Friday, June 22, 2012

The Art of Behavior

          My mom has always believed that if God intended for her to cook he would not have invented restaurants, and therefore, when we were little we would go out to eat quite often.  Actually, our parents took us everywhere.  I don’t recall my mom and dad going too many places without us even though I know they did because I remember a couple of babysitters I used to fantasize about.  However, the fact that we were small children did not prevent my parents from allowing us to join them for a night out.  Furthermore, they took us to some nice places in those days such as the English Pub, Peg Legs and the Sea Room, which may not have required ties in order to eat there, but neither did they have Play Places or televisions.  Even though we were given crayons and coloring pages to keep us entertained, no meal ever came with a toy.  I know because I asked.
          You see, my parents could take us to those places because they had taught us how to behave.  And we did behave because there were consequences to our backsides if we didn’t.  Furthermore, we know the difference between good behavior and bad behavior.
          When my sister was four, my aunt and uncle along with our cousin, Penny, were visiting that summer.  There’s only a couple of months difference in age between Laurie and Penny and whenever we would visit the two girls were inseparable.  While they were down our families decided to all go out to eat at Peg Legs, which had to be for my aunt and uncle because Dad despises sea food and Peg Legs was mainly just that.  The entire experience was an eye-opener.  Penny fussed about everything, more food went onto the floor than in her stomach, and she spilt about three drinks because she couldn’t sit still.  At the end of the night Laurie looked at my mom and said, “I don’t want to go out to eat with them anymore.  Penny doesn’t know how to behave.  She embarrassed me.”  I didn’t know a four-year old could get embarrassed.
          Sadly, that commentary can be said about a major portion of society today.  People simply do not know how to behave.  Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to be stoic and forever rigid.  However, as my dad used to say, “There is a time and place for everything.”  Different venues require different behavior.  Conduct at a baseball game is not fitting for a play.  A rock concert has a different atmosphere than is proper decorum for a concert choir performance.  However, everything seems to be treated the same because people are confused as to how to conduct themselves,
          Furthermore, there is a mass lack of respect for things of importance.  My anger rises when I hear people talking during the Pledge of Allegiance or the singing of the National Anthem.  This is a freedom that I think people should be denied.  Men and women have sacrificed their lives for those living under that flag.  To disrespect that is to spit on the graves of those who have given their all so that some could be asses.  Don’t have respect for the symbols of our country, I’ll be more than happy to buy you a ticket to another one.
          Now that that rant is over I return you to our regularly scheduled essay.  People have forgotten how to behave.  Good manners are thought to be old fashioned and no longer taught in most homes.  We’ve become too lazy as a society for my tastes as spoiled celebrities on sitcoms get to dictate acceptable behavior.  Special events are no longer treated special.
          While we were attending Chad’s graduation there was a mixture of those who dressed to celebrate the occasion and others who looked as if they had just come in from the beach.  Cell phones were going off and people were having discussions with their friends that had nothing to do with anything going on at the graduation.  Inconsiderate behavior is at an all-time high and truly it doesn’t look good on our culture.
          Growing up, my mom used to say, “Children should be seen and not heard.”  I feel that way about most adults nowadays.  Too many people use the phrase “Accept me as I am” to say they’re an obnoxious idiot with rude behavior and you’re expected to deal with it.  However, I refuse to make allowances for people who are just plain obnoxious and inconsiderate.  There is no justification for an ill-mannered person, whether they are a child or an adult.
          Some say it’s because I’m a snob.  However, that sounds too much like the “Accept me as I am” line.  Still, it may very well be true.  I am a snob.  I expect my family to behave a certain way and, to be honest, I am closest to those friends who have a standard of behavior that reveals they don’t live in the gutter even if we occasionally visit it.  I have no patience or tolerance for asinine behavior.
          There is a time and a place for everything and if you don’t know the difference, then your parents need to be put in stocks and spanked.  While we’re fighting to teach safe sex in our schools, perhaps we should be fighting to teach the Art of Behavior.  Future generations might have some class then.
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