June 13, 2022

Removing Shoes at Weddings, Opening Neighbors' Mail, Being Empty-Handed at Potlucks, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about removing your shoes at wedding receptions, accidentally opening neighbors' mail, showing up empty handed to potlucks, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about removing your shoes at wedding receptions, accidentally opening neighbors' mail, showing up empty handed to potlucks, 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 ask.wyrbw.com



  • What's the time limit for letting a friend know it wasn't appreciated that she showed up empty-handed to a potluck picnic?
  • What's the etiquette for telling someone they look like someone else?
  • I accidentally opened a piece of my neighbor's mail...what should I do?
  • At a wedding, is it OK to take your heels off on the dance floor?
  • Am I wrong to be upset at a houseguest who ruined some of my clothing and then called me fat?







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 143


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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, "I recently hosted a picnic dinner wedding shower for a friend with a group of 11 women. All of us are over 60. One of the guests had committed to bringing a side dish, but showed up empty handed. Before the event, I had several conversations with her about her dish and how it would go so nicely with the rest of the food. So there was not a misunderstanding. All she said as we were arriving was "They were a flop." She did not text me, call me or offer to at least bring a loaf of bread. Thankfully, there was plenty of other food, all of which I made and carried to the park. I said nothing because I didn't want to spoil the mood with everyone there, but now I wonder what should I have said? I was very annoyed! Also, what is the time limit on addressing this? It's been 10 days."

Leah: I think that our letter-writer was very gracious, and it was appropriate not to have said anything just because it's a wedding shower.

Nick: Yeah. You don't want to make a big deal about this in the moment and kind of yeah, I could see that instinct, and I think that was probably correct.

Leah: I think it was very lovely of you to take the high road, because you could have given her a really nasty side eye. And you just were above and beyond gracious.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess you could have said, "Oh, sorry to hear that! What did you bring instead?"

Leah: Mmm.

Nick: Put her on the spot and be like, "Oh, I didn't bring anything else." And it was like, "Oh, okay." So there could have been some acknowledgment that, like, oh, I just chose not to bring anything.

Leah: Yes, that's a very good—I like that. I'm gonna have that ready in case this happens. "Oh, did you bring—what did you bring instead?"

Nick: I mean, tone? Tone would really be crucial here. You really have to land it. But I think you could land this.

Leah: I think you could land it as, like, you're super excited to know what she brought instead.

Nick: Oh, exactly. Yes. That's the vibe. Like, "Oh, those cookies didn't work out? No problem! What did you end up bringing?"

Leah: "Tell us! Tell us!"

Nick: "Please! Oh, I can't wait! The suspense!"

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, I guess that would be the vibe.

Leah: Also, why did you have to do all the food? This was the only person bringing one other thing?

Nick: Right. This was a group of 11 women, and you're one of them, and this other friend brought nothing. So what are these other nine people doing?

Leah: Mm-mm.

Nick: And I can imagine that, throughout this entire planning, you felt like you were doing a disproportionate amount of the work.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Between the planning, logistics, coordination. And so this was just like one more thing being piled on top.

Leah: You're like, "All you had to do is bring the popovers."

Nick: Okay, so this happened. So I guess a question is: is there a time limit to addressing it?

Leah: Well, there's no time limit on secretly harboring ...

Nick: Resentments.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. No, that's unlimited. Sure.

Leah: You could do that for as long as you want.

Nick: But if you wanted to repair this relationship and wanted to have a conversation, sooner is definitely better than later. Because the longer you wait, the more petty it will feel.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: It would be like two years later. It'd be like, "Remember that picnic two years ago when you didn't bring popovers? Let's have a conversation about it." So definitely the longer it goes, the harder it is to have that conversation.

Leah: I almost feel like I wouldn't bring it up. It's been two weeks.

Nick: Yeah, I think at this point we let it go. I think if there's another potluck in your future with this person, then I think it's appropriate to maybe emphasize how important it is for everybody to participate. Although I don't think we'd want to rehash the past then, either.

Leah: Yeah. No, I think that if the situation comes up again, we want to make sure we're not in the same position. And I think we could say, "If the dish you are bringing doesn't work for you, please make sure you bring something else."

Nick: Right. Or let me know or—yeah, something. Something, I guess. And I guess you'd have to do that in sort of a non-judgmental way about, like, the last time this happened ...

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Dot, dot, dot.

Leah: You don't want to be shorthanded.

Nick: So okay, that's the answer: try and let this go. And I guess what if you can't let this go? What if this really is bothering you still to the point where you wrote to us about it and so, like, definitely it's on your mind. I guess you could always do that old classic: a polite-yet-direct conversation with this friend about their behavior and how it made you feel.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And what you'd like to see done differently in the future.

Leah: I think that if you want to address it, that's the way to go.

Nick: Yeah. But I think I would probably just let it go.

Leah: Me too.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "What is the etiquette for telling someone that they look like someone else, whether it be someone they know or a celebrity? In the past, it's been both flattering and offensive to me. It is typically a comment I try to avoid, but it still happens a lot."

Leah: When people tell me "You know who you look like?" I immediately say, "Please don't tell me."

Nick: And are there celebrities that you get a lot?

Leah: I get a rotation of celebrities depending on—I don't know what.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: But then sometimes it's like "My cousin whatever," and you're like, I don't—or they're like, "You know, you look like this girl I went to school with." And you're like, "I don't even know what that means." Like, how about I just don't look like anybody?

Nick: I was actually trying to think of celebrities you might look like in advance of this conversation. I actually could not come up with any. Like, I was really trying hard to be like, "Oh, who does Leah look like?" And I think you are unique. I really couldn't find a comparison for you.

Leah: Thank you.

Nick: Yeah. But yeah, in general, let's not comment on people's appearances, which involves making comparisons to the appearances of other people.

Leah: Yeah, I think it makes people feel insecure.

Nick: Oh, it definitely has that. Yes.

Leah: That's why I feel comfortable saying when people say, "You know who you look like?" I just say, "Don't tell me. I love to be left in suspense because I don't want to know."

Nick: Well, how often are you actually being invited to answer the question?

Leah: People almost always ask like they're gonna ask—they say it like, "Do you know?" And you usually have time to be like, "Don't tell me."

Nick: Really?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Oh, it's not just like, "You look like Keith Richards."

Leah: No. People always, like, set it up.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Like, because they want to know: do you know?

Nick: Interesting. Okay.

Leah: Just like people say, "Can I ask you a question?" And they expect that you're gonna say yes and then you go forward. And you can go, "No, no, no. Bad time."

Nick: "I'd rather not."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. [laughs] So yeah, I mean, let's just not make comparisons to other people. Yeah, let's not do it.

Leah: Also the other thing is, maybe they get it all the time and they're exhausted by it.

Nick: So then what's a good response? If somebody says, like, "Oh, you look like such and such," what is a nice, polite way to respond to this?

Leah: Well, if they get it out before you can stop it, I'd be like, "Thanks." And I would just move on. "Oh!"

Nick: Yeah. I think a thank you, and then you can use whatever tone you want. So that can be a little cold if you need it to be. That's the way to go.

Leah: Or you can go, "Interesting!" And then just move into the next topic.

Nick: Yeah, I like a good "Interesting" or a "Oh!"

Leah: I like that too. "Oh!"

Nick: Oh!

Leah: So how was your weekend?

Nick: So where are those popovers?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. So just a reminder, compliments that have to do with physical appearance just really don't. Like, rare is it good. So when in doubt, don't.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Unless you're complimenting me with, like, "You look great today." Then I will take it. Unless you lean in on the "today" like it's never happened before. Then I don't want it. [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Right.

Leah: I don't want shock in it. I don't want that you're really taken aback that I would walk out of the house not looking like a garbage bag. [laughs]

Nick: Okay. Yeah, so as long as there's not surprise. Okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I received a letter in my apartment mailbox from my bank. However, when I opened the letter, it appears it was actually meant for a neighbor. I'm appalled that I opened it. How should I get it to that person? I don't know them, and I would be so embarrassed to hand it to them opened."

Leah: My question is: was it addressed to you on the envelope and then inside?

Nick: I think that this was addressed to the neighbor, and you just like, "Oh, I bank with this bank and it's in my mailbox, so I'm just gonna open it." And then it was like, "Oh, that name on this letter is not mine." I think that's what happened.

Leah: Okay. Because I was gonna say don't be embarrassed if the envelope was—and also, you're not looking that close. I wouldn't be embarrassed. I would slide it under their door with a sticky tape that says "This was in my mailbox. I opened it without paying attention. So sorry!"

Nick: Yeah, that's definitely what I would do. And if you couldn't get it under their door for some reason, you know, like sometimes the doors are very tight in apartment buildings, then I guess I would try and get it to the mail carrier to put it into their mailbox on the next day. That maybe would be an option. Or maybe I would tape it to their door in a larger envelope.

Leah: Or if you don't want to put tape on their door because it looks like the kind of door where the paint comes up and you don't want to be involved in that situation, you can put it in a bag that can hang over the door handle.

Nick: Okay. I mean, if I came home and there was, like, a plastic bag hanging on my doorknob, I don't know what I would think.

Leah: That's happened to me on many an occasion. And I just thought, "Ooh, a present!"

Nick: Ooh, that is not my first thought.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: But okay. But would you do this note anonymously, or would you fess up and be like, "Oh, it's Leah in 1B. I accidentally got your mail. Here it is."

Leah: I would just say "Leah."

Nick: Yeah, I think I would probably fess up and include my name on the note being like, "Hey, it's me. I'm your neighbor. Accidentally opened this. Here it is."

Leah: Well, I would say it was in my mailbox.

Nick: Yes. Definitely want to clarify, like, I didn't go into your mailbox and open your mail.

Leah: Or it wasn't, like, laying on the ground, I picked it up and opened it. It was in your mailbox, which is why you opened it without double checking, which is I think anybody would understand that.

Nick: And I think what we don't want to do is leave it in front of the mailboxes on that, like, little ledge that happens a lot in apartment buildings for everyone else to see. I think we do want to bring it to their door in some way.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Right?

Leah: And I think by bringing it to their door and putting our name on it, we show that we didn't do it on purpose. We're apologizing. We're bringing it over. There's nothing nefarious. It was just a mistake.

Nick: Yeah. And then I guess if you did look too carefully at that letter, try and not remember what you saw if possible.

Leah: Yeah, just forget it on purpose.

Nick: Okay. So our next question is quote, "At a wedding, is it okay to take your heels off on the dance floor?"

Leah: I'm gonna tell you right now, I don't want to be at a wedding where it's not okay.

Nick: Oh, okay. Interesting. All right, so you want to be at that type of wedding exclusively?

Leah: I mean, I can understand that you could be at a wedding, say it's for, like, a work thing or a relative of a significant other. You don't know them well. Are other people's shoes coming off? But I mean, I think it's pretty standard that ladies at the end of the night want to boogie down, and you can't boogie down in these heels all night.

Nick: I mean, that's fair. Definitely uncomfortable footwear. It's unfortunate that this is a thing that exists in the world. And so I get that. However, it is a major complaint of hosts and other guests to see barefoot people on a dance floor, not to mention, like, venue operators. The general manager of that event hall is not interested in barefoot people walking on the dance floor with potential, like, broken glass.

Leah: Well, maybe they should take it up with a patriarchy that's making women think that they need to wear shoes that actually physically slowly destroy your body over time.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, I mean, maybe they should. Yeah.

Leah: But what I usually do is I actually—I usually have a little slip on.

Nick: Right. I think that's the solution. If you are going to a wedding—which is usually not a surprise—and you know you like to boogie down to "Sweet Caroline" or whatever happens at weddings. Or "Footloose?" What's the—what's what are the popular wedding songs? "Footloose?" "Private Dancer?"

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Like, what are the popular ... [laughs]

Leah: I don't know if I've ever been to a wedding where they played "Private Dancer." But let me tell you ...

Nick: No? "Dancing for money. Do what you want me to do?" Okay

Leah: Tina Turner rocks my world, and I will dance to that whole album. In fact, now that you say it, if I ever do get married, I'm just gonna play the Tina Turner album.

Nick: So anyway, I think that you should bring flats with you. If you're a bride, if you're a guest, if you're planning on boogying down, I think you should just prepare and not be barefoot on the dance floor, but have some alternative footwear option.

Leah: There's also—there are these shoes, and I've carried them in my purse, that are not even quite flats. They actually kind of like roll up, but they have, like, a little bit of a bottom, so you're not gonna slip. They're almost like a sock with extra.

Nick: Oh, like ballet flats that kind of smoosh up?

Leah: Yeah, but more—even less of a shoe than a ballet flat, because you can, like, roll it up.

Nick: Okay, so the suggestion of shoe.

Leah: Yeah, the suggestion of shoe. But they're covering your feet, nobody's gonna see your heels and your toes. You know what I mean? You can slide it on. It's got a little bit of a grip. And they just fit right in your little purse.

Nick: Yeah. So there's that. And it is a trend for wedding hosts to actually provide those types of things or flip flops to their guests at the reception.

Leah: Really! That's fun.

Nick: This is a trend that is happening, yes. Yes. Because people don't want you barefoot on the dance floor, but acknowledge that, oh, you've been in uncomfortable heels for five hours, so you might want to take them off.

Leah: I think that's very nice.

Nick: And I think at the end of the day, the etiquette rule here is: if your host does it, then you are free to go.

Leah: And I have always seen the host do it.

Nick: Yeah. So follow the lead of your host. If the host's shoes are off, then, you know, fine. And if they're not, then, you know, think twice.

Leah: And I know that I'm going to get some letters on this because I support dancing with no shoes on, but do remember that I do bring slip ons. I'm not popping my toes out there.

Nick: Right. Okay. So you're not barefoot on a dance floor.

Leah: But I would not be upset with anybody who was either. I'd be like, you do you.

Nick: No, but you have a very high tolerance for that type of behavior in the world.

Leah: I don't want bare feet on a plane!

Nick: Oh, that's true. Well, and what is the difference between a plane and a dance floor?

Leah: I'm not anywhere near your feet. I'm not anywhere near your feet.

Nick: I see. Okay, so it's proximity for you.

Leah: It's proximity. I don't want to—you know, you also can't move. I'm gonna have to look at your feet.

Nick: Okay. So the fact that your feet are in motion on a dance floor and, like, a little blurry, I guess, to the eye?

Leah: Yeah, doesn't bother me much. [laughs]

Nick: I see. Then a stationary bare foot leaning against a window ...

Leah: Leaning against a window that we're all sharing the air of seems very different to me.

Nick: I see. Okay. All right. You're very complex, Leah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote—and get ready. Get ready for this one.

Leah: Hold on. Maybe sit down. Sit down.

Nick: And if you have a bingo card at home, I think you might get bingo with this one. So, "I have a lovely beach house right on the ocean. When I have company, I always provide the usual things like towels, sunblock, beach chairs, snacks, et cetera. One of my friends—we'll call him Chad—came over and didn't bring a bathing suit with him. Well, I found this a bit surprising, considering he knew he was coming to the beach. I quickly found him a suit from my own closet—one of my favorites—and he seemed happy with it.

Nick: "After everyone left for the weekend and I was doing all the laundry, I noticed that Chad had cut a new buttonhole into the waist of the shorts to make them tighter. While I was shocked, I tried giving him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he didn't notice the other buttonhole. I sent him a message and asked what happened with the shorts, and his reply was, 'Sorry, fatty.' Am I wrong here?"

Leah: I wrote underneath this one ...

Nick: Uh-huh?

Leah: "I just died."

Nick: [laughs] So if you have been playing bingo along at home and you're using the free square, I think you might have gotten it. We have unappreciative houseguest, damaged something without letting the host know, free space, insulted the host and then did not apologize. Bingo!

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: Etiquette crime bingo. Yeah. I mean, what do we do with this?

Leah: I don't even—I had to, like, reread it multiple times because I was like, no!

Nick: Yeah. I got to the end and I was like, "Wait a minute. Wait, so we borrowed shorts, and then we damaged them and then didn't say anything. And then when you called me out, I called you fat." Is that what happened?

Leah: That is what happened.

Nick: That is what happened. So yeah. I mean, okay, that's—that's what happened.

Leah: "Am I wrong here?" You're not wrong. I feel like you're ...

Nick: Wrong about what? Wrong that this is a terrible person?

Leah: Shocked. I feel like there should be more. Like, "I banned them from my house forever."

Nick: Well, under no circumstances is this person ever in your home again. Like, we don't live in that world. When you do all of this and you're like, "We'll invite them back." No, definitely not. Hold that line. That's a boundary that should never be crossed again.

Leah: I don't even know what I would do if I got a text that said "Sorry, fatty."

Nick: I would respond, "Oh, I think this was meant for somebody else. I was asking what happened to the shorts?"

Leah: [laughs] "I was asking what happened to the shorts that I lent you when I invited you to my beach house for the weekend and you ruined. I was looking for the apology."

Nick: Definitely an apology for many things that have taken place: ruining your property, calling you fat. I think these are things that one might want to apologize for.

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: So if you got this text, what would you do?

Leah: After I passed out?

Nick: [laughs] Right. Then you came to. There was smelling salts.

Leah: This? I don't know. We don't have to be polite and direct, I feel like. Somebody says "Sorry, fatty" after they ruined your clothes and you invited them over? And then I would write a big "Wow!"

Nick: Yeah. I mean, "Wow" I guess is a response. Just a question mark could work on a text. It could be like, "I'm sorry, what?"

Leah: And then I would write "RUDE" in capital letters.

Nick: Yeah, I guess you could say "rude," although I don't think that has the devastation I want.

Leah: No, but then I would block them and never invite them over again.

Nick: Yeah, definitely that is a given, but we want them to know that what they did was inappropriate. So how can we do that?

Leah: How about "You. Are. Trash."

Nick: [laughs] Yeah, I mean, that's on the whiteboard. A lot of good options.

Leah: Because I feel like the only—going into it being like, "Oh hey, invited you over to stay at my home, offered you my clothes, you defiled them and now you insult me?" What a friendship. What a friendship!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You know what this person's gonna say back—which is what I hate—is people do something rude, and then they're gonna say, "I was just joking."

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: "Don't take it so personally." And know that's coming because that's what's coming.

Nick: That is definitely what's coming, yeah. And I do think benefit of the doubt, which I do not believe is justified or deserved in any shape or form here, that is probably what this person was thinking, which was like, "Oh, I'm gonna be a little sassy, and won't this be funny?" I think that's what their internal monologue was saying was happening.

Leah: I think I told this story before maybe, but I had a girl in a green room go a little too far, and she goes, "I'm just joking. We're comics." And I go, "Oh, we don't know each other that way. You're not speaking mean." I never raised my voice. You know me.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Everybody else stood up and got out of the green room, and it was just me and her. And I was like, "You do not talk to me like that."

Nick: No. Yeah, and actually that would be an appropriate response here, which is like, "I won't be spoken to in that way. That's inappropriate. And I'm sorry that you feel like we had that relationship, because we don't."

Leah: I like "I won't be spoken to that way." I don't think that anybody in that person's life has that relationship where they want to be called fat and they think it's fun. I think this person is a loose cannon.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And has a words-leaving-their-mouth issue.

Nick: Yeah. Although I don't even want friends who think this about me. Even if they kept their mouth shut.

Leah: Yeah, I was gonna say, I don't even want people that think it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I also don't want to have friends that think it's okay to cut a hole in my shorts.

Nick: Also, that? Even if this insult wasn't added on top of everything else, this was still an etiquette crime.

Leah: Yeah. The idea that you would just cut a hole in something is mind boggling!

Nick: Yeah, we don't do that.

Leah: Mind boggling!

Nick: So yeah, I think this is not a relationship that is worth investing in further, and you have our permission to reseat this person in your theater to the outside on the street.

Leah: I was gonna say they're not—I would just walk them out on that one.

Nick: Yeah. No, they could be escorted from the building. Especially since you are such a gracious host. This is not worth it for you. You only want to be surrounded by people who enjoy your company and respect you. And this is not this person. So out they go.

Leah: Bye bye!

Nick: Bye!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: So do you have questions for us? Let us know! We'd love to hear it. You can send it to us at our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!