The United States is increasingly becoming a nation of very rude people.For example, whatever happened to basic manners, such as removing one’s hat, if indoors, before randomly firing an assault weapon?
Now, I’ve never thought of myself as an inconsiderate person. So, you can imagine my surprise when a woman recently made it quite clear that I most certainly am. Unless, of course, there’s an alternative interpretation for the phrase “rude fuckin’ bitch.”
Here’s what happened: I was staying in a hotel on the second floor. The above-mentioned woman, who was in the room directly below, felt compelled to storm up the stairs, and inform me that she’d “appreciate it if you’d stop jumping up and down on the floor.”
Which I would have been happy to do, were it not for the fact that I was sitting quietly in front of the TV watching Clifford, The Big Red Dog, and otherwise preparing to be a future Rhodes Scholar.
I pointed this out to the woman in the manner that, I truly believe, would be considered extremely polite by your average longshoreman.
It was at this point she shared her belief, in so many words, that I’m not particularly well-suited for a career in international diplomacy.
In my defense, this woman was clearly what a mental health professional might clinically describe as “a total nut job.” Even so, I probably didn’t handle the situation appropriately. I now realize that I shouldn’t have kicked her sizable butt down the stairs while screaming that horrible “C”-vagina word.
Of course, I’m kidding. My behavior was impolite, and I definitely need to brush up on my social skills. That’s why I just finished reading a book by Judith Martin, Miss Manners Rescues Civilization.
For those of you unfamiliar, Martin is the Dear Abby of etiquette. She’s like our Ms. Behavior without the sarcasm. Similarly, people just like you and me, assuming that we are complete morons, write to Miss Manners (as Martin refers to herself) with etiquette questions.
Many of these letters, and Martin’s responses, appear in the book. As a result, I now know the polite thing to do in virtually every situation, except those covered past page 51, where my level of interest decreased to the extent that I was very much asleep.
Just the same, I learned several important rules of etiquette. One is particularly timely, in that many people are planning a summer trip, and are probably, at this moment, asking themselves: “Is it proper for tourists to attend a funeral to observe local custom?”
Hmm. This deserves some serious thought. So, you’re visiting a place where the people behave in strange and different ways. Perhaps Anoka. All of a sudden, it occurs to you: “Hey, let’s head out to the local cemetery. Who wouldn’t want gawking strangers at their funeral?”
While this makes perfect sense to me, Miss Manners explains that, technically, funeral guests should know, or at least know of, the deceased.
I can’t imagine, though, that there would be anything wrong with approaching hysterical mourners, and asking if they would be so kind as to tape the event for your video scrapbook.
Miss Manners goes on to answer what has to be the number one most frequently asked etiquette question: “What should I say to total strangers who want to fondle my hair?”
This is a tough one, and, given the high incidence of hair-fondling by strangers, we should all thank Miss Manners for putting our need to know above other concerns, such as totally wasting paper.
In these situations, she says the hair-fondler should be turned over to police. I, however, prefer the more subtle approach of simply accessorizing one’s hair with barbed wire.
Then, there’s that potentially awkward situation (and we’ve all been down this road before) when your houseguests insist on prancing around naked.
If this bothers you, Miss Manners suggests you firmly, but politely, tell them that they need to be clothed while in your presence.
If they absolutely refuse, you should at least insist that they not jump and down on the floor.
For various reasons.
Or, you could follow my lead, and kick their sizable butts down the stairs—and consider the source.
Bye for now.