Sept. 23, 2019

Popping Champagne, Cancelling Plans, Double-Dipping, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, we'll tackle popping champagne bottles, cancelling plans the right way, double-dipping when you're dining alone, giving up your seat to the elderly, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

Amazon Music podcast player badge
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
Podchaser podcast player badge
Stitcher podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge


  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: How to open a champagne bottle
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Cancelling plans on others
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: Can you double-dip when dining alone? When to give up your seat on the subway?




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[String music]

Nick: Do you allow your champagne bottles to pop? Do you cancel plans without rescheduling? Do you make the elderly stand on the subway? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out.

[Theme Song]

Here are some 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?

[Theme Song Ends]

Nick: Hey everybody, welcome to the show. I'm Nick Leighton coming to you from New York. And by my side today is Leah Bonnema.

Leah: Hello!

Nick: Leah may or may not have been actually raised by wolves in a small town in Maine.

Leah: And completely delighted by it as well, which I know upsets Nick, and I'm proud of it.

Nick: So, let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche today.

Leah: Which I think we should discuss what an amuse-bouche is for all of those out there...

Nick: OK...

Leah: ...unlike ourselves....

Nick: No, surely you know.

Leah: ...who don't know what a "happy mouth"...

Nick: Yes, literally "happy mouth." It's like at a fancy restaurant...a little taste from the chef before the meal begins. Like a toast point or a quenelle or a little consommé.

Leah: Chips and dip.

Nick: Chips and dip...yes, guac and chips...that's technically an amuse-bouche. Of course, yeah. So, for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about opening champagne.

Leah: Sounds good.

Nick: For you, what is the key thing when you open champagne? Do you know?

Leah: I feel like what I think the key thing is isn't going to be the key thing, but I'm just going to own it. I've worked at a lot of weddings.

Nick: OK.

Leah: I feel like the key is getting it open.

Nick: OK! We agree, yes.

Leah: The key is getting that champagne out to people for the toast.

Nick: OK...speed.

Leah: Speed. I want to pop it. But you already said, "do you pop your champagne?", so I was like, "Oh, no!" I thought that was the fun part.

Nick: Yeah, no...don't pop it.

Leah: Because you always kinda...I thumb it "boop, boop, boop, boop" up to the top and then I "pop"

Nick: Oh, God.

Leah: No?

Nick: No. OK...

Leah: Am I just supposed to break the top off on a table?

Nick: OK, shhhhhh. OK, let me just explain. So, popping is incorrect

Leah: Oh, no.

Nick: Yeah, no. OK, so here's how it works. Obviously you want to start with a chilled bottle of champagne. So, chilling is very key. And you want to have your glasses ready and it's nice to have a towel nearby; this is optional, though. If you do it right, you will not need the towel. So, the first thing you do on a champagne bottle there's the foil: remove the foil. And then, under the foil, there's like this little cage, which you're familiar with, and it's called a muselet.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: So, that's a little vocab for today. So, a muselet is that wire cage that's over the champagne bottle and it takes exactly six twists to get it off.

Leah: Oh, wow.

Nick: And you want to loosen it, but you do not want to remove the cage. You leave the cage on.

Leah: Oh, I've been living a lie.

Nick: Because once you remove...loosen the cage, you've armed the bottle of champagne. It's like taking the safety off of a gun.

Leah: Oh, wow.

Nick: And some German scientist did some study where he determined that a bottle of champagne, the cork can come out at 25 miles an hour.

Leah: Oh, wow.

Nick: Or, that's 40 kilometers and hour for our international listeners. And actually if the bottle of champagne is hot — if you didn't chill it — apparently the speed of a cork can be, like, 60 miles an hour.

Leah: Really?

Nick: Yeah! So, you could poke out an eye.

Leah: Wow.

Nick: So, you've armed the bottle of champagne and once you've loosened the muselet, you're going to keep your thumb on the top of the bottle and then, you're going to twist the bottle not the cork. That's key.

Leah: Oh, wow.

Nick: Yeah. And now some people use a towel around the muselet — the cage — to get a little more grip. That's optional. Do it or not...your call. But, twist the bottle...that's mandatory. And then as you are twisting slowly, you will sort of feel the pressure build against the cork and I like to kinda keep the cork back to prevent it from opening too fast. And then you keep doing that and eventually you'll hear like a little hiss.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: We're going to do ASMR for this part. So, you're going to feel a hiss. And that's what you want. You want it to make as little sound as possible. If it pops, you've done it wrong. Because if it pops, it means you've let all this gas escape, that's when you can get it, you know, champagne pouring out and you're wasting it. But once it hisses open then the cork will just come out and you toss the cork and the cake aside and then voilà.

Leah: Oh, my goodness.

Nick: We have learned so much.

Leah: Yeah, I mean I never would have guessed. I don't think I've ever seen champagne opened that way.

Nick: That's the proper way. So, I don't know where you're getting your champagne...

Leah: I mean, obviously...

Nick: But, that is the proper way to do it, so if it pops, it's wrong. Sorry.

Leah: Oh, wow.

Nick: And coming up after the break, there's lots more things you're probably doing wrong. Stay tuned.

[Music Interlude]

Nick: So now it's time for "A Question of Etiquette." Let's go deep.

Leah: Deep, deep, deep.

Nick: Let's just do it. So, I want to talk about cancelling plans. Because this happens.

Leah: Oh, a lot.

Nick: Cancelling happens. And, cancelling is not always a bad thing. I mean, I think you get to a certain age, and I think I'm of that age, where if you have dinner plans with someone and they cancel on you, you're actually thrilled. You're like, "Oh, thank God...I can just go home tonight and just get into my PJs."

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I don't know what age that is, but you know you're officially an adult when you're like thrilled about plans being cancelled.

Leah: Ahh, I'm just going to go home and watch Netflix.

Nick: But there's a right way and a wrong way to cancel plans on people. And I really dislike when people cancel the wrong way. And I think this is a public service.

Leah: OK...I'm excited and also anxious because I'm about to hear the way that I've always cancelled plans.

Nick: Well, I think the general rule is: If you cancel on someone, it's on you to reschedule.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And it's as simple as that. Because if you do not reschedule with me, I am under the strong impression that you are not actually interested.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And that's about dating, that's about a job interview, that's about friends. That's in any aspect of human interaction. I think if you cancel and someone and do not make an effort to reschedule, well that signal's clear.

Leah: Yeah, but I mean that might be their signal. That might be their way of letting you know.

Nick: In which case, I can take that hint.

Leah: But, I mean, I guess the thing is realize that that's what you're doing.

Nick: Yes, if that's what you want to do, then do that and then fine...I can go my own way.

Leah: Yeah, I'll accept that life is hard.

Nick: Yes. We're not meant for everybody.

Leah: Yup.

Nick: I didn't didn't need that job.

Leah: No.

Nick: I don't need that friendship.

Leah: Nope.

Nick: I can swipe left.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But, if you didn't intend to do that and you don't reschedule immediately, well, then that's on you.

Leah: Yeah, it is on you.

Nick: Yeah. So, that I think is just the rule that people should know. That this is the societally agreed upon signal about interest.

Leah: Yeah, and also give people enough time.

Nick: For sure. Yeah. I mean, I think the earliest you know you need to cancel, you have to communicate that.

Leah: I also... One thing that really bothers me is that if you know you have to cancel, but you're... I've noticed a lot of people will be like, "Hey, um..." and then it's whole thing where I'm like are you trying to see if I would... Why don't you just tell me what it is that you need to do otherwise or that you have to cancel instead of me now having to play a guessing game with what this message means.

Nick: So, somebody wants to cancel on you but wants you to cancel first?

Leah: No, they wan to cancel, but they feel bad about it. Am I going to be upset? Have I been like, you know what I mean? This happens a lot with people in my friend circle where I'm like, "Just cancel. I'm not going to have a thing about it. But I don't have the time to pull this out of you."

Nick: I do not understand what you're talking about.

Leah: You don't have friends like this?

Nick: Who are being vague about cancelling plans with you?

Leah: Because they feel guilty. Because they know this space has been held, or like whatever, so then they want to give you this long... I don't need to go down the yellow brick road and learn your whole life. You know what I mean? If you have to cancel, just let me know you can't do it. No biggie.

Nick: Oh, so the elaborate explanation.

Leah: Yeah, and then also like, "Would it be too much if you... I was thinking..." I don't...We're adults here. Just tell me you can''s not a problem. If I have a problem, I'll be like, "Hey, we've had this forever..." So I'm not going to figure out your text and then put that time into it and then be like, "What do you mean?"

Nick: Yeah, being just clear and upfront...

Leah: Own your cancellation.

Nick: Yes, this is nice. Yeah. So, you feel like your friends go out of their way to create an elaborate backstory and a conversation around the cancelling when they should just pull the Band-Aid off.

Leah: I don't want to have to have a conversation about it. That's what I don't want to have to have.

Nick: OK. That's fair. Yeah.

Leah: I don't want to have to go through all your feelings on it. Now I have to put work into you cancelling?

Nick: That's rude.

Leah: That's too much.

Nick: Yeah, that is too much.

Leah: It's too much.

Nick: Yeah. And I think if you cancel very close to the time you were supposed to do the thing, this is noted.

Leah: Yeah, that's an apology thing. But it happens.

Nick: It does happen. And I think if you're hospitalized, you're on a subway underground, and like you couldn't emerge? I get that. But, it's never the's the coverup.

Leah: Exactly.

Nick: So, it's sort of like, how do you handle this? And so I think you have to communicate at the earliest opportunity.

Leah: Definitely. And just take responsibility for it.

Nick: Yes. This is nice, yes. And I also think that if you cancel, then you cannot now show up for the thing. So, if you told a friend...

Leah: Does that happen?

Nick: Yes. Yes, this happens. You're like, "Oh, I can't make it to your party tomorrow night. Oh, so sorry." Showing up is not an option now.

Leah: No, no. You cancelled.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't...that's never happened.

Nick: It happens.

Leah: That would be wild. I'd be like, "Is this your ghost showing up?"

Nick: Wild things happen.

Leah: No.

Nick: Yes, yes.

Leah: What do they say when they show up?

Nick: "Oh, I could make it! Oh, I'm here! Isn't everybody happy, I was able to make it!"

Leah: No.

Nick: People are rude.

Leah: I don't like that.

Nick: Yeah, people are rude.

Leah: You could say, "Hey, I have a thing where I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make it OK with you if we leave it open-ended? Or is this a thing where you have to know the amount of people and, if so, I'll just cancel now."

Nick: That's a polite way to handle something, sure. Yeah, give the host the option to...

Leah: Yeah, so they know you're in a place where you're not 100%, like a work thing is running late or whatever.

Nick: Right. That's fair. Yes, so I think, point being: Cancelling happens...

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: ...and you should be an adult about it.

Leah: Yeah. But then also, if you're a person who takes things personally because came up and that person had a legitimate excuse and they told you about it, that's on you. You can't take things personally when life happens.

Nick: That is also true, yeah. But that's also just general etiquette.

Leah: Also, if you're a person who has used the train as an excuse every time for something, after a while people are like...

Nick: We're on to you.

Leah: Yeah, because we've all been on the train and we know what happens. But that's why we leave an extra couple of minutes.

Nick: Alright, you heard it here first: Don't lie to Leah about being on the train.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: So now it's the part of the show where we take questions submitted from the wilderness. So, our first question is: "Can you double-dip if you're dining alone?"

Leah: I mean, I find this...obscenely...I don't even know who asked. Of course.

Nick: This is a real question.

Leah: I know. But of course you can. Give yourself permission. Set yourself free.

Nick: That's true. I do agree with you. But you will agree there are some etiquette rules that still apply.

Leah: When you're alone?

Nick: Dining in a... Well, you're still in a restaurant.

Leah: Yeah, but it's your food.

Nick: Well, you can't lick the plate.

Leah: Well, you could if you wanted...

Nick: No!

Leah:'re paying for it.

Nick: Absolutely... No! you're just being difficult. Please tell me we agree that you're not allowed to lick your plate if you're dining alone in a restaurant.

Leah: I'm not going to say you're not allowed. I'm going to say it would be weird.

Nick: It would not be appropriate.

Leah: How about if you ran your finger down it and licked your finger.

Nick: No!

Leah: Because it was so good. It's a compliment to the chef.

Nick: OK, we're just moving along. I refuse to engage in this conversation. Uh, everybody outside that is not here right now: No. No is the answer.

Leah: But you are allowed to double-dip.

Nick: I agree that you are allowed to double-dip chips because that's a hygiene thing that has to do with dining with other people.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: But you are still in public and people can see you.

Leah: But it's your dip. There's nobody you're sharing it with.

Nick: Yeah. No, we're on the same page about the dip.

Leah: OK.

Nick: Not going to argue with you about the dip.

Leah: OK. I'm really passionate...

Nick: It's about the licking of the plate where I think our paths diverge.

Leah: Well, I wouldn't lick it.

Nick: But you would not be upset if someone licked their plate.

Leah: I would giggle.

Nick: OK.

Leah: I would be like, "That person is...wild."

Nick: OK. Our next question is...

Leah: I can see you being like, "I am never eating in public with Leah."

Nick: Yeah. No, that's definitely been established. Oh, here's a good question that came in on our voicemail. So, let's play that now.

[Voicemail Beep]

Eben: Hey, Nick and Leah. My name is Eben and I have a question about subway etiquette. So, sometimes when I have a seat on the subway, I am approached by an older-looking person and the internal debate I have in my head is do I offer this seat to this person because they're older or am I going to insult the person by offering my seat because it implies that I think they're old. So where is that line? Thanks, bye.

[Voicemail Beep]

Nick: OK. So, let's talk this one out because I don't if there's an obvious answer for this. What's your first impression?

Leah: "A," I love this voicemail and I feel like this person is very considerate and aware of their surroundings and thinking about people's feelings.

Nick: Well, yes and no. Because this person really doesn't want to give up their seat.

Leah: Oh, I didn't read that at all. I read that they don't want people to feel old.

Nick: Uhh, I got a tinge of "I would really rather not give up my seat unless I have to."

Leah: I've had someone give up their seat for me and it set me off for the rest of the day.

Nick: In a good way or a bad way?

Leah: A bad way.

Nick: Because they thought you were what?

Leah: I was like, "Do you think that I'm pregnant? Do you think I am incapable of standing? Do you think I am old enough that I can't stand on my legs?" I didn't take it well.

Nick: OK.

Leah: And they very well could have just been like, "We give our seats to...ladies?" You know what I mean? Nobody looks at me and thinks "lady." That's why I was like, "Oh, no!" I called people. I was like, "It's over."

Nick: After you got off the subway, you were like, "Do you know what happened to me today?"

Leah: "Do you know someone gave me their seat? Do I look pregnant?" You know what I mean? So, I don't want to feel like, "Oh, I see you, and I think you look feeble."

Nick: So, chivalry is dead, people.

Leah: No! I still get up, but what I do is I fake like I had to get up.

Nick: OK, you're like, "Oh, this is my stop!" or "I've been standing all day."

Leah: Or like, "Oh, I just want to stretch my back a little bit," and then I just get up as if I was getting up anyway.

Nick: But if you just get up and don't signal to the person that this is for you, then anybody else could slide in there.

Leah: Well, then that's on them.

Nick: You want an old person to be like a ninja?

Leah: I mean, if this person is that old where they can't sit down quickly, then I will get up. But there's a lot of people in this grey area.

Nick: Well, this is our caller's question.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: what is the window of age where they look old, but maybe not old enough because they could be offended.

Leah: Also, some old people seem very physically fit, you know what I mean? And some people just look weary and you're like, "You're probably thirty."

Nick: So, it has to be old and slightly infirm.

Leah: Old and looks like they're uncomfortable standing.

Nick: OK, so we have to see some visible discomfort.

Leah: You need to look tired. Not because I don't want to give up my seat — I'm happy to give it up — but I don't want you to feel insulted like I looked at you and I thought you looked tired.

Nick: So, you just have to use your judgement on that.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: It's a judgement call.

Leah: Or, just do a fake act out, "Oh, I love standing up right now!"

Nick: And then what about... Well, I think if you think someone's pregnant...

Leah: Man, if I don't see a baby coming out, I am not...

Nick: You have to be crowning in order to get your seat.

Leah: Yes. Otherwise, sometimes people just hold weight in different places.

Nick: Yeah, I think you can never assume someone is pregnant.

Leah: I've been with women when people have asked them when they're...

Nick: ...when they're due?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Just perfect strangers?

Leah: Yup.

Nick: Yeah, that's a whole other topic.

Leah: It happens a lot.

Nick: That's not even a topic...we can just settle it right now. No.

Leah: Never.

Nick: No.

Leah: Nope.

Nick: There is never a time to ever ask a stranger about a pregnancy.

Leah: Ever. Or even someone who is not a stranger. If they didn't bring it up to you, you ignore it.

Nick: Yeah. Sidebar: Never talk about it. So, for our caller, I guess one question is does it matter what city it is? Because, I think in New York City, an older person who wants your seat, they'll just come up and tell you.

Leah: They'll be like, "May I sit down?"

Nick: Whereas I guess other places are more polite and so they'll just wait for you to offer?

Leah: I mean, other places you'll know who it is. "Oh, hey...that's Betty from up the block. I know that she just had her knees done."

Nick: There's only towns of 5 people and New York City. There is nothing in between.

Leah: There is nothing in between.

Nick: After there's break, there's more RBW to come...stay tuned!

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: So, what have we learned today, Leah?

Leah: We've learned... I learned a lot about champagne.

Nick: Yes, that you've been doing it wrong your entire life.

Leah: I've been doing it wrong my whole life. And I've worked in the service industry and I think it would be so helpful if someone, when you take a job, teaches people...

Nick: Yes, yes. Knowledge is power.

Leah: ...the appropriate way to do things.

Nick: That's what this show is about.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: So helpful.

Nick: I learned that you feel no shame about sticking your finger across a place and sticking it your mouth in public.

Leah: Yeah. I definitely don't feel bad about that. The licking of the plate I maybe said just because I knew that that would mortify you. But I definitely have pulled a finger and then...I mean, what if it was delicious?

Nick: Yeah, what if, Leah?

Leah: ...and then you wanted to savor the last bit?

Nick: OK, yeah.

Leah: ...and your hands were clean. And it's your mouth!

Nick: I have no rebuttal for this. Yes. So, that's our show for today, Leah.

Leah: Well, thank you for having me. I know you're thinking it's maybe a bad idea.

Nick: I'm going to cancel our dinner plans for sure.

Leah: Unless it's a chef who wants to know how much love they're getting.

Nick: I'm pretty sure that the chef is not aware of your table manners.

Leah: The chef was like, "Did you see that girl out there? Licked the plate. That's how good I am."

Nick: Thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you.

Nick: That's our show for today. And thank you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a hand-addressed thank you note on my custom engraved social stationery. But I don't, so you won't get a letter. And please subscribe to our show on iTunes and leave us a review. Follow us on the social medias and visit our website: And now, hopefully nobody will ask, "Were you raised by wolves?" See you next time!

[Closing Music]