Before Rico and Brendan had all of our guests pile onto the stage to answer our live audience’s etiquette dilemmas at the Now Hear This Festival, they first chatted with guest Annabelle Gurwitch. You may know her from her appearances on TV shows like “Seinfeld,” and “Dexter,” or as host of the TBS series “Dinner and a Movie.”
She’s also written a couple of books, including The New York Times bestseller, “I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50.” Her next book is what she describes as a “self-hurt memoir.” It’s called, “Wherever You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To.”
In the audio above, you’ll hear her chat with our hosts about some of the of the more eye-catching stories in the book — including her time in a UFO cult — before we get down to the etiquette nitty gritty, which you can also read below.
Is flossing in a public bathroom OK?
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, so our first question comes from Malika. And while we’re finding Malika, her favorite podcast is “The Moth.” Thanks, Malika. Wrong answer. That was a gimme.
No, no, it says, “fave podcast other than ours.” So it was “The Moth.” So your question is: “Is it appropriate to floss your teeth in a public bathroom?”
Annabelle Gurwitch: OK, I’d like to start out with this. So, I got into a kind of a big thing with Larry David from “Seinfeld” about flossing at one point, because we had a big argument about what was the worst thing you could floss your teeth with in public? Was it like a leaf stem or the back of your earring?
Rico Gagliano: Have you done that?
Annabelle Gurwitch: I’ve done it all! Don’t do that. It’s not even right to floss– people in L.A., I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, people floss in cars. We can see you!
I think one must floss in private. I don’t think in a public bathroom unless you’re in the stall. I just think there are some things, like flossing, marriage, they’re better left in private. Just don’t do it.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Any other thoughts? Any other opinions, Demi?
Demi Adejuyigbe: I kind of feel like most things go in a public bathroom. In terms of like, bathroom things. Because I feel like even brushing your teeth, who are you embarrassing besides yourself? No one is going to be like, “I know who you are and this is gross.”
Rico Gagliano: I’m going to come clean here. I’ve changed in a public bathroom into a new pair of clothes.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Same. But that’s different than flossing. Flossing, there’s blood and there’s like…
Gustavo Arellano: The problem with flossing is that while you’re doing it, little remnants could be flicking onto the glass in front of you or into other people.
Davy Rothbart: Do it over a sink! Do it over a sink.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I don’t think it’s OK. This is like in New York, it’s like when people clip their nails on the subway.
Demi Adejuyigbe: Well that’s gross.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, that is not acceptable.
Demi Adejuyigbe: The subway is not bathroom.
Brendan Francis Newnam: But can you imagine being next to that person? You’re on a date and you’re watching and then someone is like [imitates flossing sound], and then there’s blood.
Annabelle Gurwitch: You know that sound? You know that clicky sound?
Rico Gagliano: That’s upsetting.
Annabelle Gurwitch: You’ll never get that out of your head when you back to the…
Rico Gagliano: But there are a lot of sounds that are not nice that happen in the bathroom.
Demi Adejuyigbe: I guess we have to be specific about what type of flossing then. Because you guys are saying like blood and things flying out and I’m thinking “Oh I went to dinner and I have food in my teeth. I just want to get it out of there.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well there’s toothpicks. Toothpick culture is OK. Like a toothpick is a proper…
Annabelle Gurwitch: A guy or a woman– anyone with a toothpick who walks around with a toothpick in their mouth, just no. No.
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, that’s a no too. So you’re just going to have to keep that stuff in your teeth? Any, does Malika, do you have any, what are your thoughts on…?
Malika: I think you appropriately answered it. No more questions.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I think we settled it.
Rico Gagliano: We have a few more things to say about this!
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right. Thank you. There we go Malika. No flossing.
Reluctant job referrals
Rico Gagliano: This one is written in thick pen. I will try to get the name right. Michael. And Michael asks: “What should I do if my friend asks for a job referral but I don’t think they’re qualified for the job?” Oh, snap!
Brendan Francis Newnam: Gustavo, do you want to start us off? You’re the big man at the OC Weekly.
Gustavo Arellano: I get this all the time with former interns, former freelancers. “Hey, can you hook me up with the LA Times? Hey, can you hook me up with ESPN? Hey, can you hook me up with this, this and that?”
I’ll make the connection. Because if you think they’re not qualified for it then they probably aren’t, and they’re going to fail miserably. So, let them find that out on your own, and [if] you [are] still like, “Hey, I put in the good word for you!” And so, you come off still being a good friend.
Rico Gagliano: So you do it anyway?
Gustavo Arellano: Yeah, you do it anyways, yeah.
Brendan Francis Newnam: But you do recommend them?
Gustavo Arellano: Well, no, I would not recommend them. I would just say, “I’ll pass along your resume to whoever you’re applying to. That’s all I could do.”
Annabelle Gurwitch: So I have an approach to this. I look at it in a certain way like motherhood. So I have a teenaged son. And he wants to be an indie music star. And he says to me, “Mom, do you think I can do this?” And I say, “The world will tell you.”
So, I do pass people along, because sometimes like I am really wrong about these things! And I have had people that I was like, “Never going to happen.” I’ve had something great work out because it just turned out they didn’t like working with me. They just didn’t like me!
Rico Gagliano: So you should help them a little bit just in case they become your boss at some point, basically.
Annabelle Gurwitch: Exactly. And then the world will let me know.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So Michael, what are your thoughts? Are you not recommending someone for something right now?
Michael: So I’ll probably just send the email but be very, very vague.
Rico Gagliano: OK, good.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, vague email.
Rico Gagliano: Vague-mailing.
Annabelle Gurwitch: Vague is always good.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Hope we answered your question, Michael.
Don’t bring a pizza to a tapas party
Brendan Francis Newnam: The next [question], Michelle. Are you here, Michelle?
Rico Gagliano: Michelle is right down front.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And favorite podcast, “WTF” and “Sporkful.” Seriously? Come on.
Michelle Aragon: It said besides you guys!
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right. So, Michelle’s question is: “When hosting a dinner and a guest insists on bringing their signature dish which in no way fits into your menu, how do you deal with that?”
Annabelle Gurwitch: OK, that’s funny you mentioned that because one of the stories in my new book starts with someone bringing something unexpected to a dinner party.
I would say, I would be very suspect of that person. I mean I’m not saying don’t eat the food, but just think about how much does that person like you? They don’t listen to you.
Davy Rothbart: Let me just bring a different perspective. Let me just say like what..
Annabelle Gurwitch: Have I gone too far?
Davy Rothbart: Some people pride themselves on one dish. Just like some people have their karaoke song that they can rock the hell out of, some people might have that one dish that they’re very proud and excited to share with people.
So I would say like, yes, it may not fit with the theme of a dinner party, but is there grave harm in maybe bending it to incorporate them in some way.
Annabelle Gurwitch: You’re right, I suck.
Davy Rothbart: That’s what I was getting around to. Maybe there’s some way.
Rico Gagliano: You [Annabelle] got to plug your book, we’re going to, briefly, plug ours coming out next year from Little Brown. One of the things that we have said is that at the least important thing at a dinner party is the food. It’s really not about the food.
So if you can make it work, I would say that you should. However — and now we’re also going to drop a name just to drop that on top of the plug — Jackie Collins, the late dear and departed, was on our show. And she actually said what you do is you take it and you say, “Oh thank you, this is wonderful.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: “I’m going to enjoy this tomorrow. Thank you so much for helping me with lunch tomorrow.” And you put it aside and forget about.
Gustavo Arellano: That’s shady.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s not shady!
Gustavo Arellano: That’s totally shade.
Demi Adejuyigbe: Saying, “I’m going to enjoy this tomorrow” is ultimate shade. “Thank you for bringing this for tonight’s dinner. I can’t wait to eat it tomorrow!”
Annabelle Gurwitch: You know what the ultimate faux pas is? And I did this once, and then my husband was like, “You’re the worst.” If you bring food to a dinner party and everyone doesn’t eat it all and you take it back and bring it home with you…
Gustavo Arellano: Oh yeah.
Annabelle Gurwitch: …Because you cannot do that.
Brendan Francis Newnam: You [Gustavo] think that’s OK?
Gustavo Arellano: Why not?
Brendan Francis Newnam: If you’re over 25?
Demi Adejuyigbe: It’s like a college move.
Gustavo Arellano: If it’s good food!
Brendan Francis Newnam: “Dude! no one ate the pizza.”
Gustavo Arellano: If it’s a bunch of tacos or pizza, yeah.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Michelle, did you have this experience and what did you do?
Michelle Aragon: Yeah, that’s very helpful. The message I’m taking is I shouldn’t be a snob.
Rico Gagliano: Well, yeah.
Michelle Aragon: It’s not about my menu. I have a tapas menu and she brings chocolate pizza.
Annabelle Gurwitch: You didn’t tell us that part of the story! Chocolate pizza?!? What’s wrong with you?
Davy Rothbart: Yeah, forget everything I said. Never mind.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Then you ask another friend to bring weed.
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, and you’re done.
Demi Adejuyigbe: You should say, “Thank you for bringing this tonight. I’m going to eat this when I turn into a 12-year-old.”
Rico Gagliano: That’s for under 25.
Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, Michelle, did we answer your question?
Michelle: Thank you. Yes, you did, thank you.
Rico Gagliano: Yes, more than enough.
Making a stealthy panel exit
Rico Gagliano: Here’s something from, this is Rick.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Is Rick still here?
Rico Gagliano: Is Rick still here?
Brendan Francis Newnam: And if not…
Rico Gagliano: Rick, whose favorite podcast is “Jordan, Jessie, Go!”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Oh, there he is back there.
Rico Gagliano: All right Rick, here you go. “What is the most polite way to leave a podcast recording at a festival?” Perfect. You A-hole.
Demi Adejuyigbe: Don’t call attention to it, I would say.
Brendan Francis Newnam: No, you did the right thing. You didn’t leave at all.
Rico Gagliano: No, you’re a good man.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s the right thing to do. And thank you for all sticking around.