. And the guy that the human of the dog that Lacey was playing with just directly told her that it was filthy. [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] Okay. Yeah. So I mean, that is one option. That is definitely one option for sure. Yeah.
Leah: Which I think was not the polite—but it was effective.
Nick: Yeah. And, you know, sometimes that's still satisfying. I guess the trick with this is this is someone who's moving, and so it's like, how much opportunity do we even have to say or do anything? Like, we probably can't just have a glance-based response because they've probably passed us and aren't looking at us.
Leah: We would have to get in front of them, turn around and do a Nick glance.
Nick: Eww. Right. Yeah. Have an "Eww" face. Yeah. But that's like—that's a lot of cardio. That's a lot of cardio for this etiquette response.
Leah: And you have to do it in the amount of time where they knew what that was a response to.
Nick: True. Yeah, there has to be some connection between their spitting and your glance. Yeah. So this feels difficult to achieve. I mean, I think I would pull from maybe the Miss Manners playbook, which is she often talks about letting out a yelp or like a little scream whenever somebody does something. Like, especially if, like, somebody touches you unexpectedly. Like, if somebody, like, rubs your shoulders, like, from behind, you can, like, let out an involuntary yelp, which is like a "Oh!" Which is like, "Oh, you're hurting me." Or, like, "Oh, that's unexpected." And you get plausible deniability because it's like, oh, that was involuntary. You startled me.
Nick: And that actually is sort of allowed when somebody, like, crosses a boundary, especially like a physical boundary. Like, you're allowed to yelp if somebody, like, touches you. And so I think something like that might work where you, like, yelp in a way, like, "Oh, I've been spat on. Like, "Oh!" very loudly, and hopefully they'll turn around and your gesture then can be, like, a horrified, like, "Eww, what is on my face?" And you could, like, wipe your brow dramatically and, like, wipe it on your shirt and, like, "Oh, I've just been rained on. Where did it come from?" And so maybe that could be effective. Like, you yelp loud enough to make them turn around and then, like, that's how that goes.
Leah: And my guess is that these people have earphones in.
Nick: Right. Oh, true!
Leah: Because I do love the yelp.
Leah: I also—the yelp that you did was fantastic. That was the yelp that I would want.
Nick: Okay. So maybe you just need a ringtone that's loud enough to pierce through earphones. Is that what it is?
Leah: I mean, I don't know what we would do if the person—you can't get in front of them to give them a look and you can't hear them. The only other option is to run up behind them and give them a gentle push which is off the table.
Nick: Yeah, that is off the table. Spitting back? I guess that's off the table. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, sometimes there's some etiquette things that you just, like—you can't do anything about it.
Leah: I like the yelp.
Nick: But the trick with the yelp is you have to do it in a way which is like, "Oh, I've been startled by this mysterious force," and we're not gonna attribute it to you specifically. It's just like, oh, spit has come from out of nowhere. Oh! And so that's what it needs to be. And it could be loud enough where, like, oh, maybe they'll turn around and be like, "Oh, what is that noise I just heard?" And then ideally they'll put it together and be like, "Oh, sorry." But yeah, landing that is real tricky.
Leah: Because I think the intention that we could think of that's clear is I'm startled.
Nick: Yes, that needs to be the spirit. It has to be a startle, because in general you're not allowed to yelp. Like, etiquette doesn't allow you just going around yelping. But if it's involuntary, you were startled, you were surprised, then etiquette does give you a pass a lot of the time.
Leah: Because I think startled is an honest response. I wasn't ready for a spit to come.
Nick: Oh, if I was—I'm never ready. No, I'm not ready for that. No. Who's ready for that?
Leah: I unfortunately whenever I'm startled just go, "Oh, wow!" That's what always comes out of my mouth.
Nick: [laughs] I love that that's your startle.
Leah: [laughs] That's my startle.
Nick: Wow! Yeah. Okay.
Leah: I fell so hard this week on Hollywood Boulevard because somebody dropped fruit. I mean, it's genuinely a person slipping on a banana peel. And I was thinking about how I always say the dumbest things after I fall. This is like the "Oh, wow." I fell. Everybody turned around, not to help, but just to take a picture. And I did like half a split, and then I just stood up and I was like, "Oh, I think there's some raspberries on the ground." But I totally did a yelp on the way down. "Whoo!" And then I was like, "Did you drop your raspberries?" And then I ran away.
Nick: It actually seems like you handled this very gracefully.
Leah: It was so—I was—and then I had to go directly to a show with this fruit bottom. That being said, that yelps happen. So just throw it out. Don't hold it back. That yelp is ready to go.
Nick: Yeah. So I think a yelp, a startled yelp, I guess that would be what we would suggest. You gotta land it, though. But I think if you could, that's the only thing you can do.
Leah: I think we need maybe a range of Nick yelps that we could download from the internet so people can have something to work towards.
Nick: Oh, like a practice.
Nick: We need Duolingo. We need a Duolingo language option. So you can learn German, you can learn Italian, and then there's the Nick Leighton yelp and glance.
Leah: Yes, yes, yes, yes!
Nick: Okay, great. All right. I'll reach out to them. We'll see if we can do a little partnership.
Leah: I would for sure get that.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I could always use the practice. Sure. Level up. So our next question is quote, "A close friend of mine is having a birthday dinner tonight that I cannot attend. I thought it would be nice to call the restaurant and send a treat to the table to recognize the occasion. Is this appropriate? And if so, what do I send? A cocktail seems nice, but they may have one already. And a dessert seems like the next best option, but has issues with timing. Thoughts?"
Leah: I love what Nick said last week. It's been sitting with me.
Nick: Ooh, what did I say?
Leah: About how if we can always just—what's the nice thing? If we can just do that thing and then not feel—like, just trust that doing the nice thing is the nice thing.
Nick: Yes. I mean, is that good advice? I'd have to think about it. Yeah. Like, is it always the right advice to do the nice thing?
Leah: Well, here it's nice. You're sending a gift.
Nick: Yeah. Here it is. Yes. I just—I need a little more contemplation to make sure that that is a good universal rule. I feel like it should be, but I feel like I might be missing some caveats.
Leah: Well, I think the caveat is that sometimes people think the nice thing is the something that's ...
Nick: Trying to be helpful?
Leah: ... trying to be helpful or meddling or condescending. So unfortunately, we would have to be like, well, who are you as a person? What is your ...
Nick: Yeah, are you a good person, and is this actually nice? But okay, assuming that for the moment, yes.
Leah: And this circumstance, I think this is a lovely idea. It's super kind of you.
Nick: Totally. And I've done this for people who have birthdays in restaurants and I can't attend.
Leah: I think it's great.
Nick: So what you do is you just call the restaurant and you just tell them, like, "Hey, such and such has a reservation tonight. It's their birthday. I want to buy their first round, or I want to buy dessert. Here's my credit card." And then you just leave it to the restaurant to figure that out and then bill you for it. Like, you don't have to worry about timing. Like, the restaurant will figure that out."
Leah: I mean, I feel like Nick just summed it up. I was gonna be like, you could—why don't you—can you call somebody else who's there?
Nick: No. That's too complicated.
Leah: See what they're drinking. You've made it significantly easier.
Nick: And the restaurant? They know what they're doing. They've done this before. And when they bring out the champagne or the round of cocktails that they ordered or the desserts, they'll be like, "Oh, this is from Leah." And then everybody at the table will be like, "What? Oh, that's nice!" And then mission accomplished.
Nick: Yeah. Easy peasy.
Leah: You really streamlined that. I was gonna get a calling circle going, you know?
Nick: Oh, no. Sometimes this is very easy. Yeah. So our next question is a vent.
Nick: And it's quote, "I'm currently at my favorite medical day spa for a facial that I took off work for. It has a very nice waiting area with a water feature and coffee bar and fancy pillows. There is a woman sitting near me in this relaxing waiting area on speakerphone, loudly discussing her daughter's competitive softball team. She keeps telling the person on the other end of the phone call, 'You're talking too loud. I've got you on speakerphone.' And they are intermittently arguing, which makes it even worse. I cannot believe. Who even is she? My heart rate is elevated."
Leah: I felt those last three sentences so much. "Who even is she?"
Nick: Yeah. Oh, I know. Sometimes when you just, like, go to a place where you're just wanting to be relaxed, you are sort of set yourself up for that, you're expecting it. You've been looking forward to that. And then you go and then someone ruins it. I mean, that's the worst.
Leah: But—and everybody there is there to relax.
Leah: They have a water feature and fancy pillows.
Nick: Yeah. The whole place is designed for relaxation.
Leah: Who even is she?
Nick: So I wrote this person right back and I said, "You are welcome to let this person know that she can take her phone call outside. And you can do this in a polite, non-judgmental way, but you absolutely are within your right to be like, 'Hey, would you mind taking your call outside?' Like, you should do that. So ...
Leah: Also, sometimes I hope that somebody—this is so—I have to be my own Nicholas Layton. But I always sometimes am like, I'm just hoping somebody else will step in, you know what I mean? Like, maybe somebody who works there would be like, "Hey, we have a no speakerphone policy."
Nick: No, sometimes you just gotta take the etiquette bull by the horns and you just gotta do it yourself. Yeah. So I'm sorry this happened.
Leah: Me too.
Nick: But I hope that this person felt empowered by my response, that they could take care of this themselves and achieve serenity.
Leah: And have a lovely spa day in lovely silence.
Nick: So do you have a vent for us or a repent or a question? Please send it to us. You can send it to us through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time!
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