Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about sharing french fries, doing dishes incorrectly, inviting enemies to parties, and much more.
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about sharing french fries fairly, doing dishes incorrectly, inviting enemies to parties, 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
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Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...
Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "At dinner recently, my younger son asked my older son for a French fry. My older son said yes. The controversy arose when my younger son wanted a specific French fry. My older son wasn't willing to part with this particular fry. So this brings up the question: if one person asks another for a bite of food, who gets to pick the bite? I think that if you were asked for a bite and say yes, then you have given up the right to specify the bite. However, I am 100 percent okay with saying no when somebody asks for a bite of my food. The usual situation I find myself in is when I'm eating pie. Someone will ask for a bite and I'll say no. They'll say, 'I just want a bite.' Then I'll say, 'Great, How about I buy you a slice of pie, and you can take the bite you want and then give me the rest.' I'd love to hear your take on this situation."
Leah: Just up top, I love the pie response. I think that's the way to go. I'm adopting that from here on out.
Nick: Well, put a pin in that. I do believe we need to discuss that portion of this question separately.
Nick: But yeah, what a great, provocative question.
Leah: Very provocative!
Nick: So just to recap: we have a situation in which I have French fries. You would like one. You ask, "Oh, can I have a French fry?" I say yes. You want a specific French fry.
Leah: And that's one you don't want to part with.
Nick: Yes. There's something about this French fry that is quite special, and I don't want you to have it. And that's the one you want. Who gets it?
Leah: I think the parent thinks that I would get it, the asker.
Leah: But I actually think that the French fry owner gets final decision.
N" Yes, that is my feeling. But I would rephrase it this way: if you are asking someone for a favor—which is what this is—you can't really then dictate the terms of that favor when they agree further. Like, I can't ask you for a favor, and then once you've agreed, be like, "Oh, let me give you specific details about how I want you to carry out that favor." It's like, oh, I don't love that.
Leah: That's how I thought of it. For example, if I said, "Hey, can I come over?" And you were like, "Sure."
Nick: "Oh, sure! Yeah, it'd be great to have you over."
Leah: And I said, "Cool, can I come over at 1:00 a.m.?"
Nick: Or, "I'm coming over at 1:00 a.m., and I'm bringing all my friends with me. And I need you to have towels and cocoa ready."
Leah: [laughs] Yeah. And then that's how it feels to me as well. I can ask that, and you could say, "No, that doesn't work. You can come over at 3:00 p.m."
Nick: Yeah. I feel like if you needed a specific French fry, that needed to be part of the initial request. Like, "Oh, may I please have that French fry?"
Leah: Yeah, that seems fair. Or, "Hey, I'd love a French fry." "Yeah. Oh, for sure." And then I say, "Hey, can I have that French fry?" And you say, "No, I've been saving that French fry. You can have this French fry." And then if they say, "I don't want that French fry," then you say, "Well, I guess no French fries."
Nick: [laughs] Okay. Another consideration I thought is that there are some foods that if you're gonna share, I might portion it out for you. You know, depending on what the food is and where we are. Like, if we're at a fancy restaurant and I'm having ravioli and you want one, and you ask me for one, I'm like, "Oh, I would love for you to try this." I would probably take your side plate, put a ravioli from my plate onto it, and then give you the side plate. I'm not gonna have you reaching over the table with your fork and grabbing a ravioli off of my plate. Like, I'm gonna give you a ravioli. And that probably will be a ravioli of my choice. And so, like, with French fries, would you be reaching over and grabbing it yourself, or would I be decanting it for you? I guess it's a finger food, so you'd probably get it yourself, right? Is that the delineation?
Leah: I can see a world in which you would fork the fry and put it on my plate.
Nick: Oh, you think I would fork a fry over? Interesting. I just feel like a fork with a French fry, how would I get the French fry off of my fork once it gets to your plate? Am I shaking it vigorously to kind of dislodge it? Or am I using a knife?
Leah: I guess you're—I see that. Like, how would they come off the fork? Somebody would—I mean, the other thing would be that you would then pick up your fork and unfork them off your fork.
Nick: Right. Yeah. There would be some negotiations. That's getting into the weeds in terms of how we're transmitting food, I guess. I guess it comes down to who gets to choose the morsel.
Leah: And I still think it's you.
Nick: Me, as the owner of the morsel.
Leah: The owner of the morsel.
Nick: Yeah. So I think in most situations, the owner of the item would probably then portion out the gift to the recipient. And that way, this would sort of just make all this moot.
Leah: Yes. And I think that's a perfect word. I'm giving you a gift of my food.
Leah: I will decide which I will be gifting you.
Nick: Right. Yeah, it's up to me. Now let's talk about this pie example.
Nick: So what is happening is I don't want to share food—which I get. Like, I get that, especially when it comes to pie. I'm more of a pie person than a cake person. There are two types of people in the world: people that prefer cake over pie and pie over cake. I am definitely in the pie over cake category. I think I'm in the minority. I think most people would say cake, but we can talk about that another day.
Leah: I've had a really weird thing that happens in my life, where I started out a cake person, and I've moved into being a pie person.
Nick: You've become a pie person?
Leah: I've become a pie person. I now have no interest in cake unless it's an ice cream cake or I can just have the icing.
Nick: Interesting. Okay. So I get the idea of not wanting to share a bite of my pie. Because also when it comes to pie, each part is the good part. You got the great point that has mostly filling and then low ratio of crust. You have the crust end, which is also great. And so, like, there's no part of that that I really want to give you. So I get that. I totally get that. The idea though, that I'm gonna buy you a piece of pie and then you'll take a bite and then give me the rest is like, oh, that's an interesting solution.
Leah: [laughs] I just thought it was so funny. I think they're saying, "I'll buy you a whole piece of pie. You can eat the whole piece or not eat it, but don't touch my pie."
Nick: Yeah. I guess that's basically what we're saying. It's like, "No, no. I don't share pie, but I will help you get a bite of your own."
Leah: "I will get that pie into your mouth."
Nick: [laughs] Right.
Leah: We're just going to put another piece of pie on this table.
Nick: Yeah. And actually, that's a very polite solution. Like, that's very generous. I really do appreciate that. So long story short, I think we landed on if you are the owner of the French fries, you are in charge of dictating how those are distributed.
Leah: Yeah, I feel like we both came in on the same side of that.
Nick: And if you have a request for a specific French fry, you are free to make that request, but your request may be denied.
Leah: I just visualize that stamp. That red stamp: Denied!
Nick: So our next question is quote, "My father-in-law is in town, and always rinses his dishes in cold water and does not use soap. He then puts the dishes in the drying rack with all the other actually clean dishes. How in the world do you ask someone, especially your father-in-law, to actually wash the dish, or simply leave it in the sink so it can be washed properly? He's otherwise an agreeable person and a pretty good houseguest except for this one thing."
Leah: I feel like what I would do ...
Leah: ... which isn't necessarily the right answer. I would say, "Hey, just leave that in the sink."
Leah: And then if they didn't and they continue to wash it with cold water, I would wait until they were in the other room or in the restroom or went for a walk, and then I would just re-wash it.
Nick: Yes. Before we get there, though, is this our first father-in-law question? We hear about mother-in-laws a lot, but I think this might be the first time we've heard about a father-in-law.
Leah: What was the one when they went out to a restaurant who ordered the appetizers for the group?
Nick: Oh, yeah. I think that was a father-in-law. Okay. Point being though, far and few between.
Leah: In many years. In all of our years.
Nick: Right? So I don't know if that's just that father-in-laws are always on their best behavior or what that means. But for this, yeah, I think you're right. It's just a "Oh, don't trouble yourself. Just leave it in the sink." And if he doesn't then yeah, just re-wash it later.
Leah: Yeah, I would just—I just feel like if they're otherwise lovely, and they're just trying to do something nice and they don't live there, they're just visiting ...
Leah: There's a limited amount of time that you're gonna have to re-wash.
Nick: Yeah. If this was like a roommate situation, then we would definitely want a polite-yet-direct conversation about, like, oh, how it works. But for this? Yeah. Although do you think he's just confused? Does he think that, like, "Oh, this rack is for the pre-washed dishes before they go somewhere else," or do you think this is his style of washing dishes? Like, "Oh, this dish wasn't that dirty, so it just needs a rinse."
Leah: That's a great question because, you know, we don't have a dishwasher in Los Angeles, but when I'm in Maine, we pre-rinse, put it over, and then it goes into the dishwasher. So possibly he pre-rinses at home and is unaware. But also, I think some people just—I can also imagine a world in which at his home he's just cold washing everything with no soap.
Nick: Yeah, I definitely know the types of people that feel like, "oh, this thing isn't that dirty, and so it doesn't need much cleaning."
Leah: Similar to people who just Febreze their comforters, flip it over and give it another four months.
Nick: [laughs] Okay, is that how some people do it?
Nick: So yes, I think just tough it out, and that's probably the right etiquette answer here.
Leah: I also can't think of language that doesn't sound like, "Hey, you're gross!"
Nick: [laughs] Yeah, I think it's just, "Don't trouble yourself. Just leave it in the sink. We'll take care of it later. You're our guest. Please just sit and enjoy yourself and relax."
Leah: Or ...
Leah: Throwing this one out there.
Leah: He washes it with cold water and no soap.
Leah: You then accidentally knock them all onto the floor and they break, and you say, "Ugh!"
Nick: So we do a Sissy Spacek in the bedroom, smashing a dish on the floor. It does work. Yeah, that'll get your attention. And then you don't have to clean them. So that actually solves a lot of problems.
Leah: I say that last one probably isn't right, but we are working on throwing out all the possibilities.
Nick: We're whiteboarding today, so we're just gonna put it on the whiteboard. Yeah. And out there, you know, if there's any other father-in-law complaints, send them in. Because I do feel like everybody commits etiquette crimes equally, and why should mother-in-laws get all the fun? So if you have any father-in-law vents, send them our way. We need to add those to the archive.
Leah: We only have two in three years?
Nick: Right? That's not a ratio that's acceptable. So yeah, let's get some more complaints coming.
Nick: [laughs] So our next question is quote, "I got super inspired by your show and ordered my own personalized stationery, and started sending out thank-you notes to everyone on my list. What happens when the occasion arises to write another thank-you note to someone you've sent one to before? Is it tacky to use the same stationery again in a short time frame, or should I have backup stationery for second notes?"
Leah: I mean, if I've ever heard a Nick question ...
Nick: [laughs] I love this question. Well first, I love that we've inspired you to go out and get stationery. I think that's great. Everyone should have stationery. It, like, is a thing that everyone should have. You should have toilet paper in your house, you should have water, you should have a bed, and you should have stationery. Like, I think these are just, like, basic things that we should have in our home.
Leah: Nick's four most important items. Water, bed—what was the first one?
Nick: Toilet paper!
Leah: Toilet paper?
Leah: Water, bed, toilet paper, stationery.
Nick: Right. And I would probably say stationery over toilet paper because you could use stationery as toilet paper if you had to.
Nick: So I love this question. So long story short, no, you do not need to have more than one set of stationery. It is not required. And you could just use it for everything. I mean, that's why it's great. And if you pick a design that's classic, classic is timeless. Like, look at Steve Jobs and the turtleneck. Like, that worked for him. And so if you just get a card that has a nice simple design, a typeface that doesn't feel too trendy, that can last you forever. Like, I've had the same typeface engraved thing, I don't know, for a long time. It still holds up, it still looks good. So if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So you do not need other stationery. You can, though. I mean, it is kind of nice to have different stationery based on the mood or the season. So you could, but it is definitely not a problem to send your customized stationery to the same person twice.
Leah: You know, that was my—that's what I felt the answer was going to be. So I feel good about that.
Nick: [laughs] Okay. You didn't want to, like, verbalize that, though? You didn't want to, like, go out on a limb?
Leah: I would have gone out on a limb, but I felt we all know who this question was directed to, and we should just let you shine.
Nick: Thank you. So our next question is quote, "My partner and I are hosting a party at our home in two weeks. We have a confirmed guest list of 45 people, and I have two close and dear friends who have had a disagreement with each other and haven't spoken to the other in years. I've already invited one of them to the party—let's call her Lisa, but hesitated to invite the other friend—let's call him Chad—for fear of creating an uncomfortable situation. I do like Chad and feel that maybe I should also invite him as well, and maybe I'm just being too protective of the mishap in their friendship. What would you do?"
Leah: I see this. I feel this. I feel the tension on this.
Leah: I think that if they're both close friends—like, it's different if one of them is your best friend and the other person's, like, outside your circle and just an acquaintance ...
Leah: ... but if they're both close friends and you weren't involved in the argument ...
Leah: ... I think invite them both, and let them both know that the other one might be coming. And stay out of it.
Nick: Yeah. My first instinct was, this is not your drama. Like, this is not your problem. And if you were not forced to choose, like, if you didn't have to choose sides when whatever went down went down, and you just have your own independent relationship with both of these people, then you're free to have that, and you can continue to have that and you can invite both of these people to your party. Yeah. And I hope that these people can act like adults and not make a scene if they both show up.
Leah: Yeah, I would hope so too. And when I said stay out of it, I meant more like invite them and then let them decide for themselves how they feel.
Nick: Yes. And a 45-person party is pretty big. Like, you can definitely avoid someone in a 45-person party all night. Like, there should not be a problem for them both being at the same party with that many other people.
Leah: And also, they can also decide, "Hey, I don't want to go if Lisa's there."
Nick: Right. You could just say, like, "Totally understand. I get it. No problem. We'll see you next time."
Leah: Yeah, but then you've invited both. You haven't taken a side. You've let everybody know that you're thinking of them, and they can work their thing out or not work their thing out.
Nick: So it's that easy? Did we just solve this?
Leah: Well, I mean, it's that easy for us giving the advice. I understand why the letter-writer feels uncomfortable because she knows there's [singing] "Now we got bad blood," you know?
Nick: Yeah. Because the flip side is, if you only invited Lisa and didn't invite Chad, then Chad might be hurt by that because, like, this is a big party, chances are he knows other people in your friend circle and is gonna know about this party and is gonna be like, "Oh, you didn't invite me. Oh, I don't like that." And so that actually I think would cause more drama between you and Chad, and now new drama has been created.
Leah: I agree 100 percent.
Nick: And so I think if the idea is that we want to minimize drama in our lives, then I guess that's not the move.
Leah: I feel like I've definitely been in a place with somebody that we had a mutual dislike of each other and we behaved.
Nick: Oh, yeah, Oh, I've definitely been in plenty of situations where I was like, "Oh, I don't care for this person. It is mutual." And you're just like, keep it nice, keep it light, keep it polite. "Nice to see you. How are you? All right, have a nice evening. And that's it.
Leah: And you keep it moving to the other side of the room with the cheese board.
Nick: Right. Yeah, it can be done. And it's a good skill to have, to be able to, like, have that nice little pleasant moment with somebody you despise, and then we move on.
Leah: Hopefully we move on with appetizers.
Nick: Yeah, I mean, it definitely is a lot easier when there are snacks.
Leah: [laughs] It's so much easier when there's snacks. I feel like if we have one—as you have the four items you need in your house, this is our one take away: everything is easier with snacks.
Nick: Truer words have never been spoken. So our next thing is some aftermath.
Nick: So you may recall from a previous episode that we got a letter from somebody who was in Brazil.
Leah: Yeah, they were in Brazil. Our letter-writer paid for them to have a getaway weekend in Colombia, with like a nice fancy hotel, paid for the whole thing. They get to the airport, the letter-writer can't leave because of a visa issue. The friend gets on the plane and goes and stays in the fancy hotel without giving them a second thought!
Nick: And isn't that amazing?
Leah: Amazing! And also, I would like to say that one of our listeners wrote in and said, "I want to hear about this." And Nick reached out and followed up and said, "Tell us what happened."
Nick: So here is the aftermath. Quote, "The friend did not apologize, but did take pictures and brought back other things from Colombia that he shouldn't have. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't go and get involved in any of that. And we did not stay close. But there is a happy ending, though. I met another traveling partner who doesn't mind going with me on work trips, and so far they've accompanied me to Paris, we're in Trinidad this week, Jamaica next week, and have plans for Amsterdam next month. And it's nice to have someone to send postcards to when they aren't with me."
Leah: What a lovely ending!
Nick: Right? I mean, what a great way to make delicious etiquette lemonade out of those etiquette crime lemons.
Leah: I'm so happy it worked out for her. She found somebody who appreciates her generosity and her joi de traveling.
Nick: *[laughs] Joi de traveling. Yeah. No, I mean, great to find somebody who's a good travel partner, because that is a hard thing to find. Like, it's great to have friends domestically and locally, but it's a very different thing to have people that you are also compatible with as travelers. And to find someone who's a good fit, that travels the way you travel, that's a wonderful thing.
Leah: And it also sounds like it's a very good thing that you didn't go to Colombia because some nefarious activities were going down.
Nick: Things that maybe should not have been taking place were taking place. So we're glad that that worked out.
Leah: Also, we're so delighted that a listener wanted to know about what happened with this other listener, and Nick was able to reach out and be like, "Let us know. Everybody wants to know." So if you at home have other questions that you're like, "What happened?" Email us, we'll track it down.
Nick: We will definitely track it down. And if you have other questions for us, let us know. You can let us know through 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!