I’m not going to get all Miss Manners on you, but this is important. The little things that people do or say throughout the day that we think of as “manners” have been on a steady decline for a long time. And not coincidentally, society is going to hell in a handbasket. (See? Miss Manners would never use that expression.)
The things called “manners” are unnecessary, you say. Well, I disagree. When you look back at the original reason for any one particular act or saying that are considered part of having “good manners,” they are based on the concept of respect. And that, you have to admit, is seriously lacking in America today.
Why hold the door open for someone else? Well, it’s a sign of humility, of equality. I often hold the door open for men, who are usually a little surprised, but then pleased.
Why wait for the host to pick up their fork before you begin eating? Because the host has gone to all the trouble to put this dinner together, and you are acknowledging their efforts.
Why take your hat off in a restaurant? Because it’s probably a dirty old thing and you are about to eat food. It’s a sign of respect to the other diners. (And that goes for hoodies, too. Put the hood down, you young whipper snappers!)
The list goes on and on, of course. But the bottom line is that these “rules” of society help us to treat each other with respect and humility — both of which are seriously lacking in today’s world. So, JelloHeads, please try to have good manners and to teach them to your children. I don’t know why Southerners in particular have always been so observant of “good manners” (in some circles not so much, of course). And although I don’t usually consider myself a “Southerner, ” I did grow up in Virginia and I suppose some of it stuck. So the following little anecdote from last week was amusing to me and I think shows how “good manners” can make life just a little easier for everyone.
Last weekend we had the pleasure of the company of my big brother for a couple of nights. And on one of those nights, some other friends of ours came over for dinner. Our other friends had not seen my brother for a long time, and so when they came in, I said “You remember Tom, don’t you?”
Well, my friend Stella Artois was raised a good Southern girl from Tennessee, so she knew immediately what I had just done and laughed, “Of course I remember Tom. But thank you for saying his name, in case I didn’t!”
It’s the little things, people. Manners count.