How To Be Naked In Places Where You Need To Be Naked

827baeedffb237631ec8d228bff2ef59My friends and I really enjoy going to this Korean spa near where we live. When most people think “spa,” they think of a quiet, relaxing place where people give you fuzzy robes and rub energizing oils into your back, but this place is a little more like a theme park. There’s a whole floor of different saunas!

Anyway, one of the best parts of it is the mandatory nude area. Most of the spa is co-ed, so you must stay covered, but off the men’s and women’s locker rooms there are men/women only, nude only hot tubs and saunas. They’re not required, but if you’re into being naked, I highly recommend them. In general, being comfortable with your naked body is a pretty healthy thing, and there are many places–nude beaches, spas, certain parties–where you can enjoy your nude self around strangers. Here are some things you should keep in mind if you find yourself in one of these areas.

1. FOLLOW THE RULES– The last time my friends and I went to this spa, we noticed a lot of newcomers who were trying to either a) hang out in the nude mandatory areas with bathing suits on or b) sort of peering into the nude areas and gawking at all the naked people without actually getting naked. Not cool! You don’t have to get naked, but if you don’t want to, sorry, you just can’t be in the area where it’s mandatory. Similarly, you shouldn’t be naked in places where you’re required to cover up. And please, stop “just taking a stroll” down to the nude section of the beach to look at the naked people. We see you.

2. NO JUDGMENT– As much as we all try to be accepting and open of all types, it is somewhat natural to compare bodies. Left at that, I think it’s just fine–I enjoy seeing different types of nude bodies and seeing just how many ways a human can be put together. However, do not stare, and do not let your casually noticing different types turn into judgment, and for god’s sake do not comment on a stranger’s body. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable in an all-nude space. This also goes for areas, like New York City, where it’s legal for women to be topless in public parks. If a woman chooses to exercise this right, do not give her shit about it.

3. TALKING TO STRANGERS IS WEIRDER– The first time I went to a nude beach I was in college, and of course, a creepy middle-aged man struck up a conversation with me and was clearly hitting on me. The normal “do not hit on minors” advice aside, the fact that I was completely nude made this awkward. What made it even MORE awkward was that he was wearing a bathing suit. Even if he were my age, and even if he were nude, it is much, much harder to not come across as predatory if you strike up a conversation with a nude stranger. Be sure your signal reading skills are on point, and if in even the smallest bit of doubt, just don’t do it.

4. DO NOT COMMENT ON A STRANGER’S NAKED BODY – I just feel like I should repeat this. I was tempted to, once, when a nude woman I was around had really really beautiful nipple tattoos, and I wanted to compliment her. But I didn’t, and the world kept spinning.

5. REMEMBER JUST HOW DIFFERENT BODIES CAN BE – One thing I become acutely aware of whenever I’m at the spa is how easy it is to be a cisgendered person there. The nude hot tubs clearly operate under the assumption that sex=gender, and I cannot imagine it’s easy for anyone who identifies as trans* or otherwise gender nonconforming. Especially since co-ed/gender mixed nudity will not be everyone’s cup of tea either. It’s not always in our control, but remember that the goal should be to make these spaces open and allowing of everyone who wants to enjoy them. If anyone has better ideas on how to do that without starting your own gender inclusive spa, please let me know.

6. BE CLEAN – Become hyper-aware of your wiping habits after using the bathroom. Everyone will thank you.

How to Be Sick AND Polite

Germy germs

Getting sick happens to the best of us, but you don’t have to be rude about it!

In general, the best thing to do when you aren’t feeling well is to just remove yourself from society by staying safely in bed. But if you do need to venture out, here are some tips:

A Cold:

  • Sneeze and cough politely. The best place to direct a sneeze or a cough is into your elbow, that way the germs don’t get on your hands and transferred to other people.
  • If you find yourself having a coughing fit, excuse yourself from any situation where you might be disturbing others- a classroom, a movie theater, a library, etc until it subsides. (I sometimes get terrible dry coughing fits that last 10 minutes, so trust me, I have been there with this! It is super embarrassing too.) Also try to carry cough drops around with you.
  • Use a tissue or handkerchief to blow your nose.

Vomiting In Public:

We’ve all been there, the only thing you can do is do your best to make it to some kind of receptacle.

Really Disgusting Infections:

True story, the one and only time I ever had pink eye, I woke up with it the morning of the day I was supposed to have a long-anticipated date. I had to postpone and things never really worked out after that. The point of the story is that I looked like a horrible demon but I had to go out in public to go to the doctor, pick up my prescription, and pick up some food to sustain me through my suffering. Sunglasses were key in this situation. I just wore them right into the store and kept them on so as not to frighten small children.

The point is, if you have weeping wounds or other seriously disturbing visuals, do your best (within reason!) to keep them covered up when you absolutely must be around other people. And no, I’m not talking about your everyday rosacea or acne or other stuff that people should learn to deal with and definitely not tease you for.

Contagious, Preventable Illnesses:

Get your damn vaccinations already, oh my god.

Do You Have to Send Thank You Notes For Condolences?

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

 Firstly I want to say Uncommon-Courtesy is amazing, and I love it, and you’re both geniuses.

I have a question about thank you notes, specifically thank you notes after a funeral. My father passed away, and my sister and I were the primary mourners; we’re both in our early 20s and had really good intentions about sending notes to thank people for flowers, mass cards, and the donations made in our Dad’s name. I feel like our age gave us SOME leeway on response time, but it’s now been six months and though we have all the information and note cards and addresses it’s been difficult to imagine writing them until now.

I guess my question is, how bad is this? Is it too late to send a note for this kind of circumstance, or should we include an aside apologizing for our delay? I hate the idea that a bunch of people think we’re unforgivably rude, but I guess I’m also nervous about bringing up a pretty terrible occurrence after so much time has passed. What would Uncommon Courtesy do?



Official Etiquette:

The Emily Post Institute says thank you notes are required for condolence notes.

Our Take:

A caveat: it turns out we were wrong, as you can see from the Official Etiquette section, thank you notes are required for all gifts and flowers. However, from reading other etiquette sites, it looks like a lot of people don’t actually expect to receive them in the way the expect thank you notes for wedding/birthday/baby gifts, so we still stand behind saying that if it’s too much for you, you should skip it.

Victoria: We are geniuses!

Jaya: We are!!!

Victoria: So I’m curious what your first thought is.

Jaya: Okay. So I’m actually not that familiar with funeral thank you note etiquette. I’ve never had to go through this. But I’d think that people’d be really forgiving, since you’re grieving. And that maybe this should be someone else’s responsibility.

Victoria: Haha yeah. So I’m not 100% sure and will look it up later (and it will be fun to see if I’m wrong [ED: I was wrong!]), but I BELIEVE that you are not obligated to send thank you notes for condolence notes/gifts. It’s certainly nice, but yeah, the point is to make you feel better about your loss, not put an extra burden on you.

Jaya: Definitely. So I mean, fuck aaaaanyone who tries to make you feel bad about this. Also, I sort of agree with her that if enough time has passed that no one is actively grieving anymore, it might be worse as a reminder? I’m not sure, but I could see how that could happen.

Victoria: Yeah, totally. Although, if she’s already compiled notes and addresses and stuff, it certainly does no harm to send them.

Jaya: That’s true. If the notes are there, you might as well send them. But she and her sister have no reason to feel guilty.

How To Set Up A Guest Room

This is Emily Post's ideal guest room. I can't say I love her taste in curtains!

This is Emily Post’s ideal guest room. I can’t say I love her taste in curtains!

So these days, it seems like most people don’t have a dedicated guest room. Usually if there is an extra room, it’s an office with a fold out couch or something similar. I wonder sometimes what percentage of people “back in the day” really had a proper “guest room.” We did when I was very young and had a big house, but when we moved to a smaller house we didn’t anymore. Did people really have more overnight guests “back then”? I have so many questions.

These days, you make do with what you have, but if you lived in Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post’s worlds, you have a guest room and they had some adorable, now somewhat outdated advice about what to put in there. So really, this post is mostly etiquette history, as you can certainly follow this advice but it is in no way expected.

The Basics:

  • A relatively comfortable bed. Emily Post suggests sleeping on it yourself once. Amy Vanderbilt suggests that you have two twin beds that can be pushed together (she is very concerned about couples that prefer to not sleep in the same bed???) That bed should have plenty of blankets and pillows as well.
  • There needs to be a light near to the bed that is bright enough to read by.
  • A working clock (though with cell phones these days…)
  • Hangars in the closets and empty dresser drawers so the guest can actually unpack.
  • Good curtains or shades to keep the sunlight out.
  • A pitcher of water and a glass

The Extras:

  • Flowers in a vase
  • Lots of books!
  • A desk with pens, writing paper, envelopes, and stamps (clearly in the days before email!)
  • Snacks for the guest to eat before bed
  • PJs and a bathrobe
  • A full length mirror
  • An array of toiletries for the bathroom
  • A hot water bottle (they specifically mention this for women- I wonder if it has to do with cramps more than keeping your toes warm.)

Thank Goodness We Don’t Have To Do That Anymore:

  • Emily suggests having a candle and matches. In case of an emergency, fine. BUT she also suggests that some people like to keep a candle burning all night. NO!
  • Both etiquette mavens also recommend having ashtrays and matches for smokers- not so much a necessity today (even if your friends smoke, I can’t imagine allowing them to smoke in the house.)
  • The pull cord for servants should be next to the bed (as if, Emily Post!)
  • Breakfast trays! (Maybe this was easy with lots of servants, but I am not running a hotel!)
  • A swimsuit if you have a pool (so unlikely that anyone would be able to have enough sizes of swimsuits for this to be practical!)
  • A radio (so quaint!)
  • A turned down bed (this is the maid’s doing, but I guess it doesn’t really take any time, so you COULD do it. Theoretically.)

But seriously though, nobody expects that their host provide them with a hotel room. And if you do have a real guestroom, I imagine that your guest will be so thrilled to be sleeping on an actual bed instead of a sofa or an air mattress that they won’t care about the other stuff. Just make sure that the sheets are clean (always always change and wash sheets between guests, come ON!) and the room is also clean and reasonably tidy and you are fine.

How To Be An Awesome Date

A date is when you stand back to back, right? [Via Wikimedia Commons]

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and you are still in the Lonely Hearts Club? It’s time to get back out there, champ! Get on Tinder, OkCupid, or whatever the kids are using these days (or go the old fashioned route and ask a friend to set you up!) and scrounge up a date. I’ll wait.

So you’ve got yourself a date! Fantastic! Hopefully you know enough on your own to set a place and time to meet. May I take this opportunity to suggest doing something other than getting drinks or coffee for a first date? I could literally drown in all the first date cocktails I have had and anyone who comes up with something different (or agrees to my suggestions) is my hero.

  • If you are asking someone out, be prepared with a suggestion of a plan. Don’t do the “I dunno, what do you want to do?” dance.
  • If you are doing the online thing, make sure you exchange phone numbers so you can call or text if you are running late or have an emergency.
  • Call or text if you are running late or have an emergency.
  • Don’t flake out at the last minute.
  • Dress to impress. Or at least shower and make a little effort.
  • Don’t be late! In fact, try to be a little early so you can get settled and relaxed.
  • Hold up your end of the conversation. Be sure to ask close to as many questions as you are asked (i.e. don’t only talk about yourself). But also, do you best to not only just ask questions (honestly I’ve had dates that felt like interviews). Basically, just be a person talking to another person!!
  • Keep things light and positive. You’re trying to get to know each other, not your baggage.
  • Refrain from checking your phone, except when the other person is in the bathroom.
  • Don’t be rude to the people around you, especially wait staff.
  • Men, we’ve discussed chivalry a bit in the past, and obviously a little bit of the man holding the door for a woman and so forth can be seen as being “well brought up” but don’t go too far by ordering for her, insisting she wait in the car until you open the door, or making her walk on the inside of the sidewalk.
  • Always offer to split the bill. If the asker insists on paying, be gracious and accept.
  • If you aren’t feeling it, don’t text a friend to call you and rescue you that’s super obvious and tacky. Stick it out through one drink, or say, at least an hour, then say you need to run and leave.
  • I think it is acceptable, after a first date that is a flop, for both parties to just never speak again. However, if the other person gets in touch with you to arrange another date, you need to respond to them and let you know you aren’t interested (also, confession time: I am the worst about this and have gone against my own advice on NUMEROUS occasions. But I feel bad about it.) You can just say something like: It’s so great to hear from you and I had a fun time meeting you, but I’m not really interested in exploring this any further.

*Disclaimer: obviously all advice goes out the window when you believe that you are in danger from the other person or they are being truly offensive.