Metatalktail Hour: Life's Unwritten Rules July 23, 2022 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Some things we know, but don't know we know, y'know?

For example, author Mark Forsyth (semi-)famously pointed out, "Adjectives in English absolutely have to be written in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you'll sound like a maniac. It's an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can't exist."

Can you think of other unwritten rules that, if we fail to follow them, will make us seem like maniacs? Do you have any *personal* home rules or office rules or any sort of usage rules that have never actually been spelled out, but which are nevertheless Very Strict Indeed?

Maybe "personal space" — the distance maintained between unrelated people in public, at least pre-COVID, might be an example? Within their own cultures everyone knows when the inches or centimeters between them and the other person feels okay / natural / neutral, and also absolutely knows when the acceptable distance has been breached. brrrrrr.

Maybe we could have a fun little nice chat about this? Or whatever else is on your mind ... but no old mean politics, please!
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 3:53 AM (163 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I feel like one basic rule that is so unwritten that nobody follows it is: If you meet a person walking toward you down a narrow corridor, both of you should step to the right and keep going. (Or, say, the left, if you're in a place that drives like that.) I don't understand how always, inevitably, when I'm caught in one of these situations, we end up always moving in the same direction, blocking each other, the same frustrated-but-embarrassed smiles trying to communicate "sorry, can you please move?" Make a rule! Who can I lobby to make this happen?
posted by mittens at 4:12 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Last year, the Word Matters podcast looked at intuitive English adjective order and suggested that these immutable adjcategories can be simplified to whether they are pure adjective (which end up distant from the noun they qualify] or more nouny adjective which fill the space nearer the noun.

In my internalized certainties I worry about maniacal MIFfers who, at tea-time, put the milk in first.
posted by BobTheScientist at 4:39 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I'm always fascinated by how we choose where to stand in an elevator.

I remember reading somewhere about a guy who would walk into the elevator and not turn around, just stare at the back wall (mostly to mess with people I guess). Admittedly, I think that would freak me out a bit!
posted by kinsey at 4:43 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


I could not possibly articulate the right way to load the dishwasher but I can immediately tell when my husband has done it wrong.*

* “wrong”
posted by obfuscation at 4:59 AM on July 23 [14 favorites]


hahaha, KITCHEN THINGS and husbands are a whole category. (My poor husband)
posted by taz (staff) at 5:19 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


and yet ... how do you not just objectively know that that's SO obviously the wrong way to do it?

I mean, who puts a used ladle down on the drainboard with the clean dishes? Who puts greasy plates in the sink filled with soapy water and glassware? WHO TAKES A GLASS OUT OF THE CUPBOARD, USES IT AND THEN PUTS IT BACK? Husbands. Wrong about kitchen stuff, wrong about everything.

Don't feel too bad for him, though. He has kitchen rules for me, too. Bad and/or silly rules, of course, unlike my extremely sensible ones.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:27 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


I'm always fascinated by how we choose where to stand in an elevator.

My second favorite elevator thing is how people rearrange themselves in the car as people get off at different floors, almost unconsciously moving away from each other to maximize the distance between them and others. I work at a law firm, and take great joy at refusing to shuffle myself, and "forcing" senior partners to be the ones to shift their positions (which, over ~20 years has never failed to occur)

My first favorite elevator thing is The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead
posted by Gorgik at 6:01 AM on July 23 [14 favorites]


A big unwritten rule in my house is when the cat has a big stretch, you MUST say “BIG STRETCH!” Same for big yawns.

Also, the adjective thing is fascinating to me!
posted by bookmammal at 6:18 AM on July 23 [29 favorites]


A big unwritten rule in my house is when the cat has a big stretch, you MUST say “BIG STRETCH!”

When my cat was alive, I always said "streeeeetch-a-kitty!"

In semi-related news: my coworkers and I saved a kitty this week! The shelter has her listed as "found pet" right now, but if the owner doesn't come forward, she will be listed for adoption tomorrow morning. Doubtful that an owner will come forward, as the shelter vet and I agree she was dumped, and they don't list where she was found. My coworkers and I were searching for an owner or foster or adopter while waiting nearly a week for a shelter intake appointment.

Shelter vet also confirmed that she was malnourished, though we had helped a lot just with the food we were able to give her. She didn't have much energy when she found us, but the day I took her to the shelter, she pounced at a bird! They estimated her at about a year old. She'll get adopted fast, being that young, and such a charmer!

I am so very happy and relieved today!
posted by MuChao at 6:53 AM on July 23 [23 favorites]


Toilet roll. It should always hang with the sheet away from the wall. "Beard, not a mullet".
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 7:03 AM on July 23 [23 favorites]


Everything has a proper place in the dishwasher so that plates and bowls and glasses all of varying sizes and uses stand up straight and aren't resting on each other. ADHD means I simply cannot apply the same sense of order to my own office space and desktop, but a haphazardly-loaded dishwasher is something I must fix.

Also, business end down for spoons, forks and knives. Food and such have a shorter trip to the dishwasher drain that way. Business end up if the business end would take up too much space in the basket, like a spatula or large serving utensils.

I am the one in the house who often reloads the dishwasher. #notallhusbands
posted by emelenjr at 7:12 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


This husband read the dishwasher manual and is frustrated by people who "know" they are "right" about things that are both documented and self-evident -- like loading from back to front to make the racks easier to move.

No silent rule required!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:35 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


When my kids were in kindergarten, their teachers made a masking tape grid on the carpet, and had the children practice standing with a “space bubble” between them and other kids. So, some spacing issues are taught. This is in Vancouver, BC. We take personal space very seriously.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:49 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


When my niece came to stay for a bit, I literally wrote down one rule for the kitchen: no knives in the sink or dishwasher, ever. As time went on I became aware of many, many more unwritten rules.

Don't leave food out if it's not being cooked or eaten. There are clothespins to seal open packages of food, use them. No fish in the microwave. Smaller plates stack on larger plates, you may need to rearrange to pile them correctly. Mugs/cups used solely to heat water in the microwave can be put back in the cupboard without washing.

The dishwasher itself could have an entire section in Minnesota Penal Code of its own. Plastic goes on the top shelf even if you think it'd survive the bottom. Silverware goes tong/blade/spoon end down. Avoid putting glass next to glass. When about to start dishwasher, give the spinners a spin to make sure they can rotate freely without hitting anything. And for god's sake if you're the first one to open a clean dishwasher, don't just take one item out and close it back up for someone else to empty: empty the whole thing, it takes <5 minutes. I have timed it. *gavel sound*
posted by Gray Duck at 8:03 AM on July 23 [11 favorites]


Of course there are the rules about which foods are normal for which meal. Even if you commonly eat leftover pizza for breakfast or pancakes for dinner, as many people do, you probably have at least some sense of breaking a rule when you do it. Some of the rules seem so natural you never question them or even realize they exist until something happens like you find yourself in England being served a breakfast that includes mushrooms and tomatoes and you realize two things at once: that mushrooms and tomatoes are definitely not breakfast foods according to the rules you have been living by and that there is no reason on earth why mushrooms and tomatoes should not be breakfast foods. According to the US rules, they are so much not breakfast foods that it probably never even occurred to you that there was a rule against serving them for breakfast; it simply never would have crossed your mind to do such a thing. But why not?
posted by Redstart at 9:07 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


Urinal standing! And public transport seating.
posted by lokta at 9:14 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Don’t eat food in the shop before you’ve bought it, even if you’re going to scan the empty packet.
posted by lokta at 9:14 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


I have some great 1-1 text conversations with friends: sometimes frivolous, sometimes serious, but often times they go on just a little too long and it's hard to know how to end a thread.

Enter the Iphone's "tapback" feature, which as of a few years ago, allows you to add a few different emojis to an individual message.

So the unwritten rule is that whenever one person uses the "thumbs up" tapback, that's effectively an end to the conversation, no explanation needed.

👍
posted by jeremias at 9:21 AM on July 23 [17 favorites]


There are rules pertaining to parallel parking, but as parallel parking is no longer a driving test requirement in some jurisdictions, some young drivers in those places are really at sea when it comes to street parking, even if they can manage the backwards driving without hitting anything.

(I once almost came to blows with a young couple in a convertible in Palo Alto who thought the place to wait, while the previous vehicle was leaving the one available space, was in front of the car leaving, so the latter had to pull out two lanes into the opposing lane, to get away.)
posted by Rash at 9:53 AM on July 23 [5 favorites]


I remember reading somewhere about a guy who would walk into the elevator and not turn around, just stare at the back wall (mostly to mess with people I guess). Admittedly, I think that would freak me out a bit!

I am one of those guys! It is fun, give it a try!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:54 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Is it a rule that you apologize to a dog after stepping on him? I feel like it is, or should be, and am deeply disturbed by a person in my life who does not do this. I would love your views on this.
posted by HotToddy at 10:09 AM on July 23 [14 favorites]


It seems like there are rules to adding the f-word in the middle of other words. I'm not sure I can articulate them. The results are fan-fucking-tastic and fucking amazing and I suppose they might be a-fucking-mazing but never, say, awe-fucking-some. Right?
posted by secretseasons at 11:10 AM on July 23 [16 favorites]


If the dog makes the sad little yelp, yes, the law requires an apology and hopefully some heart-felt remorse. An extended babble about feeties is also encouraged, but may not be actually mandatory.
posted by maxwelton at 11:12 AM on July 23 [19 favorites]


It seems like there are rules to adding the f-word in the middle of other words. I'm not sure I can articulate them. The results are fan-fucking-tastic and fucking amazing and I suppose they might be a-fucking-mazing but never, say, awe-fucking-some. Right?

Is it that the fucking infix can only go before the stressed syllable, so it doesn't work with words that are emphasized on the first syllable? Nope! Phe-fucking-nominal sounds terrible.
posted by aubilenon at 11:18 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Grabbing another person’s smartphone/cellphone. Even in the pre-FaceID era, i think that if you’re in a group of people gathered together at a table — even if all they’re all familiar, friendlies — grabbing another person’s phone off the table to e.g. look something up would feel to all present like a major faux pas
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:25 AM on July 23 [10 favorites]


I mean, a faux fucking pas
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:26 AM on July 23 [6 favorites]


Speaking of which… to secretseason’s point… it occurs to me that words with less than three syllables are not allowed to participate in the insertional fucking game. As it were.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:34 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


That seems right, but ... A-fucking-men (amen) seems passable? Maybe it's the exception.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:03 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


Of course green Great Dragons exist (Draco Majora which happen to be tinted green), and they are distinct from the great Green Dragons - a distinct species per dracologists reporting often post memora.
posted by pompomtom at 12:15 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


when the cats get under foot, as they insist upon doing, and make that terrible squeak when you step on them...well, yes, apologies galore. must pick up baby and make sure they are ok and apologize but also ask "why? why???? kitty always to be going under the feet?"
posted by supermedusa at 1:07 PM on July 23 [10 favorites]


I just automatically apologize after stepping on a dog, the same as I would if I accidentally ran into or stepped on a person. "Oops, sorry" comes out of my mouth pretty much on its own. It seems like the only way that wouldn't happen would be if you saw dogs as more like chairs than like people.
posted by Redstart at 1:53 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Unwritten (but oft stated) rule in my kitchen: if you live with a short person, do NOT put heavy shit on the highest shelf of a cabinet! He is 8 inches taller than me (not to mention more muscular and has hands that grip normally.) If he puts the big glass mixing bowl on the top shelf, I cannot get it down by myself without risk of injury to self and bowl when it slips heavily from my comically weak grasp. Also, I can neither see nor reach anything sitting more than about 4 inches back from the edge of the top shelf. If you put small dishes in the back of the top shelf, as far as I am concerned they have ceased to exist.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:58 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Dogs understand a lot of the content of human speech, if not the actual language, so, of course, I tell her I didn't mean to step on her. My dog is velvety black and invisible at night, so things happen.

TAKES A GLASS OUT OF THE CUPBOARD, USES IT AND THEN PUTS IT BACK
Reader, I divorced him.
and got a dog. That was several dogs ago.

Mittens, I worked at a hospital and we were taught to walk on the right for safety and efficiency.

Astonishingly few people know to fill the tank if you borrow a car. sheesh.

Get a fresh toilet roll and replace it on the holder, you savages!
posted by theora55 at 2:08 PM on July 23 [12 favorites]


Regarding the insertional fucking game, there’s also the phenomenon of nestling it between someone’s first and last names to signify awesomeness and a command of some skill. So Bill Fucking Nye or whatever. I don’t think it works for people who go by three names, like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or use middle initials. It’s hard to know where the insertion should land.
posted by carmicha at 3:02 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Then again, Jesus Fucking Christ shows only exasperation.
posted by carmicha at 3:03 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


theora55, I can't divorce him because between us, he is by far the better human, and also, he does everything for me; I have to prosecute kitchen crimes just to keep things remotely in imaginary balance!

Re apologize to the dog? Absolutely, who wouldn't do that? I was quite ornate in my apologies when we still had our very good girl. She understood.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:04 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


The Old Man used to get underfoot when I was in the kitchen like it was his job. If I had just come home and had headphones on, and couldn’t hear him, he was like a fuzzy little Foot Seeking Missile.
This never resulted in serious disaster, like broken dishes or a trip to the ER, but I spilled some food a couple times, and the exchange between us usually went something like,
“*cat-hiss!*”
“GodDAMMit!”

“Aww, come here, buddy.”

Then I would go find him and check his widdle feets to be sure he was unharmed. He was really old and probably nursing some old foot trauma, and he really hated anybody getting near his back feet.

****
An unwritten rule I imposed on myself is keeping doors closed whenever possible but not slamming them if it can be avoided.
I found in many places that after only a few tries I could push a door just hard enough to get it to close and latch, but not so hard that it wouldn’t do so quietly. It’s not always possible but it feels good when I can do it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:05 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


The shoes piled in the doorway, instead of in the handy right-there shoe tray.

I can't find my falling apart copy of Shogun at the moment, but there's a passage in it where a female samurai has been assigned (by her liege lord, so no choice) to live with the "barbarian" as his ...housekeeper, whatever. And she's thinking about how it is to live with this person, who doesn't know any of the rules and behaviors and etiquette that make life with other humans bearable.
I sometimes mutter something like this to myself when faced with the shoe pile. The tray is right there!
posted by winesong at 3:24 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


An unwritten rule I imposed on myself is keeping doors closed whenever possible but not slamming them if it can be avoided.
I found in many places that after only a few tries I could push a door just hard enough to get it to close and latch, but not so hard that it wouldn’t do so quietly. It’s not always possible but it feels good when I can do it.


That works great until there's a window open and without the air pressure to hold it back, the same force SLAMS the door shut so loud!
posted by aubilenon at 3:40 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


the unwritten rule is that whenever one person uses the "thumbs up" tapback, that's effectively an end to the conversation, no explanation needed.

Right? I love this, my friends have this rule too. Same on Twitter when you're going back and forth when someone faves instead of replying that usually means "Done with this convo" but not in a curt way.

Hippofuckinpotamus was the example we always talked about, because

hipfuckinpopotamus
hippopotfuckingamus (my fave)
hippopotafuckinmus

are all ridiculous.

It's been beastly here and I finally put AC in my place which I've never had before. Moths sneak in somehow. I can't sleep with moths fluttering near me so I have a moth swatter but I always apologize for swatting them.

My life feels some days like it's ALL unwritten rules and then I get super grumpy when people seem to ignore them (just a few weird-boundaries friends, not most people and certainly not strangers) and I'm one of those people who tries to learn other unwritten social rules by rote so I can not weird people out too much. Because, here's the thing about the face-back-of-elevator thing: I both get that it's just sort of a fun jape, but also when I encounter people in public (especially male-presenting people) who are not generally following social etiquette rules I often worry what OTHER rules (like "no touching strangers") they might ignore. And partly this is me, I am jumpy and anxious. I am calmer when people are generally being predictable. So for me and my (beloved, opposite of me) partner we have a few unwritten rules

- don't touch jumpy girlfriend when she is eating or drinking, particularly don't try to give her a friendly squeeze when she did not see you reaching for her
- same with when she is doing the dishes or doing something around a hot stove
- if you're going to the bathroom and you think you might be in there for a long time, ask if I need to use it first
- don't pile stuff on the dish drainer in such a way that removing one thing causes other things to cascade out of it, especially breakable things
- don't poke your head into the shower and start talking to me if I am in there without knocking on the bathroom door first, even if the bathroom door is open

And then other rules of behavior for me

- don't talk about yourself on social media without going through and replying to other people or doing a "Way to go!" sprint through it. Think about an 80/20 rule 20% you, 80% other people.
- always buy the raffle tickets at an event
- always add alt text on twitter and facebook (working on it on Instagram, not doing as well). If you don't have time for alt text you don't have time for social media

Gosh this got long. I think I could maybe write about this topic non-stop, great idea for a topic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:44 PM on July 23 [15 favorites]


When I saw a friend eating his hamburger by dipping the whole thing in ketchup like most people do with French fries, I realized I had a rule about that.

(However, lots of people have pointed out that I eat hamburgers upside down. I have no idea when or how I started doing that, but it's true. It's hard to explain, but I sort of flip it as I bring it to my mouth.)

Re elevators, my cancer center has a posted COVID rule saying no more than four people are allowed in the elevator at a time, and I have literally stood at the front and told people they could not get on.
posted by FencingGal at 4:04 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


My dog seems to have a few unspoken rules:
* Don't give me a treat in the elevator
* Don't give me another treat while I'm still chewing the first one
* A made bed is an invitation to unmake it, why do you even bother?
* The kibble tastes way better if I steal it from the crows than if I eat it from my bowl
* Whatever spot on the couch or ottoman that has been most recently vacated by the cat or one of the humans is the best spot, and now it's mine, even if they only got up to go to the bathroom
posted by QuakerMel at 4:23 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Condiments go in the refrigerator door. Of course this is sensible if you want easy access to them. But as someone who rarely makes meals that use them, there's no reason for me to put them there. I keep meaning to move them all and put something else that I actually want to access regularly there--like fresh vegetables, perhaps.
posted by brook horse at 4:46 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Condiments for dinner!
posted by aubilenon at 4:52 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


When I came back to my motorbike after work on Friday it was at the end of a row of knocked over bikes. Someone had hit the other end and down they’d all gone like dominoes. I swore a bit, and a young woman who was nearby waiting for her date came over and offered to help me lift mine, and I gratefully accepted. After we’d lifted my bike back to vertical , and I’d thanked her profusely, she said, should we lift the others too? I said no—it seems kind, but I wouldn’t want someone else touching my bike needlessly, even if it were lying on the ground. It’s really a common understood bit of motorbike manners.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:17 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


brook horse, this is exactly what I've done -- moved condiments into the crisper drawers, where I never look unless I have some specific need to (on account of OW, my back), and am now putting vegetables and other short-term perishables in the door compartments. Working well so far!
posted by Kat Allison at 5:25 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


keeping doors closed whenever possible but not slamming them if it can be avoided.

I do this with the front door of my apartment, delicately pushing it closed so it just goes k-click instead of a KA-CHUNK that echoes through the entire hallway, which makes me feel like a terribly intrusive neighbor even if nobody else actually cares.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:27 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: I realized I had a rule about that.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:28 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


Re: food, my husband and I seem to have a pair of conflicting rules. He is team "Never Finish The Thing", leaving a box of crackers with two crackers in it, or a container of hummus with maybe a half tablespoon clinging to the sides if you scrape it really well. I think he thinks it is rude to finish off a container of something and never wants to be in that position. I, on the other hand, am team "Always Finish The Thing", because if I, as the designated grocery shopper, see a box of crackers in the pantry or a container of hummus in the fridge, I will assume "we have crackers and hummus", not buy any, and then get disgruntled when I get home and it turns out we really didn't have any to speak of. So I will always take the last of the thing, even if it's slightly more than I really want, even if I have to throw a little bit away, just so that I know I need to buy more.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:59 PM on July 23 [14 favorites]


cranking music in a kitchen.
wearing ear buds in the kitchen
watching Netflix in the kitchen
no gloves in the kitchen
running industrial fans in kitchen
no re-stock or untensils in kitchen

is it me or is it hot. because 93°f was ok outside for a smoke but not in the kitchen.
posted by clavdivs at 6:04 PM on July 23


Part of "taking out the garbage" is putting a new bag in the kitchen trash bin.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:47 PM on July 23 [25 favorites]


The only unwritten rule I have is that all rules must be written.

(Thinks about this, makes some edits to the list)

I don’t have unwritten rules, life is confusing enough as it is.
posted by curious nu at 6:49 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I am on Team Always Finish in a relationship with someone on Team Never Finish. It is a miracle we make it work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:51 PM on July 23 [8 favorites]


Never take a person's last beer from the refrigerator.

If you open it, close it,

If you take it out, put it back.

If you borrow it, return it.

(Always return a borrowed car with a full tank)

If you are the last to leave, turn out the lights on the way out.

Never lock the car door with the button on the door unless you have the actual keys in your hand and can show them to other riders.

Spice can always be added to food, but cannot be taken out. (I learned that from gf. Who ever heard of wanting less spice?)

When my kids were younger, they learned to always offer Papa (me) an "homage" bite. You bought me the cheeseburger, you get the first bite.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:54 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I feel like one basic rule that is so unwritten that nobody follows it is: If you meet a person walking toward you down a narrow corridor, both of you should step to the right and keep going. (Or, say, the left, if you're in a place that drives like that.)

It always annoys me when people step to the wrong side. Being from a country where you drive on the right, and growing up somewhere very rural, I was always taught to walk on the left - the same side as incoming traffic, so you can see anything on your side of the road coming, and step into a ditch or whatever if you need to (pavements are not common on rural roads). Now, living in the UK, everyone wants to walk on the left, which is the same side they drive on here. This is so many kinds of wrong to my mind.
posted by Dysk at 7:16 PM on July 23


we end up always moving in the same direction

Pro-tip: don't look at the person. Look in the direction you're going to go, and go that way. You'll never have that problem again.
posted by dobbs at 7:38 PM on July 23 [7 favorites]


Do not exuberantly overextend metaphors.
posted by aniola at 8:21 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


* There are only a few ways chocolate is acceptable for breakfast: on or in a doughnut or long john, or as hot chocolate.
* Bagels should have only traditional flavorings, such as onion or garlic. Blueberry or green chile are good for other foods, but they are unacceptable for bagels.
posted by NotLost at 8:58 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


When emptying the dishwasher, we always empty the silverware last. Is that common?
posted by NotLost at 9:42 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


People generally shouldn't park in someone else's driveway unless they are family or close friends. Exceptions can be made during large gatherings.
posted by NotLost at 11:04 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


here in Denmark I have noticed one thing which I am almost 100% sure is one of the most subtle indoctrinations of BIG bathroom. It seems universally agreed, but when asked directly about it, noone can tell me either why they specifically do it, or when they learned that it was the thing to do.

when you get a new place to live, among other things, you MUST buy a new toilet brush.

everyone I ask about this is ADAMANT without any reasoning why this IS what must be done - because "eww" apparently. When I ask whether they also buy a new toilet seat because, using their logic, even more "eww", they are "no, that's not really necessary".

and none of that makes sense to me...
posted by alchemist at 11:23 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I've had an idea about the adjective order thing. I think it has to do with how we understand many compound descriptions as discrete meanings, so when the adjective order is wrong that discrete meaning is either no longer valid, or must be examined to try to determine meaning / importance.

For example, when relaying an anecdote and we mention a "little old lady," that is a very specific reference and everyone gets the intended info from that in just three words without having to use a lot of adjectives to describe this female person with certain (possibly assumed) characteristics. Never mind that the person in the story may not have been very little or particularly ladylike; it doesn't matter! The info-chunk "little old lady," tells us what we need to know about the essence of that person in relation to the anecdote. Likewise "little lady," is used to talk to / about girl children who are obviously not "ladies," or used by men (jokingly usually) to refer to women with particular emphasis on them being smaller, weaker, probably more refined, definitely needing assistance or direction from a big strong man. Which is another one! Not a strong big man! That word order introduces some uncertainty and requires analysis. What is being said about this male person? Why does the speaker introduce him this way? But a "big strong man" is clear: he doesn't really need to be that big or that strong, he's just bigger and stronger than most women, and therefore presumably useful / notable in some ways that have to do with that difference in physicality. He's not a giant or a circus strong-man or a mafia boss.

Also, "handsome young man." Not a young, handsome man. The second tells us that he is an attractive male adult probably under 30. The first *can* describe the same thing, but is often used to describe a child or teen. When used that way we basically understand that the boy is healthy, clean, and presentably dressed, probably with even features. If handsome is really the point, then he would be an unusually handsome young man. The known quantity of "handsome young man" with additional info — "unusually," so not just a garden variety conventionally pleasing specimen of a boy, but an especially good-looking one.

Now, these are all shorthand references to people, but I note that the great green dragon is also a shortener for a longer description: this dragon is the mightiest or among the mightiest of dragons; this dragon inspires awe, and even possibly devotion. This dragon happens to be green, but if it was red, it would be The Great Red Dragon. A green great dragon, on the other hand comes with some questions. "Great" how? "Great" as in largest of its species great (like "Great Crested Newt")? Or "great" as in a really cool dragon? Or great as in really old? Is it more important that the dragon is green? Or that it is great? Among all the great dragons, this is the green one? Or among all the green dragons, this is the great one?

So, anyway, I'm not thaaat sure about all this, but it seems like it's easier to parse the info if it's in certain-order "blocks," while a string of unordered info makes us wonder what the specific point of the description is. If we are told about a "quirky little old lady" doing something, we can easily grasp the two chunks of info: she's a little old lady, which is basically a known type, and she's also somewhat peculiar — we have a little more info about her. But an old little quirky lady seems almost like somebody from a story book. I imagine her three feet tall and quite wrinkled, with a somewhat twisted body, living in a forest and possibly selling magic beans. Why did I add all that extra info? Because lacking the discrete-block info, I had to start imagining her, and my imagination is a bit over-active this morning!
posted by taz (staff) at 2:09 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Now, living in the UK, everyone wants to walk on the left, which is the same side they drive on here. This is so many kinds of wrong to my mind.

It is wrong, and I feel like in the UK it's a really obvious marker of whether you grew up somewhere urban or rural, and if urban whether you went to Scouts/Guides/did your Duke of Edinburgh badges.

(I am a recent rural transplant but I was in Brownies/Guides and hence know the rule, and I see and have to drive around people on holiday walking on country roads on the left a lot these days, and it bugs me every time. FACE THE TRAFFIC!)
posted by corvine at 2:47 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Bowls are organised by both size and style. Like, noodle bowls, pasta bowls, other bowls for cereal etc.
posted by h00py at 3:33 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


When one of your friends loses a parent, you go to the funeral. I have only encountered this twice, thankfully. My BFF's father's passing was the most recent; we live in different states, so she only told me of his passing because she didn't want to assume I'd be able to make any funeral, but dammit I looked up the funeral details (small town, distinctive name, it was easy) and I took a couple days off work and got myself there for it. It was all completely worth it when I saw the look on her face when I walked in. (A gasp, a rush into my arms, sobs, and then mutual giggles when we realized we'd smooshed the box of kleenex she'd forgotten she was holding. Very "us".)

When you see a kid with a lemonade stand on the street, BUY SOME. Even if you're not thirsty.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


In my house you must say "wow great yawn, buddy!" and "nice burp, buddy" whenever the dog yawns or burps. Only one person has to say it, but the dog's efforts must be acknowledged.

I think people buy a new toilet brush when they move because no one wants to pack up a toilet brush in a box (especially with other stuff) and then unpack that box later. A move is as good of a time as any to replace it, they don't last forever.
posted by twelve cent archie at 5:38 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


NotLost - I would argue a bite from a really good chocolate bar is allowed as dessert after you had breakfast...
posted by wittgenstein at 6:06 AM on July 24


EC: When one of your friends loses a parent, you go to the funeral.
In Ireland when one of your {friends | neighbours | work colleagues | sports team} loses a parent, you go to the funeral. In England not so much; there it's much more an immediate family affair.
posted by BobTheScientist at 6:36 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Never take a person's last beer from the refrigerator.

Absolutely. BUT. If they are the sort of person who keeps beers in an opaque container (like a boxed 12-pack) and you take their second-to-last beer, then take the last beer out of the container, return it to the refrigerator, and remove the container from the refrigerator so they know they need to buy more!
posted by Daily Alice at 6:38 AM on July 24 [9 favorites]


* There are only a few ways chocolate is acceptable for breakfast: on or in a doughnut or long john, or as hot chocolate.

Pain au chocolat? Nutella?
posted by biffa at 6:54 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Never comment on threads about rules.

Break most rules

.
posted by sammyo at 7:58 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Duly added to the Mefi Wiki's YouWHAT page, you bunch of weirdoes.
posted by zamboni at 8:48 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Breakfast and chocolate ... Pain au chocolat? ... OK, that sounds reasonable, and good ... proper sweet pastries.

But not as chocolate chips, not in pancakes or cereal, not in muffins or bagels.
posted by NotLost at 9:19 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


I would have thought that there was some kind of rule saying that you should walk your dog at least a few steps beyond the doorway before allowing it relieve itself. Unfortunately the dog piss lagoons I have to step over suggest otherwise.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:27 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Various things portend good luck when they appear.
Notice that things that portend bad luck, don't exist.
posted by bleep at 12:06 PM on July 24


But not as chocolate chips, not in pancakes or cereal, not in muffins or bagels.

Then I'm guessing you would be 100% against chocolate gravy and biscuits and for that, my friend, I weep for you.
posted by cooker girl at 12:25 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


The silverware goes working side up in the dishwasher. Otherwise you can have spoons nestled together and not completely clean. I learned this in the restaurant business.
posted by Splunge at 1:01 PM on July 24 [8 favorites]


"When you don't know what you want, it's probably sleep. Go lay down."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:15 PM on July 24 [13 favorites]


If a rule isn't written down, it's not a real rule.

Be the person who makes other people write down the unwritten rules.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:22 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Chocolate crêpes.
Tomatoes and mushrooms in omelets.
Knock on the front door, but step back at least three feet, when waiting to answer.
No double dipping. Put your dip on a little plate of it's own.
Share what you have, don't eat in front of others, at the very least offer water.
Don't leave somebody else's fake diamonds in the back of your Brink's truck, behind a cheap lock.

What is alt text?
posted by Oyéah at 1:26 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


secretseasons: "It seems like there are rules to adding the f-word in the middle of other words. "

It's called Infixation.
posted by signal at 1:43 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Baked and mashed potatoes are perfectly valid ways to serve potatoes, but if you cut it up and didn't mash it, it should be crispy on the outside. All of the pieces and all of the sides. Potatoes of any shape that have been fried should be crispy. If they aren't, keep frying them until they are.
posted by soelo at 1:43 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


If you start talking about someone, you need to explain who you are talking about. If you are unsure if I know who they are, ask. You can say "My friend Dan" but if just you say Dan doesn't like french fries, I am at a loss as to who in the world Dan is. If we know two Dans, again be specific as to which one you are talking about. I have a friend who does this all the time and I have to ask who they are talking about like once a week.
posted by soelo at 1:47 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


That thing is some cultures about who buys drinks for whom and when and all that, which I don't have any actual examples for because I don't really go out drinking.
posted by signal at 1:49 PM on July 24


I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad: Toilet roll. It should always hang with the sheet away from the wall. "Beard, not a mullet".

Emphatically agree except when the cat has developed an interest in toilet paper. In that case, loading the toilet roll with the hanging sheet towards the wall helps prevent the cat from helpfully unrolling it all onto the floor. Ask how I know.
posted by slkinsey at 1:57 PM on July 24 [11 favorites]


if you cut [potatoes] up and didn't mash it, it should be crispy on the outside.

Except in soup, stew, Yankee pot roast, etc.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:00 PM on July 24


The rules about maintaining distance in an elevator (pre-pandemic) apply in a general way to other public spaces, I think. I used the rule to my advantage once when I was in a medical waiting room and I saw one boy apparently bullying a smaller boy (I imagined them to be brothers). I thought it would not land well if I intervened directly, but I wanted the nonsense to stop, so after a few minutes I got up and took the seat right next to them. I said absolutely nothing, but they both shut right up. It was oddly satisfying.
posted by eirias at 2:10 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


If you finish a food, please replace or let the other party know so they don't make a sad face when they open the fridge or pantry in anticipation of delicious thing.

Replace low toilet rolls without being asked.

Always offer a guest a drink or a snack.
posted by Kitteh at 3:25 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Middle seat gets the armrests.
posted by mpark at 5:07 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


It's less a rule than something I learned all about in the past year. Rats and mice will find new homes very quickly when old farm buildings are removed to make way for housing developments. And boy, didn't they find a nice home in my house when the elderly owner of a ramshackle farm 200m from my house sold up to spend his remaining years a wealthy man, and to make way for a new estate of bland McHousing. First came the mice, which mostly just scurried, but did raid the food cupboards a bit. Took a few weeks, but I managed to trap the buggers and release them a few miles away (outside some other old codger's barn). A sigh of relief, and a crisis averted... And then the rats started coming out of the floor. Well, OK, just one rat that managed to tunnel through a cavity where the foundations of the two parts of the house meet an old section of bare-earth floor under a staircase, but that's not interesting at all. The thing with rats (which I also keep as pets) is that they're clever, big, and capable of destroying pretty much anything. They're also adorable, affectionate, and amusing. But this farm rat quickly became my nemesis. It found routes through wall cavities, ceilings, under the sink and cupboards, everywhere. And it was noisy. I built all kinds of elaborate humane traps baited with delicious food, but it scoffed at all attempts. Ultimately, having tunnelled through skirtings, destroyed carpets, and damaged electrical fucking wiring, it managed to wound itself, spray blood up two walls of our living room, and eventually die in an hard-to-access roof space, where we had no other option to allow nature (and flies) to take their course. Copious amounts of concrete have been applied to the dirt floor. All in all, something I'm not in a hurry to repeat.
posted by pipeski at 5:31 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Walk, don't stand on the moving walkway. If you must stand, it's like an escalator - don't block the way with your stuff, stand to the side so the walkers can get past you.
posted by Rash at 5:32 PM on July 24 [7 favorites]


The elevator is just like the bus.

Then again, some people don't know how to properly get on and off the bus, so whatever, I guess.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:30 PM on July 24


Splunge: The silverware goes working side up in the dishwasher. Otherwise you can have spoons nestled together and not completely clean. I learned this in the restaurant business.

I can see the utility in that method, but I think I'd still prefer people not handling the business end of cutlery, especially after it's just been cleaned.
posted by emelenjr at 6:31 PM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Baked and mashed potatoes are perfectly valid ways to serve potatoes, but if you cut it up and didn't mash it, it should be crispy on the outside. All of the pieces and all of the sides. Potatoes of any shape that have been fried should be crispy. If they aren't, keep frying them until they are.

Speaking as a person who grew up eating boiled potatoes more nights than not, phooey.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:32 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


If you have friends who garden and you are a person who likes to smoke, chew or inhale as snuff or even touch tobacco in any other form, then never ever ever touch any part of any plant they grow. Not unless you have changed clothes and scrubbed your hands and arms like a pre-operative surgeon before even thinking of doing so.

Why?

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

I garden in pots in one of the courtyards of our apartment complex and have come to find out that a few fellow tenants are now destroying my flowers bloom by bloom and pot by pot while they drink, smoke and party hearty. On the plus side there is only a handful of such neighbors in number. On the minus: one is too many.

Also, I have now learned to never show any examples of any infected plant as I try explain to my drinking and smoking neighbors why they should not touch my plants. For one, my experience is while you try to calmly and politely explain why they should not do what they are doing at that very second, they invariably grab any plant at which you point as an example. And then you also have to mollify their feelings of guilt, hurt and confusion.*

*I believe there is a two word phrase currently used here for such exertions.

Alcohol is so not a smart drug.

From my garden. That is a close up of heirloom sweetpeas and Heavenly Blue morning glories infected with TMV.

I am now dropping all my garden tools in bleach solution or wiping them down with generic Purell type hand sanitizer before I use them. As well as my hands.

So. If you use tobacco in any form, please do not forget what I have written here.

On the plus side I am learning patience and the art of polite, friendly and gentle persuasion in dealing with such inebriated neighbors. Which is a good thing.
posted by y2karl at 7:35 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]




That's such a weird phrasing. I'm a human, and this is my cousin, blood.
posted by Dysk at 8:30 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


The number of questions you can actually ask on Ask Metafilter.
posted by aniola at 8:43 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Known rule: if you use the last of the toilet paper, put a new roll on the holder.

Lesser known rule: if the roll you replaced was the last one in that room, please go to the central storage of the large bag and bring back some more. (Nothing worse than finishing a roll and going to grab the next one and...)
posted by freethefeet at 8:46 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


in fix fuckin a tion
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:17 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Oyéah, I think you were asking upthread-- alt text is "alternative text" and it's a brief description of whatever is going on in an image online. Usually it's in the edit image tools for whatever site you are on. There is also a way to build it into the code for the website. It's for blind or visually impaired people who use a screen reader so that they can enjoy the full meaning of the post instead of just hearing the caption with no context.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:59 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Tobacco and its evil cousin nicotine are good as a pesticide.
That process involves heating tobacco leaves to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a vacuum, to produce an unrefined substance called bio-oil.
Well sure, under those circumstances I have no objections...
posted by y2karl at 10:08 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Also, can we all agree that you should separate the cutlery in the basket? Like, the spoons go together, the forks go together, etc. So then you only have to grab them and put them in their home all at once. They go business-end up so they get cleaner, because everyone knows you wash your hands before you empty the dishwasher.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:34 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


I mean, your like Poirot with the boiling of tools there. Kidding. love be the garden, I'd have to were a hazmet suit. Oddly I thought of "Murder in Three Acts" the BBC with Suchet, Art Malik, Kimberly Nixon, Martin Shaw, what a cast.
posted by clavdivs at 11:59 PM on July 24


I feel like one basic rule that is so unwritten that nobody follows it is: If you meet a person walking toward you down a narrow corridor, both of you should step to the right and keep going. (Or, say, the left, if you're in a place that drives like that.)
Not just down a narrow corridor, this also includes walking on the footpath or pretty much anywhere. If there are people walking toward you, you should pass them on the same side as you would pass a car on the road. It's not fucking hard. The exception that proves the rule is pedestrians that are walking on the road - always walk facing the traffic so you can see what's coming. Always.

I can't sleep with moths fluttering near me so I have a moth swatter but I always apologize for swatting them.
You know that moths are really tiny teddy bears with wings, right?
posted by dg at 12:30 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Like, the spoons go together

Hmmm seems like a recipe for a bunch of nested spoons that don’t get clean.

The utensil basket for my dishwasher has a “grate” for the silverware that would prevent anything but knives from being business side down, so it seems Bosch at least thinks business side up is the way to go.
posted by obfuscation at 4:04 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


A complaint on Twitter reminded me yesterday of another unwritten rule: no audio in public spaces without headphones, especially indoor spaces. Apparently some folks in airport lounges have missed this memo. This of course invites one to respond by violating a different rule: no looking at someone else’s screen. If you’re watching a movie on your iPad with the volume up, I’m definitely going to stand too close and watch it too.
posted by eirias at 4:53 AM on July 25 [11 favorites]


I've noticed more and more people jogging, walking, and cycling around my local parks while listing to music or podcasts without headphones. I did not come to the park to hear your audio feed.
posted by mollweide at 5:57 AM on July 25 [12 favorites]


An unwritten rule in our house is every pet that joins our family gets a nickname. Their given name is only used when we are learning a thing, when its very important like "Fig DROP IT!"or in introductions. Any other time he's fluffy butt, stinky boy, or Figgy.
posted by ljesse at 7:05 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]

insertional fucking game
Phrasing.
posted by Tehhund at 8:37 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I have a lot of these:

There is an order to the way the glasses are arranged in a cabinet, especially a bar cabinet.
Over a certain latitude, there is no excuse to wear shorts outside in winter
The most important part of any party is that the people attending are able to be comfortable, themselves, and have a good time
You should always offer guests a refreshment before they have to ask.
Do not go into business with friends your friends. DO NOT GO INTO TO BUSINESS WITH YOUR FRIENDS. Unless 1) you're okay with losing them as friends or 2) they are friends you met doing business.
There is no red flag bigger and redder than a first date who won't stop talking about how psycho their ex is.
posted by thivaia at 8:39 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I read the manual for my Ikea/ Whirlpool dishwasher, which says cutlery should be business side down, which I did until I ended up getting some pretty silverplate (thrifted!) that I don't put in the dishwasher. Cutlery got clean. I'm trying to be less fussy about loading it and run it a bit more because, flexibilty.
posted by theora55 at 9:26 AM on July 25


Soda before noon is just....wrong. (Maybe on an exceptionally hot day, you can have some after about 11 am.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Soda tastes the same at 8:00am as it does at 8:00pm. Same with chocolate and any food. Time of day has never affected my eating choices. Maybe that is why I need to lose 30 pounds.

Pizza is always washed down with a coke or a diet coke.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:03 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Maybe a little off-topic, but in The Hollow Man, mystery writer John Dickson Carr interrupts the story part way through to have his detective, Dr Gideon Fell, deliver a talk on the "unwritten rules" of the locked room mystery.
posted by SPrintF at 10:16 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


The number of questions you can actually ask on Ask Metafilter.

My theory is that it's like those "unlimited time off!" jobs.
posted by aniola at 10:19 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Re walking on the side of the road where there's no pavement: I grew up in the countryside and I know the rule is to face oncoming traffic. But I also know I'd prefer to leap into a field (if need be) than to flatten myself into a spiky hedge, and I know I'd rather be on the outside of a bend in the road than on the inside of it; so I don't stick to it rigidly. If the wrong side affords me greater safety, I'll be on the wrong side till that ceases to be the case. I never have headphones on or do anything else to block my hearing, and I know to check behind me after a car's just come past in case one engine sound has masked another.

Incidentally, I've also been on the receiving end of driver anger for being on the correct side of the road when there was a driveway on the other side he thought I could have stepped into, so as not to inconvenience him with my presence. (I'm sure he'd have been thrilled to see me legging it across the road in front of him to make it into that driveway rather than flattening myself into the side; that wouldn't have been risky at all...)

There are only a few ways chocolate is acceptable for breakfast: on or in a doughnut or long john, or as hot chocolate.

a. What's a long john? (I did look it up, but all I got was stuff about a restaurant called Long John Silver's.)
b. Spoken like a person who has never discovered the delights of hagelslag, vlokken or chocolate matinettes. And now I really want some dark chocolate on toast.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 11:43 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


A long john is a kind of doughnut:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_John_(doughnut)
posted by soelo at 11:47 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Soda before noon is just....wrong. (Maybe on an exceptionally hot day, you can have some after about 11 am.)


Counterpoint: The absolute best hangover cure is an ice-cold coca cola, poured over quite a lot of crushed ice, first thing upon waking.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:55 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


> If you don't have time for alt text you don't have time for social media

"You got time to lean, you got time to clean!"
posted by fake at 12:49 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


A rule of my own, numerological: I dislike buying just one thing. Two is agreeable, but five items at once is the best.

no audio in public spaces without headphones, especially indoor spaces. Apparently some folks in airport lounges have missed this memo.

Mmm, tell the people in the sauna at the Fitness Center, please.
posted by Rash at 3:09 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Rule: a pet-filled lap means the human is duty-bound to surrender all other needs until thirty minutes after the time the first need to go pee is declared....
posted by mightshould at 4:07 PM on July 25 [6 favorites]


no audio in public spaces without headphones, especially indoor spaces.

This is a ... failing ... my wife has. She is uncomfortable with headphones, either over-the-ear or most earbuds, so much so that she will often watch movies on her computer only with closed captioning, so she misses all the sounds. To her credit, she knows how much everyone around her hates hearing one person's audio, and tries to keep a lid on it when other people are around.
posted by lhauser at 8:24 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Soda tastes the same at 8:00am as it does at 8:00pm.

It's not a matter of how it tastes. It's a matter of....some foods are not meant to be breakfast foods, and that's that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Nuh-uh.
posted by aniola at 8:55 PM on July 25


"some foods are not meant to be breakfast foods"

it's kind of like: EVERY zoo is a petting zoo - if you dare...
posted by alchemist at 10:11 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


W/r/t breakfasts, the colloquial 'breakfast of champions' is an infinitely varying recipe that depends on one's region, upbringing, class, and every varying aspect of humanity.

I know it as 1x 600ml Coca-Cola in a plastic bottle and a cigarette.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:16 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


It's not a matter of how it tastes. It's a matter of....some foods are not meant to be breakfast foods, and that's that.

8am is not breakfast time for the entire world of night workers. If I'm still up at 8am, I've probably got a doctor's appointment or something, and in still up after nearly eighteen hours and I will drink what I bloody please, especially if it had sugar and caffeine in it.
posted by Dysk at 12:07 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


So, what, we're all going to start picking on each others' rules now? This was supposed to be a fun thread, remember?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:43 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]




Dysk: 8am is not breakfast time for the entire world of night workers
Then what you're eating isn't breaking the night's fast -- all good by me.

My (tongue-in-cheek) rule:
Don't make a thing on the internet about you -- other people have their reasons and the dra-mah can be about them.
posted by k3ninho at 4:36 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


This one actually is written in some places, but:

On an escalator, you should stand on the right, walk on the left.
Alternatively, on an escalator, you should stand on the left, walk on the right.

... Turns out different cities have different opinions here. Going from a stand-on-the-right place (London) to a stand-on-the-left place (Tokyo) was easy enough in terms of not getting it wrong - far too many people on the escalators to be able to get it wrong! - but because it's something I do on autopilot, it took me a while to work out why something felt a bit off.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:05 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


I do not care what other people eat when, but I very much need some kind of general bulletin issued so people know not to play audio on their devices in public without earbuds/earphones. This is my current #1 pet peeve.
posted by jeoc at 6:21 AM on July 26 [9 favorites]


The most important part of any party is that the people attending are able to be comfortable, themselves, and have a good time

There is a BBC radio show called “Chain Reaction” where each guest is on two episodes; the first one, where they have been invited on as an interview subject, and the second the following week, where they become the interviewer and invite on the subject of their choice. The following episode, of course, the interviewee becomes the new interviewer and speaks with someone else, and so the whole darn human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself down the ages.

Anyway, in 2016 Victoria Coren Mitchell was interviewing Sandi Toksvig:
VCM: What’s the one bit of manners that people ought to remember?

ST: In every situation, do the thing that makes the maximum number of people feel comfortable. That’s all.

And don’t stick to manners. Don’t stick to rules and think that’s good manners.; it isn’t... So, Patrick Lichfield — wonderful photographer — told a wonderful story, and it was about the king of Denmark. When he (Patrick) was a young man, he was invited to the palace, the royal palace at Copenhagen, and in those days you wore a stiff shirt front over your shirt, with stiff cuffs and collars that were separate. But he didn’t have a shirt because he didn’t have any money, Patrick, so he just had on a stiff shirt front underneath his jacket.

Anyway, it was an unseasonably warm evening, and the ladies had retired to the other room, and the king said to the gentlemen, “You may remove your jackets.” And Patrick was mortified because he didn’t have a shirt on. He took his jacket off and the king looked at him and said, “Good idea — shirts as well!”
Unwritten rules? For me, I try to avoid waking up anyone for unnecessary reasons, or keeping them awake pointlessly*. Sleep is a fragile thing and everyone deserves as much of it as they want or need. Oddly, I married someone whose nightly allotment is much more than mine: I am perfectly happy with five hours but she will happily sleep twelve. I think in our first couple of years together, she would never have seen me unconscious unless she was returning from the washroom at 3:00 a.m. or something.

The closest I have come to murder was with a roommate when we were 22, who saw no reason not to plug in his Gibson Les Paul into a hundred-watt-amp at 2:45 a.m. to work out a song idea.

*The use of people’s tiny shitty speakers in their phones or MP3 players to listen to music falls into this category. The local commuter trains have a quiet zone comprising the upper level. People are occasionally lulled to sleep by the rocking of the train. The notion that someone two seats away suddenly is seized with an urge to listen to an Avril Lavigne song and has to play it for all of us is infuriating.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:36 AM on July 26 [7 favorites]


I do not care what other people eat when, but I very much need some kind of general bulletin issued so people know not to play audio on their devices in public without earbuds/earphones. This is my current #1 pet peeve.

Just back from a walk in my local park. I passed 5 people who were listening to music without headphones, which may not sound like a lot but was about 50% of the people I passed. This isn't a developed park, mind you, it's managed as a natural area and many people are there to bird or photograph wildlife.
posted by mollweide at 6:42 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


** Bone conduction headphone **

These are amazing, I can't stand earbuds, and over ear are not always an option. (I was skeptical and got a $7 pair on ebay, slow shipping but seem solid, the bluetooth off message is in chinese so I just assume she's saying 'off' ;-)
posted by sammyo at 7:25 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


(Re: people playing audible music in public)

My own musical preferences are very much not that of the kind of people who flaunt theirs in public so I understand and very much sympathize.

My own unwritten rule is to remember that I can't change other people's behavior, so if I can't compensate for it I'd better learn to heave a sigh and get over it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:35 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


many people are there to bird or photograph wildlife.

I know what "to bird" means, but this particular phrase makes me imagine people walking around flipping off the fauna with defiant raised middle fingers. Possibly while others are taking pictures of the act.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:39 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


the colloquial 'breakfast of champions'

In my family it is one of two things (neither healthy) - 1) for the beverage the cheapest skunkiest beer available mixed in equal proportions with tomato juice (V8 and Clamato juice are acceptable substitutes but must be one or the other) and as the meal the cheapest ground beef cooked to various levels of doneness with a packet of instant onion soup mix sprinkled and mixed in just before plating. 2) The whitest, squishiest most inauthentic bread available with a thick layer of Map-O-Spread or Caramel Grenache which is then folded over.

I likely have many unwritten rules, as I love formality, but in regards to this thread:

We eat anything for breakfast with one exception - anything too sour. All other foods are fair game. Chocolate is more than acceptable for breakfast.

I have a few pet related ones - When naming pets, you must be able to sing the name in a song. Always clean up after your dog.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:09 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Greg_Ace reminded me of a rule: you can’t think a person out of a position they felt themselves into.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:44 AM on July 26 [4 favorites]


There are only a few ways chocolate is acceptable for breakfast: on or in a doughnut or long john, or as hot chocolate.

Speaking of John, breakfast, and little chocolate donuts...
posted by Rash at 9:51 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


If you work in a shared office space with negligible sound-proofing, use headphones for your conference calls / zooms and shut the door if you're having a conversation. Singing atonally to yourself periodically is right out, you are effectively in public.

I really wish this was a written rule where I work, but it is not. Everyone does at least obey the unwritten rule of acting like we can't hear nearly anything anyone says in our wing of the building.
posted by momus_window at 10:35 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


An unwritten rule in our house is every pet that joins our family gets a nickname. Their given name is only used when we are learning a thing, when its very important like "Fig DROP IT!"or in introductions. Any other time he's fluffy butt, stinky boy, or Figgy.

Oh yeah, pet nicknames. We make a big deal about naming pets, and I don't know why because we never call them what we name them. All-time winner was probably McAuslan the rat, never called anything but Moose (or sometimes Mooses McCooses McFat for special occasions) but we do it with all of them. We spent ages naming the cat Mordechai, but he's only ever called Motti, or Mordechai Menachem-Mendl when he's in trouble. We had rats called Gavroche (Grosh), Bishop Myriel (The Bish) and Grantaire (Taire). Currently we have Stephen (Maturin) and Jack (Aubrey) addressed exclusively as Mr Yack and Steeb, and newly arrived we have Mr Buttons (Mr B or, fully against our conscious will, Butts), Izzy (FIRST MATE HANDS NO or Shma Yisrael, as in listen, Izzy), and Frenchie, who seems to be staying Frenchie, for now. Maybe he'll break the streak.

Also as mentioned above, it is illegal to see a rat yawn without saying "What a big yawn for a little rat."
posted by BlueNorther at 11:56 AM on July 26 [3 favorites]


I do not care what other people eat when, but I very much need some kind of general bulletin issued so people know not to play audio on their devices in public without earbuds/earphones.

I so agree -- there ought to be PSAs on TV.

A couple of days ago I was being lazy and chose to take the elevator at QFC to the second floor to buy some sundries. Just as the door closed, it re-opened and an elderly lady got on with her 40-something son. She was pushing one of those post-pandemic enclosed bubble baby strollers, inside of which was some sort of latter day boombox with woofers pounding so insanely loud that why I couldn't even.

Which turned the inside of the elevator turned into one of those cars that go boom after she reached down and cranked the volume when the door closed. Man, did our inner ear follicles take a beating on the way. And it was so tiny! I had no idea they make portable stereos that can go so Lethal Weapon loud.

Well, she did turn it down after we got off and they went into the liquor store up there. But still...

All the same, I'm taking the stairs now on.
posted by y2karl at 1:36 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


Not so much an unwritten rule as an unwritten verity:
Autocorrect is the archenemy of eloquence, lucidity, clarity, everything else true and good in life and, ultimately, us all.
Nothing demonstrates more our desperate need for the invention of a true -- and, preferably, benevolent -- Artificial Intelligence.
posted by y2karl at 6:14 PM on July 26 [2 favorites]


We need TV-Be-Gone for phone speakers.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:21 PM on July 26 [3 favorites]


When one is going to the kitchen to make tea or get something else to drink, one always asks if anyone wants anything.

This rule does not apply to food.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:05 AM on July 27


I know what "to bird" means, but this particular phrase makes me imagine people walking around flipping off the fauna with defiant raised middle fingers.

My old TV had a closed captioning setting that I always enjoyed because circa 2000, CC was pretty rough. I have written on the blue before about some of the delightful CC errors: one was as regards Spencer Tunick (previously) who was the controversial artist whose provocative work "raises a symbolic middle finger to contemporary mores" or, as the CC had it, "to contemporary morays."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:01 PM on July 27 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: raise a symbolic middle finger to contemporary morays
posted by humbug at 5:31 PM on July 27 [2 favorites]


Eel second that motion, in morays than one.
posted by Oyéah at 5:33 PM on July 27 [7 favorites]


They do 600ml bottles of Coke?
posted by biffa at 9:30 AM on July 28


My only unwritten rules are "don't block all the electrical outlets with furniture" and I get first dibs on my own charger.

Also trying to pass someone and you both accidentally cut in the same direction is always cute.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:53 PM on July 28


At an archery range you never touch someone else's bow without asking first -- and don't even ask if you can shoot someone else's bow. I can count on one hand the number of bows I've shot that weren't mine, excluding class bows.

But saying "this is my new bow, DON'T TOUCH IT, I got it last week, HANDS TO YOURSELF" is not a thing one would do.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:16 PM on July 28 [1 favorite]


a guy who would walk into the elevator and not turn around, just stare at the back wall

But Meatbomb, if you aren’t in a talking elevator how do you know when to exit?

Which, I assume, you do backwards. Possibly making a leg as the door closes.
posted by clew at 7:49 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


* There are only a few ways chocolate is acceptable for breakfast: on or in a doughnut or long john, or as hot chocolate.

Counterpoint: hagelslag. Whole generations of Dutch children were raised on it.

Cake, on the other hand, is not a dessert. It's a sweet treat to have with coffee or tea.
I've just eaten a meal, why on earth would I want cake?
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:48 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I've just eaten a meal, why on earth would I want cake?

I’m not following.
posted by obfuscation at 5:22 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I've just eaten a meal, why on earth would I want cake?

I think whether you agree with this depends on the size of the meal and the amount of time that's elapsed between meal and dessert. If I've had a huge roast dinner, and dessert is coming in five minutes, then yeah, I'll only want something small and light; but if it's been a more modest meal and it's been an hour or so, then yeah, cake!

A friend once joked that we actually have a second stomach just for desserts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on July 30


A friend once joked that we actually have a second stomach just for desserts.

Dessert-stomach is a standard known thing. Often, when one matures, this becomes one's cheese-stomach.
posted by pompomtom at 8:58 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Dessert is for filling in the corners in your stomach.

I belatedly recalled that the phone speaker thing reminded me of an encounter I had on a Toronto streetcar a year and change ago: a guy wheeled on a dolly with a black box maybe half again the size of a mini-fridge. I recognized it for what it was and soon everyone else knew as well: a battery-driven amp (I’d say 100 watts) with a Bluetooth connection to his MP3 player. His taste in music was... not a big crowd-pleaser.

This was, as I say, a bit over a year ago: maybe May or June 2021. How many people here think he was wearing the required mask?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:24 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


When I bake, I make food. If I make a small cake 1/2 C whole wheat flour, 1/2 C rough almond flour, say 3 Tablespoons of cocoa, 1/3 C olive oil, a couple of eggs, 1/2 C sugar, pecans, dried cranberries, etc, a small piece of this is breakfast, especially with some cheese, coffee and so forth. This isn't the whole recipe, but it makes at least 6 modest slices, or 8 littlies. It freeezes well too, no icing, maybe aome demerrara sugar under the batter while baking to make that special crispy goo.Anyway, carry on.
posted by Oyéah at 8:39 PM on August 5


Too-Ticky: Counterpoint: hagelslag. Whole generations of Dutch children were raised on it.

Chocolate for breakfast or lunch is also quite common in Scandinavia, in the shape of rectangular slices a few mm thick that you put on a slice of bread, knäckebröd or toast.
posted by Stoneshop at 7:42 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


a. What's a long john? (I did look it up, but all I got was stuff about a restaurant called Long John Silver's.)

Long John Silver's is a restaurant, where if you find a stand-alone version, still looks and more importantly smells exactly the same as it did in 1982. In the US for a chain restaurant, that's weird, as they remodel to be trendy regularly, and they changed fats in the 1990s and 2000s which sort of changed the smell. Not Long John Silvers though. They don't remodel and if they did change to vegetable oil, they retained the same exact smell.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:49 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Never trump your partner’s ace.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:49 AM on August 11


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