Aug. 8, 2022

Slurping Ice Cream Sodas, Shopping at Farmers Markets, Finding Silver Linings, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle slurping ice cream sodas, shopping at farmers markets, finding silver linings, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle slurping ice cream sodas, shopping at farmers markets, finding silver linings, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: Ice cream sodas
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Farmers markets
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: Is it weird to ask guests to make their beds with hospital corners? Is it OK to have a beard at a black tie event?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Finding silver linings, Picking the wrong dryer
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Fostering pets, A nice note







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 150


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Nick: Do you drink root beer floats the wrong way? Do you take too many samples at the farmers' market? Do you demand hospital corners from your guests? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better

When we have to live together

We can all use a little help

So people don't ask themselves

Were you raised by wolves?

Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

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

Leah: [singing] Let's get in it!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about ice cream sodas!

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Sometimes called ice cream floats.

Leah: I can't even tell you what a big fan I am. And also, my mother is a huge fan. And so fan-girling.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, what's not to like? And so for anybody out there who doesn't know what this is, and I guess there are people out there, it's basically ice cream and there's gonna be something carbonated, so either seltzer water or maybe a soda. And there could be some syrup in there, too. And there could be some whipped cream, could be a cherry on top. But it's a delightful beverage.

Leah: And it's usually in, like, a nice glass that's kind of chilled, or unless it's a takeaway cup. Either way, it has a fun straw.

Nick: So all right, you like some ice cream sodas. And the question today is: what do you do about those last little sips in the bottom of the glass? You got a straw, you got some sips on the bottom of the glass. What do we do about it?

Leah: Where am I? Am I alone in my car?

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Am I in the middle of an A&W?

Nick: Well, if you're alone in your car, as we know, etiquette does not care what you do when you're alone. So you do whatever you want to do in your car.

Leah: Well, just on a moral—a moral side of this ...

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I believe it's morally wrong to leave any ice cream.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So you're gonna have to get it.

Nick: Okay. [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So slurping? Are you making a lot of noise? What's happening?

Leah: I don't think I'm gonna make a lot of noise, but I'm gonna either gonna pick the cup up all the way and let it slowly roll down into my mouth.

Nick: Oh! Okay, we're gonna take the straw out.

Leah: Gonna take the straw out and we're gonna go in.

Nick: I see. Okay.

Leah: Which is probably wrong, but it would be more wrong to leave any ice cream. Emotionally.

Nick: So first, let's turn to the etiquette greats.

Leah: [laughs]*

Nick: Emily Post, 1922. She did not weigh in on this. And it's not that this did not exist in 1922, because I think the ice cream float was invented in the late 1800s. And the story goes that it was at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and they were having a big, like, celebration. And there was all these vendors all around. And at the time, there was a very popular beverage which was cream and seltzer and syrup together. And one of these vendors at this celebration ran out of cream, so he's like, "All right. Well, I guess I'll use ice cream." And he did, and everybody was like, "Yes! This is it! This is it!"

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And so it became a total thing. But it wasn't until we got into the 1920s, which is when Emily Post was writing this book, that this really started to take off. And 1922—same year she wrote her book—is when some guy in Walgreens decided to add malt powder, and then the malted was invented. So Emily Post? We'll give her a pass that maybe this wasn't popular enough for her to write about, but it's also not something you would eat at a formal dinner party, so she was also probably not concerned with it. So she will not be helpful here. Now, Leah, how do you feel about Judith Martin, Miss Manners? What's your feeling? She gonna be cool? She's not gonna be cool? What do you think?

Leah: My gut's telling me she's not gonna be cool.

Nick: [laughs] So get ready for this. Buckle up. Miss Manners, she calls the ice cream soda one of the quote, "Great gastronomical treats of the American cuisine." And has thus given ice cream soda quote, "A unique privilege." Get ready for this. Quote, "Miss Manners stands by a rule she made in her comparative youth that everyone is allowed three—but no more—noisy slurps at the end of an ice cream concoction, simply because it is a crime to let that good stuff go to waste. A more decorous way of getting the last drop is to use the straw as a pipette, and allow its contents to dribble back into the spoon."

Leah: I have never been so delighted to be so wrong.

Nick: Sometimes Miss Manners surprises you.

Leah: I'm so glad.

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: When I came across this, I was like, "What? What? This is not expected at all."

Leah: And I mean, if you could see me at home, I'm sort of glowing.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: I believe in the power of an ice cream soda to bring us all together. I also just want to say really quick that I'm gonna steal that, and when I'm spooning things into my face with my straw—which I do—I'm gonna say to people, "I'm using it as a pipette." [laughs]

Nick: There you go. Wonderful! So she writes this and people were like, "Wait, what? Really?" So then somebody followed up and asked if two people are sharing an ice cream soda, is it three slurps per soda or per person?

Leah: I mean, these are great questions.

Nick: And so Miss Manners says that sharing a soda is a quote, "Preteen version of a trial marriage." And so here's what she says. Each person can take one slurp back and forth, and then the third slurp is quote, "Taken by the person who values that combination of syrup, melted ice cream and soda more than the romance at the other end of the straw. Miss Manners advises the young that many love affairs eventually prove disappointing, but ice cream sodas will never let you down."

Leah: [laughs] I mean, truer words! Truer words!

Nick: She is into it!

Leah: Truer words have never been spoken.

Nick: She is so into it. It is unbelievable. I've never seen so much enthusiasm about a food coming from Miss Manners than the ice cream soda. Yeah. Isn't that wild?

Leah: I mean, this really puts her in a whole new light in my mind.

Nick: Right?

Leah: Because ice cream never lets you down. That's true.

Nick: Yeah. No, she—she is very wise. If she's nothing else, she's very wise.

Leah: Wow! Wow!

Nick: So, ice cream soda, you have Miss Manners' permission to do three slurps—no more. But you do have permission for three slurps.

Leah: You could just make those slurps extra long.

Nick: All right, don't push it. All right? Miss Manners was being very generous here. Let's not take advantage.

Leah: [laughs] And now I want one so bad so I could just slurp the end. Not that I wasn't doing it anyway. But so nice.

Nick: Yeah, I was gonna say now you have permission.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to go deep.

Leah: Deep and delicious!

Nick: So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about farmers' markets.

Leah: And this was a really fun one because on Patreon, I discuss how I had just gone to my first farmers' market in Los Angeles.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And with all of our listeners there, we came up with the idea that we should do it as a deep dive.

Nick: And here we are.

Leah: And here we are. And I loved farmers' markets growing up. I didn't go so much in New York because it wasn't as doable time wise and location wise. But I've started going here in Los Angeles, and what a treat. It's so wonderful.

Nick: So our patrons actually gave a lot of things that annoy them at farmers' markets, so I think we should mention them because I think they're all great. And one of them was actually a great vent, and I'll just read it because I think it's delightful. Quote, "There's a stall where the line usually forms through the stand, so you pick up vegetables while you're on line. But there's a woman who won't let anyone go past her, so while she's standing there choosing a lettuce, no one else can go ahead, even if the cashiers are open. Last week my mom went in front of her in line and when she spilled some blueberries, the woman actually said, 'Serves you right for jumping the line.'"

Leah: Who even says "Serves you right?"

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: It's just so mean!

Nick: Yeah. Any time you say the phrase "Serves you right," there's no polite way to do that.

Leah: Ugh! And also, you can't hold up a line.

Nick: No!

Leah: It's you. You're holding up the line.

Nick: Let people pass. Yes, of course. Yes.

Leah: And may I say, this made me think of—because I think I feel so bad for our letter-writer's mom, because when people blame us for something they're doing, often you're, like, stuck in the moment of like, "What?"

Nick: Also, what I love about this is that this woman is apparently always doing this every week.

Leah: Every week. She's the person.

Nick: She's known for this. Right.

Leah: I think that because from doing this podcast, I'm so much more ready to respond in the moment.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: That this week it's the same situation, but it's in a different place. I was going through TSA, which we have discussed very recently on the podcast, and this woman was standing—you know how both lines feed into the thing that you go through that's like an x-ray? She was just standing in front of it, not going through and, you know, both lines—I said, "Oh, did you want to go, or am I cutting you?" And then so she walked through and then the TSA lady goes, "You weren't supposed to go yet. You have to wait for your stuff." And then she points at me and yells, "She told me to go through !" Like that. And I just from doing all of these, I was so ready to not be blamed. I go, "Oh, no, I asked you if I was cutting you. I didn't tell you to do anything."

Nick: Wow, Leah Bonnema! Okay.

Leah: And I didn't say it in any kind of a raising-the-stakes voice.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: But I just explained very calmly that she must have misheard me, and I was just actually trying to be polite from the beginning. And then it all went away. She was like, "Oh, I'm so sorry," and then she, like, went back.

Nick: So it does feel like for farmers' markets, the number one crime is cutting in line.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I feel like universally that is everybody's issue.

Leah: And somebody needs to tell this lady.

Nick: Yes. So I think your solution, which is like, "Oh, let me just politely ask if it's okay to go ahead, because clearly you're not ready for the cashier," I think that's totally fine. Now the problem with that approach, though, is this type of person is gonna be like, "No, I'd rather you not. I'd rather you wait until I pick my lettuce and not cut in front of me."

Leah: I think maybe somebody like this isn't somebody you ask. But I was thinking that somebody like this, when they say something like, "Serves you right for jumping in line," say, "Oh, I wasn't jumping. I thought that you were looking at the lettuce, and we were all waiting behind you to go to the open cashier."

Nick: Right. Oh, yeah. No, that's true.

Leah: Because you're just—you're not being rude. You're just explaining the situation. I think that's totally fair to explain. "Oh, no. You were holding up an entire battalion of people."

Nick: [laughs] Yes. You weren't ready. And as we know, not being ready is definitely number one on my list of crimes.

Leah: Number one on Nick's list!

Nick: Yeah. So don't cut in line.

Leah: But our letter-writer wasn't cutting. I just want to say that.

Nick: Correct. Yes. This was not what was happening here. But the idea of lines in general? It's important to be mindful of lines and where the line is and where your place is in line. Because at farmers' markets, it's sometimes not clear.

Leah: Oh, it's very complicated.

Nick: There's not, like, necessarily gonna be stanchions and organized rows and cashier stations sometimes. So you kind of want to be mindful of like, oh, is somebody else waiting to talk to the farmer and waiting to, like, pay for their things after they weigh them, you know? So I think you just need to be extra mindful of where you fall in the hierarchy.

Leah: Yeah, and if you're holding up the whole line because you haven't made up your mind, people get to go in front of you. That's how that works.

Nick: That is how that works, yeah. Like, what are you doing? Right.

Leah: And one of our Patreon members said this, and I loved it because it's something I do. But she named it. I thought it was so great. If you're the only person in there, and maybe they're watching you and you don't want to get anything, I do think it's always—because I sometimes feel like, oh, I'm the only person here. I feel bad, I'm not gonna—but you're not obligated. But it is nice to just recognize when you leave, like, "Oh, thank you so much!" And then go. Like, not pretend that they don't see you or you don't see them.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yeah, we are in a three-square-foot little space here, and I know we can acknowledge each other's existence. Yeah.

Leah: Yeah, just do a little acknowledge, a little thank you. And then go about your way.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think that's polite in general, you know, just to acknowledge the person who's running the shop. Say hello when you enter and say goodbye when you leave. Yeah. Or at least eye contact. I'll take eye contact.

Leah: I like a nice wave.

Nick: A little head nod, sure.

Leah: But I think a nice thank you on your way out if it's just the two of you in there is nice.

Nick: Yes, that is a very nice point. Correct.

Leah: And then another Patreon brought up—and I think this is great—as far as samples go?

Nick: Oh, yeah. This isn't Costco.

Leah: It's if you touch a sample, that's your sample.

Nick: Although what is happening? Are people touching samples and then not taking those samples? Like, when is this happening?

Leah: Yeah, I was shocked because I was like, are people touching—because it goes directly into your mouth. Samples are not what people are taking home and washing. This is what people are eating.

Nick: No, that's what a sample is.

Leah: Yeah. So that blew my mind. I'm like, "Who's doing this?" But obviously if they commented on it, it's happened.

Nick: But, like, am I touching every piece with my finger and being like, "Oh, I guess I'll take this one?"

Leah: Well, clearly somebody is.

Nick: But several people did mention this, so I feel like this is some big problem that I'm not aware of, or I don't know why it's a problem because why are we doing this?

Leah: I don't know why people are doing—well, they obviously just want to touch all of them and then pick their favorite. But we don't do that with samples.

Nick: Or really anything, right? [laughs] Yes. We don't touch the things that we're not gonna be taking.

Leah: Well, I mean, I do understand when you're getting your vegetables and your fruits, you're gonna pick the ones you want.

Nick: Fair enough.

Leah: You can't just grab them. You pick one up and then on the bottom side, it's like half missing. You're not gonna take that one.

Nick: Right. Okay.

Leah: Or, like, I really like hard peaches.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That's my ...

Nick: That's your jam.

Leah: People are like, "Wait 'til it ripens." I have no interest—no pun intended. I also like a peach jam. I like them pre-ripe. I love it. So I go in. I want the hardest peaches.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Obviously, I'm not gonna stand there and, like, lick my hand and touch all of them. But you have to figure out the fruits and vegetables that you want.

Nick: That's fair. That's fair.

Leah: Obviously, we learned—unless we're in Italy, and then we don't touch it.

Nick: Well, that's a great point, that whether or not you should select your own fruit really does vary depending on where you are. And so in certain places in the world like Italy, you would not touch it yourself. Let them select it for you. At your farmers' market in Los Angeles, yeah, you're probably picking these peaches yourself.

Leah: But obviously you're picking it in a nice way. You're not rolling them onto the ground or making—you're not feeling every single one and moving everything off. But I mean, within reasonable bounds, you've gotta pick the ones you want.

Nick: Yes. But I think we also want to be mindful that we're not squeezing them aggressively and bruising them. So we don't want to be, like, squeezing tomatoes really hard and then be like, "Oh, I guess I don't want that one." And now there's this tomato that actually is, like, bruised because you just manhandled it. I don't think we want that.

Leah: We're not, like, sticking our finger into the middle of it and being like, "Oh."

Nick: Yeah, I don't think we want to be doing that.

Leah: "This is strawberry cream. I didn't want that one."

Nick: Right. So yeah, I think just in general, other people have to also buy this stuff. So we don't want to sully everything.

Leah: And another thing I thought of is when there's few things left and you and another person are both looking at the same items ...

Nick: Oh, is this like a thing that happens? Like, it's a doorbuster deal at Walmart on Black Friday?

Leah: I think it is.

Nick: Is that what this is?

Leah: I go to the farmers' market later. And we were discussing on Patreon vegetables we should try, and broccolini was on. I got there, there was very few broccolinis left, and this lady and I were both going for the broccolini.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And ...

Nick: You made eye contact, and you're both three feet away and one of you lunged?

Leah: [laughs] No. You know me. I was like, "Oh, are you?" And she's like, "Yeah." And then we both looked and then there was actually enough for both of us to take one. But I acknowledged that it was happening. I didn't jump in front of her. I'm not gonna fight over vegetables.

Nick: Yeah, we don't need that crime blotter entry.

Leah: [laughs] No. But everybody knows this is my worst fear that—it was not my worst fear, but that I would lunge for a vegetable and that person would be a Were You Raised By Wolves? listener, and then they'd be like, "Leah's the worst!" [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] All right, so you got broccolini. But okay, how should this be handled? We just acknowledge that, oh, there's only one cabbage left and we both want it.

Leah: I think we acknowledge it and then we go from there.

Nick: Okay. And do you just hope somebody sort of gives then?

Leah: Yeah. I mean, I feel like if the other person really wanted it, I'd be like, "Okay."

Nick: Yeah. I guess whoever feels more strongly about it, and who has more passion for that last kale.

Leah: Yeah, but I'm not gonna just steal it and run. I'm not gonna grab it and be like, "I'm fast!"

Nick: Many people would!

Leah: It reminds me of that Christmas with the Kranks, and Jamie Lee Curtis is looking for a honey-glazed ham and there's only one left.

Nick: Oh, right.

Leah: And she's fighting with this lady. It's so funny.

Nick: Yeah. So don't. Don't do that.

Leah: Don't open up a UFC octagon in the middle of the farmers' market because you're fighting over a broccolini bag.

Nick: Although that would be amazing.

Leah: Oh, and I had one more note.

Nick: Mmm?

Leah: If you're in a stall and say they have apples, and you like somebody else's apples better than this group of apples, don't turn to your friend and go, "I like that other guy's apples better."

Nick: Oh! Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Leah: Don't say anything negative about—around the vendors or in earshot of other people buying.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Keep that to yourself and just go buy the other apples.

Nick: Yeah. You don't have to editorialize. Yeah. Oh, that wouldn't occur to me. Is that happening in the world?

Leah: I've heard people say negative like, "Oh, I want to go back and get that." It's like, come on, this is people's, not just their livelihood. They made it. They tilled the soil. They—it's like an art, you know?

Nick: Yeah. No, that's a very good point. Well, it's sort of like criticizing performers at a performance.

Leah: That's how it felt to me.

Nick: Like, wait until you're down the block, out of earshot of anybody who might be affiliated with the performance before you criticize the performance. Yeah. So don't criticize the performance of the apples.

Leah: Yeah. And if you are going, you like something else, you don't have to explain it to the people there. "Oh, I'm gonna go get these. I liked these better somewhere else." Just say thank you and go.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, no explanation is required.

Leah: Everybody has feelings.

Nick: Most people.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Except for that lady "Serves you right." Oh, my goodness! Karma police! "Serves you right." I just can't.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: You know what would be fun is if we just had little red flags in our bag, and when somebody behaved that way, we just hand it to them and go, "Red flag."

Nick: Oh, like it's soccer? We're just like, "Flag on the field."

Leah: "Flag on the field. Flagging you. You're unaware of how rude you are."

Nick: Oh, wouldn't it be a great world if we could actually just give people timeouts? Wouldn't that be great?

Leah: [laughs] "You're on a timeout!"

Nick: "Timeout. That's it." Oh, gosh. If I had the power to give timeouts to people.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Oh! You know, sometimes they say, like, "Oh, if you could fly or be invisible, like, what superpower would you want?" This is my answer. I want to be able to give people timeouts.

Leah: I love this. I also would trust your timeouts.

Nick: Yeah. Although, you know, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but I would do my best to give them out appropriately.

Leah: I do believe you would do your best.

Nick: I would definitely do my best.

Leah: And I think I might get some red flags and just start carrying them around with me just to see how people respond. "Flagging you."

Nick: Oh, I'm gonna add that to the store right now. Merchandise. New merchandising idea.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: [laughs]

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is quote, "My boyfriend has a friend whose family owns a large lake house. Every time we go, we are reminded on how to properly make the bed before we depart. Now I am more than happy to strip a bed that I use as a guest, and I'm also more than happy to make up a bed with clean linens. However, our beds are expected to be made in a highly tedious and specific way—including with hospital corners. And then they are inspected by our friend on her parents' behalf before we leave. Is this a normal request? I've never experienced this before, nor have I expected any of my guests to make their bed in a specific way. Of course, I will continue to fulfill the wishes of our host because it's not entirely difficult to do so, but my boyfriend always defends them whenever I mention it to be odd. Am I out of line for thinking this is slightly ridiculous and over the top? At what point are one's requirements too specific and they should just handle it themselves?"

Leah: I think it can be both things at the same time. It can be an odd request.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And also when we're in somebody's home, we do their thing.

Nick: But firstly, yeah, this is a little odd to have such specific requests for your guests on the way out the door.

Leah: And have somebody come in and monitor it.

Nick: Yeah. Actually, that's probably the part that gets me: that they have to be inspected.

Leah: And my guess is that the boyfriend just feels like he needs to be protective of his friend's family.

Nick: Yes. And also, you don't want to get cut off from a lake house. Like, you want access to the lake house, so you're gonna do what you gotta do to keep those invites coming. I get that.

Leah: So I guess that's sort of an all things at once.

Nick: But first, let's just mention what are hospital corners in case somebody doesn't know? So in general, hospital corners is a way of folding the top sheet over a mattress in such a way that you'll get a very clean crease. And it's called hospital corners, because very often in hospitals, this is how they do it. Now me, I don't use the top sheet. I'm a duvet only kind of guy.

Leah: Which is wild. Is wild.

Nick: Is that wild? Why is that wild?

Leah: You're the only person I know who doesn't use a top sheet.

Nick: Really?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: That's interesting. Oh, gosh.

Leah: In America. In America.

Nick: Well, je suis very European, I guess.

Leah: [laughs] Je suis very European.

Nick: But everybody uses the top sheet? Oh, audience? Weigh in. Let me know. Are you a top sheet person or a duvet-only person? Oh, it's so much better.

Leah: I'm sure that there are some people that don't use top sheets, I just—you're the only person I know on a personal level.

Nick: I see. Interesting. I mean, I do wash my duvet along with the other sheets. Like, it's getting laundered regularly, so it's as clean as a top sheet would be. But yeah, oh, it's so much more comfortable and cozy, because also then you never have that thing where, like, the top sheet gets crinkled down at the bottom of the bed, and you're like, "Oh, where's the top sheet?" Like, I don't have this problem.

Leah: Well, I think some people have blankets that aren't as soft as their sheets.

Nick: That's true. I think if you live in a house where the climate control is uneven throughout the evening and you might need different levels of warmth as you sleep, okay, fine. Good to have options. I mean, I don't begrudge anybody for using a top sheet. I just don't want to have one more thing to launder because I don't have laundry in my apartment. I have to go downstairs, so the fewer things I have to launder, the better.

Leah: Also, there's the other option of you just spray it down with Lysol, flip it over and give it five more years. [laughs]

Nick: I'm gonna just trust that that's a weird joke, and I'm just gonna hope that's all it is.

Leah: I call that the college dorm.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'm very familiar with hospital corners because I worked in housekeeping.

Nick: Oh, right. Of course.

Leah: So I treat myself by never doing them again.

Nick: Oh, yeah. That's one solution. But to summarize: yeah, I guess the host rules, those are the rules. If that's what they want, that's what they want. And yeah, you can know it's odd and you can know that we agree with you, but if you want to keep going to the lake house, that's the deal.

Leah: And I do think I feel like our letter-writer wants her boyfriend to be like, "Yeah, so weird." I think it's probably just as I said earlier, he just feels protective of his friend's family.

Nick: Yeah. I guess what's not included in this question is: what are the other ways the bed has to be made besides the hospital corners? Because it is being suggested that there is a very highly specific way the whole bed is being made. And I'd be curious, like, oh, what are all the steps? And does it come on a laminated card in each bedroom? [laughs]

Leah: Oh, I hope so.

Nick: I would really hope so. I would really hope so. And I hope the inspection has to be done by video, and I hope there's a quarter involved that has to bounce a certain height. That's what I hope.

Leah: I just imagine a very military where they sort of walk through all the rooms before they leave. You're sitting next to the bed with your packed bag. They check the corners, they pick up your shoes, they look in your locker, then you're allowed to go.

Nick: No, this is definitely a drill sergeant type of situation. Absolutely.

Leah: So I think in your head, you can always think, "Here we go to the bed place. Nick and Leah think it's wild, but I want this lake house and so I'm just gonna delightfully fold those hospital corners."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, life is all about cost-benefit analysis. So the cost of doing this definitely is less than the benefit of a lake house. Although I guess my question is: you're not gonna be able to do it as precise as it really needs to be required. Like, the type of host that requires this of their guests has very specific needs. And that's fine. Have whatever you need to have in your house, but your guests are never gonna be able to do it the right way. They're never gonna be able to do it with the precision that you're gonna need, and so this host is gonna have to come in and redo it anyway, right?

Leah: I wonder if this host, like, Airbnb's this place, and they don't want to have to come in and do the laundry.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: And so they're like, "Hey, if you want to use the lake house, cool. But I need you to put clean sheets on and leave it so an Airbnb person can come in."

Nick: Okay, that's fair. I mean, if that was the explanation, then that would make a lot more sense. It just sounds like, oh, these are people that are just particular.

Leah: I just like to make up full scenarios where it makes more sense.

Nick: Your scenario is great. I hope your scenario is the scenario, because then I'm much more forgiving. And then this is not odd. Then this makes sense.

Leah: A lot of times that's how I am able to let things go is that I make up a scenario in a world in which it makes sense, and I think that must be why they're doing it.

Nick: [laughs] Whatever gets you to sleep at night.

Leah: [laughs] On my hospital corner bed.

Nick: Yeah. And a top sheet.

Leah: That I'll eventually kick the corners out of anyway because I hate to feel like I'm being strapped to the bed with my sheet.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "My dear friend was getting ready for a black-tie event and solicited my opinion on facial hair. Should he shave his face clean, or simply trim his beard closely and neatly? We did a little internet searching on the subject, but couldn't find a definitive answer from a trusted source, and we were pressed for time. So with the jury out on the matter, my friend shaved his beard just in case it was a faux pas. But we're curious: are beards okay for a black-tie?"

Leah: I'm coming down on a yes.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, they are. And I think let's talk about why they are, though. Why do you say yes, Leah?

Leah: Because a lot of people, that's how they wear their hair.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that's a totally valid reason. Yeah. Because that's who they are, right? Yeah. That's a fair answer.

Leah: And I mean, a beard is a—you can have a very handsome beard.

Nick: Yeah. I mean I think in general, when we're dressing up—black tie or just to look nice for the office or a date or whatever it is—the point of dressing up is to make an effort, and to demonstrate that effort to your host. Be like, "Oh, I am making an effort because I appreciate the formality of the situation that's happening." And we have to remember that dressing and etiquette is a form of communication. It's nonverbal, but it is a form of communication. And you are communicating something to other people in the way you dress and the way you act. And so you just want to make sure your beard is communicating that you made an effort and you appreciate the seriousness or the formality of the occasion at which you're attending. So I think it depends on the beard, right?

Leah: Yeah. Like I wouldn't show up with cheese in your beard.

Nick: No. No.

Leah: I would have your beard manicured, combed out. No eggs from the breakfast.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And I think if you're like ZZ Top, that's a very specific type of beard, and that's not necessarily maybe appropriate for all formal occasions—unless you're ZZ Top.

Leah: Or if you have a ZZ Top beard, just comb it out. Make it nice, you know?

Nick: Yeah. Make it nice. Make some effort with it. Right. Yeah. I guess at the end of the day it's just like, oh, have you made an effort with your appearance?

Leah: But I think if you have a beard, you have a beard.

Nick: And it also should be noted that the idea of beards in the boardroom and formality changes throughout history. I mean, there are times in American society where we don't do beards or we do do beards, and the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth. So I think right now we are definitely in a beards-are-totally-fine moment in society.

Leah: I would agree. The only time I thought of when it was—like, if it's a military—you're in the military, and you're going to a military ball. And I feel like everybody's always clean shaven.

Nick: I mean, I think if this is a military event, then you'd want to follow military protocol if you are in the military. Yes.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But then that's a military etiquette question, that's not just a civilian etiquette question.

Leah: Yes. I just threw that in there because it just popped into my head.

Nick: Fair enough.

Leah: I think beards can be very chic.

Nick: I mean, I think if something looks good or looks good to you or makes you feel confident and isn't sending the wrong signal non-verbally, then totally fine.

Leah: Yeah. By sending the right signal meaning no cheese in it.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if you have cheese or egg in your beard, that does send a signal. And if you want to send that signal, then that's great. Send that signal. Just know you're sending a signal. That's all. That's all I have to say. I just want you to be deliberate with your choices.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So do you have questions for us? Let us know! You can let us know through our website, Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent.

Leah: Vent or repent!

Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently, or we can repent for some etiquette faux-pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?

Leah: I'm gonna repent.

Nick: [gasps] Leah! What have you done?

Leah: [sighs] Okay. So I've been working on not being overly positive with people.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: Because I think sometimes people just want to be upset about something, and I'm there as a—listening to them support. I'm not there to say the positive side of the story.

Nick: Oh, yeah. You're not trying to find a silver lining in everything. Okay.

Leah: So unless I—unless they're like close friends of mine, and I know that's what they need and that's what they came to me for. So I just try to listen and be like, "Oh." You know, just say—like, recognizing it in some way. That's what I've been—I've been working on this for a while. I just want them to know I heard them and, you know, I feel for them. And I've been really working on that because, you know, my instinct is to try to—I want people to feel happy. So I try to—but I don't do that anymore because I realize it's not right all the time.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So I'm at group fitness class—which you know I love. And I'm talking, before class has started, with one of my favorite people there. We have a lovely—we talk about coffee. Very—you know, I don't even know if we know each other's names.

Nick: But it's light. It's friendly, it's polite.

Leah: And she was sharing with me something she was sad about about Los Angeles, something sad that she found. She was missing home, and she lives in drivable distance to her home where she grew up.

Nick: So she's from the Southern California area.

Leah: Yes. And without being able to stop the words coming out of my mouth, I said, "It's so wonderful that you are able to drive home for visits." Or some version of that.

Nick: Mmm.

Leah: And then class started, and I got into my little area for my—and then for the whole class I was like, "Really? You had to say to her, 'So nice. You must be able to drive home?' You couldn't just listen when she was, like, saying how she felt homesick? And you have to be, like, 'Oh, let's get in the car and go there!' You don't have to fix everything, Leah." And then I just hated myself through the whole class.

Nick: I mean, did she take it the wrong way?

Leah: Probably not.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. So ...

Leah: I just feel bad because, you know, sometimes people just want to vent and they don't need to hear, like, "Here's a positive thing we can do."

Nick: Yes. No, I think that's good to read the room and have a sense of, like, oh, what does this person sort of need in this moment? Which is not always to have that silver lining or to try and have something fixed. And yeah, I think having that sort of awareness is important to etiquette. I don't know if this is an etiquette crime because I don't believe you committed a crime against anybody other than yourself.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So does that count? Maybe.

Leah: Maybe she didn't take it. Maybe she was like, "I just wanted to—why I'm telling this girl my life story, and then she's telling me how it's gonna be okay. I don't want to know it's gonna be okay."

Nick: Yeah. No, that's fair. Yeah, we don't know how she took it. So you'll just be more mindful about this moving forward, and hopefully you won't let this happen again.

Leah: Well, usually I'm very mindful of it. It just slipped out. And then I was thinking, "Should I go up to her and apologize?" And then I thought it would be too much to go up to somebody and be like, "Hey, remember how we barely know each other, and you told me this thing, and then I said this? And then I've been thinking about it and wish—" it felt like too much. So I decided to let it go and I won't do it again.

Nick: Yeah. I feel like your comment was so mild that then to go up and be like, "Oh, remember when I said it was so nice that you could go home and visit family? I'm sorry I said that." I don't know.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] All right. Well, I think moving forward, you're gonna make more of an effort.

Leah: Moving forward I'm gonna be like, "Yeah, it is horrible."

Nick: So speaking of horrible, I would like to vent. And so I'm doing laundry, and unfortunately I do not have laundry in my apartment. It is one of the horrible things about living in New York City that so rarely do we have laundry in our apartment. It is such a luxury—it's not a luxury I have. But at least I do have it in my building.

Nick: So it's late one evening during the week, and I'm downstairs in the big laundry room. And it's a big laundry room. They have, like, commercial machines. We have 10 dryers, five stacked on top of each other. It looks like a laundromat. I mean, it's like a big commercial-sized laundry room. And so nobody else is in there, and I am about to take my laundry out of the dryer because I set a timer and I make sure I'm down there so I'm not making anybody wait because that's what we do. And so I'm in the dryer that's all the way in the bottom right. So we have five dryers in the top row, five in the bottom row. You can picture this big wall of dryers. I'm all the way in the bottom right. Okay, fine.

Nick: And so a woman comes in and takes her stuff out of a washing machine. And there are baskets, like roll-y baskets around, and so she puts her stuff in the roll-y baskets. And then she decides that the dryer that she would like to use—which one? Which one, Leah? Which one do you think she picked? Yes. Yes, she did.

Leah: She didn't do a buffer dryer.

Nick: [laughs] So she decides that the dryer she wants—now there are nine choices available, but the one she would like is the one directly above me. And she proceeds to put her wet laundry in that dryer as I'm trying to take clothing out of the dryer into my bag so I can go home. So I'm like, what is happening here? Like, what is—this is—what is wrong? What is wrong? This makes no sense. There's no logic behind this move.

Nick: And so I give it a couple of beats because I'm like, surely she's gonna realize, like, oh, this is not optimal for anybody. But she doesn't. And so I say, like, "Oh, let me get out of your way," because I was like, clearly, we both cannot be doing this activity at the same time.

Leah: In the same place!

Nick: And she says, in a tone which suggests that I was in her way, "Thanks."

Leah: [gasps] Oh! What? What?

Nick: And it's like, "I'm sorry. Are you new to Earth? How does physics work in your dimension? Tell me about your universe."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Like, what? What? What is happening? So I let her load all of her laundry into that dryer, and then she closes it, inserts her card, selects her settings, selects the time. And then when she's done, then I can get the rest of my laundry out of my dryer. And it's like, wow! And so all this to say: we have not as a society agreed on the rules, apparently, in the laundry room. There is so much confusion about what is supposed to go down in this room. And I really feel like if we do nothing else, Leah, if we solve no other problems, we need to solve this problem. We need to get all of society on the same page about how to behave in a laundry room.

Leah: I feel so annoyed by this woman. The idea that you would A) just go to the place where you are already using the area when there's other things available.

Nick: Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Isn't that one of those principles of physics in our universe? I think so.

Leah: And then that she would act like you are the one ...

Nick: That! I mean, what?

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: Yeah. "Thanks. Yeah, thanks. Yeah, you are in my way." Okay. Yeah. Happy to step aside. So, yeah, I don't know what else to say other than we really gotta get it together with the laundry room, people. Really gotta get it together.

Leah: [laughs] I mean, so if you looked down and you were like, "Is something wrong? Did you need help? Because you came all the way over to where I was standing when there's the whole room available."

Nick: Nine other options. Yeah. I mean, it would be weird to have any adjacent dryer. Not the one next to me, not the one kitty corner. Like, you really should actually use the one all the way on the far side. You should actually have as much buffer as possible. Like, that would be polite.

Leah: And if you're in some—some people they have a favorite dryer. "I need that dryer!"

Nick: Do they? Is there?

Leah: Some people do. Oh, I've been in the laundromat for that.

Nick: Really? They're like, "Oh, I'm waiting for this one."

Leah: But then you wait until the person's finished what they're doing.

Nick: Yes. If she really needed to have that top right dryer, that was very important to her, she could have waited. Because I only had probably another 45 seconds left of having to pull things out. It really would not have taken me that much more time. And so she could've done that, but she chose not to. And why? I don't know. But not knowing why people act the way they act is sort of one of the great mysteries of life.

Leah: She chose violence.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Also, "Is this your first day on Earth?" would be a great pillow.

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: Also, do we know what apartment number she's in?

Nick: I could figure it out because there's not that many people in my building and I can track you down.

Leah: Myself and two other women in our apartment complex are trying to find the man who has left his stuff in a dryer—we only have two dryers—for three days.

Nick: And we're just allowing it to be in the dryer for three days?

Leah: Oh, no. It's been moved to the shelf. But I mean, did you get kidnapped?

Nick: Oh, yeah. I mean, maybe he did. This could be serious.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I brought that up. I was like, "Should we be worried or should we be angry?"

Nick: Yeah. No, I think you should have, like, a next door neighbor alert. Hold up the clothing and be like, "Does anybody know this t-shirt owner?"

Nick: You're right. I mean, laundry rooms are really rife.

Nick: Yeah, it's definitely an area of society which we have not come to consensus. And consensus is what etiquette is about, that we've all agreed on a certain set of rules about how we're supposed to behave. And when we don't, then it's chaos.

Leah: I'm so—my hair is kind of up on the back of my neck thinking about you're just nicely pulling your clothes out, and this lady comes into your area and then is rude about it.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, what do you do with this?

Leah: I mean, what we do is we find out what apartment she's in.

Nick: [laughs] And then we give her a "Is this your first day on Earth?" pillow.

Leah: [laughs] Yes. Yeah.

Nick: Kill them with kindness.

Leah: And then we just sign it, "From the laundry room."

Nick: There you go!

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: It's a machine washable pillow.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: Well, I learned that Miss Manners seems to love ice cream sodas as much as me.

Nick: She can be cool sometimes.

Leah: I'm delighted and shocked.

Nick: And I learned that you're gonna make an effort to be less positive with people.

Leah: [laughs] Just got to hamper it down a little bit.

Nick: Good luck with that. Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.

Leah: He would!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we want you to help us get the word out about our show. Do you know somebody who might like our show? Please tell them about us, because the more people who listen, the more people who are gonna be polite. And the more people who are polite, the closer we're gonna be to achieving world peace.

Leah: And a functioning, polite, mannerly washer-dryer room.

Nick: That's what we want. And if we achieve that, we're gonna win a Nobel Prize, Leah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: We are. And don't you want to win a Nobel Prize?

Leah: More than a Nobel Prize, I'd just like to be able to put my clothes in the dryer in a timely fashion.

Nick: Actually, I think they're gold. And that actually doesn't go with my decor, which is more of like a chrome thing. But I'll make it work. If I win a Nobel Prize, I will work it into the decor. So help me win one. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!

Leah: So I just want to do a quick shout out to the animal fostering community.

Nick: Mmm!

Leah: Back in New York, I volunteered with a program for people who didn't want to give up their pets, but were in situations where they felt they had to. And here, you know, a lot of the shelters are refilling up, and they gotta get the animals into foster homes so they have more space. And a lot of people have been stepping up and fostering, and I just think it's so wonderful and loving. And this week we were trying to get this dog placed, and somebody came and got him and it was just so wonderful. So I really appreciate people who are taking care of animals. It's so wonderful.

Nick: That is wonderful. And for me, I want to share a lovely note we just got, which is quote, "I want to take a minute to fangirl and tell you how much I appreciate your show. Aside from it being highly educational and entertaining, it has helped me a lot in my personal life. Shortly after I started listening to your podcast, I got inspired by your talk of having polite-yet-direct conversations, and I sent a polite-yet-direct message to an ex who hadn't stopped messaging me for over a year. He responded to the message very nicely and hasn't bothered me since. The power of polite-yet-direct conversations is truly amazing. Since then, I've made an effort to have more polite-yet-direct conversations in my life, and it's had a very positive impact."

Leah: Wow, that is so wonderful!

Nick: Isn't that nice? I mean ...

Leah: That's so nice!

Nick: That's great, because I know these are hard to have, the polite-yet-direct conversation. They're never easy.

Leah: Never easy.

Nick: But I think they're usually worth it. And I think they're usually better than the alternative.

Leah: This is so delightful.

Nick: This is lovely that somebody has tried it and it's worked for them and that really makes my day.

Leah: Oh, my goodness!

Nick: So thank you.

Leah: Thank you!