April 13, 2020

Invoicing Party Guests, Keeping Scent Secrets, Walking Around Barefoot, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about invoicing party guests for food, walking around apartment buildings without shoes, asking friends to keep quiet at lunch, getting rowdy at musicals, handling inconsiderate dog owners, snooping on other people's phones, keeping scent secrets, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • Can you charge guests for food at a party?
  • Is it OK to walk around your apartment building barefoot?
  • How do we tell a friend to not talk during lunch?
  • Is it OK to get rowdy at a musical?
  • What do we do about an inconsiderate dog owner in our home?
  • Is it OK to not want other people looking at my phone or computer screen?
  • Can I keep my perfume's identity a secret?




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 had so many great questions from the wilderness - Leah's still not howling -

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: [Giggling] Aww, the howl is back!

Leah: It just had to come out of me, you know?

Nick: - that we have a bonus episode! Our first question is: "A family member recently invited us over for a party. We said yes, although we would rather have stayed home. After we said yes, the family member requested everyone bring $10 to pay for the food she was ordering. It wasn't a potluck. Should you ever ask guests to pay for food after you've offered to host? She also requested that we leave her some of the dessert we brought to share, even though we didn't ask anyone to chip in for it." Leah? Yeah, how you liking that coffee? Good coffee, right?

Leah: Yeah, it's delicious.

Nick: I'm gonna need you to leave $2 before you leave.

Leah: Ooh! Oh, okay!

Nick: Also, I noticed you used some of my toilet paper.

Leah: I did.

Nick: And you washed your hands with some of my water.

Leah: I did!

Nick: So, I'm gonna need you to Venmo me later for that.

Leah: Oh, my goodness!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I also used some soap. You should throw that on there.

Nick: Oh, okay. We're gonna have to calculate.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: So, yeah, this is rude!

Leah: Super-rude!

Nick: Real rude! Yeah, an invitation is not an invoice. Full stop.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: That's it.

Leah: If you want to invite people over, then do a potluck.

Nick: Right. Yes. If you don't want to be the host, then don't be the host.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I think.

Leah: Perfect way to say it.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think I have anything else to say. This was rude!

Leah: Yeah. I think next time, don't go.

Nick: Yeah. I think decline. Also, they even said up top, " ... even though we would rather have stayed home." So, on some level, they knew.

Leah: You knew what was coming.

Nick: They knew this wasn't going to be great evening.

Leah: You gave them another chance-

Nick: But, as a reminder, when you're hosting, you are hosting, which means you are paying for the hospitality.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: That's true if it's in your home; that's true if it's in a restaurant. That's how it goes.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: So, if you don't want to host, then don't host-

Leah: Just don't host.

Nick: But don't trick people.

Leah: Don't trick people!

Nick: Don't invoice people!

Leah: Or just invite people over for tea, if you want to see them, and you can't afford dinner.

Nick: But then, still provide the tea-

Leah: Provide the tea!

Nick: Don't charge for the tea!

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: No cookie charge.

Leah: Nope.

Nick: Our next question is: "I live in a high rise apartment building in a big city. Is it okay to walk around the building, in the elevator, lobby, et cetera, in bare feet, or in socks? Personally, I don't think so, but I have a few friends that never put their shoes on when they go downstairs to pick up takeout. My one friend says you should view the building as your home, and you wouldn't wear shoes in your home. I'm not sure that's the same. The vibe of the building is very reserved. It's mostly single adults and older adult couples that live here. Not many families, and dogs aren't allowed either. If I was to get on the elevator and see someone barefoot, I'd be grossed out. What's correct?" Leah?

Leah: Nick?

Nick: You don't know the answer?!

Leah: Um-

Nick: Are you conflicted here?

Leah: I'm not conflicted.

Nick: Where are we pausing?

Leah: Here's-

Nick: No!

Leah: -where I'm pausing.

Nick: There is no 'Here's the thing ...' What?!

Leah: I didn't know this was happening.

Nick: Oh, this is happening, of course.

Leah: Recently, the friend I was hanging out with, they were just in a building; they just moved buildings. She said everybody in this building rides the elevator with no socks on.

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: My first thought is, it's not like ... It's you are taking the building back, on your feet, to your apartment.

Nick: Well, that's definitely part of the consideration, sure.

Leah: It's more like you're egregious to yourself.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if you are comfortable tracking in the public world into your home-

Leah: Far be it for me ...

Nick: Sure. I guess my feeling is your apartment ends at your apartment door.

Leah: It does.

Nick: Your apartment is not the hallway. Your apartment is not the rest of the building. So, like, you wouldn't walk around in a bathrobe, hopefully ...?

Leah: I mean-

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: Two times-

Nick: What!?

Leah: One or two times-

Nick: One or two.

Leah: -in the past decade, I've run downstairs to the door.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: When I had a housecoat-

Nick: Curlers in.

Leah: Yeah, I wear curlers. Can you imagine?

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: A housecoat, or socks? It was like a last-minute thing came up; I wasn't ready.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: If I'll be honest, it's happened.

Nick: Okay, okay ...

Leah: Never bare feet!

Nick: Yeah. The bare feet thing I don't love. If only because, I mean, we know what floors are in public spaces.

Leah: Yeah, and I wasn't ... This was because something came out last minute, and I had to run down; I didn't want to leave the person there.

Nick: Right.

Leah: I wasn't, "Oh, I'm just gonna go out now with no shoes on, in my bathrobe."

Nick: Right. [crosstalk]

Leah: It's happened.

Nick: [Giggling] I don't think we need to be in full hair and makeup when we leave our apartment door, if we're running down to the mailbox.

Leah: Right.

Nick: I don't think we have to be formal, but I do feel like clothing that you would be okay running into somebody you knew, I think, would be acceptable. At the very least, I think we want flip-flops.

Leah: Right.

Nick: I think flip-flops are fine. I think we can accept flip-flops, but, yeah, socks, and bare feet? I mean, this is not correct, no!

Leah: I do get what you're saying about your apartment ending [crosstalk]

Nick: It ends there.

Leah: -your home ending at your apartment.

Nick: It ends there, yeah.

Leah: I do understand the random ... Sometimes, you gotta run downstairs; you weren't ready. It happens.

Nick: Okay, yes, but I think it sounds like these friends are making a habit of it.

Leah: Oh, it seems like they're just walking around in their feet [crosstalk]

Nick: -no, we don't wanna do that! Yeah, so don't do that, please. Thank you. Our next question is: "So, at university, we have a lunch break hour, and everyone has an hour to eat or do whatever. Me, and two of my friends usually have our lunch together, and we have this unspoken rule about not talking while we eat because the number of tables is very limited, and we don't want to be those people who take up too much time. So, we eat, and then we talk after we have left the table. For the last few weeks of the semester, this new girl, who is kind of our friend, joined us, and she insists on talking while eating, and we have to reply to her, which led us to taking an extra 15 minutes to eat. We feel bad about making these people wait even longer than they have to. We once explained our point of view and said that we can talk after we eat, but she got really upset, even though we said it in a really nice way. We apologized for hurting her feelings. Then, the next week, the same thing happened again. She talked during lunch, not even considering what we had said. Can you help us find ways to get through to her without hurting her feelings? Also, is what we are doing right in the etiquette point of view?" So ...

Leah: So.

Nick: I followed up with this person-

Leah: Which I'm so glad you did.

Nick: Because I was like, "Where are you?" I asked, "Are you eating in complete silence? Is this a silent meal, where there's zero talking? Why are we eating quickly? Are there only two seats?" I asked these questions. She says that she lives in Egypt, and that they don't eat in complete silence, they just don't open any topics that will, "get heated, so we don't get lost in our discussion." Then, apparently, there's some construction happening in the eating area, so it's much smaller; so they want to give other students a chance to eat, because I guess lunchtime is the same like hour for everybody. So, that is a little context. This is happening in Egypt. There's construction happening, so it's a very small area, and it's not totally silent, they just don't want to have deep conversations. What do you say?

Leah: I have multiple thoughts on this.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: When she wrote back, she said - and I love this sentence; these are her words - "We try to be mindful of others."

Nick: Yes.

Leah: I love that idea.

Nick: Wonderful. No complaints.

Leah: That you would want to make sure everybody ate.

Nick: Right.

Leah: I do worry that, sometimes, women are trying to minimize themselves to make room for everybody else.

Nick: Yes. I definitely feel like that's happening here.

Leah: Feel like I can't take up space. I can't talk because I have to make sure everybody else is okay.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I worry that, sometimes, women do that to themselves because we've been raised to be that way.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: So, we're just trying to be quieter, and less, and not be another ... I would say that's something to think about. Are you doing that because it's always wonderful to be mindful of others, but are you constantly doing it at your own expense?

Nick: Yes.

Leah: Then, also, if you really just like to not talk while eating and move it along - if this is really where we want to be - and you still want to sit with this girl, and you've explained it to her, and she got ... You could just keep eating, and when she says something, you could just be like, "Oh, okay. We can talk about that later," and then, just go right back to eating.

Nick: Okay, yeah ... I mean, I guess lunch is a social-

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: -or, at least this new friend feels like it's social, and it is not unreasonable to want to chat during lunch. So, I guess I see what this new friend is doing and is confused why we have this sort of unusual situation of minimal talking during lunch. I guess one question is, you know, do we need to actually get together for the actual eating part? Maybe it's just like everybody just eat, and then I'll meet you in the quad afterwards, and then we'll chat with the remaining time. Maybe that's just the solution.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Like, let's not bother gathering for the eating part.

Leah: Yeah. It's also possible that this person actually doesn't like talking. They're an introvert, and they don't want to talk when they're eating. They just want to eat, and then ... That's okay, too.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that's fine. Yeah. Just definitely sounds like the new friend's expectations are not aligned with the rest of the group.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So, I think they need to either align, or we can't have lunch with her.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I think either those needs to be the option.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I do think what you said is very interesting about how some people sort of do things at their own expense, to their detriment.

Leah: Yeah, I would be one of those people.

Nick: It is hard to learn to not do that, but it definitely feels like it is super-considerate to not want to take too much time eating so that other people have a chance to use the tables, for sure. But, I mean, it feels like we're taking that to an extreme here.

Leah: Well, it feels like you're being caught in between being ... You're trying to be considerate to all these other people eating-

Nick: Right.

Leah: Now, you're trying to be considerate to this girl who wants to come in and also do it this other way.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So, you're caught in this how to be considerate to everybody, and it's just- you're not going to ... I feel like you have to not do that to yourself.

Nick: Okay, so what do we advise? What are we doing to move forward?

Leah: One thing that is really out of the box here-

Nick: Oh!

Leah: - is that we could write to the university-

Nick: And get some more tables.

Leah: -and say, "Can we do two lunch hours?"

Nick: Yeah, yeah-

Leah: Where everybody is not at the same time, while this is under construction.

Nick: Okay. I like that. Or can we get another alternative eating spot, where we have more space?

Leah: Right.

Nick: Yes, I think that's a nice solution. Yeah, I like that idea.

Leah: So, maybe you don't feel so rushed when you're eating.

Nick: It would be nice to make lunch a more social hour-

Leah: If you want to be social!

Nick: If you want to be social. It feels like they want to be social. The only reason why they're not is because they're trying to be too considerate of other people.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So ... Our next question [Giggling] is: "Soon, I'm going to Six, the musical, in Minneapolis for the second time. It's a racy show and whistling, and the like are encouraged by the actors. Would it be more polite to clap, or when rowdiness is encouraged, would it be more polite to join in?" So, Six is super-fun. If you don't know what it is, it's basically a pop musical about Henry VIII's six wives.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Remember them?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: The one that was divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived?

Leah: What a rough, rough ... If you knew you were gonna come into that marriage, you'd be like, "Oh, no ..."

Nick: Yeah, "What are my odds?" It's sort of a pop musical, and it's super-fun, and it's great. I wouldn't actually say it's that racy, so I don't know if my sensibilities are different than her- our texter, or maybe they toned it down for the New York audience? Is that possible?

Leah: No, I think it's that ... I think it's being in New York, we've [crosstalk]

Nick: I guess I've seen a lot more racy things onstage than this.

Leah: I also think it's just getting to the theater in New York. We see so many things.

Nick: Oh, yeah. I saw more nudity [Laughing]

Leah: That our senses are just dulled-

Nick: That's true.

Leah: -to the point of ...

Nick: That's true, yeah. Some double-entendre lyrics. It was like, "Oh, this is fine." Yeah, I'm not ...

Leah: I just saw a man walk naked through Times Square.

Nick: Right. So, yeah, my level of scandal is pretty maxed out. But the question is: should you participate, when they're encouraging you to get a little wild? At the curtain call, they definitely encourage everybody up on their feet and then do a remix of all the songs. That's not a spoiler. It's super-fun. So, I think you should participate. Yeah, I feel like you should participate, if you're moved to.

Leah: The question is: is it more polite to clap, or get rowdy? I think whatever you feel in your heart.

Nick: Well, I don't think we want to give carte blanche.

Leah: No, but I'm saying [crosstalk] I think this person ... No, I think this person is dipping their toes.

Nick: Yes. I don't feel like this person is going to get too rowdy.

Leah: Yeah, from this question, I don't feel like this person's getting too rowdy.

Nick: We're not worried about, like, oh ...

Leah: If you're a rowdy person, that does not apply to you.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: I think clapping is always nice.

Nick: Clapping is nice, yes.

Leah: Who doesn't love clapping?

Nick: Sure! But this also reminded me, a couple episodes ago we were talking about being a really good audience member for a live performance.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: One of the things we were talking about is show up to be there, present, and try, and have a good time.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: Don't show up not wanting to have a good time. So, I think if you show up to Six, the musical, wanting to have a good time, and part of that is going to make you go on your feet, and want to get a little whoopin', and hollerin', then I think you are participating in what we're doing for this shared theatrical experience.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, I think that's good.

Leah: I think it's great!

Nick: But, I think ... Yeah, see what everybody else is doing and join in.

Leah: Yeah, just have fun.

Nick: Yeah. But I recommend it. I had a great time. So, our next question is about dogs. "I invited a couple of friends to visit and stay at my house for the weekend ..."

Leah: Can I just say something?

Nick: Okay.

Leah: We get these questions. We're halfway through.

Nick: It takes a turn.

Leah: I'm just so ... I'm so shocked.

Nick: Yeah. It always starts out nice, and then it takes a dark turn.

Leah: Then, you're like, "I didn't know this was happening!"

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I feel so bad for just society-

Leah: The letter-writers, because always, the letter-writers are like, "What did I do wrong?"

Nick: Yes [Laughing]

Leah: And you're like, "You couldn't have seen this coming."

Nick: Yeah. So, here's the story. We have somebody who invited a couple of friends to stay for the weekend. "One of them asked if she could bring her dog." We were unsure what to do, at first, because we have two cats, and we were unsure how they would react to having a dog in the house. After discussing it with my husband, we decided to allow the dog to come with some conditions. We told the friend that if the cats were freaked out, the dog would need to stay upstairs in one of our guest rooms. The dog was also welcome to use our fenced-in backyard for playing. The friend with the dog agreed that these conditions seemed totally fair. Then, the cats seemed fine with the dog around, so we let him around the house. However ... Here's the dark turn Leah was referencing. However, we were shocked that our friend allowed her dog to run all over our furniture. The dog seriously sprinted all around our new large sectional and jumped on top of the back of the couch. The worst part was it was a rainy weekend, and he would run around the couch after being outside and getting muddy. We put towels, and blankets all over the couch, in an attempt to protect it from the dog's paws and gave the dog's owner a towel to dry him off when he came in from walks and asked her to make sure he wasn't muddy. She seemed to have zero control over the dog and did not seem to get our not-so-subtle hints." I don't actually think those were subtle. "Should I have been more forward with our expectations? I felt it was her responsibility to control her dog in someone else's house. Now, I am left wondering how I handle future requests to allow dogs into our home. Help!" [synchronized sighing] Mm-mm-mm.

Leah: Here's this lovely person, who ... This person is like, "Hey, can I bring my dog?" Had a discussion with their partner and wanted to make it work.

Nick: "Here's what we can do to accommodate you."

Leah: We've tried to figure it out, you know-

Nick: Mm-hmm, and here's a super-reasonable way to do it.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Like, "We're not gonna make a dog stay outside. We're gonna give him his own guest room;" own guest room.

Leah: You couldn't have-

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Couldn't have done anything differently.

Leah: I mean-

Nick: And we even asked, "Oh, would you towel off your muddy, dirty dog, please? We asked you," point blank; I'm sure very nicely.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: "I gave you the towel to do it."

Leah: Yep.

Nick: "I'm not even gonna ask you to do the laundry of the towels with the mud that your dog is bringing into my house."

Leah: When she said- I underlined this, "Should I have been more forward with our expectations?"

Nick: I don't know how we would do that.

Leah: I mean, at which point, you're going to have to start adding things in, where you're like-

Nick: "Don't burn down my house!"

Leah: Yeah [crosstalk]

Nick: I have the expectation that you will not burn down my house.

Leah: I have the expectation that you won't run on the roof.

Nick: I have the expectation that you won't go through my purse.

Leah: You know what I mean? How could you have ... We all agree that we shouldn't have- people have dogs in different ways.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You know what I mean? We grew up with a dog that jumped on our couch. If we went to somebody else's house, we would assume the dog was not allowed on the couch.

Nick: Yes, that should be the default setting.

Leah: The default setting is animals are not allowed on the furniture.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Now, if you have a dog that jumps on couches, it's hard to train them this new thing.

Leah: Right.

Nick: But I think it's still your responsibility to be aware of it-

Leah: Be aware of it, especially if they're dirty.

Nick: Yeah, mud ... I'm not thrilled with the mud part.

Leah: Yeah, I mean, that's ... You are ruining someone's furniture.

Nick: Yeah. So, what do we do moving forward?

Leah: I think moving forward, A) you're allowed to say no animals.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But, I mean ... I would never ... We love animals. We want people to bring their animals. But I think you can say to people, "Hey, we have a thing ..." Maybe you don't want to call your friend out. Say, you know, "We don't have animals on the furniture."

Nick: There was an incident ...

Leah: "There was an incident, where there was mud involved."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Just so people know - if maybe they weren't thinking that - "Ooh, we're gonna towel our dog off."

Nick: Yeah. I guess the only thing you could have done with this friend is be even more direct. Be like, "Hey, your dog is running all over the furniture. Is there anything we can do about it? Would you mind if we kept him upstairs in the guest room?" I guess that's all you could do, right?

Leah: Yeah, I mean-

Nick: Because I don't think you need to accept that a muddy dog is jumping on your couch. I don't think you need to accept this-

Leah: No, no, no.

Nick: -and be polite. Etiquette doesn't require your couch should be ruined.

Leah: Sometimes, a dog will just run in, jump on the couch, and everybody's mortified. "Ooh, so sorry," and then you handle it right away.

Nick: Right. That is not what is happening!

Leah: No, that's not what's happening.

Nick: It is playtime.

Leah: We've all seen that. No worries. Get it. It happens. We'll fix it.

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Leah: This is like a whole other-

Nick: Yeah. I don't know what we do with that.

Leah: I don't either.

Nick: Yeah, okay.

Leah: I think what you're saying is correct. Moving forward, if people want to bring- be like, "Hey, we had an incident, and we'd love to not have poochie-pooches on the ..."

Nick: Yeah. I guess even set clearer ground rules. Not only do we have cats, and the cats don't like you, but if your dog is like a jumper on furniture, then we need to not have him downstairs.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: He will have to stay upstairs, and just try and come up with a list of dog behaviors that are off limits.

Leah: Yeah, and I guess, moving forward, in the future, this friend, you have to be more wary of because they clearly don't have their-

Nick: Well, this friend is not invited back with the dog. I don't think we have that in our house again.

Leah: But this friend probably makes decisions like this across the board.

Nick: The dog owner or the-

Leah: The dog owner.

Nick: What decisions?

Leah: You know, just sort of like things where you're like, "Oh, I assumed we were all playing in the same pool."

Nick: Oh. "Oh, I assumed that muddy dogs on your couch was fine."

Leah: Right.

Nick: Although, I bet that the dog owner doesn't let this happen in their house. No one wants a muddy couch, do they?

Leah: I don't know. It seems that this person thinks this person has no control over their dog.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So, it's quite possible that their home has a couch that has blankets all over it.

Nick: Now, is not having control of your dog something we're not giving enough weight to? Maybe this dog owner is powerless here.

Leah: Everybody I know has dogs.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And everybody I know ... There's always that one time where the dog runs up, gets on the furniture. Everybody's like, "Oh, no!" Then, you pull it down, or whatever.

Nick: Right.

Leah: You also have the conversation of, "Do you have dogs on the furniture?" These are normal conversations.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Or, if your dog ... Sometimes, they're dogs. They love to be excited and jump everywhere. Then, everybody's like, "Oh, no, so sorry." Then, you handle it. You wipe them down.

Nick: Yeah. I guess it's not the crime, it's the cover up.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: That the dog jumping was bad, but it was how it was handled that was the problem.

Leah: Yeah, it just seems that this dog is like- she's like, "Oh, you're covered with mud. Get up on that couch. Just run through there. You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah. Dry off on the couch. Yeah, so, I'm sorry this happened to you.

Leah: I hope your couch is okay.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Dogs are ... I love dogs!

Nick: I think, if this does happen, and your dog gets the couch so dirty and now it's a dirty couch, I think it's nice to offer to steam clean.

Leah: Yeah. You just be like, "Oh, I'm so sorry. What do I do to fix it?"

Nick: Yeah, so ... There's that. Our next question: "I'm writing in to hear what you guys think about people you're super-close with, who are peeking at your phone or monitor. I understand if you feel close to somebody, and you feel like they already know a lot of private stuff about you and that they think it's okay to be in your personal screen space, as well, but I personally feel very uncomfortable with this 'no boundary' way of thinking. I've had several occasions where I was told I'm being overly sensitive, and overly private. Even though I have nothing to hide, I just feel super-offended when people just assume it's okay to casually intrude on my screen space. What do you guys make of this? Am I overreacting over my privacy?" No.

Leah: Nope.

Nick: Nope.

Leah: I actually don't know anybody who thinks it's okay to look at screens except my mom.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I mean, that's just ... My mom's gonna look at your screen. You can tell her not to, and she's still gonna come peek over your shoulder.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: She's not even ... She just wants to know what's up.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Nobody else I know does it. Sometimes, I'll accidentally see somebody's screen because it lights up, and your eye goes to it.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: Then, I'm embarrassed that I looked-

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: -because it's not my business.

Nick: Yeah. I think you definitely want to avert your eyes. Also, it's not like I have something to hide, necessarily, but it's just like, I don't want to explain why am I looking up undersea cables on Wikipedia? I don't want you to know why I'm interested in this topic. I just am. I don't wanna have a conversation about it, which, P.S., fascinating! Did you know 99 percent of all data communication between continents is going on cables under the sea? Doesn't go through satellites-

Leah: I had no idea.

Nick: Those are physical cables! There are wires under the oceans connecting the United States with Asia.

Leah: That's unbelievable!

Nick: Isn't it unbelievable? I know! Undersea cables!

Leah: You know, I really did think it was going through satellites. That's gotta be a really long cable!

Nick: Very long cable! Yeah. So, anyway, I don't necessarily want to explain to other people who may see this on my screen why I'm interested in this topic. So, I agree-

Leah: Where is this happening. Is this a work- are people just walking up thinking that it's okay?

Nick: Yeah, I mean, I guess you're just coming up behind a laptop. You're like, "Oh, what's on your screen, or your phone?" Yeah. Want to peek at your phone, yeah. I do also think that giving somebody else your phone is- feels very intrusive [crosstalk]

Leah: Giving somebody else your phone?

Nick: Like having someone else go through your phone; handing your phone to someone. "Can I go through your phone? Wanna give me your iPhone?"

Leah: I don't- I don't understand.

Nick: [Giggling] Right, but it's a privacy/boundary thing.

Leah: Of course, you're not going to go through somebody's phone!

Nick: Right, right. It's not because you have secrets to hide.

Leah: No, it's just not your business!

Nick: Right, and there is a difference. There's a difference.

Leah: I've lived with the same young man for 13 years.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: I don't even pick up his phone. If it's out, and it's ringing, I'll be like, "Phone's ringing, babe."

Nick: Yeah. Do you know his phone password?

Leah: Uh, yeah, I do.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: It's not at the top of my head, but I know I know it because so many times, he's like, "Can you get this for me," and then I'll grab it, and I'll ...

Nick: Yeah. I think privacy is okay. It's okay to feel private.

Leah: Yeah. There's nothing wrong with it.

Nick: I think people who are sort of poking over your shoulder, it's nosy. It's the same as somebody poking over your shoulder and looking at a letter you're writing to somebody. That feels like the same.

Leah: So, I guess the question is what do we say to these people ... If our letter-writer were trying to find a way for this person to say, "Inappropriate ..."

Nick: Back off!

Leah: There's two groups of people. There's people that are your friends or your close relationships who are going through your stuff, and then there's a coworker, or somebody that's more of a maybe someone just stopping by. I think those are two different groups of people that you have to have two different things to say.

Nick: Okay, so what do we say to the coworker?

Leah: Who's leaning over your desk, looking at your stuff?

Nick: Mm-hmm. Because they're probably saying something, too. They're commenting-

Leah: Yeah, I'm sure there's a comment.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: That's where I think it would be time for a joke, but maybe not in our new direct- polite, and direct world.

Nick: Yeah, the new polite, direct, value-neutral-toned world that we're living in.

Leah: Because how do you respond to something that's just like, "You should know better?"

Nick: I guess you would just sort of want to say, "Oh, that's private." I think if you can say that in a way that's not judgmental. "Oh, that's just a personal item." I think that's fine.

Leah: That's fine.

Nick: Yeah. "Oh, that's personal." Full stop.

Leah: Then, if they continue on, you can, I think, just leave the open air.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You've said that's a personal thing, and then they keep asking.

Nick: It's personal.

Leah: Then you don't need to respond anymore.

Nick: Yeah, but the tone ... To practice the tone that we say this ... When we talk about value-neutral, the idea is like, "Oh, what color is this mug, Leah?"

Leah: It's a white.

Nick: That's the tone. This is the reality of this thing I'm looking at. This mug is white. This is personal. That's it. I'm not like, "Oh, you're an idiot for not knowing this mug is white. Obviously, it's white."

Leah: Right.

Nick: Yeah, we don't ... That's not the tone. We want to take that flavor out. It's just, "Yeah, the mug is white."

Leah: "Oh, it's personal."

Nick: "It's personal."

Leah: I have noticed, though ... This is a discussion I've had where- and I sometimes think it's because I'm a woman, I'll respond to something- I worked very hard on making my tone neutral because I know I can be very sarcastic, or dry.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: Sometimes, people take it wrong. But I'll literally just be giving information, and people think that I'm ... "Oh, you're ..." you know? I'll be like, "No, no, there was no value on that. There was no feeling, but you're still choosing to take it personally."

Nick: Yeah. Unfortunately, all of my tone never has any judgment in it.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: So, I don't know what you're talking about, but I've heard it's a problem for other people.

Leah: I think, even if you're saying it in a judgment-free, "Oh, it's personal," people still ... It might take a second for people to get over it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But what you're saying is not impolite.

Nick: No, I think that is the correct answer. I would just set that boundary in a nice, polite, value-neutral way. "Oh, that's personal." Now, with friends, I think you could probably say like, "Oh, nosy!"

Leah: Right.

Nick: I think that would maybe be more of the- like a more joking tone. "Oh, don't be nosy," and I think you could do it that way. Yeah, so that's what we would do. But I think that, for our letter-writer, you are not wrong for wanting to set a boundary.

Leah: Absolutely not.

Nick: You do not need to share. So, our last question is: "If someone asked me what perfume I'm wearing, do I have to tell them? I get a lot of compliments on my perfume and that I smell good, and people want to know, what is it? Am I obligated to share with them? I'm thinking how Le Labo Santal 33 used to be a signature scent of some people, and now all of New York City smells like it.

Leah: I don't know why this reminded me of the cake recipe question.

Nick: I said that, too! I wrote that down! This is just like the cake-recipe question. It is!

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: So, are you going to come down the same way?

Leah: Um ...

Nick: For our listeners at home, we got a question about should you share a recipe for a cake? I was like, "Just share it" Leah was like, "Noooo!"

Leah: I said it's up to you.

Nick: Okay, well, you-

Leah: But I also said that you should be honest that you're not sharing it; that it was a family thing-

Nick: We have tried to cover all our bases because you don't want to offend anybody.

Leah: No, but I did say I didn't think you should sabotage it.

Nick: [Giggling] You should not sabotage it.

Leah: I said that you should feel free to say, "It's a family recipe that we don't share."

Nick: All right, well, you can listen to the actual episode-

Leah: So, I wasn't covering all my bases.

Nick: You don't have to retell it now.

Leah: WOW! You're just upset because I genuinely want people to find what's right.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: So, what perfume are you wearing, Leah? Do you wear perfume?

Leah: I do.

Nick: Okay. Has anybody ever said, "Oh, you smell good!"?

Leah: Yeah, but I think, usually, what people are smelling is my hair.

Nick: Mmm.

Leah: So-

Nick: Hard to say what part of you smells good.

Leah: Yeah. It's really hard to say. I'm happy to tell everybody everything. I also ... With perfume, different perfume smells really different on different people.

Nick: Well, that's the thing. Yes! I mean-

Leah: So, you could tell people, and it could smell different on them.

Nick: For sure. Yeah, the body chemistry can be night and day with people.

Leah: Night and day!

Nick: Yeah. So, I think that you should not sabotage the answer. You shouldn't lie to them, or pretend you don't know, or pretend like, "Oh, it was written in French. I don't know." I think you shouldn't do any of that.

Leah: No, but I think you could say, "A lady never tells."

Nick: You could be coy, I guess, if you wanted.

Leah: If you really don't want to tell-

Nick: Right.

Leah: -then I would say something like that.

Nick: People ask me a lot, and I usually tell them what the notes are in it because I feel like that's really what they are kind of interested in. So, my cologne actually smells like turpentine. No joke. It has a turpentine solvent feeling-

Leah: I'm wearing turpentine ...

Nick: Yeah, so I was like, "Oh, it's mostly turpentine." It smells really good, guys, then, it's a conversation starter.

Leah: Right!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I get the idea that this person doesn't want a conversation.

Nick: No ...

Leah: That's why I think, "A lady never tells ... I'm moving on with all my perfume secrets."

Nick: Yeah. But then, I was thinking, is it rude a compliment someone's scent? Is that okay? Do we do that? Then, I was thinking about our whole conversation about giving compliments.

Leah: Right.

Nick: And I was like, "Oh, did we learn anything from that, that applies?"

Leah: Well, you said ... It isn't them, though. It's the thing on them.

Nick: Right. It's not an immutable trait.

Leah: It's also a thing that they put on, on purpose, to smell nice.

Nick: Right, yeah, like wearing a nice coat, or something.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I think I've- I say it a lot to people. I'll say, "You really smell lovely."

Nick: Well, but you also cross a lot of boundaries with people that you shouldn't.

Leah: I know, but I just ...

Nick: [Giggling] So, I think a good compliment is one that you can explain why it's a compliment in a way that's not creepy. So, I guess, "Oh, you smell nice," and I guess the reason why that's a compliment is I like smelling things that are nice, and I think that's not creepy, right?

Leah: Yeah, and everybody likes a nice smell.

Nick: Right? So-

Leah: We've all ... In society, when you walk by something that smells nice, like lilacs, or- you know what I mean?

Nick: Brioche. Right.

Leah: "OH, that's lovely!" It creates a little safe haven of niceness for all of us.

Nick: Yeah. So, I think it's okay to compliment, and I guess you don't have to explain what you're wearing ... I guess. Although, with like the cake recipe, I would say, just say.

Leah: I've also never asked anybody what they were wearing, when I tell them they smell lovely.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: I always just say, "Oh, you smell so lovely!"

Nick: Oh, many people follow up with, "What is it?"

Leah: Oh, I never ask.

Nick: Well ...

Leah: I assume it's magic.

Nick: Uh-huh ... Maybe it is.

Leah: I just assume it's your persona.

Nick: Oh ... Smells like ...

Leah: You keep that secret to yourself. I just wanted to let you know ...

Nick: Okay, that's nice. You know what else is nice? All these great questions!

Leah: Fantastic questions!

Nick: These are great questions. So, thank you for sending them in. We really would like you to think deep down - in the last month, has any etiquette crime been committed against you, or have you been in a situation where you're like, "Is this the right thing?" We want to know, and I want you to put pen to paper - meaning send us an email - and let us know.

Leah: You can also put pen to paper!

Nick: Or pen to paper! Yeah, mail it in! We've got an address on our website.

Leah: You could even cut it up from little magazines and make it like a [Laughing]

Nick: Um, maybe don't do that!

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: But you can spritz the paper with your perfume!

Leah: OH!

Nick: Like a love letter.

Leah: Like in Grease!

Nick: Yes! Do that. So, however you want to get your question to us, but think real hard. Is your life perfect, or have there been some etiquette problems? If there's been etiquette problems, we want to hear about it. We look forward to receiving those! Bye!

Leah: Bye!

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