Toronto Life

Urban Diplomat

- Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplo­mat@torontolif­

I fly often for work, and lately I’ve noticed more and more people wearing sweatsuits on planes.

On a recent flight home from LA, I spotted one that looked like an outfit you’d expect to see in the pyjama section—or a prison yard. I was raised to believe that dressing well is a way to show respect for others, so I wear a collared shirt and jacket on flights. I don’t expect everyone to dress so smartly, but don’t we need standards?

—Formal Complaint, Windfields

UD: Are the planes you take flying back to the 1960s? Because it’s been ages since an aircraft aisle resembled a catwalk. There’s now only one rule in the aviation dress code: wear whatever helps you eke out a scintilla of comfort in your ever-shrinking space. Good on you for dressing to impress—but know that nobody is taking notice. All most of us want while airborne is to pull our hoodies over our heads and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Sorry, but the sweatsuits are here to stay.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

A few months back, my boyfriend saw some NFL players wearing nail polish, decided he liked the look and asked me to help him apply it. He’s a bearded, burly guy, so it looked ridiculous, but

I figured it was innocent fun and he’d quickly lose interest. Here’s the thing: now he’s wearing polish every day and in all settings. People give us weird looks when we’re out, and he doesn’t seem to care. He’s meeting my conservati­ve parents for the first time in a couple of weeks, and I know they’ll be super judgy about those nails. How do I talk him out of this fashion crime?

—Varnishing Act, Regent Park

UD: It’s reasonable to ask your boyfriend to temporaril­y nix the mani (though your folks may be more openminded than you expect). But the bigger question is why you care what people think. If it makes him happy, let him have his thing. My advice is to take a page out of your boyfriend’s playbook: ignore the stink eyes, tune out your parents’ disapprova­l and embrace a little eccentrici­ty.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

The other day, I came home to find my wife sewing Apple AirTags into the lining of our 14-year-old son’s coat.

She’s on edge because he’s going away on a school trip in a few weeks, and she wants to track his location. Apparently, she’s been emboldened by other parents she knows doing the same thing. Like any dad, I worry about my kid’s safety, but this makes me uncomforta­ble.

Are we invading his privacy?

—Spy Games, Pape Village

UD: It sounds like your wife has crossed the line from concerned parent to control freak. Safety culture becomes stifling when it goes too far (see: city hall’s silly attempted tobogganin­g ban). Kids need freedom to explore and take risks. Presumably, your wife trusts the teachers at your son’s school enough to allow him on the trip, so remind her that he’ll be in good hands. Ensure that your son has a bunch of emergency numbers in his phone and leave him to it. Then find ways to help your wife take her mind off her worries while he’s away.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I often receive gifts from family in the States. When they send me stuff, I’m stuck paying upward of 25 per cent of the item’s value because of import duties and taxes. I’m generally a grateful person, but not when I have to pay for things I didn’t ask for. Should I tell my loved ones to stop sending packages? Or ask them to pony up for the taxes?

—Duty Calls, Maple Leaf

UD: It seems like your relatives aren’t doing the paperwork right. Canada doesn’t charge import duty on gifts worth less than $60. Check the customs form on the package to see if they’ve marked it as a gift. If they haven’t, just mention it the next time you thank them. But, if they’re sending gifts that are worth a bundle, that’s a different conversati­on. Say you’re worried about such expensive items being lost or damaged in transit. It may be a white lie, but at least you won’t be in the red.

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