Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about singing along during musicals, flipping wine bottles over in buckets, cleaning in-laws' bathrooms, and much more.
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about singing along during musicals, flipping wine bottles over in buckets, using dirty bathrooms, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
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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, "I recently had an extra ticket to a touring production of the musical Rent, and I decided to invite a friend—we'll call her Lisa. Lisa had told me she loved musicals, so I thought she would be a fun person to share the experience with. I was a bit taken aback when the show started, and Lisa proceeded to sing audibly along with the performers. She did this for nearly every song. There were some sweet ladies next to us who commented, 'You must know this show very well.' I think they said this as a hint that they could hear her and wanted her to stop singing. She didn't take the hint, though, and I really didn't know what to do.
Nick: "Lisa is typically very sweet, so I was surprised she wasn't more considerate of her fellow theatergoers. I didn't have the heart to ask her to stop, and given her love of musicals, I have a feeling this isn't the first time she's turned a performance into a sing along. I know there are some instances when singing with a performance is appropriate, but this didn't feel like one of those times. When is it appropriate to sing along during a musical performance? And what should I have done in this situation?"
Leah: I think the easy—when is it appropriate to sing along during a musical performance? When the performers go, "Everybody sing with us!"
Nick: [laughs] Right! Yeah. I think when they tell you you can, then okay.
Leah: And then otherwise it's no.
Nick: No. Yeah, I mean, musicals are not sing alongs. It's not karaoke. People pay good money to see professional singers sing. And so unless you're as good or better than the people on stage, I think we just leave it to the professionals.
Leah: We just leave it to the professionals. Obviously, the one that we don't do that to is Rocky Horror Picture Show. But it's not live, it's a movie.
Leah: And everybody going there knows people are gonna sing.
Nick: That's part of the deal.
Leah: It's part of the deal.
Nick: Right. Yeah. And so what do we do about friends that like to sing along then? Like, what could our letter-writer have done?
Leah: [laughs] I don't know. All I wrote is, "I think don't invite her next time." I don't know how to—like, especially since the ladies next to her were like, "Oh, you really know this show." And she didn't get it.
Nick: Yeah. Although that's a little coy. I mean, I think you could just be much more direct, which is like, "Oh, I can hear you singing."
Leah: I was thinking you could say, "Oh, I haven't been to this show before, so I haven't heard these songs. Like, I can hear—I can hear you." You know what I mean? Like, I don't—"This is new to me. Stop. Stop ruining it."
Nick: [laughs] Okay. All right, so we'll put that on the whiteboard. Not sure if that nails it.
Leah: It's like a spoiler, you know what I mean? You're sort of giving me a spoiler.
Nick: A couple beats behind.
Nick: And a couple notes lower. Okay.
Leah: But I didn't know—so I'm glad that you have a nice direct way to say it, because I really—this made me squirm. I have friends that do this in other theater situations, and I ...
Nick: Like what?
Leah: Like going to the movies.
Leah: Obviously talking is one thing, but some loud responses I don't mind at all. I have—you know what I mean? That's a fun part of going to the movies. But I have friends who, like, get real dramatic in movie theaters, and I'll be like, "Okay, we just can't go to the movies together because I'm not gonna police your behavior."
Nick: I mean, I think the issue is a lot of us know all the songs, and this is particularly hazardous with very popular musicals like Rent or musicals that are, like, based on popular artists so, like, the Tina Turner musical or Cher or Mamma Mia, where, like, we all know the songs, and so it's very tempting to want to sing along. So I get that. But yeah, I think you just need to keep your mouth shut. And so if somebody doesn't, I think you just are polite yet direct. "Oh, I can hear you. Please, please don't." [laughs]
Leah: [laughs] "I can hear you. If you could zip it, that would be ..."
Leah: Or you could be like, "Hey, do you mind just mouthing? Because—"and then pointing at your ear. I don't know how to get over this!
Nick: Yeah. Telling people to stop? Yeah, it does feel awkward and rude to be like, "Oh, I can hear you. Stop doing it." Yeah.
Leah: Even though they're the ones being rude, but then all of a sudden you have to be the person to be like, "Hey, do you notice that what you're doing is audible by everybody in the theater who paid money to hear not you singing?"
Nick: And also, performers on stage can also hear you. Like, they're there. It's a live performance.
Leah: It's a live performance.
Nick: And if you're loud enough, like, they're totally gonna hear you.
Leah: And then they're gonna go backstage and be like, "Did you see that lady in 3D, hear her singing?"
Nick: Yeah. The performers, they're aware of all this.
Leah: That's what's the one great thing about stand-up comedy is that you can be like, "Hey, can you stop?" [laughs]
Nick: Oh, that's true. Yeah. Or if you're Patti LuPone, you probably can also do that.
Leah: Patti LuPone!
Nick: But yeah, I mean, I think we haven't quite nailed the language, but I think the sentiment, which is just a polite-yet-direct, like, "Oh, please don't. I don't think you realize what's happening." That would be the way to go with this.
Leah: Yeah, it seems so awkward.
Nick: Because I think this is not malicious.
Leah: No, it's not malicious. They're just having a good time.
Nick: And they don't realize that they're doing it, and they don't realize other people can hear it. They're just in the moment. And that is the beauty of musical theater: you are transported to another place. I love it. But your transporting to another place is affecting the happiness of other people, which is why it's rude.
Nick: Ugh! I know.
Leah: So I straight up have been with friends who are super loud, and I've just—I've basically been like, I can't go back out with them because I know they're just having a good time, and I don't—I don't know how to deal with it.
Nick: Yeah. If they don't get the more subtle hints or even, like, the polite yet direct, like, "Oh, I can hear you," then yeah, I think we just never go out in public with them again.
Leah: Yeah, because I—you know, that's how you have fun. Okay.
Nick: Okay, yeah. That's just their way of having fun.
Leah: Their way of having fun makes my way of having fun very uncomfortable because I worry about everybody else around me, so I can't go out with them again.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, that is—that is a solution.
Leah: But I mean, then you have to sit through the whole performance that way. I just ...
Nick: There is intermission, so I think maybe that would be the opportunity to have the polite-yet-direct conversation about what is happening. And that is probably a little easier when you actually can have the conversation rather than something in the middle of the performance. Because I can see when you're trying to say something during the performance, like, now you're being disruptive. And you don't want to do that.
Nick: So I can see how that also adds to the discomfort. But yeah, maybe if you can't get a quick glance that shuts it down during the performance, then intermission, that could be your opportunity.
Leah: I think you could also just reach over to them and put your hand directly onto their mouth and just sort of hold it shut.
Nick: [laughs] Okay. So our next question is quote, "My mother, who lives in another town, calls almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, just to chat. When I'm able to pick up, I do. But she only talks about the weather, and gets off the phone very quickly after calling, and sometimes even hangs up abruptly. I suggested that we set aside a time once a week, maybe on a Saturday or Sunday, when I have more time to spend catching up. But she doesn't seem to understand this because she still calls almost every day and gets hurt feelings if I don't respond or text back quickly. The worst part is that she has now started to call and text my 12-year-old daughter to check in on us. I love my mom, and I can and I desire to talk once a week with her, but she doesn't seem to desire this type of communication. Am I being unreasonable? Is there a middle ground?"
Leah: I had two thoughts.
Leah: I thought the first action, I don't know how serious the conversation our letter-writer had with our mom was about let's set up a time once a week.
Leah: But I think you should have a conversation that revisits that and say, "I would really like to have this kind of a schedule so I'm a good listener, I'm available, you know? But you keep calling every day, even though we had this conversation. Is there a reason?" I would want to ask your mom what the reason is that she wants to touch base every day. Is she very—is there something happening, so then you can address what that is. Like, is she anxious? What is the thing? Why is it?
Nick: So my take on this was that she just wants to check in. She doesn't want a deep conversation. She doesn't want to go deep. She doesn't want to have anything more than just a minute or two to sort of check in. And so I think if that's all she wants, then I think we could maybe try and give it to her, knowing that you can also be sort of distracted while you're talking to her. You know, call her back when you're in the middle of something: folding laundry, in the car, loading the dishwasher. Like, she doesn't sound like she needs your full attention, undivided. So maybe just go with the quick 90-second/two-minute chat and hang up on her abruptly. "Mom, gotta go. Nice talking to you. Talk to you tomorrow." Maybe that's fine.
Leah: And then along that line, I think that also if she just wants to check in, and then you're unavailable to check in back with her and her feelings are hurt, I think you can let that sit with her. You're trying your best. You've told her, "I'm gonna have this long conversation with her. I'm trying to keep up." But then you've told her you can't. If her feelings are hurt because you don't get back to her in the next 10 minutes, just let it be that. Don't try to fix it.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess the question is: is there something wrong here? Like, is there something that needs to be fixed? And maybe, maybe not.
Leah: That's why I think you could have that conversation. And if she's just touching base, then touch base when you're available because that's all she's doing.
Nick: Right. Yeah, I think that is probably your best path is to revisit this conversation, and maybe be slightly more direct about your scheduling needs and when you're actually available to have conversations.
Leah: And see if she just needs you to, like, text her once a day to be like, "Hey, hope you’re having a great day." Just to, like, you know, let people know you're out and about in the world. Maybe there's just some reason your mom really needs that, and that's all it is.
Nick: Yeah, I kind of feel like that's it. Yeah, she just needs just, like, an animated gif via text once in a while, and that's good.
Leah: And I think that if it's making your daughter anxious, you could say that to your mom.
Nick: Right. Yeah. Like, no need to loop her in to check in on us.
Leah: Yeah. She's 12 years old. Let's not give her a job of checking in with people all the time on her phone.
Nick: Or alternatively, if it's not making your daughter anxious, then just have her deal with it. Let her talk to grandma. "All right. You're in charge of catching up with her."
Leah: Well, I just assumed it was making her anxious because she said "The worst part is she now has started to call and text my 12-year-old daughter." So I assumed the worst part was because the daughter was upset about it. So that was my reading of the question. I could have been totally wrong about that.
Nick: Right. I mean, the bigger issue is a 12 year old is not interested in getting calls or texts. Like, they just want to be TikToked.
Leah: They want to be TikToked?
Nick: [laughs] TikToked.
Leah: I love it as a verb. "Can you TikTok me, Grams?"
Nick: Right? Yeah. She's like, "Slide in my DMs. Don't call me. Who calls me?"
Leah: "Nana, find me on the socials."
Nick: Right? So I assume that's the 12 year old's problem. It's not actually that Grandma is reaching out. It's just like, "Who actually dials me? Like, that's weird."
Leah: Well, I mean, or it could genuinely make her anxious because you're like, "Why is Grandma nervous about me checking in every day?"
Nick: Right. Right.
Leah: I could see it could make a person feel unsafe in some way.
Nick: Yes. No, I can definitely see—yeah. There's, I think, a lot of ambiguity here, and I think we just need to tighten that up.
Leah: Yeah. That's why I think there needs to be this other conversation, a revisit in a more let's really talk about this.
Nick: Yeah. Because I can also imagine from mom's perspective that she's not happy with how things are either. So I imagine she would appreciate some more clarity.
Leah: I feel like so many of our questions go back to, like, let's all just talk about what everybody wants and figure it out from there.
Nick: Oh, my goodness. You cracked the code, Leah!
Nick: Oh, just having polite conversations with people actually solves problems? So weird!
Leah: I did it this week. I had a weird thing, and old me, previous to Were You Raised By Wolves Leah Bonnema, would have just sort of let it lie and then obsessed about it. And I just turned my little butt around, and I went back to the person. I was like, "Oh, I feel like this—" the person being somebody I know. And I was like, "Oh, this weird thing? Let's just clear this up real quick." And, oh! Done! Over. Literally over, totally fixed.
Nick: Yeah. And I mean, how much mental bandwidth did that save?
Leah: I mean, I would still be thinking about it now.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I think that's what we're trying to achieve here is, like, letting people know that, like, just nipping things in the bud and having polite-yet-direct conversations is usually, like, the best path forward.
Leah: I think in a lot of ways there could just be a way to make everybody happy.
Nick: Yes. Or at least get on the same page so that we all have an understanding.
Leah: Actually, let me go back on that, because sometimes you can't make everybody happy. But I do think that if we've talked to our mom about it and we've said, "I can't always get back to you, you know, I'm working," but you've talked about it, then you don't have to feel bad if you don't get back right away and she's like, "It hurt my feelings." Because then you could be like, "Well, we talked about it."
Nick: Right. Yes, I think setting a boundary about when you're available and not available to talk, I think totally healthy, worthwhile, should be done. And then yeah, if she is upset about this boundary, I mean, what are you supposed to do about it, right? You set the boundary and that's what it is. So you just gotta maintain that boundary.
Leah: And you're still getting in touch with her a lot. It's not like you're ...
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think we can get to some compromise here.
Leah: I really believe there's a nice compromise in here. I feel it. I feel it.
Nick: All right. So letter-writer? Do that. Let us know how it goes. Report back.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "I've been wondering, once one elevates themselves to the level of having custom stationery, should you use it instead of standard birthday or holiday or congratulations cards purchased at the store? Or is stationery only meant for thank-yous and other daily written correspondence? Is there a rule?" This is Leah pointing at me. [laughs]
Leah: I'm pointing at Nick. And not only am I pointing, I'm ...
Nick: Very aggressively pointing.
Leah: What is it? It's not really very aggressive. It was more like a dance move. Like, "This is you!" [laughs]
Nick: So yeah. No, I'll take this one, Leah. Oh, don't worry. I got it. So yeah, you never have to go to CVS ever again. If you have personalized stationery, like, that's your stationery. You can use it for everything. Now there are times when you might want something a little more festive, though. Like, if you're sending a holiday note to somebody, and your personalized stationery is, like, yellow? Like, that's not gonna feel super festive for the holiday season. So you need now different customized stationery. And so you build what we call a stationery wardrobe.
Nick: All sorts of different options for different occasions. But yes, if you get personalized stationery, that's your stationery. And it's cheaper in the long run because, like, have you priced out the cards at CVS? Like, very expensive.
Leah: They're, like, $5.99.
Nick: I mean, outrageous! Whereas my hand-engraved, personalized stationery? Like, way cheaper than that. Set of 100. You'll use them. And so I definitely just recommend for the value, the economic advantage of personalized stationery, it's overwhelming.
Leah: When you said stationery wardrobe, I immediately visualized, like, a little mini—a baby wardrobe where you open the door.
Nick: Yes, a little armoire. Sure.
Leah: And there's, like, little drawers and some shelves.
Nick: Yes. Oh, no, I mean, you definitely can have, like, a box for all of your stationery. Yes. But yes, I definitely recommend personal stationery. That's nothing new. If you want to buy holiday cards, like, have at it. I mean, what I do is I personalize a holiday card every year where I design something new and have it printed. And so that's what I do for my holiday cards. You can do that if you'd like.
Leah: Advanced level.
Nick: I mean, yeah, I guess it is. But it's achievable.
Nick: It's achievable. You know, you just have to have a good sense of graphic design. Or not. You can buy designs.
Leah: Well, you also have to be organized enough to think about that in advance and get the ball rolling.
Nick: Well, I have a calendar alert every September 15, which is "Start thinking about holiday cards." And so I know that once Labor Day rolls around, it's time to psychologically think about the rest of the year. That's when I plan my holiday cards. That's also when you start watching Christmas movies, so that's also when you're thinking about this.
Leah: Well, I actually put alerts on, like, if we were talking and you said something that you liked, I'd put an alert in my phone.
Leah: In September, and it would be like, "Remember they said they liked this."
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I do note that I am still not using a Toto NX1 toilet. So ...
Leah: I was hoping you would forget that.
Nick: You have not exactly been conferring with your list and purchasing anything from it. You are writing things down, but to what end? I don't know.
Leah: No, no, no, no, no. I—well, I don't think people need to know what I wrote down and then what you got. But that was an advanced plan.
Nick: Okay. All right. Yeah, it just wasn't a toilet.
Leah: It just wasn't the toilet. [laughs]
Nick: Right. So life is full of disappointment.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "When a bottle of champagne or wine and an ice bucket are brought to the table at a restaurant, should I place the empty bottle back in the ice bucket upside down? This assumes that I've poured the last glass, not the waiter. Some say that this is an indicator to the waiter that I want another bottle. Some say this signals that the waiter does not have to come by to refill glasses. What say you?"
Leah: What say you?
Nick: I mean, this definitely sends a signal, putting a bottle of wine upside down in a bucket. But the message it's sending is more about you. And it's not favorable. Yeah. No, don't do this. This is not a thing. Yeah, don't do this.
Leah: Well, that was easy.
Nick: I mean, I have seen this happen. And it's rude because there's no need for it. Like, I don't flip over my plate when I'm done with it, right? "Take it away. I'm done. Flipped it over." Like, why would you put the bottle in the wine bucket upside down? Because, like, if you want more wine, well then you can ask for more wine when the server comes. And if you don't want more wine, well then that's also fine. You don't have to order more wine. Like, there's no signal that says "Please automatically bring me more wine."
Leah: I don't know, but I want to start flipping my plate over. That's—that would be ... [laughs]
Nick: I mean, I think we should flip everything over when we're done. Our chairs.
Leah: Flip over our glass.
Leah: Salad bowls. "Finished!"
Leah: "Come get it!"
Nick: I do worry, though, that people are thinking that this is something. Like, it does concern me for society, that there is this rumor going around.
Leah: I mean, I've definitely seen it.
Nick: Yeah. No, I've seen it. Yeah. But it's not done, so don't do it.
Leah: [laughs] I would like that to be a pillow. That's the pillow I want next. "It's not done. So don't do it."
Nick: So our next question is quote, "Whenever we go to my in-laws' house and I need to use the bathroom, I can't help but cringe at how dirty it is. There is never a bottle filled with soap, and if so, it's empty. And there is no clean towel to dry one's hands. My parents come over for the holidays to their place, and they have also made comments about the state of the bathrooms to me. It is quite uncomfortable to use knowing that there is no proper way to wash your hands. My mother went as far as putting hand soaps into the white elephant exchange in hopes that they would receive the soap. They didn't get them, unfortunately. Is there a polite way for me and my husband to bring this up with my in-laws? Or do I defer to hand-sanitizing there for the rest of time?"
Leah: I always defer to the child whose parents it is.
Nick: Yeah, that is your go to, and that's a good one. I mean I think that's solid advice.
Leah: And I feel like the husband in this circumstance could be at his parent's house and just subtly go in and clean the bathroom if that was something he was comfortable with.
Nick: Oh, you think having the husband clean the parent's bathroom on his own volition is cool?
Leah: Well, no. He would have to decide whether or not that was cool in his family.
Nick: Oh, I see. Right. But it's up to him to make that call.
Leah: Yeah, it's up to him to make the call.
Nick: Well, I think we're wanting to have a conversation with them. That's the question. Is there a way to have a conversation with the in-laws about the cleanliness of their bathroom?
Leah: But I mean, it's possible that they are—I don't know how old the in-laws are.
Leah: And it is possible sometimes when people get older and their eyesight isn't as good ...
Leah: This is like a real thing I've experienced, that they don't notice that things are not fully clean.
Nick: Right. Yeah. I mean, also, is it just limited to the bathroom, or is the whole house this way? Like, I mean, how far is this conversation going?
Leah: And I think we wouldn't want to embarrass them.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think if the issue is that there is no soap and it's hard to wash your hands, like, if that's really like the key thing at least the way it's presented in this question, well then just go to the kitchen after you use the restroom. There's probably dish soap there, and there's probably paper towels. And so just wash your hands in the kitchen.
Leah: Or I do think it has to be the child of whoever's parents it is, and I just say that because in my life, if my partner spoke to my parents about something that I didn't want him to, I would be upset.
Nick: Yeah, that does feel like a boundary being crossed.
Leah: So that's why I always defer to that. So maybe another option is that he could slip a little hand soap pump and a roll of paper towels under the sink if that was the issue.
Nick: Okay. So some supplies under the vanity for use by guests.
Leah: But it isn't just the washing hands. It's "I can't help but cringe at how dirty it is."
Nick: So then I guess if you did want to have the conversation, if the child of these people has decided, "Yes, we will have a conversation," then I think that conversation needs to be done with kindness, because I think it's potentially embarrassing or can feel judgmental. And so I think you want to do it with kindness. And then I think you just have to be very polite yet direct about sort of what your concerns are and why they're your concerns, and sort of what your solutions are. And I think maybe that's probably the conversation.
Leah: I just thought of another option. I'm not sure if this is a great option, but I'm just gonna throw it out.
Leah: I do think that cleaning sometimes is overwhelming for people.
Nick: Yeah, that's true.
Leah: And obviously, this would be something to discuss, but if you're coming over and your parents are coming, everybody clearly is going to their house for the holidays ...
Leah: Maybe a gift, a way to do it would be like, "We always appreciate you hosting. We want to help, so we're gonna treat you." Like, if somebody was coming over to my house and they wanted to treat me to a cleaning service so I didn't have to do it? I'd be like, "Thank you so much!"
Nick: I like that. I think there's probably a way to make that work, yeah.
Leah: Because I think it is actually a very nice gift.
Nick: Oh, if somebody wants to buy me cleaning services, I will absolutely take that. Sure.
Leah: I would absolutely take that. And I wouldn't take it in any kind of a way, and it wouldn't be specific to my bathroom. They're just gonna happen to clean that up while they're in there, you know what I mean?
Nick: Oh, I would be delighted to subcontract all aspects of my life. Yes. I don't want to do anything for myself. So if you want to buy me services that take care of everything? Oh, I'm delighted. Yes, please do that.
Leah: [laughs] So I think that that's—that might be a good option.
Nick: Yeah. Okay, I like that. Yeah. No, I think you're onto something with that. That could be a kind way to maybe introduce the topic. Because yeah, the idea of, like, "Oh, let's hope they get the soap we put into the white elephant?" Like, that's too subtle. That's not gonna move the needle here.
Leah: And also then it's more a gesture of appreciating that they're hosting.
Leah: And everybody's coming over there. And you want to be a part of helping out, so you're just—it's not saying "Your bathroom's nasty."
Nick: Right. Yeah, that's what we want to avoid at the end of the day.
Leah: So I do think it could embarrass them.
Leah: I don't know. I feel like I'm kind of happy that that popped into my head.
Nick: Yeah. No, I mean, that was a great 11th-hour suggestion. Yeah. Where was that at the beginning of this question?
Leah: It just hit me right now!
Nick: I mean, what's interesting about all these questions is that sometimes when you talk through them, you do actually arrive at new ideas and new epiphanies. And so it is kind of good to try and workshop things and sort of talk about, like, all the different variations and options, and then actually maybe land on something that's viable.
Leah: Which I think if we have new listeners listening, we've talked about this before, but Nick and I don't discuss the questions before we tape.
Nick: Oh yes, this is true. Yeah, we do not confer. So we often discover new things in our conversations.
Leah: Which I think is a really fun part of the podcast.
Nick: Yeah! No, definitely, the lack of preparation is great.
Leah: [laughs] It's not a lack of preparation at all. We're doing the questions in advance. We just don't—we come to conclusions together.
Nick: Yes, yes, yes. Basically, we never discuss anything in advance, and then you hear it live on the show.
Leah: Which is fun. I wouldn't want to say "lack of preparation" because you're the most prepared person I've ever met in my entire life.
Nick: Yeah. No, I mean, well, my lack of preparation is most people's preparation.
Nick: So do you have questions for us that we can prepare for? Or not. Who can say? 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!