Feb. 10, 2020

Stealing Baby Names, Ignoring Emails, Garnishing Without Consent, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle using unlucky numbers, handling conversations with people who don't ask questions, stealing baby names, being asked to chaperone a children's party when your own child isn't invited, garnishing dishes without consent, ignoring emails, buttering dinner rolls, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd write you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)


  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: Unlucky numbers
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: People who don't ask any questions
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: Is it OK to steal someone's baby name? What do you do if you're asked to chaperone a children's birthday party but your own child isn't invited? PSA: Garnishing food without consent.
  • VENT OR REPENT: Ignoring emails, buttering dinner rolls
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Mutual admiration




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Introduction]

Nick: Do you do all the talking? Do you steal other people's baby names? Do you give the wrong number of flowers? 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: I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: We're in New York today, and let's just get right down to it!

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

Nick: For today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about numbers.

Leah: Oooh! [Singing] Amuse-bou-CHE ...

Nick: Okay ... So, I want to talk about numbers and how they're perceived by different cultures because we always want to be culturally sensitive when we're talking about etiquette. We're sometimes making seat assignments, or lists of names, or we're buying gifts for people, so we just want to be mindful of how some numbers are perceived by different cultures. We know about 13; like, 13 is a negative number. A lot of people are bothered by 13.

Leah: Yeah, they think it's bad luck.

Nick: They think it's bad luck; and 12 is perfection, so 13 is a little off. This is how it's been explained to me, why 13 is unlucky. Biblically, Judas was the 13th guest at a dinner party; in Norse mythology, Loki was the 13th guest at some dinner in Valhalla. I think the lesson is don't be late for dinner parties!

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, 13 ... We know about that. But it doesn't matter why someone feels like it's superstitious or not, it's just good to be sensitive to the fact that some people do feel that way. So, if you're buying a box of chocolates, be mindful of how many chocolates are in the box. For Italians, 17 is very unlucky because if you take the Roman numerals for 17, which is XVII, you can rearrange these letters, and you can make the Latin phrase 'Vixi' - forgive my Latin pronunciation ... That basically translates as, "I have lived," meaning I have lived in the past tense. I am not currently living; so the idea of 17 is you're dead.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: So, for this reason, if you fly Alitalia Airlines, or Lufthansa, there is no 17th row.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: It goes from 16 to 18.

Leah: I had no idea!

Nick: Yeah. Check the little seat map. There is no row 17 on a Lufthansa flight. When the Winter Olympics were in Turin a few years ago, the bobsled track, the 17th turn on the bobsled, they called it 'senza nome,' meaning 'no name.'

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: Yeah, so Italians actually do take this one a little seriously, so it is good to be mindful of 17/Italians/et cetera. There is references on the web that Brazilians also feel this way about 17. I was unable to find any evidence of this other than some weird passing references. I even reached out to Brazilians about this, and they've never heard of it. So, if there are Brazilians that feel this way, I am not sure who they are. So, if you're a Brazilian out there, and you know about this 17 thing, please let us know.

Leah: Let us know!

Nick: Otherwise, I think you're totally in the clear if you want to bring a box of 17 chocolates to your next brega funk party; no problem. So, let's go to Asia. The number four ... Number four in China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, this is not good. We want to avoid the number four, because the number four sounds basically like the word for death.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So, very often in a Chinese building, there is not a fourth floor.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: In fact, there's usually not even a 14th floor, just because it sounds the same. It sounds the same in all of these different languages - Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese-

Leah: Wow!

Nick: -these are all similar sounding, in all these languages. Yeah, so you definitely want to avoid giving four of any item to somebody from China, sort of deliberately, where the number of items is very specific, like four flowers or something.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: You want to be mindful of that. Similarly, in Japan, the number nine, Kyu, is also the word for suffering.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So, you just want to be mindful, there is a little connotation there. Then, let's turn to Afghanistan. This is probably not going to come up for most people because most people don't really run in to Afghans that often. Oh, and sidebar: it's Afghan. It's not Afghani. Afghani is the currency; Afghan is the people. Just so you know ...

Leah: I'll be honest, I've been saying Afghani-

Nick: So, that's wrong. Yeah, actually, a great thing is Afghan Star, which is like American Idol, but in Afghanistan. Super-fascinating. Highly recommend you YouTube this. Yeah, watch some episodes of Afghan Star.

Leah: Amazing.

Nick: Yeah, and it's Afghan Star, not Afghani Star.

Leah: You know, I admitted I was wrong, even though it's embarrassing.

Nick: Okay, thank you. We're all growing. So, in Afghanistan, the number 39 is particularly problematic.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: Right? Very specific. The origins of this is a little murky, but apparently, there was a pimp in western Afghanistan who had a car that had 39 on his license plate and may have also lived in apartment number 39. Because of this, 39 has been associated with, I guess, pimps, and being associated with pimps is a very bad thing in Afghanistan. So, it is at the point where, if you have a 39 in your license plate, or your cell phone number, this is a huge problem for you. Apparently, car dealers are pushing this because they want you to turn in your car with a 39 plate, and they'll buy it from you at a huge discount, and then they'll have it replated, and they'll resell it for way more money. Police are pushing this whole thing about 39 being bad so that you can bribe them to get different license plates. Then, people who have 39 in their cell phone are getting harassed with anonymous phone calls about this. So, 39 in Afghanistan-

Leah: There's so much happening in the world that I had no idea about.

Nick: So, 39, in Afghanistan, it's a problem. Yeah, and if you're 39 years of age, you might just say you're 40 minus one. Yeah, no, the number 39 in Afghanistan is sort of thing right now. So, know that you should not give somebody 39 somethings [crosstalk]

Leah: Wow, and if you're in America, and you're late 40s, you're telling everybody you're still 39.

Nick: Yeah. See? Cultural differences. Right. Lastly, this is not about numbers, but even and odd. If you are giving a Russian person flowers, it is very important that it is an odd number of flowers. Even number of flowers is really reserved for funerals and more serious occasions.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: If you give a woman a dozen roses, and she's Russian, she'll probably think that's weird.

Leah: So, give her 11 or 13.

Nick: Bingo! Yeah.

Leah: Or, not 13. Maybe 11.

Nick: Yeah ... Pick a number that's not even. I mean, hopefully, she'll be understanding, and she'll just realize you didn't know any better, but-

Leah: Right. I mean, I didn't know any better until right now.

Nick: Right. So, good thing you haven't been giving too many Russian women flowers.

Leah: Maybe I have ...

Nick: That's true, and how rude!

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: So, numbers!

Leah: I honestly had no idea.

Nick: That's what this whole show is about.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to go deep.

Leah: So. Deep.

Nick: For today's question of etiquette, this actually was a question that someone wrote in, and I think it's a great one to have a deeper conversation about.

Leah: Yeah, it's a really big conversation.

Nick: The question is: "What do you do when you meet someone, and you ask them lots of questions about themselves, which they answer at length, and they never ask you anything about you? Do you just start talking and force them to listen to you, or do you just give up?" Hmm ...

Leah: I know this person.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So delighted.

Nick: So ... [crosstalk]

Leah: So, it's hard not to address them directly.

Nick: Okay. Well, go for it. I don't know this person-

Leah: I know this person, and I want to be ... A) this person is so exciting and has so many wonderful things to discuss, so I can't even.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That being said, I feel like there's two lanes to go in this.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: One of them is this person who you're talking to that only talks about themselves, is this a relationship that you need to continue?

Nick: Okay. Is this just transient? We're making small talk?

Leah: Yeah. It's at a party, and you're like, "Uck ... This person ..."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Or is this a person that you want to have a friendship with, or you have to have a relationship with, so you have to find a way to be like, "Hey ..."

Nick: Yeah. So, I have a lot of thoughts on this.

Leah: Yeah, I mean-

Nick: I got a lotta thoughts. My first thought is that this happens in many different situations, so this is just small talk at a party; this is just in your friend group; this is on dates. So, I think anytime you're one-on-one in conversation with people, this happens.

Leah: Definitely.

Nick: If the internet is to be believed, this tends to happen quite a bit on dates, and men are more guilty of this than women.

Leah: Mm!

Nick: So, is this true?

Leah: Well, I was out with a friend of mine recently, and he was telling me about this new girl he's dating and what she thought about his comedy, and da-da-da-da-da-da ... They've been out on multiple dates.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: I said, "What does she do?"

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: He said, "Oh, I don't know."

Nick: Oh!

Leah: I said, "Are you kidding me right now?"

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: He was not kidding me. He didn't know what she did!

Nick: Yeah. So, apparently this is very common, according to a lot of anecdotal evidence on the internet.

Leah: Unbelievable!

Nick: Yeah. I've had this happen to me, and I think I'm in a much better place with it now, but initially when this was happening to me, I felt like I was the problem. I felt like, "Oh, maybe I'm just not that interesting." Maybe- maybe I'm just not that interesting, so they're just not interested in asking me questions about me, and maybe that's what it is.

Leah: Clearly not it!

Nick: Well, I have since come to learn, I am fascinating! But initially, I was like, "Oh, maybe I am the problem."

Leah: I do think you can just ... One of the things that could be done is you can, when they're taking a breath in between and say, "Oh, that's so great," and then volunteer something you're doing.

Nick: Yes. I mean, I think-

Leah: If you feel like you want to say something.

Nick: Yes. I think there is the temptation to try to make a game of it, where you see how long they're going to go before they ask you anything. I've played this game. I have gone 60 minutes where they didn't ask me one thing.

Leah: Oh, I've never played this game.

Nick: It's not a good game. You shouldn't play this game. It's not fun-

Leah: Sometimes, I'm like, "Oh, I can just listen." Sometimes, I honestly am just like, "Oh, this is delightful ..."

Nick: This is great, yeah. It's like a spa for my mind. Sometimes, you play the game where you try and slip things into the conversation, hoping they're going to think something's fascinating; like, "Yeah, I've vacationed in North Korea," or like, "Oh, yeah, as a kid, I kept bees. I made my own honey."

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: Or, "Yeah, Liza Minnelli yelled at me this one time." All of those things are true, by the way.

Leah: Unbelievable!

Nick: You slip some of those in, and you're like, "Clearly, one of those things you're gonna wanna follow up on!" Maybe something I just said you think is maybe interesting ... "Tell me more about Liza Minnelli." I don't know ... So, when you slip that in, and they don't take you up on it, then I give up. Then, I'm like, "I got no material for you." That's how I kind of feel about it, sometimes.

Leah: Well, the kind of person who doesn't ask questions ... Sometimes, people are just on a tear that day, and it's not their regular personality.

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: But then, if that is their regular personality-

Nick: Noted.

Leah: I think, often, there's very little you could slip in that they're going to be interested in because they are talking about themselves.

Nick: True, yeah.

Leah: So, if it's a relationship that you have to maintain, in efforts to be direct, but still kind, but direct in saying what your needs are-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I feel like there should be a way to be able to say, "Hey, I love hanging out. I'd love to get to tell you some things about me."

Nick: Yeah, I guess the direct approach, with a friend, works. Yeah.

Leah: Because if it's a friend, I don't know how you could continue hanging out with or working with this person without harboring resentment.

Nick: Right.

Leah: But if it's a person who you just have to see every once in a while, and they're talking, then, in your mind you can be like, "Here we go again." You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: It's not a thing ... Because these people are not- it has nothing to do with you, their behavior. It has everything to do with how inside themselves they are.

Nick: Yeah, and that's key to remember - this is not about you. You're not doing anything wrong. This is not your fault. This is not a comment on your personality, or-

Leah: Yeah, you're perfect.

Nick: Yes. You're a good person. We like you. We have some questions for you.

Leah: Yeah. They have- they're inside their own issues.

Nick: Yeah. The excuses I've seen from people who do this range from, "Oh, I'm just not that good at conversation," to, "I just forgot to ask," to, "My conversational style is just I want to wait for you to volunteer something," or - and this one is good - "I don't want to be too personal or nosy." I've seen this excuse.

Leah: I mean, these really seem ...

Nick: I mean ... Or you're a narcissist.

Leah: Yeah. Or, D) I have noticed, when I get very anxious, like it's more of an interview situation, sometimes, I'll talk more than I normally would in a conversational setting, a regular one, because I feel like I have to prove something.

Nick: Yes. If it's sort of an interview, yeah. But I think that's also a problem on a lot of these dates that I'm seeing people complain about is that the one person is treating this like a sales pitch.

Leah: Right, but I think a lot of those people are like that all the time.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: My friend, this man, he's going to be like that for the whole relationship, if you're with him.

Nick: Okay. Well, good to [crosstalk] know-

Leah: He's never gonna know- yeah, good to know that now. But, looking back, I wished, in these more interview situations, that I treated it like a regular conversation.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -and I didn't do that.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: It was just more of I can imagine that, if person is anxious, it may be something they're doing because they're breathless.

Nick: Yes. I think nerves definitely can play a role. Although, my experience is that when people are nervous, they actually don't want to talk about themselves. They want to deflect and want to talk about you, so would actually make an effort to keep the conversation on you, if possible.

Leah: Yeah, I often, at parties, when it's a lot of socializing, I love to find a person that just talks, so I can be like, "Oh, just tell me ... Tell me stuff ..."

Nick: Again! You find it so relaxing. I guess a separate thought is just is this actually happening to you? Because I think, sometimes, when we're feeling insecure, we might selectively look for evidence in the conversation that, "Oh, this person's not interested in me," so we're only just sort of looking for those moments where they're all talking about themselves, and we kind of forget that they actually have asked us things. We were so quick just to turn the conversation back on them that we don't remember that they have actually made an effort. It's a little selection bias. So-

Leah: That's a very good point.

Nick: I think ... One question before we even go down the road is just: is this actually happening?

Leah: Right.

Nick: Just remember. Like, "Oh, okay, yes, it is happening; okay, now, fine." But if it's not actually happening, then I think you just want to note that and then maybe make more of an effort to be like, okay, they actually are showing an interest, so maybe you should be less concerned about it.

Leah: Then, oftentimes, I think it does happen a lot, also-

Nick: Oh-

Leah: -after checking if it is happening [crosstalk]

Nick: 90 percent of the time, this is actually happening to you. You're not a crazy person. Yeah, they are just talking about themselves and are not asking you anything. Correct.

Leah: Yeah, I have a few people that I know in my life that will ask me a question and then I know, within three minutes, it's just going to be- I'm being talked at.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I know who they are, and they're not going to change. I can either change my relationship with them, but they're not ... I've tried to, "Hey, this is a thing ..." They're not interested.

Nick: So, one piece of advice I did come across, which was to ask the person for advice about something that's happening to you ... It lets them talk, but the subject is you.

Leah: Mm!

Nick: This is like a hybrid option.

Leah: It is an interesting option.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Although, I feel like these are not people that we want to get advice from.

Nick: Yeah, there's that. Yeah, that's a good point-

Leah: "Hey, with your veil of narcissism ..." [crosstalk]

Nick: "Will you please help me work through this personal issue I'm having?"

Leah: I understand that is a good- a way to try to get them to-

Nick: I guess it's a party trick.

Leah: You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But I think if we can't be direct with being like, "Hey, this is some stuff ..." they're not really people that we should be ... Because I do think that asking advice is a whole other deep-dive.

Nick: That's a different topic, yeah, and listening is a different topic.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. Okay, well, for our purposes, have we helped this person?

Leah: I hope so!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I think it was very important to talk about how it's not you.

Nick: Yeah, you're not the problem.

Leah: You're lovely.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Is this a relationship that you want to have them know stuff about you?

Nick: Yeah, and I think, just to summarize, why we want to show interest in other people is that it makes you feel valued when someone shows interest. Who wants to be friends with somebody who is not interested in being friends with you?

Leah: I know that, but also, why wouldn't you want to know stuff about people?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So interesting! People have different experiences and thoughts on things.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess if you feel like people don't have any value, then this is what happens.

Leah: Yeah. Then, maybe, you don't go out.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: [Laughing] Oh, that just felt so sad!

Nick: Oh ... [crosstalk]

Leah: You at home, you have so much value, and if people don't want to hear your stories, that's on them.

Nick: But we want to hear your stories.

Leah: We want to hear your stories, and there's a lot of people who do want to hear your stories.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And don't date comics! [Laughing]

Nick: Well, that's good advice for a lot of reasons.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to take some questions for the wilderness.

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: So, our first question-

Leah: This one is a doozy!

Nick: The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Leah: I would like to say that when I read this one, I fell down on the floor.

Nick: "I was at a party with my boyfriend, and I was talking to one of the wives there. We enjoyed talking to each other, and we were talking about her first child [who we're going to call Liam]. She asked me if I had my baby names picked out. I'm not pregnant or trying, but I think it's normal for women to have some baby names in mind that they like. I mentioned that I loved the name Landon, and I'm going to use it because it's my grandmother's maiden name. She gushed over this name. She said she loved it and started saying it with the name of her current son. She was like, 'Liam and Landon; Landon and Liam. Oh, I love that!' So, I dismissed this and was kind of shocked when, six months later, she named her new baby Landon. Is this rude? Can we have a PSA that if someone shares a baby name that you don't steal it like a psycho?"

Leah: I love that the person who wrote in said, "Like a psycho ..."

Nick: So, I guess, is this rude?

Leah: Yes!!

Nick: What is rude about it?

Leah: It's a family name.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: The woman presented it, like, "Hey, do you have any names ..."

Nick: Right.

Leah: "... for your child?"

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: Obviously, they're in a small group. They can't have two Landons! I mean, I guess you could, now that you say this.

Nick: I'm just ...

Leah: Now that you've put it out there like-

Nick: I'm just wanting to hear what you have to say.

Leah: I just think it's odd.

Nick: So ...

Leah: I also would never tell people what I was going to name my kids.

Nick: Well, let's just start there. If there is a name that is important to you-

Leah: Don't share it.

Nick: Don't share it.

Leah: I was saying earlier, maybe you could start sharing ridiculous names.

Nick: Right. Right. Mildred. Oh, love it!

Leah: I mean, Mildred's not horrible.

Nick: Actually, my grandmother's Mildred. Yeah ... That's why it came to mind. No, but-

Leah: Gooseberry is ...

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Just, like, not names.

Nick: Yeah. So, I think my first thought is you can't call dibs. I don't think you can call dibs here.

Leah: I mean, it is interesting, now that you sort of laid it out, why I think it's rude.

Nick: Mm hmm.

Leah: But I do. I inherently think it's rude.

Nick: Well, let me explain my feelings-

Leah: Please do!

Nick: -and then we're going to come back to that question, and then we'll see if your feelings change.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: So, I don't think you can call dibs because it does not sound like these women were that close. It feels like six months later, it was a surprise that Landon was the name, okay? This woman is not even pregnant, nor is she even married; this is a boyfriend. So, are you going to have kids with this guy? Does he even like the name? Are you going to have kids with somebody else?

Leah: I mean, these are some true questions?

Nick: Who knows what he thinks? Right. Also, it is not the end of the world to run into somebody with your own name. I run into Nicks. I'm not bothered by this. It's fine. I think it's sometimes a little tricky if you have a very small circle; they're siblings, or they're cousins, or you're in the exact same friend group, and the kids are going to grow up with each other. If that happens, then not having overlapping names is a consideration, but that does not seem like that was the case here. Then, also, this name is not that unusual. I've changed the name in this example to protect the innocent, but the name that was in the original email, very similar flavor. So, I think for all of those reasons, including the fact that it was said ... Once it is said out loud, you have given it to the world.

Leah: Mm.

Nick: I don't think this was that rude, yeah.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: Okay, but out there, weigh in. There are people with very strong opinions about this.

Leah: The thing is, is that I think that this woman misrepresented why she was asking. What she's saying is-

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: "I'm looking for recommendations ..."

Nick: You think she is eliciting-

Leah: -and I'm going ... She's soliciting.

Nick: She's shopping for names.

Leah: She was shopping for names-

Nick: Ah ...

Leah: -and she presented it like, "Tell me what you harbor in your heart as your secret favorite thing."

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: It doesn't matter to me when this woman is going to have kids. She's allowed to have kids whenever she wants with whomever she wants-

Nick: That's true or doesn't have to have kids.

Leah: Whatever she wants-

Nick: Whatever you want to do.

Leah: But it was asked like, "For when you have children, what's your fantasy child name?"

Nick: Oh ... "Tell me about your dreams and your hopes."

Leah: Yeah, and-

Nick: "And let me steal those."

Leah: -then it was snatched away!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: If she had said, "I'm looking for names ..."

Nick: Hm ... So, you feel like she was representing the true nature of the question.

Leah: Yes. I feel like she was being dishonest-

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: -in the way that she asked, and that's why it's rude.

Nick: Okay, so-

Leah: She was name-fishing.

Nick: Okay, so if she was name-fishing-

Leah: Which she clearly was.

Nick: I feel like there's some ambiguousness on this topic.

Leah: Mmmmm ...

Nick: But if she was name-fishing, then it feels like there may have been some etiquette infraction. However, the woman giving the name? Not even pregnant.

Leah: Doesn't matter!

Nick: I feel like-

Leah: It doesn't matter. It's your ... You hold it in your heart as that will be-

Nick: The name.

Leah: The name, when I have a kid.

Nick: Then, I want to be the only person in the whole world.

Leah: No, in my friend group.

Nick: Yeah, I guess it doesn't ... It just doesn't seem like they're that close. Okay-

Leah: Well, they're at a party together.

Nick: Fair enough. Okay. So ...

Leah: They're definitely in the same school district; I'll tell you that much.

Nick: That's true. Yeah. There are going to be a lot of Landons running around now.

Leah: Un-uh!

Nick: Mm-hmm. Although, there will be an age difference, right? So, that's good.

Leah: I understand that people won't think they're the same child.

Nick: Okay. We're not going to pick the wrong kid up at pick-up, okay. So, you feel like this is rude.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I feel like- I see your point. I do feel like the letter-writer has some responsibility here, though, because she said it out loud, and that was her fault.

Leah: She said it out- I also see your point.

Nick: Thank you.

Leah: And I feel like our letter-writer said it out loud in good faith.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because she, like myself, probably trusts everybody.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That what they're asking is what they're actually asking, and they're not name-fishing.

Nick: Our next question - also about children. This one is good.

Leah: Unbelievable!

Nick: I was actually on the floor when this happened-

Leah: Listeners at home, if you're driving, stop driving, because this is what ... You're going to have to pull over and deep-breathe.

Nick: "I'm a parent and have a sticky situation with another parent in our close friend group. Our children are the same age and often interact with each other at school and neighborhood gatherings. My child often extends invitations to my friend's child, which he happily accepts but doesn't reciprocate. We've come to accept this and are not forcing a friendship that doesn't come naturally. However, my friend's child has an elaborate destination birthday celebration coming up ..." Destination birthday celebration ... "Destination birthday celebration coming up, for which I was asked to co-chaperone and assist with transportation. My child is not invited. I think it was rude for my friend to ask me to attend without my child. I politely declined the invitation by saying I already had plans. However, this isn't the first time a situation like this has come up, and I would like to respond without making an excuse. What should I say next time?"

Leah: Wow!

Nick: I need a moment. I have follow-up questions.

Leah: I wish we could have a full tea with this person.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: A) our letter-writer is very polite.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: And I think has ... You don't have to be polite anymore.

Nick: Well, before we get there, Destination Children's Party?

Leah: Unbelievable!

Nick: Does that mean we're going to Chuck E. Cheese, or are we going to St. Barts?

Leah: No ... I feel like it's somewhere in the middle-

Nick: Okay [crosstalk]

Leah: -like the Science Museum in Boston.

Nick: Oh, okay. That's-

Leah: Which is equidistant-

Nick: Between Chuck E. Cheese-

Leah: And St. Barts.

Nick: Fair enough. So, the idea that you would ask someone to chaperone a child's birthday party, where their child was not invited?!

Leah: I can't even take it!! I want to show up on the block and flip some tables!

Nick: How do you ... How do you do that with a straight face? Because they- you know that's rude.

Leah: It's so rude!

Nick: You can't not know that's rude. There's not a world in which you're like, "This is fine."

Leah: Yeah. If I had to guess what that person is telling themself in the head- their head, which I love to try to do-

Nick: Uh-huh. Please?

Leah: -even though we're not supposed to do that.

Nick: Oh, bring it!

Leah: That person's probably like, "You know, my son doesn't want to invite their child ..." They didn't say boy or girl. They made it-

Nick: Right.

Leah: "Doesn't get along with- doesn't want to invite their boy or girl, but I want to keep relations with their family, so I'll just invite the moms, so they all don't feel left out."

Nick: Oh!

Leah: I mean, is that the thought is?

Nick: That's the best-case scenario.

Leah: That's the- But even then, it's RUH-DIC-U-LOUS!

Nick: Yeah. I mean, there's no- I don't think- there's no way to slice it.

Leah: I don't even understand. I feel like this mom is well within her rights ... It would be polite to say, "Hey, I can't go to something that my son's not- or daughter's not invited to."

Nick: Right. I think that's the response; like, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I can't chaperone. I can't leave my child, who was not invited, and go to this party."

Leah: "Imagine how my child would feel!"

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I think that's ... You could even say more than that, but that's a fair and balanced-

Nick: Yeah, and I guess one step more opaque, if you wanted to do that, would be like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I can't chaperone. I promised my child I would spend the day with him." The implication is, "If my child were with me this day, I could chaperone; but my child is not coming because you haven't invited him."

Leah: I think that you should clearly point out the difference of inviting someone when you didn't invite their child.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because, as a mother, that person should understand. "Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah; of course she can't go when her kid's not invited. It's an insane thing that I just did."

Nick: Yeah. Although, you aren't supposed to point out people's rudeness.

Leah: No, but in that case, you're not. You're just saying, "Hey, I can't go to something where my kid's not invited."

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You're not saying, "I can't go to something that you invited me to that you didn't invite my child to."

Nick: Right.

Leah: You're saying, "Oh, I'm invited; my kid's not; I can't go."

Nick: Yeah, that's it. This is wild.

Leah: Wild!!

Nick: Truly wild. Yeah. I don't you want to be friends with this family.

Leah: Yeah. I feel like with their- it's like a close ... I think this happens a lot where it's a small area.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And everybody's in the same grade.

Nick: Yeah. Also, get along, people! Just invite them to this destination birthday!

Leah: What's ...?!

Nick: What's the big deal?

Leah: There's enough room at the Boston Science Museum for everybody!

Nick: Right, or Chuck E. Cheese, or St. Barts! They're all big.

Leah: They're all big.

Nick: Our next question-

Leah: We may need to take a breather after that. I'm so worked up!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: This poor mom and her child!

Nick: Yeah, no, it's wild. I mean, this is an etiquette ... What's worse than a crime? This is an etiquette ...

Leah: This is a federal prison.

Nick: This is federal. Yeah. This is not small claims court.

Leah: No.

Nick: No.

Leah: This is federal.

Nick: Yeah. This is that place in Colorado that has no windows. Yeah.

Leah: I also want to tell that kid who didn't get invited, you're the person who's going to grow up to be the next, you know, Bill Gates. Don't worry about it.

Nick: Yeah, you'll be fine.

Leah: You didn't want to go to that party anyway.

Nick: No. That party is garbage.

Leah: Garbage!

Nick: Garbage party. Although, Science Museum is nice.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Our last question, not a question, but a PSA.

Leah: Nick's coming in hard with the PSAs.

Nick: It's not my PSA! Someone wrote this in.

Leah: Oh, really?

Nick: Yeah. They want us to know. They want everybody to know. "Please do not squeeze lemon over the seafood tower we are all about to share. I hate lemon on my oysters, and now you've ruined them for me! The same goes for salting, or saucing. This shows your lack of forethought, and impulsiveness I find to be a character flaw!"

Leah: You could see how I thought that was you.

Nick: I mean, it's not not me, but in this instance, it's actually not me. Yeah, don't garnish something without asking the table, I guess.

Leah: That goes for ketchup.

Nick: Yeah, like a big play to fries.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yeah, yeah, true.

Leah: Salsa.

Nick: Yeah. I guess don't modify the shareable dish without permission.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: If you want to modify it, decant whatever it is to your plate.

Leah: Put it on your plate-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Often, with ketchup, I find what works is you do a little side; over on the side. That way people can dip if they want.

Nick: Give people options!

Leah: Doesn't touch the general-

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: The general fries.

Nick: Yeah, and I will say, people are weird about ketchup.

Leah: Oh, yeah. It's divisive.

Nick: It is provocative.

Leah: You want to see provocative, you go ask for ketchup at a steak restaurant in New York City.

Nick: You know what else is provocative?

Leah: What?

Nick: The questions that you're about to send us.

Leah: Please!

Nick: Please send them to us. Send them to us through our website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com, or you can leave us the voicemail - (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729) and we'll give it our best shot!

Leah: Please!

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent-

Leah: Ba-BAA!

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

Leah: I'm going to repent.

Nick: [Gasping and sighing] All right, Leah.

Leah: I thought about this really hard-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -because I actually feel very vulnerable about this.

Nick: Okay. This is a safe space.

Leah: Ehhh ...

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: But I feel like all of our listeners at home, they've written in all these wonderful questions-

Nick: True.

Leah: -and I should be open and honest about something that I struggled with and am very embarrassed that I did.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So, I've worked really hard, or I'm working really hard on being direct with work things.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I often feel like I should- I want to help everybody, and when I can't help, I feel bad, but sometimes things put you in a bad place. I'm trying to be better at being direct about that.

Nick: So, it's like you need to remember to secure your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.

Leah: And to not feel bad that I have to do that.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And to not feel bad about letting people know that I have to do that.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So, recently, I got an email; it was a work email, and it was about a taping, and it was a coworker asking me for a favor which would put me in a bad position.

Nick: Hm.

Leah: I was so shocked that he/she would ask that I spent the first couple of minutes being like, "I can't believe a person would ask me this!"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Then, I somehow, at the same time, felt guilty in telling them, "Are you crazy?" Or even just-

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: -or even just like, "No, I can't."

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: So - and I'm very embarrassed about this, which is why I'm repenting - I didn't respond.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Because I ... I wish I had because it almost felt dishonest. I got the email. I could have just said, "Sorry, I can't help you. This puts me in an uncomfortable situation. Sure you understand."

Nick: Okay, right.

Leah: I feel bad that I dealt with it by not dealing with it. I just, at the moment, was so sort of worked up that they would ask me because I was like, "Who thinks that's okay?"

Nick: Now, I really want to know what the question in the email was!

Leah: Well, it's so specific to-

Nick: Sure, but it felt provocative, and unearned, and you just didn't feel like [crosstalk]

Leah: Well, I know they knew it was a ridiculous question.

Nick: Ah.

Leah: You know what I mean? But I should have owned it, and been like, "No, I can't do this," and just been upfront.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: "Sorry ..." That way you can ask somebody else to see if they would be willing to get suckered into this situation. It would be honest and direct.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I feel bad that I, in a moment of weakness, fell back on my therapy training, so I'm repenting.

Nick: So, I guess the question is, is it too late to send an email?

Leah: No, it's ... Time has passed. I've seen them.

Nick: Okay. Did we bring this up when we saw them, or we just let it go?

Leah: Yeah, it's past the situation.

Nick: Okay, so-

Leah: It's not going to affect our relationship. It's more that I let myself down.

Nick: You wanted to use your new directness training.

Leah: Well, I try very hard to be honest with people because I think it's very important.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Yes.

Leah: That felt borderline dishonest.

Nick: I don't know if it felt dishonest.

Leah: You don't think so?

Nick: No, because I think a non-response is a response. Like if you did-

Leah: Because I feel very guilty about that.

Nick: Well, and you can. Maybe there's reason to feel guilty about it.

Leah: It's acting like I didn't see it.

Nick: Well, that's one interpretation, yeah; but it's also like, I got it, and I just don't want to respond to it. That is a response, so ... It's not a polite response.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: But it's a response.

Leah: Ooohf ...

Nick: Okay, well, thank you for repenting. For today, I - this is hard - I would like to repent.

Leah: [Screaming]

Nick: So, here's what happened. I was having dinner at my aunt's house, casual dinner; although that doesn't make a difference. We're having dinner - lovely dinner; love my aunt - having a roll. Great roll. Love a good roll.

Leah: Mm-hmm!

Nick: "Oh, have some butter." Great. Here's the butter. I take the butter knife off the shared butter dish. I take the butter. I put the butter on my plate like you're supposed to do, but then, I don't know what happened. I used the same knife, and I buttered my roll with the communal butter knife! It was like, "What have I done?"

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: What have I done? So, here I am at dinner. It's 10 people, all family. I'm holding the communal butter knife in my right hand, like a murder weapon, having just buttered my roll with it, and now I have a choice. Do you take this knife and put it back in the communal dish - because no one saw ... no one saw me do this - or do you get up, make a scene, and get a new knife? What do you do?

Leah: I wish everybody at home could see your arms right now. It's so reverent.

Nick: So, here I am at the table, because, like, is it an etiquette crime if no one sees? Is that still a crime? It's like a Zen koan [crosstalk] If an etiquette crime is committed and no one hears it, has it made a sound? So ... I was thinking, though, I'm going to have to confront you; I'm going to have to confront our listeners; I'm going to have to live with myself ... So, I decided that even though I could get away with it, no! That would be wrong! I will not! I got up from the table. I was like, "Hey, gonna refresh my drink. Anybody need anything?" and I got a new knife. But, to this day, I feel very bad about buttering my roll with a communal butter knife. I'm sorry, and I repent, and it won't happen again!

Leah: Phew!

Nick: [Sigh] I feel better.

Leah: Wow! I feel-

Nick: I feel better about it. Thank you for-

Leah: Cleansed.

Nick: Thank you for making this the safe space.

Leah: I mean, you got everybody a new knife.

Nick: I did. I did. But this is what my life is now.

Leah: [Laughing]

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: So, Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned a lot today.

Nick: Today was pretty jam-packed.

Leah: I learned that- all the numbers were so interesting! I had no idea about the four-

Nick: Hmm. Sure.

Leah: -and I'm half-Italian. I didn't know about the 17.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think that's super-well-advertised.

Leah: Yeah, no, I don't think it is at all.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So, very interesting!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Thank you!

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I also learned that maybe a part of this podcast should be our listeners writing in and then we show up at their friend's house and say, "Hey, we're Nick and Leah from Were You Raised by Wolves? and you can't invite, or actually ask your mom friend to do a job when her kid's not invited!"

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: So, we're doing an intervention?

Nick: Yeah, I think we should just make this a show about house calls.

Leah: Yep, we should just do house calls.

Nick: I learned that destination birthday parties for children is a thing!

Leah: What? Wow.

Nick: Is a thing!

Leah: Who knew?

Nick: I didn't. So, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick!

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery, and you know I would.

Leah: He absolutely would!

Nick: I definitely would! So, please leave us a review wherever you listen to podcasts and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. You can sign up for our newsletter, and, did you know we have merchandise?

Leah: I did, yes.

Nick: Yes. Yes, we have merchandise.

Leah: I hope you guys know.

Nick: Yeah! So, get yourself a mug, and a [crosstalk]

Leah: Or a sweatshirt!

Nick: Sweatshirts are great. I love mine.

Leah: Oh, so soft!

Nick: I wear it to the gym. Now, hopefully, people won't ask, "Were you raised by wolves?" See you next time!

Leah: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]

Nick: Okay, now it's time for Cordials of Kindness-

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: Which is Leah's opportunity to make us say nice things, and I only give her 30 seconds!

Leah: This is really hard this week because I have a lot!

Nick: Okay!

Leah: But I'm not going to fit them all in because I like to, you know, expand on each person.

Nick: All right. Well, I will go first because Leah makes me do this. So, my Cordial of Kindness - where we're all just going to take a little sip - is for you, Leah.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: It is always such a treat to be able to have you over ... Oh, yeah, in case you don't know, we're just in my apartment in New York chatting-

Leah: It's so lovely!

Nick: -this is not in some studio. So, it is always a treat, and I always look forward to having you come over. I put on a pot of coffee. We put on some headphones, and we chat. It is so fun, and it is such a highlight, and it's been such a delight. I thank you for the amount of time you have devoted to this, and shown up, and always bringing your A game. It is just delightful, and I'm so appreciative. Thank you very much!


Leah: Oh, my goodness! I'm glowing!

Nick: Great!

Leah: Now, I feel like I just want to do my Cordial of Kindness back to you.

Nick: I mean, I'm happy to take it.

Leah: I have so many, I want 90 seconds!

Nick: Nope! 30. Go!

Leah: Aah! Well, I want to do my Cordial of Kindness back then-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -because that was just such the nicest thing.

Nick: Aww.

Leah: Thank you so much for having me, and all the amazing work you do. You respond to people. They're so wonderful, the letters you write. You have everything so organized, and you're such a delight.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You do such great work on the all the Instagram pictures, and the little moving ones-

Nick: Moving ones?

Leah: You're really incredible. So, I really always look forward to being here, and you're such a delight!


Nick: Thank you.

Leah: Thank you!