Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle playing games, giving soap as gifts, petting dogs without permission, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle playing games, giving soap as gifts, petting dogs without permission, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Do you eat onion soup the wrong way? Do you make your guests pay for the party? Do your gifts send the wrong signal? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!
Here are things that can make it better
When we have to live together
We can all use a little help
So people don't ask themselves
Were you raised by wolves?
Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.
Leah: Let's get in it!
Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about French onion soup.
Leah: Oh, delicious!
Nick: Or in France, onion soup gratinée.
Nick: So Leah, have you ever had French onion soup?
Leah: Indeed, I have.
Nick: Okay. Well, describe it for our listeners. Maybe somebody hasn't had it, and doesn't know what it is.
Leah: So it's like a brown-ish see-through-y broth.
Nick: Okay, sure. Yeah.
Leah: With onions in it.
Nick: Yeah, it is onion-based.
Leah: And it's a hot soup, and—as opposed to, like, a cold tomato soup. And there is a chunk of bread right in the middle, and then on top of that, there's hot cheese!
Nick: Yeah, yeah. That's, like, the defining feature.
Leah: That's the defining—that's what you're going for. You're going for the hot cheese.
Nick: And if you're Julia Child, there might be a little cognac in there, too.
Nick: So yes, it's a rustic soup. And yes, the defining feature is this dome of melted cheese that's sort of like sealed to the top of the bowl, like hermetically sealed. Yeah. And in terms of the history, it's hard to say when this started. I mean, making soup with onions dates back to when we invented onions. I mean, I think we've always had onion soup. But the idea of actually sticking bread and cheese on top and browning it probably dates to France in the 18th century. And maybe it was Louis XIV, maybe XV, who can say? But it made it to New York in the mid-1800s. But I think in the United States at least, it wasn't until the 1960s when it really took off.
Nick: And coincidentally or not, that's when Julia Child had her big show on public television when she was teaching America about French cooking. And hard to say, like, were we interested in French cooking because of her? Or were we already interested in French cooking? And then she became popular because of that. Chicken, the egg, who can say? But definitely, French onion soup, I think, started to become very popular in the '60s and '70s. I think it kind of took a dip. I don't know the status of French onion soup today in society, but it exists. It exists in the world.
Nick: And it's super easy to make. And if you've never had it, you can make it or you can have it the next time you're at a bistro. Okay, great. So now you have a beautiful bowl of French onion soup in front of you, and there's that cheesy crust on top. And the cheese is super stretchy, very stretchy, and that bread underneath, it can sometimes act as a plunger. So if you push down on the bread, it could actually, like, force soup up and over the sides of the bowl. So Leah, how do you eat French onion soup?
Leah: Hmm. I take my spoon.
Nick: Okay, good start. [laughs] Okay, great.
Leah: Obviously, I just want to get to the cheese.
Leah: I haven't had French onion soup in a long time. I wonder, do I take a little bit of the soup part out to lower it first?
Leah: And then I sort of cut into the—after I have a little bit of the broth, then I think I sort of cut into the bread and the cheese with my spoon.
Nick: Okay. Interesting. So I agree with your technique, but who you want to believe depends on who you ask. So before we get there, though, we all agree that we do not want to have a string of cheese going from the bowl to your mouth unbroken. Like, we don't want a Lady and the Tramp scene with the cheese, right? Do we all agree this is what we want? Right?
Leah: Yeah, you should just put your face right into the cheese.
Nick: [laughs] Okay. We also don't want that. So how you should do it depends on who you want to ask. So there are some etiquette experts who say don't eat it at all. Don't eat it if you're at a meal that requires you to impress anyone. And okay, I mean, that is advice that could be given. But I don't want to live in that world. I don't want to live in a world in which we just, like, take foods off the table because they're too difficult to eat,
Leah: Especially a cheese!
Nick: Especially something cheese-based, yeah. I mean, I think we could do that, or we could just learn how to eat it properly, and then it's not a problem. So I don't like the idea of just removing an entire food group from a menu just because it's a little difficult. Also, French onion soup? It's kind of a casual food. Like, you're not gonna find it at a 10-course degustation menu. So inherently it's a little more casual and, like, there's a little more, I think, etiquette flexibility of what happens while you're eating the soup. It doesn't necessarily have to be so proper, right?
Leah: Well, it's very rustic. You're probably wearing a sweater.
Nick: Right! Yes, it's a cable knit-based dish.
Nick: So Peggy Post, who is a descendant of the Emily Post dynasty, she says, quote, "A knife is your friend, not your enemy." And so she says, you use both a spoon and a knife together. And so you use a knife to sort of cut cheese off of the spoon as you're eating it. I don't know how I feel about knives and soup. I don't feel good about that.
Nick: Now the latest edition of Emily Post may—no? How do you feel about that, Leah? How do you feel about knives and spoons?
Leah: I feel like—I love that you were like, "I'm not into knives and soup."
Nick: I'm not. Yeah, I really am not. I'm just not. And I don't make apologies for that. Now the latest edition of the Emily Post book, they say that you twirl the cheese until it clumps around the spoon, and then you use the edge of the spoon against the bowl to cut the cheese off. Or, quote, "You could use a knife for cutting." But pick a side, Emily. Come on! When you stand for everything, you stand for nothing! So I don't like this both sides approach. Come on.
Leah: I believe that I did say twist on the spoon.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah. And I agree. And you know who else agrees with you? Miss Manners, who often has the wisdom we seek. She says, quote, "French onion soup, Miss Manners must explain, is like some romances: you know you're gonna make a fool of yourself, but it's so good you don't care."
Leah: [laughs] That's one of my favorite Miss Manners quotes.
Nick: And so she says you only use a spoon, and you just use a twirling technique for the cheese because, quote, "Soggy bread does not put up much of a fight against the spoon's edge, and the cheese may be forced downward into the soup and be turned very, very, very slowly below sea level, so to speak."
Leah: I mean, that's fun.
Nick: So use a spoon. But can I say something controversial yet brave?
Leah: [laughs] Yes, please!
Nick: Let's talk about the real elephant in the room here. The real question is: why is there no such thing as a French onion soup spoon that is specifically designed for this? There are cucumber servers and grape shears, mustard ladles and mango forks, bonbon spoons and sugar nips, but why did the Victorians never invent a French onion soup spoon? This feels like a major oversight!
Leah: [laughs] I'm laughing so hard noise is barely coming out. But A) I think, are we gonna make a Were You Raised By Wolves French onion soup spoon?
Nick: I'm ready. Let's do it! Let's get manufacturing going! Yes!
Leah: Or will we say, like—but we don't want people to cut their mouth. You need a sharp side, is that correct?
Nick: I mean, we're gonna have to do some R&D, but I feel like a spoon for French onion soup is a thing in the world that should exist, and if nobody else wants to do it, I think we need to do it.
Leah: And I think maybe it'd be nice if I had like a little quote on the bottom of the spoon, you know, imprinted.
Nick: "No slurping?"
Leah: No, it's like something about the wonderfulness of cheese, hot cheese.
Nick: [laughs] Okay.
Leah: It's like, "Get in there." You know what I mean?
Nick: Okay, so you're proposing we put the phrase "Get in there" on our French onion soup spoon. Okay. Well, we'll put it on the whiteboard.
Leah: I'm ready.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to go deep!
Leah: Deep and—why do I feel the need to always say something? I just—it's a very call and response feeling I have.
Nick: Yeah. No, it feels natural. Sure. Well, roll the dice. Say something.
Leah: Ooh, roll the dice! Nick coming in with a pun! Oh!
Nick: Oh, somebody's been hanging around you too long.
Leah: I'm honored!
Nick: So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about game nights. I love a good game night. We have discussed our favorite games on many occasions.
Leah: We have.
Nick: I love mahjong. You love Dutch Blitz.
Nick: After that episode, it turns out I have friends in LA who actually play Dutch Blitz all the time, and they do this thing called the International Wolf Blitzer Dutch Blitz Invitational.
Nick: So if you want to do it and you are in Los Feliz, like, pop on over.
Leah: I gotta practice. It's been a while, and I wouldn't want to show up to a competition rusty.
Nick: Yeah. No, it's serious. They have graphic design for this specifically.
Leah: Whoo! I gotta cut my nails. You know, it's a lot of fast movement.
Nick: Oh, is it?
Leah: A lot of grabbing cards, yeah.
Nick: Okay. So party rules apply. I think a game night is a party, and so the standard party rules apply. So you should be on time. You should be there to have fun. You know, don't show up if you're not there to have fun. And be there to socialize. Turn your phone off.
Leah: I love all those rules.
Nick: Yeah. So baseline: game night, it's a party.
Leah: And also, for me, my immediate thought is don't be so competitive that it's off putting.
Nick: Yeah, that's first on my list. Like, what are we here for? Like, are we here to have fun, or are we here to win? And you gotta choose. And I think ideally, we're here to have fun.
Leah: I mean, I think a lot of us feel like to have fun we have to win, but I think we could tamper that down.
Nick: Well, there's winning and then there's, like, WINNING.
Leah: Yeah, and I think we all know that person and it makes it not fun.
Nick: Now here's the thing about that person: often that person knows that about themselves and they can't help it.
Leah: I mean, can they not help it?
Nick: [laughs] I mean, I guess maybe that's charitable for all the people that I know who do this, who know that they do this, know that we know that they do this, and haven't done anything about it. So I'm just assuming that they can't do anything about it. But maybe that's not correct.
Leah: I feel like there's this line where, like, I get competitive, I'll admit it.
Leah: But, like, if I lose, I'm not upset.
Nick: Right. I mean, I never lose. So I don't know.
Leah: Okay, so sometimes some people, such as myself, we lose the game. And—but I have, you know—there's also, like, people who will, like, flip boards over and stuff if they lose.
Nick: Yeah, I mean, who are you?
Leah: And that's just unbelievable. Don't be that person!
Nick: But also, like, this is not reality television. Like, who's flipping anything in real life? Like, don't do that.
Leah: Don't do that.
Nick: No. Yeah, so I think be there in the spirit in which the evening is intended, which is nine times out of ten to have a good time. So, like, if we could just do that.
Leah: A little competition? Cool. You know, don't play to lose, but have a good ...
Nick: Yeah. Well, that's the flip side. I think you want to play to win. Like, you should play with intention and you should do your best. You shouldn't sort of phone it in or not try very hard because, like, no one wants to play with that person either.
Nick: But definitely be a gracious winner and a gracious loser.
Leah: And when somebody else does a great job, like, say you're playing Trivial Pursuit or something where you roll dice, and they get the hard question, or they roll the thing that everybody wanted, be psyched!
Leah: Be like, "Oh, wow! I never knew that." Or, "I can't believe you rolled that!" You know? Don't be like, [grumbles]
Nick: And next thing on my list is as the host, pick a game that's sort of appropriate and that you think everybody is going to enjoy. Because there's actually a lot of different types of games. I don't personally like role-playing games. And so that's not my style and I'm not into it. I'm also not into poker or, like, card games. Like, I'm also not into that. So I'm not gonna be super excited to attend your poker night, and I probably wouldn't. Other people, that's the only thing they like. So you should have a sense of, like, what your guests are interested in, and ideally they know what it is before they show up.
Leah: Yeah. I think if you want to say, "Hey, I'm having a poker night."
Nick: Right. Exactly.
Leah: And then you just let people know in advance.
Nick: And if you don't know the game, I think as a guest, it's very important to, like, learn before you go so that you know what you're in for, so you're not actually taking a lot of time in the evening, like, being taught, if possible.
Leah: Or if there's, like, a new game out and someone's like, "Hey, I'm hosting this—I'm hosting a game night. There's this new game out."
Nick: Oh yeah, if it's something that nobody ever has heard of, sure. No, that makes sense. But I think as a guest, it's nice to be prepared, which actually applies to game night and everything else. But I think for game night specifically, like, if you can learn more about the game. Like, I love mahjong, as I've mentioned on many occasions. I'm just saying it so often so that people will play with me. I'm just looking for more players. But I've actually created a video series of how to play that I send to people that they can watch prior to coming over. And it's like, here's how the game goes, so you can get a little primer. And so I've, like, created a video series. Of course, there's chyrons and graphics, and so people can learn, and it's very helpful.
Leah: Nick is so far above us all.
Nick: Well, I mean, I looked on YouTube, and nobody had these videos that were any good, and so I was like, "I'll just make them myself."
Leah: I'm also fine if you send me an email, if I'm hosting a game night and I'm like, "I'm playing Chutes and Ladders," and you're like, "Hey, I've never played chutes and ladders." I'll be like, "Oh, I'll show you when you get here."
Nick: Yeah, I think that's also great. My point is just be prepared if possible.
Leah: I think if you're hosting, it's nice to have some snacks.
Nick: Oh, for sure. Yeah, I mean, I think in general, like all good parties, you want your guests to be comfortable. So you might want to offer refreshments, which I think certainly includes snacks.
Leah: Have a nice Chex Mix. I immediately think of Chex Mix for game night. I love a Chex Mix.
Nick: Yeah, there is a strong association, isn't there?
Leah: Right? So casual, yet so delicious.
Nick: And interestingly, I was looking at some websites about, like, game night advice, and a site called WhatNerd.com, which I feel like a good authority on this, they talk about having a food hand and a game hand. So for you, you would have your Chex Mix hand and then your game-playing hand, which would be different hands.
Leah: Oh, yes. Yes.
Nick: So that's actually good advice, yes.
Leah: Yeah, I like that. I guess I've been at poker nights and we gambled, like, nickels.
Nick: Okay, no high-stakes poker?
Leah: I've not been invited to, like, a game of, like, Candyland where people are like, "Let's put $100 on this." That's never happened to me.
Nick: [laughs] Although that actually sounds amazing. High stakes Candyland?
Nick: Yeah, we're gonna play Guess Who for $5,000? I mean, that would really make you think.
Leah: Whoo! I started sweating just thinking about it.
Nick: But would the rules change?
Leah: The tone would change. And I think that, you know, people would feel left out or stressed out—people being me. I'm happy to play for, like, pennies because sometimes it's fun to put something on it. But, like, you don't want to put people in financial circumstances here.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, I think if you are hosting a game night and you're gonna have, like, real money on the games, and you don't make sure all the guests know that and are cool with that, and they just show up and you'd be like, "All right, ante up. $1,000 each, everybody."
Leah: [laughs] I'd be like, "Am I putting my apartment on?" I don't know.
Nick: Well, that—I mean, that would just be super rude for so many reasons.
Nick: So that didn't even occur to me.
Leah: That's why I wanted to make sure we knew that that was in the super rude category.
Nick: That is in the "Definitely don't do that." Wow! The last thing on my list is actually don't quit. So if you do start playing a game, you do need to finish. It's really rude to, like, walk off a game in the middle.
Leah: Oh yeah. I think the only time is if you were like, you want to come, you want to see your friends, then you tell everybody up top, "I have to leave in a half hour. Do you want me to start, or do you want me to just watch?"
Nick: Right. Yeah, that's fine. But just to be like, "I'm losing, so I'm just gonna, like, not finish," no.
Leah: That moves into the super not cool category as well.
Nick: Super not cool. But other than that?
Leah: Have fun!
Nick: Oh, actually, lastly?
Leah: Tell us.
Nick: I shouldn't have to, but I'm just gonna say it: don't cheat.
Nick: No cheating. Cheating is rude.
Leah: I didn't know we had to have that, but you're right. We have to put—that's also in the super not cool. Super not cool!
Nick: If we have to put, like, "Don't trick your friends into spending $5,000 a hand" on the list, then don't cheat, I think, should also be on the list, yeah. And why is cheating rude?
Leah: It's dishonest. I think we can always agree that it's dishonest.
Nick: Yeah, dishonesty is not respectful of other people's feelings. Yeah, I guess that's why it's an etiquette crime. We all agree it's an etiquette crime. I was just curious, like, oh, what is it specifically? But yes, it's deceitful. I guess deceit is always just rude.
Leah: I think deceit is—deceit is a better word.
Nick: Deceit is rude. Yeah, put that on a pillow. Deceit is rude. So that's it. So I think everybody, host a game night and have fun.
Leah: Have fun! Get that Chex Mix. I want to make Chex Mix right now, now that we brought it up.
Nick: You know you can have Chex Mix without game night, right?
Leah: I mean, it just feels so luxurious.
Nick: We're back, and now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.
Nick: So our first question is, quote, "Chad is one of our really good friends, and it's his birthday soon. Chad decided that he wants to have everyone come over for a pizza and vanilla ice cream taste test, where we all try a bunch of different kinds and then try to guess which is which. Without asking, Chad said he was gonna buy everything and then split it between all the attendees, and then Venmo request it from each of us. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I found it rather annoying that I wasn't asked if I could pitch in, I was just met with a Venmo request. Was this rude or impolite for Chad to expect everyone to pay for his birthday activity? Is there even anything I can do other than just pay?"
Leah: I love my really short answers to things. After "Is there anything I can do other than just pay?" I put, "You could not go."
Nick: Yeah, yeah.
Leah: You're sort of stuck.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, what I love here is, "I'm having a party. Here's the invoice."
Nick: That's not a party. Yeah, that's actually not a party. That's not what a party is. So yeah, it's rude. It's rude to force people to pay for your party.
Leah: Definitely. I mean, what's so funny is that I've had people, like, have parties for other people and then be like, "Hey, if anybody wants to throw in." Which is totally fine. But then to pick the party for yourself and then be like, "This is what I'm doing, and I'm splitting the thing," that just seems like a whole other level.
Nick: Yeah, that's not how it's done. Right. What should be done, everyone, when you're having a birthday party and you want to throw it for yourself—and that's fine if you want to do that—you're the host, which means you pay for everything. If you pick the place and what's happening, and the time and the date and the guest list, you're the host. And as host, you pay for it all. That's what it is. So Chad, if he wants to do this, how delightful! I actually had a similar ice cream thing a hundred years ago in my first apartment in New York City.
Nick: Yeah. And this apartment? I mean, sidebar. It was so dark. So dark. If you turned off the lights at noon, it was pitch black. You could not see your hand in front of your face. So it was one of those weird New York City apartments that everybody should live in once in their life. And so I had one of these parties where we did vanilla ice cream. And it was super casual, and I just asked everyone to bring a different brand. It was more like a potluck, like a vanilla ice cream potluck, and everyone just brought a different brand, and I provided, I think, probably something savory, because who wants ice cream all night? Actually, most people.
Nick: But that's what we did. And then we just, like, had all this vanilla ice cream. We tasted them, we talked about them and it was fun. So I think as a concept, this party idea? Delightful. I'm all about it. But I think unless it's a potluck idea where, like, everybody's sort of participating and that's what it is, and our host is still providing extra stuff to make it an event, I think that would be some hybrid there. But like, yeah, just to invoice your guests? Boo!
Leah: I love that you did that. A) I love that you did it.
Leah: And then B) I was thinking the same thing. Like, if Chad had been like, "Hey, this is what I want to do. Everybody bring a type of vanilla ice cream." That's totally different.
Nick: It would be totally different, yeah. Because I think it's the dictating and the invoicing that feels the worst here.
Nick: So okay, yeah, what are your options? I guess you can not go, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I can't attend." Or just go, don't bring a gift, and that's it.
Leah: You know, I hate it when anything involving an ice cream comes out rude because ice cream is just so wonderful.
Nick: [laughs] And you don't want to decline an ice cream party. I mean, it's probably gonna be fun.
Leah: Nobody wants to miss an ice cream party!
Nick: So I think just go and know that Chad did a bad thing, and know that every other guest agrees with you. And so you can secretly hate Chad behind his back. How's that?
Leah: You can secretly hate Chad, or if you're Leah Bonnema, you could be like, "Probably Chad was like, 'Well, how can I make this easy on everybody? I don't want everybody to feel like they have to bring something. So I'll do all the shopping for everybody.'"
Nick: Uh-huh. Yeah. You know how you make it easy, Chad? You pay for it.
Leah: Yeah. I mean, I'm just reaching out, really.
Nick: Yeah. No, we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes people just do bad things.
Nick: Yeah. Our next question is, quote, "What are your thoughts on gifting soap? I like to give specialty soap for a number of reasons: everyone can use it, it smells nice and it's unlikely to end up as clutter the receiver can't find a place for. However, I started to wonder if this gift might be taken the wrong way. Does giving soaps send the message you think someone has bad hygiene? Is there a difference between giving hand soap and giving body soap or other bath products? And to clarify, I only give soaps that have some element of luxury about them, such as being handmade, a unique scent or great packaging. I would love to hear your thoughts."
Leah: I think soap is always a lovely gift. I think that sometimes we second guess ourselves too much.
Nick: Yeah. I don't think it's taken the wrong way, and I love a fancy hand soap. I mean, I love a hand soap before it becomes too common. Like, once it shows up in a fancy restaurant bathroom, like, I'm out. Like, I'm not interested anymore.
Nick: Like, do you remember when, like, Molton Brown, Niranji was, like, the hot thing? I don't—I'm talking to Leah Bonnema, so I don't don't know why I ask this question.
Leah: Yeah, come on now. Come on.
Nick: Audience, do you remember when Molton Brown Niranji was a thing? Or then it became like Aesop was the hot brand, and then we moved on to, like, Le Labo Santal 33? Like, all of these brands sort of like rise in popularity. So, like, now I'm really into Frama, which is from Copenhagen. And now that I've said it out loud, now it's dead to me. So now I have to find some other international soap brand to have in my bathroom. But yeah, I love a good fancy soap. Absolutely.
Leah: I also love—like, I give people a lot of soap. And a lot of times it's from like—it's a handmade soap. You're supporting a small business. I think they are always lovely gifts.
Leah: I also love throwing a soap into my drawers. It makes your whole drawer smell so nice.
Nick: Oh, in my head, I'm thinking liquid hand soap. You're thinking bar soap.
Leah: Yeah, I'm thinking bar soap.
Nick: Okay. Interesting. Now to me, liquid hand soap in a bottle feels different than a bar.
Leah: I've never gotten liquid hand soap as a gift.
Nick: You haven't lived!
Leah: Or given. I like a bar.
Nick: Oh, okay. I think bar soap does feel different. Hmm. Bar soap does feel a little more hygienic, rather than—liquid soap feels more like luxury item.
Leah: Oh, I feel the opposite way.
Nick: Interesting! Okay.
Leah: But I've also gotten bath soaps. I always think of them as very lovely, like a bath bomb or a bath scrub. I don't think any of my friends are saying, "Leah, get in the shower."
Leah: I always take it as luxurious.
Nick: Yeah, I think most people would take it that way. Yes. I think rare would be the person who would take the wrong way, unless it's like, you just bought them a bottle of Dial generic soap.
Leah: I know. I was gonna say, is it like a medicated, antiseptic soap? And then you're like, "Use this."
Nick: Yeah. Is it prescription?
Nick: Yeah, if it's that, then yeah, that might feel a little pointed, but ...
Leah: Otherwise, it's lovely.
Nick: Yeah, I think it's totally fine. So yeah, I don't think you should overthink it. I'm always delighted to receive soap. Our PO box is listed on our website, if you'd like. And yeah, now anybody has ideas for the next international chic soap that can replace all the brands I just mentioned? I'm ready for ideas. So our next question is, quote, "I have a question about how to react to a situation I encounter a lot at the gym. I am a woman and a weightlifter, and I tend to lift heavy. And I find that I've been getting this reaction a lot from other people—especially guys. For example, this one time I pulled a heavy weight and I put it in front of me, and an older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and he pointed at the weight and he looked at me and he said, 'Good for you!' And I run into this a lot. 'Are you gonna lift that? Good for you lifting heavy!' I know it's supposed to be a compliment, but it's driving me nuts, and I would like to have something to say, but I don't know what. Thoughts?"
Nick: Oh, I think Leah has thoughts.
Leah: A) If anybody's seen my Colbert, my opening joke is about things that men say to you at the gym.
Leah: Always so condescending. And of course we know it was meant well. I had a lot of emails from men saying, "You know, it was meant well." And you're like, "Ugh! Missing the point."
Nick: Yes, totally.
Leah: But I thought about this with the weights, and I think that a way to not engage, but to get your point across, because you don't want to—after a while of continuing to allow behavior that you find condescending and patronizing, it just eats away at you. So I thought a nice way is that you respond with the same positivity and supportiveness, and you say, "You too!"
Nick: Okay. I mean, that's not gonna feel satisfying, but that is definitely a response that's polite.
Leah: Yeah, and you're like, "Good for you, too!" Because that's being like, "We're the same. If you think you need to compliment me for lifting a heavy weight, then I'm also going to compliment you for lifting a heavy weight."
Nick: Yeah. I mean, in thinking about this, it does feel that the thing about this that feels the most rude is that we're not complimenting, we're actually surprised. We're surprised that someone like you could possibly do this thing. And it's that element that I think feels super rude, because it would feel differently if it was just like, "Oh, you've inspired me to push myself harder."
Leah: Right, but we all know that's not what they're saying.
Nick: That's not what they're saying. They're like, "Oh my goodness, I am so surprised that a woman could possibly lift a heavy weight."
Leah: "Look at you picking up stuff, defying your gender!"
Nick: [laughs] Right!
Leah: "Good girl."
Leah: That's what it feels like.
Nick: Yeah. Like, "Oh, look at you! Yes."
Leah: "Look, she picks up stuff!" That's why I felt like a fair thing to say would be, "You too." I've definitely said, and before I say it, let me say that we can all agree, it's not the most middle of the road response. I'll say, "Thank you so much. We vote now, and pick things up!"
Nick: Yeah. Okay, that goes a little far. [laughs]
Leah: Goes a little far, but sometimes you've reached your limit. Because it's also that people feel like they need to come over, and you just want to work out.
Leah: You just want to get your thing done.
Nick: That's true.
Leah: It makes you so self-aware. And, you know, the fact that people feel like they need to come over and interrupt you.
Nick: Go out of your way.
Leah: And have a voice in your workout. You know what I mean? That is also upsetting. I'm not public property.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think it's a similar flavor of telling women to smile.
Leah: Yes, very similar.
Nick: It's the same sort of dynamic. And I think the same reasons why that's rude is also the same reasons why this is rude, yeah.
Leah: That's why I did think that for me saying, "You too," is really ...
Nick: Yeah, I don't hate that. Here's a couple phrases on my list. Let me know what you think. Quote, "Oh, heavy is relative." Heavy is relative? No? Okay. Crowd doesn't like that one.
Nick: How about, "Is it?"
Leah: Oh, that's nice.
Nick: Although that does allow them to respond. And sometimes you just want to, like, end it. I think you can just say thank you. And the tone with which you say thank you is kind of up to you.
Leah: You can say thank you, and then it can build up slowly over the years. And then you can have a Michael Douglas Falling Down moment where you just ...
Nick: Oh, good reference!
Leah: ... lose your mind.
Nick: And the last option, which I think would be the Miss Manners approach, is just to have a withering smile. She loves a good withering smile. And I think this is a good time for that.
Leah: I wish I could—they can't see you at home, but I'd love to see an example of a withering smile.
Nick: It's sort of ...
Nick: [laughs] I have a lot of practice with that.
Leah: Oh, I think a withering smile! If you at home could just see this, maybe Nick could draw a picture and put it on our Instagram.
Nick: We'll demonstrate somehow.
Leah: Like, that's, like, sort of just like a "I'm just so let down by your comment."
Nick: Yeah. It's—the way to do it is to think about being disappointed.
Nick: I'm not mad, just disappointed.
Leah: That's a funny thing to say too. "Oh, what a disappointing comment."
Nick: Oh! Oh, that's actually a good comeback. Like, "Oh, I'm disappointed that you would say that." And then just turn around.
Leah: Because that's very fair, and it's not aggressive in the way that we vote now is maybe slightly.
Leah: It's hard to find that line between letting people know that it's not really appropriate to come over and condescendingly comment on your workout.
Leah: And then also kind of instigating something. It's that line of just putting that boundary up.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think the real solution is just wear headphones and ignore it.
Leah: Oh, no. Oh, no, Nick. I will have headphones in, and people will stand there and talk to me to the point where I'll even point in my headphones, like—and then so eventually you either have to ignore to a point ...
Nick: Oh, now I'm taking the headphone out to tell them I have headphones in.
Leah: It's really unbelievable. This is why they have women's gyms.
Nick: Yeah. Okay, I get it now. Yeah, I mean, this is not my lived experience, for sure.
Leah: So it backs up after a while. Because you always feel like you want to be a good person and let it go, you know?
Leah: But after a while, you're like, "Why do I continually have to be letting go of these comments that I didn't invite? I'm just over here working out."
Nick: Yeah. I guess at the end of the day, just leave people alone at the gym.
Nick: And just there's never really a reason to socialize with people you don't know at the gym.
Nick: I love a withering smile with a, "You too."
Nick: Okay. I think the tone of your "You too" just now? Not ideal.
Leah: Same to you. Same to you.
Nick: I think we need a little more chipper.
Leah: Same to you!
Nick: Okay. Well, we'll practice.
Leah: I mean, now we're getting flippant.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, it's really hard to thread the needle, isn't it?
Leah: It's really hard to thread the needle on this one.
Nick: Well, do you have questions for us and we'll try to thread that needle? Let us know. [laughs]
Leah: We'll give you a lot of options that we find almost right.
Nick: Almost right. Yeah, right adjacent.
Nick: Well, send them in to our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com, or leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent.
Leah: Vent or repent!
Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently, or we can repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?
Leah: Ah, I'm so worked up from the last question, I'm gonna ride it right into a vent.
Nick: [laughs] Okay, what do you got?
Leah: So this is also unwanted comments.
Leah: This is also people inserting themselves into your activities that have nothing to do with them. But it's been equal men and women. So we are now dog parents.
Leah: And we have—I don't want to be tooting my own horn, we have a very good looking dog.
Leah: Lacey is ...
Nick: She's a looker.
Leah: She's a looker. She's extremely cute.
Nick: And describe for our audience—we'll post a photo in the show notes. But like, what kind of dog is Lacey?
Leah: It was, you know, from the rescue, it was a chihuahua mix. But she's looking more and more like there's this dog called a Xolo, which is a Mexican dog. It was originally like an Aztec dog. And if you've seen the animated Disney picture—or is it Pixar—Coco?
Leah: It looks like it's that dog mixed with a terrier. But regardless, she has bunny rabbit ears.
Nick: Yes. Adorable.
Leah: Adorable. And then this long, gorgeous tail that just wags with joy.
Nick: Okay. So we are proud parents to Lacey.
Leah: She's very lucky she's cute because she is ...
Nick: She's a puppy.
Leah: She's a puppy. And we're like, "You're lucky you're cute. We didn't need those table legs." But so we'll be outside walking her, and obviously, like, sometimes dogs come up on each other, and then the two human people are like, "Can they—" you know, there's a communication. Do you want them to meet? You know what I mean? Or you go up to someone. You're like, "So cute! May I pet your dog?" These are things that happen.
Leah: We've had multiple people that are just walking by, they swoop in, they start touching your dog.
Nick: Without asking.
Leah: Without asking. It upsets the dog. It upsets ...
Leah: We had this lady, no joke. We're walking, we're walking, we're walking. Like, we're very aware because she's a puppy, so she's eating stuff. So we're, like, constantly watching. This lady somehow got so close to us, got down on her knees and tried to kiss our dog on the face.
Nick: [laughs] Which not a great idea.
Leah: What's happening?
Nick: You don't know this dog.
Leah: You don't know. And then Lacey got mad, which of course she did. This person who she doesn't know ...
Nick: This stranger.
Leah: ... jumped at her and tried to put her mouth on her face. And so Lacey veered back and, like, did a growl. And the lady was like, "Oh, is your dog not ...?" And we were like, "You just tried to touch her with your face."
Leah: "Without knowing her or asking permission." And she looked, like, shocked. Like, "What do you mean I can't do that?"
Nick: "What's wrong with your dog?"
Leah: "What's wrong with your dog?" It's like, you can't touch.
Nick: No, no.
Leah: You can't touch.
Nick: But also, do you not care about your face?
Leah: So what are you doing? You don't touch people's dogs without permission.
Nick: Yeah, I think that is good advice and a good vent. Absolutely.
Leah: And if you do want to touch, there's a whole—just like meeting another human. "Hey, may I da da da?" And then whatever the person says, "Oh, no. They're in training." "Oh, no. They don't like to be touched." We just respect that boundary.
Nick: That's what it is. Yes. So for me today, actually, I was gonna introduce a new category called "The Lament."
Leah: Oh my goodness! The Lament?
Nick: But the more I thought about it, I was like, "No, no. No, actually, this is a—this is a vent. So I was just at a place called Intersect by Lexus. And this is totally beside the point, but this is a restaurant that is owned by the car company Lexus. What a world we live in.
Nick: And they invite famous chefs from around the world to come and they, like, do a residency for four months. And there's actually no clues that this is a Lexus restaurant other than there's this one wall as you're going up the stairs that has all these deconstructed, like, Lexus parts. But if you didn't notice that, there's actually no other sign that this is, like, a Lexus restaurant. Like, there's no car parked in it. But it's still owned by Lexus, so anyway. So I'm having dinner with some friends, and this is a fancy meal. Like, this is, like, a Michelin-starred chef, and there's white linen and it's a tasting menu. It's that kind of thing. And we're coming to the end of the meal, and for some reason, that diagram—do remember this diagram? We talked about it a couple of episodes ago?
Leah: Yes, yes, yes.
Nick: I had all these plates and then utensils on the plates. And then depending on how the utensils were arranged, it had different signals like, "I hated it." Or, like, "Bring the chef back," and, like, "More mashed potatoes, please." Like, whatever. And so we got onto the subject for some reason—I didn't bring it up. I'm not bringing up etiquette topics just like, on my own on a social dinner. Off duty. But it came up, as etiquette so often does. And so we were talking about it and I was like, "Oh, isn't this bonkers?"
Nick: And so, as the waiter actually was coming around to clear all of our plates, my friend says to the waiter, like, "Hey, so does it mean anything the way people leave their knife and fork on the plate?" And unprompted, the waiter was like, "Oh, yes! Crossing the silverware means they didn't like it. And side to side means it was delicious." And he was like, "There are all sorts of different hidden meanings that we're trained on. And I'm like, "No." I said that to myself, but I was like, "No." Trained for? You received training on this bonkers thing that doesn't exist? Because to be clear, this is not a thing.
Nick: This is not an etiquette thing. It's not a thing, everybody. It's not a thing. And so is this life imitating art? Like, what is happening? So yeah, I just—I wanted to lament about the state of our etiquette world, but now it's like, no, this is a vent. The fact that this is happening, that so many people in the world are leaving signals with their cutlery that are not real. Ugh. Bring me the complaints book.
Leah: [laughs] I think it's a vent and a lament. I love the idea that we bring lament in.
Nick: Yeah, I think lament is a fair addition to our repertoire. So whatever this is, I don't like it, and I wish it would stop.
Leah: [laughs] Nick doesn't like it, and he wishes it would stop. Also, imagine they're taking classes for this. All of us just leaving our forks, and we have no idea that we're actually sending signals.
Nick: Oh, that's a good point! Like, what if they're being trained on signals that we're not sending, and they're like, "Oh, that woman is having a bad hair day."
Leah: [laughs] Yeah, that woman wants us to call home. That was the "call home" signal.
Nick: That woman says her lights in her car might be on. Would you please check the parking lot? [laughs]
Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: I learned that Miss Manners and I are on the same page regarding French onion soup, which so rarely are we on the same page.
Nick: There's a first for everything. And I learned that you put soap in drawers.
Leah: I do, I do, I do.
Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.
Leah: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.
Leah: We would if we could.
Nick: So for your homework this week, please check out our Patreon and see if you want to join as a monthly member. So go to our website, visit "Monthly Membership", and see if that's something you'd like to do.
Leah: Yeah, I'm about to inundate everybody on Patreon with Lacey picks.
Nick: So get ready! And we'll see you next time.
Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!
Leah: I want to do a big shout out thank you gratitude moment to Vans, the shoes, and Fairfield Comedy Club, who collabed this year and did a shoe to go to artists who lost money over the past year for comics.
Nick: Oh, that's nice!
Leah: Really fantastic. Appreciate it so much.
Nick: Oh, very nice. And for me, I want to read a review we just got, which is, quote, "I love this show so much. I just found it, and I plowed through all of your episodes within three weeks. My 12 year old made fun of me for listening to a manners show, but he's grown to love it, and now listens to it while walking home from school. He recently noticed one of his friends was having a zipper malfunction and whispered to him, "Your pod bay door is open, Hal."
Leah: I love it!
Nick: At first when I got this, I was like, "What are you talking about?" Because that is a deep cut from episode nine about what to say when somebody's zipper is down. So ...
Leah: So fantastic.
Nick: That's fantastic. He is clearly not being raised by wolves. And so for that, we're very thankful.
Leah: So sweet. Thank you!