March 29, 2021

Strip Mining Tarte Tatins, Paying What You Think Is Fair, Eating Quail With Your Hands, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about strip mining Tarte Tatin, paying "whatever you think is fair," eating quail with your hands, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

Amazon Music podcast player badge
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
Podchaser podcast player badge
Stitcher podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about strip mining Tarte Tatins, paying "whatever you think is fair," eating quail with your hands, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • What is rude about my step-daughter eating just the apples out of my Tarte Tatin?
  • How do I handle situations where someone asks me to pay "whatever I think is fair"?
  • Is it rude to take a food sample if you don't make a purchase?
  • What do I do about people who don't respect the fact I am the owner of my business?
  • When is it OK to eat quail with your hands?
  • PSA: Keeping blackberry brambles secret




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


Nick: Hey everybody, it's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is, quote, "This could qualify as a vent, but I'm really curious to hear your take on what kind of etiquette infraction this was, and what is so egregious about it. A few weeks ago, I got inspired to make tarte Tatin for my family. In restaurants, we buy sheets of all-butter frozen puff pastry, but I didn't have any of that in my home kitchen, so I decided to make it from scratch, which is a pretty big task. I made a full batch of my old culinary school recipe, which makes enough puff pastry to make several tarts. So I froze most of it, and had been making tarte tatin about once a week. Each time I've made it, my stepdaughter—an adult still living with us—sneaks into the kitchen at night and takes chunks of apple off the leftover tart, leaving unappetizing portions of bare crust, effectively ruining the remaining tart.

Nick: "My stepdaughter and I, by and large, have a good relationship and I know she won't do this again since I asked her not to. She was embarrassed, and I think she had convinced herself that no one had noticed or that someone else would be blamed. So I don't need advice on how to handle future infractions, but I'm curious as to what is the category of this etiquette crime. I was truly appalled that anyone would do this. And I know it has to do with the fact that it seems selfish, but I can't entirely put my finger on what is so offensive about it. Am I wrong to think so?"

Leah: Why don't you handle this one, Nick?

Nick: [laughs] Well first of all, have you ever had tarte Tatin? Do you know what it is?

Leah: I know what it is, but I don't think I've had it.

Nick: So for anybody who doesn't know, tarte Tatin is basically you carmelize apples, and then you toss it into, like, a cake pan and you put puff pastry on the top of it, you bake it, and then you flip it out to serve it so that the puff pastry is on the bottom. And so then all the ooey-gooey caramel from the apples sort of like soaks into the puff pastry. And the story goes, there was two sisters in France named Caroline and Stephanie, and they ran a hotel. And Stephanie, depending on, like, what version of the story, was either stupid or scatterbrained or she was just distracted one day. But she was making an apple pie and she forgot about it. And it, like, started burning. And she tried to save it by, like, tossing some pastry on it and, like, tossing it in the oven. And then it turned out to be a big hit, and then, like, so they just kept doing it. So that is the origin of tarte Tatin, because the sisters were the Tatin sisters. That was their last name. So that's the tarte Tatin.

Leah: Also a lovely story about how some amazing, delicious new things come out of mistakes.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, some of the best things. Like, chocolate chip cookies? That was a mistake.

Leah: Was it?

Nick: Yeah. Ruth Wakefield. Yeah, yeah. She thought the chocolate would melt but it didn't and it stayed as chunks. And then, like, oh, the Tollhouse cookie was born.

Leah: [gasps]

Nick: Yeah. Fun fact.

Leah: I'm so hungry.

Nick: Anyway, so yes, this is indeed incorrect. And I was thinking about, like, what is the etiquette crime here? And I think actually there's a couple crimes. So I think the main one is that it is disrespectful to a chef to make it obvious that you don't like something that they made. So, like, at a dinner party, you don't criticize the food in front of them. You just sort of like push it around your plate and, like, don't eat the Brussels sprouts if you don't like them. But we don't, like, make a big fuss about it. And when you, like, take chunks of something and leave something behind that you don't want, it makes it very obvious that you don't like it. So I think that's one of the etiquette crimes at play.

Leah: Oh, I don't think that's that she doesn't like it, I think she's just sort of sneaking little parts at a time. I think she likes it very much.

Nick: Oh, you think it's like, "Oh, I'm gonna only have small portions, so then I don't have a big portion?"

Leah: I think she's just trying to sneak a little bit because she likes it so much.

Nick: Okay, so she likes the whole thing, but ...

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I mean, it seems like she's only eating the apples, and she's not eating the crust.

Leah: Because she's sneaking it. She's not taking a full bite, she's not taking a full piece. She's sneaking. She's sneak eating.

Nick: I see. Okay. Well, then that becomes a very different thing.

Leah: I think it's actually a compliment to how much she likes the food.

Nick: Oh, interesting take. Okay.

Leah: She's sneaking it.

Nick: Okay. I thought she just didn't know the rule that there are some things that you have to take the whole thing of. Like, you have to take a whole cupcake. You can't just eat frosting.

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: Or, like, you don't just eat a muffin top. You have to take the whole muffin.

Leah: No, I think she likes the whole thing. She's sneak eating.

Nick: So then what is the etiquette crime if it's sneak eating? Don't be sneaky?

Leah: People often take little pieces when they feel like they're not allowed to have a full piece.

Nick: Hmm. Okay.

Leah: So I feel like—I also don't feel like—the woman says, "My stepdaughter, we have this good relationship," but then she says, "An adult still living with us." As opposed to an adult who's currently at home with us, you know?

Nick: Or do we even need that detail at all, right?

Leah: Yeah. And then also says she apologized and hasn't done it again, but I want to share it with everybody, even though she was ashamed. So I actually just think that—I don't know if she likes this stepdaughter, and she wants to make her feel bad, when this girl obviously already feels bad. And I think she's sneak eating because she feels like she can't take a piece. So she's, like, trying to hide it. And I think this person is reading it as she's being disrespectful by not caring about other people in the house, and making the food look bad by just taking pieces.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: That's what I think is happening.

Nick: Okay. Well, I think we just got way beyond etiquette on this one. This is no longer about tarte Tatin, that's for sure.

Leah: No, I don't think it's about tarte Tatin at all.

Nick: It never was. Yeah, okay. Well, I think if we just want to offer some thoughts in general for our listeners who may encounter portions of dessert eating, I think we just want to remember that when you take a portion of something, you have to take the whole portion when it comes to a dessert. So you've got to take the whole slice of cake, you've got to take the whole cupcake. This is not about that, obviously, but just in general.

Leah: I mean, maybe I'm wrong, but the writer wants to know what is so offensive about what this daughter is doing.

Nick: So I hear what you're saying, and I think your take is not necessarily incorrect. I guess what is offensive is that, by leaving behind the remnants, it's kind of like people who strip mine communal dishes for the good stuff. So, like, if there's a pasta salad that has beautiful cherry tomatoes, and everybody's supposed to enjoy this pasta salad, you don't go and serve yourself, like, all the cherry tomatoes out of it. You don't pick those out. And, like, the caramelized apples in the tarte Tatin is, like, a delicious portion of it. And you don't just take that part, leaving the dregs of the dish for other people. So I think that concept, I think, is what caught my eye as, like, being problematic here.

Leah: I definitely agree with you with that, that that's what's rude about it, is that you're taking all the good stuff out. Like, if somebody was to go into a pint of New York super fudge chunk and eat out all the chunks and then ...

Nick: Exactly, yes.

Leah: And that's definitely rude, because you're not thinking about other people. But if she immediately apologized and then stopped doing it, I think she didn't see that that's what was happening. She was probably just trying to grab a little bit because she loved it so much. And then she tried to right her ways.

Nick: Yes. I think she apologized, so I think that's good. And I think the etiquette crime is just ...

Leah: It's not thinking about other people when you take the good part of the food.

Nick: Right. It was not being mindful of other people's happiness. And yeah, we don't just leave the crust of something, And I guess this is the quote-unquote "crust" of this dessert.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And that she should just take a full portion.

Nick: And it is true. I think if you don't want the full portion, then just, like, throw it out, and hopefully nobody sees, like, you throw away the crust. But don't, like, leave it in the dish. No?

Leah: No, I agree with you. I think that what it is, is that this was a rant, and then they changed it into a question.

Nick: I see.

Leah: Because right in the middle of it it says, "So I don't want advice on how to handle future infractions." So it's a rant. But then they want us to validate by saying, am I wrong to think so? But then we can't give ideas. So it's sort of ...

Nick: [laughs] What do you want from us? Our next question is, quote, "After spending my entire adult life in big cities, I recently moved to a small town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. So far, I'm loving country living: the slower pace, the friendlier people and the relative peace and quiet. But I've had some unique etiquette challenges for which I've been totally unprepared. Specifically, I live on a farm outside of town, and have few neighbors. Because I live on my own and have virtually no DIY skills, I often require help with maintenance, repairs and other odd jobs around the house and farm. When these situations arise, I usually post my plea for help on a neighborhood Facebook group, and ask locals to recommend companies or individuals who can help with a particular task. Inevitably, I receive multiple responses saying, 'I can help you out with that,' which I greatly appreciate. However, once somebody offers to help me out, I'll ask what the cost of the service will be. And I'm regularly told that I can pay, quote, 'Whatever I think is fair.'

Nick: "I'm always caught off guard by this, and always fear insulting them by offering too little, or more frequently significantly overpaying for a service that requires minimal time because I'm desperate and I can't do it on my own. Any ideas? I'm confident I've never encountered this dilemma in New York or LA, where there's a market price for just about everything."

Leah: I had an idea.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: This actually happens a lot in the opposite direction, is for comedy where people will say, "Hey, I have this thing. What's your price?"

Nick: Ah, okay. Like, "Please perform at my daughter's bat mitzvah?"

Leah: Yeah. And you have no framework of what the budget is. And it's different for different things. Like, corporations or non-profits or benefits or the time you're doing. So I feel like this person could actually use what I wish people would say to me when I got an email, because I know they just want to know what my—so I think that this person could just say, "This is what I need done. This is how much I can pay for it. Is this something you could do?"

Nick: Hmm, okay.

Leah: Because that way they're just throwing a number out that they're comfortable with, and then that person is free to say, oh, it usually is a little more or a little less or fine.

Nick: Okay. I mean, I think the problem for our letter writer is like, I have no idea what it is to get a couch out of my car and into my house. Like, I don't know what the fair price is.

Leah: But just throw in—I know, but you could just throw a number out that you have to spend at this time. Like, I have $50. Can you do this for $50? Is this something you could do, or could you recommend somebody? That way you know you're within your budget and you're not asking somebody to do something that they feel uncomfortable doing for that amount of money because they can say, "Oh, no, I usually charge this."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Just start the conversation with the money. That way we don't have to go back and forth and back and forth and guesss. And then—because I always do that where I then worry and then I'm afraid am I my overpaying?

Nick: Right.

Leah: I don't want to underpay. So just start with the money.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, my initial thought was, let's pick a hourly rate that feels fair, and pay the person for, like, the time it takes them to drive to your house, if you're in some rural area, the time at your place, and then the time for them to go away. And start with that as some number. Like, whatever some hourly rate that feels fair in general is. And then that's how we would start the conversation. And then they could be like, "Oh, actually, like, that's too low for what this is." Or "That's too high." But like $25 an hour, I figure it's gonna take you an hour and a half. So, like, is that cool? And that would be another way to maybe approach this.

Leah: I like that, too. I still think it's like the idea of just starting with an idea.

Nick: But I think what we should not do is have them do the job and then figure out the price after they've already done it.

Leah: Yeah, that's very uncomfortable.

Nick: That's very uncomfortable and that never works out, no. I do appreciate living in New York City where I don't have to do very much for myself. [laughs] So I think it is very nice on some level that I can just be, like, a human and Wall-E sitting in my chair driving around.

Leah: I just want to know what people's budget is, so that's why I think if she's just trying to make them happy and she doesn't know, but if she could just throw out what her budget is.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think what's tricky is like, what's my budget? Like, I have money. I just don't want to give all of it to you. So I also want to give you as little of it as possible.

Leah: Yeah, but I think everybody can guess how much they think is fair, and then you could say, "You know, I'm not sure if that's fair. Let me know."

Nick: Okay. So you just have to pick a number and just start there.

Leah: Because otherwise, you're gonna go back and forth forever and it's gonna get anxious and then it's gonna get left to the end, and then—you know what I mean? That way it's out in the open, it's done, it's up top. Everybody knows that they think it's fair or unfair. They can say.

Nick: Well, I mean, I think there is a danger of insulting. Like, if I ask you to perform at my corporate sales conference and I was like, our budget is $100, no transportation included, that's gonna feel insulting.

Leah: I'm not gonna feel insulted, I'm gonna say ...

Nick: You won't.

Leah: No, because how would you know? If you don't regularly book comics, how would you know? And I'll just say yes or no. I think as long as the person, our letter writer, or the person asking me to do a corporate gig for $100 opens with, "I am unfamiliar with this."

Nick: Right.

Leah: That way I know oh, you don't do this regularly. You don't know. You know what I mean? And you're just trying to get the ball rolling. Because it's hard for people. They don't know what your budget is. So just say this is what I have. Can you do it?

Nick: Yeah, okay. And I guess it's important to remember that this is business, and so let's not be offended. Like, it's just a number, there's no value attached to this number. This was just a number. And so, like, let's just start with a conversation on this number and go from there. Okay.

Leah: And I just think it'd be a lot less anxiety for our letter writer if she starts with it.

Nick: Yeah, it sounds like she's gonna have to toss out the number first for these people. Yeah.

Leah: And then they can agree or not agree, and that's up to them.

Nick: Okay. So our next question is quote, "I am a pastry chef, and at one point I went into business for myself, making an incandescently delicious Italian vanilla honey nut nougat candy. This is not a plug since I no longer sell this, though, if either of you wanted to try it, I would send some to you, since I still make it for special people.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: "Almost every time, people would take a sample, then take a couple more samples, then not buy the thing. Or maybe they would, but they ate several samples first, which then forced me to cut up another potentially profitable piece of my product to make more samples. I know everybody likes free stuff, but this is not free stuff. It's a sample meant to let you experience my product to determine if you would like to buy it. If you take more than one, you're essentially saying, ‘Yes, I like it, but I would rather exploit your generous business strategy than actually pay for this item.’ What do you think? Is it rude to take more than one sample?" I mean, let's just start with "Incandescently delicious Italian vanilla honey nut nougat candy."

Leah: It's so hard to think about the rest of the question when my mouth was, like, arrested halfway through, just being like, this sounds delicious. I must please try.

Nick: I mean, our address is on our website. Just saying.

Leah: Such a nice offer!

Nick: So is it rude to take more than one sample? I mean, I guess it depends, right?

Leah: Yeah, it's very the place you're in.

Nick: Hmm, okay. Because I mean, I know people who have Costco memberships for the express purpose of just going on weekends and, like, making a meal of it.

Leah: Yeah, I think when it's like a large company and you're trying out, but this is like a small business, and I imagine that she has, like, a delightful little tray by the register. And in this question, it sounds like this person is just standing there finishing it and then being like, "Can I get more samples?" And you're like, "What just happened right now?" And that definitely seems rude.

Nick: Yeah. No, that does feel rude, yeah. Because I guess our letter writer is feeling like she's being taken advantage of, and I guess that's the feeling she has, and that's why this feels rude to her.

Leah: Yeah, and if I'm reading the situation correctly, that was rude.

Nick: Right. Although I guess in my mind, I think we need to reframe what the samples are meant to do and how we regard them, because I think, like, there's the actual sample that we're giving to an actual individual person trying to convince them to purchase it. But then we also want to think about samples more holistically. Like, this is a brand-building exercise. This is about making customers feel good about the brand, the experience, the hospitality, the generosity. And maybe they're not gonna buy something today, but they'll have warm feelings about your little shop and they'll think of you fondly in the future. And I think samples go a long way towards that.

Leah: I definitely agree with that, and I like the idea of about it being a relationship. I think maybe it could be where the sample is placed. Like, maybe she could actually have the samples behind with her and then offer a sample. And then it's like a piece, instead of someone just standing over it and then, like, clearing the plate. So then they have a little dialog. Maybe they talk about it.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And then she can offer them the sample.

Nick: That's true. I mean, offering, I think, is a better way to control it than, like, a tray that's like a pass the hors d'oeuvres at a cocktail party where someone's just grazing.

Leah: Yeah. It sounds like somebody just came here to graze. That's, like, a perfect word for it.

Nick: And one thing I was thinking of is, like, if you really don't want to give samples and you feel like this is just destroying your profitability, don't offer samples, but maybe have, like, a bite-sized piece that you can sell. So, like, maybe there's a piece of nougat that you can wrap individually in, like, cellophane like a bonbon, and you sell that for 25 cents. And somebody can try that, and that's a very low bar of entry. And if they like and they want to buy the big thing, then you could even say, like, "Oh, I'll give you a 25 cent credit against the big thing if you end up buying it. And I think that's one way to sort of not feel as taken advantage of.

Leah: I feel like you always have so many ideas that ...

Nick: I mean, I spend a lot of time thinking about these things, for better or for worse.

Leah: No, I really like it. I spent a lot of my time thinking about how delicious it was, but ...

Nick: That's why we're different.

Leah: [laughs] I know! But I didn't get the idea that she is against samples, I think that she is against the way that some people are taking advantage of the samples.

Nick: Yes, it's the taking advantage.

Leah: That's why I thought maybe they were just moved to a different location.

Nick: I mean, I guess the question is, if you're taking a sample and you truly have no intention of ever buying it or anything like it from this store in the future, then yeah, you are taking advantage. Yeah, you are taking advantage. Certainly, if you're getting more than one sample, then you're pushing it.

Leah: Yeah, it's the more than one.

Nick: The more than one is not great, I don't think we want to do three. I think I draw the line at three dips from the trough.

Leah: Three—three seems obscene.

Nick: But I am reminded, I was at some chocolate shop in the Village recently, buying a box of chocolates for a friend's birthday, and they offered me a sample of a chocolate-covered potato chip. And I had no intention of buying chocolate-covered potato chips during that visit, but I tried it because I was like, "That's a chocolate covered potato chip. I want to eat that." And so I ate it, and I'm still thinking about it. And I think the next time I need to purchase something that's like a chocolate-covered potato chip, like, for Leah Bonnema maybe?

Leah: Oh, my goodness. I'm gonna cry. That sounds so good!

Nick: I will think fondly of that, and I will remember that and I will go back. And so, like, they're gonna get their money's worth out of that, like, you know, 10 cent sample they gave me.

Leah: Oh, definitely. I think samples are a nice thing to think of as a for later. Like, "Oh, hey, you're here for this other thing, do you want to try this?" And so I think about it for next time, as you were saying.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But it's a sample. It's not a buffet.

Nick: And also, I think it goes out of your advertising budget. So I think you just need to decide, like, how much money do I want to spend on advertising? And this is part of that. And so, yes, you may not close every sale but, like, no advertising works a hundred percent. It's all about, like, what percentage of return are you getting? And so, you know, if you offer 20 bucks worth of this, you know, nougat per month and you end up getting, you know, 10 sales out of it, well then you've definitely got your money's worth out of the 20 bucks, probably. And so, yes, you may not close every sale but, like, percentage-wise over a month, hopefully you turn enough of a return on that investment that it makes sense. We can talk about ROI and ROAS all day long, but I think you could think of it in terms of advertising, and not necessarily as, like, actual nougat we're giving to an individual.

Leah: RONs. Return on nougats.

Nick: RONs, yes. It's the hot thing at the Harvard Business School now.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: It's the new metric.

Leah: I love the way you're thinking about the RONs, and I think yes to the RONs, and I think also we can also judge harshly somebody who's standing over your nougat and just eating it all, and then asking for you to cut up another one. I think we can have both things.

Nick: Both things are possible. Yes, we can walk and chew nougat at the same time.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So as a reminder to our letter writer, our address is on our website. So if you have any extra incandescently delicious Italian vanilla honey nougat candy laying around, I'm just saying we have a place for that.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I am a fierce feminist woman that owns a small business in a male-dominated field that predates my marriage. My soon to be ex-husband works for me, which he will continue to do after the so far amicable divorce. He does all of my sales, so all of my customers see and know him, and people tend to assume that the company is his, although he has zero ownership. And they like to refer to our personal relationship as though it were relevant to my position in the company. Comments like, 'You're his wife, right?' This has continuously frustrated me to the point that I've sincerely considered selling and being done with it altogether. He has always blown it off, telling me I'm overreacting. How can I assert myself with my customers without alienating or offending them? I've tried making jokes and laughing it off. 'Oh, actually, he works for me, ha ha ha. So crazy, right?' I've tried to repeat what they've said, replacing 'Your husband' with 'My salesman,' although I don't love that.

Nick: "People will directly ask me about my relationship with him. And I've tried saying that I quote, 'Don't like to talk about my personal relationships. I want to be respectful to people, but I struggle greatly with how I'm feeling so incredibly disrespected and disregarded. I even have one customer that knows I'm bothered, and will call me asking for him by name and call him the owner. How can I address these situations within the bounds of etiquette, and let it be clearly known that I'm not 'just his secretary' and only that, because of our marriage? And for the record, I'm not 100 percent sure that I don't want this divorce just so I can say, 'Nope, he isn't my husband' with honesty and be done with it for real. I don't want to be married to him for many reasons, but this is one of them."

Leah: This question, I feel—I mean, this is real.

Nick: This is a thing. Yeah, I think this comes up.

Leah: This has been a real issue for me in my life. I almost feel like you have to not worry. She doesn't want to, like, offend people. At a certain point, you just have to put your foot down.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, this is tricky, because my first thought was sort of like, you know, sometimes in business you just sort of suck it up. You know, a dollar is a dollar. And a dollar from a rude customer is still a dollar. And so on some levels it's sort of like, you know, should we just—you know, like, with this rude customer that knows that she's an owner and, you know, goes out of his way to, like, call the husband, the owner? You know, that's just rude. But do you want to correct that person?

Leah: Well, she obviously has and they keep doing it.

Nick: Right.

Leah: They're, like, egging her on.

Nick: But I do think, though, it is fine to correct people, and you can do that in a nice, sort of non-judgmental, polite way. I think the issue is she's currently going through divorce, and she may not have the ability to summon up a tone that is non-judgmental and value neutral right now. She just may not have that ability, in which case I don't know what you do with that.

Leah: Well, even sans divorce, like, it's hard to maintain value neutral when people—it's just such an archaic way of thinking about business, and I see it all the time. I was recently at a comedy festival, and another comic was there with her partner. And he's not even a comic. And somebody was talking, didn't even make eye contact with her, just started talking to him about it.

Nick: Ugh!

Leah: As if they had to go through the man.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: You know? That he was, like, somehow in charge. And I will have people ask me—this has come up before—how my boyfriend thinks about something, or basically—like, so I get why it's so infuriating.

Nick: Yeah, and it's amazing that it still happens. That in this day and age, we still have this concept like, "Oh, a lady running a business? How novel!"

Leah: And it is very disrespectful. And if you've politely corrected somebody, and to the point where she's like, "I've almost thought about not doing anymore." So if you've thought about not doing it anymore ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Then straight out tell them, "Yeah. No, I'm the boss."

Nick: Yeah, that's true. I didn't like that detail in this letter, which was like, this is to the point where I don't even want to be in business anymore. I don't love that we're at that point with this, that it's so disrespectful, like, that felt like a option for her.

Leah: Yeah. That's why I think if you feel that strongly about it, that it's fine to let people know, because it's your business, you've worked hard. And then to have somebody make you feel like you got permission from your husband because he runs it, whether or not you're married or not, it's your business.

Nick: Yeah, the marriage part, I think, is actually almost immaterial. It's just the idea that, like, she is not getting the respect and recognition that she deserves for building a successful business. And that surely a man must be responsible. And I guess that is what is sort of infuriating.

Leah: And because she added that detail that she'd be ready to, like, just shut the whole business down, then I think you come up with a back pocket sentence, that you have it ready, and you don't worry if you've already explained to them that you're the owner and then they keep doing it, you have the sentence ready. And you say it and you lose their business? Well, you were ready to shut it down anyway. It's obviously something that is deeply bothering you, which I completely understand.

Nick: So what's this back pocket sentence we can whip out?

Leah: I was hoping that you would come up with it because mine would be far less ...

Nick: I was hoping you would come up with it.

Leah: Mine would be far less tempered.

Nick: I see.

Leah: Because I've had this happen to me a lot, which we've discussed. And I'm to the point where I say things like, "Oh, let me go and get a handwritten permission slip." I can't even take it anymore. I don't know if they realize what they're implying. So I'll be like, "Oh, I have a permission slip. You know, after my dad gave me away, he signed it over to my boyfriend and he allows me to be out this late."

Nick: I am chattel.

Leah: So that's why I think that you should give the back pocket sentence, because this really I find so disrespectful. My back pocket sentence would not be nice.

Nick: So I guess a back pocket sentence should inherently be nice, because the purpose of the back pocket sentence is that you had time to prepare and craft it in a way that is polite and etiquette-approved, and it's sitting in your back pocket ready to go. But we took the time to assemble this back pocket sentence in advance so that we can whip it out. And so it should inherently be nice and polite.

Leah: Or just really funny and not the other things. [laughs]

Nick: So I guess the sentence is just a factual, like, "Actually, I'm the owner of this company. Chad over here is my sales director.” And I think you could just say that. And I guess you just have to repeat it again and again, and hope it eventually sinks in with people, and you just have to just repeat it over and over.

Leah: Well, I feel like she's repeated over and over and they're not doing it, and that's why it may make you feel good to start throwing in not etiquette-approved sentences like, "I know! We vote now. Crazy!" Just to let the steam out. You know, if you're to the point where you want to shut the business down.

Nick: So other ideas I had other than that, were that we could rename the business to make it clear that our letter writer owns it. So it'd be like, Lisa's Monster Truck Body Shop. So, like, her name is in the title of the business. That's an idea. Or we can get a sign for the business cards and the front window which is like, "Woman owned and operated since 1990," you know? So we could, like, just declare this is a woman-owned business.

Leah: I like both of these ideas so much.

Nick: So I think we could just rebrand the business to make it clear this is Lisa's business. So it's Lisa's Monster Truck Body Shop. It's Lisa's woman-owned and operated Monster Truck—I don't know what male-dominated field we're talking about. I'm just assuming it's monster trucks, because what else is there? So I think I would do that.

Leah: It must be monster trucks.

Nick: I have got no other options.

Leah: It is just so crazy that people still do this. I mean ...

Nick: It's crazy, but I think it's actually not uncommon. I think half our audience is like, "Yep!"

Leah: Oh, it's not—no, I know it's not uncommon. It literally happens to me every time I walk outside. Like, this person who—he knows that she's bothered, so he does it on purpose.

Nick: Well, for that guy, I mean, he's a lost cause. I don't think we can do anything about that. He's just a bad etiquette person.

Leah: I think he enjoys, like, baiting you, which is so annoying.

Nick: Yeah. And I'm sure the ex-husband is not doing any favors here either.

Leah: He doesn't seem to be doing any favors.

Nick: Which is probably part of the problem.

Leah: Part of the problem.

Nick: But, like, that's not our role.

Leah: Not our role, so I'm glad we're not addressing that.

Nick: No. But I think let's just toss your name into the business, because wouldn't it be satisfying if he has answered the phone now, like, "Lisa's Monster Truck Body Shop?" That would be very satisfying for your ex-husband salesperson.

Leah: I really like that.

Nick: Yeah, so go for that. Our next question is quote, "When is it okay or not okay to eat meat off the bone? I'm clear on the big ones like t-bones and pork chops, but the smaller the bone, the harder to tell. Quail is usually found at more upscale restaurants, but it's not even worth ordering if you can't dig your teeth in there. At a business dinner when a chicken leg comes out, people will nervously reach for their forks and knives as if they're looking for an out. Is this pomp and circumstance really necessary? Please enlighten me."

Leah: My easy answer to this is, when is it okay to eat meat off the bone? Whenever you're hanging out with Leah Bonnema.

Nick: Okay. I mean, that's a correct answer. Yeah, I mean, that is correct. Miss Manners would agree with that. Yes. I mean, my first thought here was, like, since when is not looking like a wild animal considered pomp and circumstance? Like, when is that pomp and circumstance? So I don't know.

Leah: I thought you were gonna say something like that.

Nick: I mean, and is it necessary? Is anything necessary? I mean, no one is gonna die if you pick up a quail leg when you're dining at Le Bernardin. No one is gonna keel over and now be dead because of this etiquette crime. So is it necessary? No. But I mean, none of this is. So that's not what etiquette is about, I guess.

Leah: But dive into that chicken wing. I mean, come on!

Nick: I mean, in a restaurant, use a knife and fork. Even on quail. And you just have to get to a good place knowing that you're not gonna get all the meat out of it. You're gonna leave something on the bone, and that's just what it is, because we're just not gonna pick it up.

Leah: Which seems like a crime against humanity, to be totally honest. But ...

Nick: I don't make the rules. That's just what it is.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And I think in general, especially if we're dining out and it's a formal thing, you should always actually be mindful of what you're about to order. So if you're worried about, like, "Oh, I can't possibly not pick up this avian bone at this meal," then don't order it. Order something that is not gonna tempt you. Like, if I'm wearing a nice tie and I'm actually at a nice dinner, I'm not gonna have the pasta with the red sauce. I'm just not gonna order it because I don't need that in my life. So just don't order the quail. Although who is writing us this question and eating quail? It feels like that's two different people.

Leah: I think they want to go through each meat and say, "Can I eat it off the bone category by category?" And I think Nick's answer is categorically no.

Nick: I mean, if you're having barbecue, like, if you're at a barbecue place and there's paper on your tray, then yes, pick it up. But I mean, I think if we're in a restaurant where, like, we're kind of at a slightly elevated dining experience, perhaps, yeah, you're just not gonna pick it up. And quail, you never pick up quail. I don't think there's a world in which we eat quail. Unless you're having, like, a super casual backyard barbecue with quail, in which case, I guess, you know, pick it up.

Leah: I mean, we always pick up chicken wings. Always.

Nick: Yes. Although where are you having fine dining with chicken wings?

Leah: Well, I'm just saying, if there's chicken wings on the menu, they want you to pick them up.

Nick: Yes, I don't think we want to eat chicken wings with a knife and fork. True. Yes.

Leah: If I see a knife and fork coming out with chicken wings, I'm calling the police. Honestly, who are you?

Nick: Okay, yeah. I'll give you that, I'll give you that, I guess I'm just trying to hang my hat on the quail.

Leah: [laughs] I just immediately pictured a quail wearing a hat. And it was the top hat.

Nick: I mean, what other hats do quails wear?

Leah: What other hat would it be?

Nick: I mean, a fedora? Come now.

Leah: Come on. No!

Nick: So our last thing is a local etiquette tidbit. So you may remember a few episodes ago, I wanted to hear from you guys about local etiquette things in your area. So if I visit you in your community, what's something I need to know to fit in? And so we got great examples from around the world. And keep them coming. And this one is quote, "I live near Seattle. And when the wild blackberries are abundant, we pick them and make jam, pies, you name it. And since some spots are better than others, you never ask where they're picked. That's a personal thing."

Leah: So good to know. I would never know that.

Nick: Right? Although it makes sense. Like, we just don't ask. You know, that's very intimate, your special bramble.

Leah: Your special bramble. Ooh!

Nick: Right?

Leah: Imagine somebody sneaking out behind somebody else at night to find where they get their berries.

Nick: Following them, tracking them, stalking them, private detective. Yeah.

Leah: It's a very big Father Brown episode.

Nick: [laughs] So do you have any local etiquette tidbits for us or questions? Please send them to us. You can send them to us at our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!