March 21, 2022

Ordering Appetizers Without Asking, Buffering in Restrooms, Borrowing Bathing Suits, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about ordering appetizers for people without asking, buffering stalls in restrooms, asking to borrow bathing suits, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about ordering appetizers for people without asking, buffering stalls in restrooms, asking to borrow bathing suits, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Have a question for us? Call or text (267) CALL-RBW or visit



  • Is it rude that my father-in-law orders appetizers for everyone at the table without asking anyone?
  • At a birthday dinner in a restaurant, when should I open my presents?
  • In a public restroom, is a buffer stall needed?
  • Is it rude to ask a host to borrow a bathing suit at a beach or pool party?
  • What can be done about a very loud diner in a restaurant?







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 131


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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 father-in-law—let's call him Chad—has a pattern when we go out to eat. As soon as we sit down and our server comes over to say hello, Chad rattles off three or four appetizers he would like for the table. The rest of us haven't even had a chance to put our napkins in our lap yet, let alone look at the menu. The server always looks a little surprised, and I end up feeling rushed and a bit controlled since I often would not have ordered what he chose.

Nick: "I feel odd ordering what I would have wanted later, since it seems like an excessive amount of food and would throw off the pace of the meal. For what it's worth, he does always insist on paying. Admittedly, I do not enjoy Chad's company. He regularly talks over me, whips out his phone whenever I'm talking, and enjoys explaining quote, 'What I don't understand' about nearly everything, including a subject in which I hold a PhD and teach professionally. My question is: is the appetizer ordering an etiquette crime, or am I just being sensitive because I find the man odious?"

Leah: I love how we started at apps, and then we went to odious.

Nick: Oh yeah!

Leah: Apps to odious.

Nick: Yeah. No, real journey there.

Leah: It's quite a ...

Nick: I think it could be both.

Leah: Yeah. I think it can be like something that is, you know, rude, but then it seems so much even ruder because you find them odious.

Nick: Oh, for sure. Like, I think when we don't like people, everything they do becomes super annoying and problematic.

Leah: I mean, I definitely wouldn't like it if somebody ordered for me and didn't ask what I wanted as an appetizer.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I don't love that. Since he's paying, it does take the edge off a little bit.

Leah: It does take the edge off since he's paying.

Nick: Yeah. And he is technically then, I guess, the host of this meal, And the host, I guess, could do that. However, a host does have obligations too, which is to take into consideration the feelings and happiness of your guests, which I think is missing here.

Leah: Yeah. "Hey, I was gonna get the mussels and the artichoke dip. You guys into that?"

Nick: Yeah, it doesn't feel like there's any conversation.

Leah: It doesn't feel like there's anything.

Nick: It's like, "Sit down. Nachos and wings, everybody. It's happening."

Leah: Yeah. I mean, I always say, I feel like if it's the child of the parent, you know what I mean? Like, it would have to be ...

Nick: Oh, because it's father-in-law.

Leah: A father-in-law.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: She's not asking if she should say something. She's just asking if it's rude.

Nick: Yes. Is it an etiquette crime to sit down at a table and order appetizers for everybody without any conversation? Yes. I think that's probably rude regardless of who the host is, because that's just assuming that, like, I'm just gonna substitute my judgment for everybody else.

Leah: Yeah, it seems very in line with the other behaviors.

Nick: Oh yeah. No, not out of left field. No.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I mean, do we even want to address basically mansplaining?

Leah: Yeah, it's very sort of like a patriarchal ...

Nick: "And you're telling me about stuff, and I hold a PhD in it and I actually teach it professionally?" Like, I don't know what we do with that.

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You know how I feel when it's the other person's parent? It's sort of just like, you have to be like, "Okay."

Nick: Yeah. I think you just know this about Chad, and when you have dinner with Chad, this is what it is. And yeah, you're not gonna get the appetizer you want. That's the deal when you dine with Chad.

Leah: I feel like if it was me, at some point I would probably be like, "You know, I have a PhD in that."

Nick: Oh, Chad knows you do. You're still wrong. [laughs] Yeah, I mean, we were not asked to weigh in on that part of the question.

Leah: We're not asked to weigh in on this.

Nick: So I will be happy to leave that aside. But okay, let's say for argument's sake, we wanted to not just accept this as reality. Is there a way for us to sit down at the table and somehow get our appetizer order in before Chad does? Like, can we be faster? Or when Chad is ordering, could we jump in then and be like, "Oh, and I was also thinking about maybe the artichoke dip." Or could you even just jump in and be like, "Oh, those things sound great. Should we take a second to look and to see if there's anything else we might want before we order?" Could we, like, say that? Or do we just think accepting it is the path of least resistance?

Leah: I don't know. I almost feel like accepting it is the path to least resistance, because he's just, like, doing this thing where he's, like, gonna order for people, and then he's going to, like, rule the room and be the ...

Nick: It's a control thing.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: It comes down to control.

Leah: And then he's gonna pay for it. And oh, you know?

Nick: Yeah. Actually, I think this is just a power move.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Like, the appetizers are just one piece of that game.

Leah: And so that's why I think it so, like, just gets one's goat, because it's a part of that sort of "I'm in charge here."

Nick: Yeah. No, the potato skins are a metaphor.

Leah: Yeah. But I would think to myself, "Am I gonna die on the appetizer hill? Is that what—if I'm gonna address anything, is that the most important?"

Nick: I mean, if you're gonna die on a hill, the appetizer hill sounds like a good one.

Leah: [laughs] Delicious! Oh, I hope it's chips and dip. I hope it's a chips and dip hill.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "Recently, three friends hosted a birthday party for me at a lovely restaurant. The four of us had a great time, although I was confused as to whether or not I should open the presents that they gave me while we were all together at the table, or if I should have waited until I got home and done it solo. Obviously, I wrote thank-you notes to be posted the next morning."

Leah: I feel like this is another one of those things where you can just be like, "Hey guys, should I open them now or should I open them at home?" But also, it's your birthday.

Nick: Oh, okay. So birthday person rules?

Leah: Yeah, I think your friends just want you to have a good time, and you should do what you want.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think the principle we want is to be mindful of everybody's feelings. And I think there's a lot of schools of thought on this, especially for children's birthday parties. I mean, I think adult birthdays, four people at a restaurant? Like, probably not a problem. But for children's birthday parties, there's actually different philosophies as to whether or not you should open gifts or not. I think a lot of parents are like, it causes jealousy, you have kids receiving things not graciously. Miss Manners says you actually should do it, because it's a good opportunity to teach kids about being gracious and all of that, which I think I kind of agree with that. Like, you should do the birthday present thing, because why protect kids from something that's gonna come up when they're adults? Like, they're gonna deal with this their whole life so, like, let's start now. But yeah, when it's only three friends? I think ask. Yeah.

Leah: Yeah, and I get the idea it's probably three close friends. You know what I mean? It's your birthday dinner.

Nick: For sure. I think one reason why you actually do want to ask first is there are those friends that might give you something that should not be seen by other people. It's maybe a little provocative or it's very private. So there could be that gift that if you're, like, holding this thing up in a restaurant, you'd be like, "Oh, that's embarrassing." So you might want to just ask, like, "Oh, should I open this now?" And they're like, "No, wait until you get home."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: In which case, okay.

Leah: Yeah, I think if you want to open them now, just say, "Hey, should I open these now?" And then if they're like, "Do what you want," then do what you want.

Nick: Yeah. I think though, people do enjoy seeing people open gifts.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Because part of the fun of the giving the gift is, like, seeing if you liked it.

Leah: Absolutely.

Nick: So I think depriving people of that unnecessarily, yeah, I don't like that idea.

Leah: Yeah, I would say unless somebody is like, "Oh, open that at home," open it so everybody can enjoy it together.

Nick: But okay, where is the line? We have dinner with three friends, three presents. Manageable. Let's say it's six presents. We're gonna open all six?

Leah: It's your birthday.

Nick: All right. Now we have a dinner party for 12. We're gonna open all the gifts. Where is the line? How many gifts is too many gifts?

Leah: Oh, I—can we feel it out in the moment, you know?

Nick: Banquet for 60!

Leah: Banquet for 60, let's open them later.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, there's probably a line. I guess I don't know where it is. It feels like the drive-thru question. Like, how many people can you order for at a drive-thru?

Leah: Yeah, it does feel—but I also feel like you're at the party. Also, sometimes the party is so—like, everybody's talking, everybody's talking, you know what I mean? And you just didn't have time because everybody got swept away in the other things, then "Oh my goodness, I'll open them at home. Thank you so much!" But I think a lot of times people, the expectation is it's your birthday, people want to do a little song, people maybe want to see you have a slice of cake or whatever your thing is, and then to open your presents.

Nick: Now this wasn't asked, but I think this is a good question that I have experienced. When you're doing a birthday dinner for friends at a restaurant, and you're arriving and you have a present. And you give the present to the person I guess when you arrive, right? You don't wait for the end.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So should that person then open it then, or should that person wait until the end of the meal?

Leah: I think they should wait.

Nick: Interesting. I've seen it done both ways.

Leah: Or I also think, like, say you got there early and it was like the two of you, and you were like, "Hey, here's your present." You could just open it then.

Nick: Right. Okay.

Leah: You're waiting for everybody. I realize I just changed exactly what I said. I went the exact—but I mean, also, why would you—if the two of you are hanging out and nobody else is there yet, why would you not open it?

Nick: But I think it's an interesting question. Like, when in a meal would it be appropriate to open the birthday present? And is it, like, at the end because, like, that's sort of psychologically when we're having cake.

Leah: Right.

Nick: And we think, "Oh, cake and presents." But when I arrive, like, I give you the gift, and now you just have a pile of gifts that you're gonna open up, like, in 90 minutes at the end of the meal? Like, how does that work?

Leah: Oh, wow. This is so hard.

Nick: But I think if I had to decide and make the rule on this, I think we wait until dessert. I don't think I want it with my aperitivo.

Leah: That was my gut and then I flipped it and then I went back.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess maybe there's no rules. Who can say?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "In a public restroom, is a buffer stall needed? My husband says no, that a stall is a stall is a stall, and there is no need for buffer stalls as much as there is for buffer urinals. But I say if there's a space for a buffer stall, then yes. Thoughts?"

Leah: I just wrote under it, "Buffer, baby. Buffer!"

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. I mean, why do we feel buffers for urinals and not for stalls? Like, what's the difference there? Like, how do we make that distinction?

Leah: I would buffer in both a urinal and a stall.

Nick: Well, because if the idea is privacy or distance or the fiction that we're all alone ...

Leah: It's the fiction of privacy. Like, if I'm in a stall, and somebody comes directly next to me and there was another stall, I immediately think, "Yeah, murderer." Why would you ever not buffer? I even buffer with friends, like if we go into the bathroom together.

Nick: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I think that's even a better reason to buffer.

Leah: [laughs] I always buffer.

Nick: Yeah. So I think this is an easy one. Yeah, I don't think there's anybody except the husband in this story who says no. I think it's pretty safe to say that everybody feels like a buffer is a good idea, globally. I'm gonna stand on that. That transcends culture, that transcends time.

Leah: I felt very confident in it. That's why I put, "Baby." I was like, "Buffer, baby. Buffer!"

Nick: Yeah. On the Enterprise-D they're buffering. In the future, we're gonna be buffering. It's all about buffers.

Leah: I'm sure the Pilgrims buffered. I mean, across the centuries.

Nick: So yeah, buffers are great.

Leah: We're all buffering.

Nick: Everybody's doing it. Get on board.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I've experienced this situation several times and I want to hear your thoughts. Is it rude to ask for bathing suits? I get invited to events, and the hosts don't specify that the event will be somewhere with a pool or a beach. So I don't bring a bathing suit. Whenever I get to the event, I have to ask for one, and I feel that I'm being rude. What would you recommend I do?"

Leah: I personally wouldn't ask to borrow someone's bathing suit. I feel like it's akin to asking someone to borrow undergarments.

Nick: Well, before we get there, this has happened several times? How is this possible? How is this possible that we are just, like, invited to all these pool parties, all these beach parties, and you're like, "I didn't know it was a pool party or beach party?" So I do have questions about, like, why does this keep happening to our poor letter writer where her hosts of all these events just fail to mention that, like, "Oh, it's a pool party. It's a beach party." So I do have that question.

Leah: Well, people? If you're having a pool party, you gotta tell people.

Nick: Yes. Oh yeah, if you are having a pool party, to not disclose that it's a pool party is a major faux pas.

Leah: Unless you have, like, a basket full of brand-new bathing suits to hand out at the door. You know what I'm saying?

Nick: In different sizes and colors and flattering shapes and designs. Okay. [laughs]

Leah: Yeah. Just a whole, like, wardrobe choice.

Nick: There's a stylist available for you to select your bathing suit upon arrival. Oh, okay.

Leah: I think we could also—I do this when I'll show up at places where something happens more than once, and I think, "You know what? I'm gonna have a backup plan for this." And in the back of my car, I would throw, like, a pair of shorts and a towel and a bathing suit, and just have it in there.

Nick: Yeah, I feel like if this is something that continues to happen to you, then absolutely. Let's just toss a beach bag into the trunk.

Leah: Because how do you feel about asking people to borrow bathing suits?

Nick: It feels a little intimate, yeah.

Leah: It does, right? It feels like an intimate item of clothing.

Nick: Yeah, because it is. And so I don't love that. Yeah, at the end of the day, I guess if you can't change into a bathing suit, I think it's totally fine. Because presumably, the climate that this is all happening in and the weather and the time of day, you'll be wearing something that's sort of pool party adjacent.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Like, you're probably not wearing a three-piece suit in heavy wool to a 2:00 p.m. garden party. So, like, you're probably wearing something that's, like, close enough, like a lighter fabric, or maybe a nice summer-y color of some sort.

Leah: Yeah. And then throw those feet over the side and hang your feetsies in the pool.

Nick: Yeah. And then, I guess, just keep it in your trunk. Unless you don't have a car because you live in New York City. But then I don't think you're being surprised by a pool party or a beach party.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: That would be very surprising.

Leah: It would be very surprising in New York.

Nick: [laughs] So our next thing is a text we got, and I was able to respond live—real time advice. So it'll be interesting to see what Leah has to say about this. Quote, "I am currently in a restaurant with my husband. There's a very loud woman at the next table, and her voice literally hurts my ears. Should we ask our waitress to tell her to be mindful of other people? Should I give her the disappointing eyes? The place is packed, and I don't think they can move us to another table."

Leah: I found this—I started sweating a little bit when I read this.

Nick: So yeah.

Leah: I'm so glad you could write back right away. I personally wouldn't want to put the onus on the waitress to tell that person to be quiet because they have to work with them all evening.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that's definitely awkward, yeah.

Leah: I think even though it is packed, you could still ask to move.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think you could put in a request.

Leah: Say, "Hey, It's sort of loud in this area. Could we possibly be moved to a quieter area?"

Nick: Yeah. And that would maybe have the subtext for your waitperson to be like, "Oh. And could you also then tell these people to settle down." Because somebody who's this loud, I can imagine that they're disturbing other people in the restaurant. Like, I can't imagine you're the only people that are bothered by it. Unless you're overly sensitive, but I don't think that's the case here.

Leah: No, this is probably one of these people that comes in and they're just loud.

Nick: Yeah. And after a couple drinks, they may get a little louder.

Leah: They're getting looks from everybody.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Well, I also think it's not a group of people being loud, in which case you could be like, "Hey, you know, I know you guys are having a party." It's one person who is loud.

Nick: Right. Yeah.

Leah: And I'm sure—that person could actually get ornery about it and then be even louder. "Oh, people always tell me to be quiet. This is who I am!"

Nick: [laughs] Right.

Leah: It could be a whole thing.

Nick: Yeah, it could definitely be a whole thing. You could escalate and, like, that's not good for anybody. So what I told her was that I think it's probably unlikely your server can say anything to this person that will really make a difference. So I said your best bet is just to get another round of drinks and just tough it out.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah, in my mind I was like, "I think you're gonna have to tough this one out."

Nick: But if you did want to have your server say something, you could ask if they would feel comfortable going over to them and saying something. Ask them if they would feel okay with that. Don't just tell them to do it. But, like, say, like, "Oh, do you think this would be appropriate?" And if they do, then they could go over and say something, potentially. As for making eyes, there is not a death stare that can work on this type of person. Like, I've tried. It doesn't work. You cannot get through to this type of person with a dirty look. It does not work. Don't even try. So that's how I left it.

Leah: You could always take a piece of tissue, roll it up, just stick it in your ear.

Nick: Oh, I thought you were gonna say throw it at them.

Leah: [laughs] I mean, that's option B. Just start spitballs.

Nick: Yeah, you could definitely do makeshift earplugs. Yeah, I guess that would work.

Leah: *[laughs] Be real obvious about it.

Nick: Oh, you need the big, bright orange ones like at airports.

Leah: And then just put it on the side that they're closest to, so it's real obvious.

N:L And you have to do a big show about it. You have to, like, squeeze it real tight down, really get it small, shove it in there. Really get your head tilted, and then say very loudly, like, "Oh, these earplugs work great!"

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So I did get a text back from these people, and they said, "They just left. I should say your prompt reply helped a lot. My angry look didn't help at all." So they went with the angry look. It did not work as I predicted. But yeah, I mean, what are you gonna do? Some people are just rude.

Leah: Thank goodness they left before our texts started. That way they could enjoy the rest of their meal.

Nick: Yes, I think that was probably the silver lining here.

Leah: And sometimes it just really helps to share it with somebody so you can be, like, irritated and get it out and then go on about your meal. Because there's no comfortable way to handle a person who's loud.

Nick: Yes. Although something I did just think about is they were texting at the table? I don't know how I feel about that.

Leah: They were texting with the people at the table to be like, "We gotta bring in a third party."

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: It was a group text.

Nick: I mean, I guess if everybody at the table was okay with this, but in general, don't be texting at a table at a restaurant. Put your phones away, everybody. Even if it's to text me about an etiquette crime.

Leah: We don't want people to put their phones away because we gotta get the text.

Nick: I mean, benefit of the doubt, this person stepped out of the dining room to a quiet corridor to send the text to me. That's what I'm gonna hope happened.

Leah: Or they could go, "I'm just gonna text Nick and Leah real quick." And everybody goes, "Do it, do it, do it!"

Nick: *[laughs] So we're here for you. And you never know, if I'm by my phone, I'll reply.

Leah: I love that. I really love that.

Nick: We're full service here. So do you have questions for us? Oh, yes you do. So please send them to us. Send them to us through our website, Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!