Gayby’s Guide to Manners
Posted on April 3, 2012
I nannied for a kid once. Sometimes he would grab my watch and not give it back to me. It made me furious, but I was the adult in the situation and I knew I had to keep my cool. So, I would say things like, “Bobby, you need to give me that watch back or I’m going to hang you out of that ten-story window by your ankles.” For some reason, this would make him laugh hysterically. I even said this in front of his mother once. “Want to hang out the window? Is that what you want, Bobby? It’s really high up. You’ll go splat. I’m counting…1, 2, 3…Give me the watch back…” Maniacal laughter from Bobby and then I would yank the watch out of his little, meaty, fist. I didn’t care. I wanted that feckin’ watch back. Sweet Mother was going to get respect by hook or by crook.
I also wanted this kid to gain some manners. It was lesson time. I mean, as far as I could see, his parents were raising a little a**hole. So, I wrote him a manual called, “Bobby’s Guide to Gentlemanly Conduct”. I wrote steps in it for him at whim, which means I would write new steps whenever he annoyed me. The manual always contained two sensible points and then a nonsensical one because you have to keep their attention, you have to keep them on their toes – they’re kids, after all. Step 1 would say, “no hitting,” then step 2, “only 1 soda after school,” and the kicker, step 3, “NO ALCOHOL.”
The “NO ALCOHOL” would send Bobby into hysterics again. And then he would scream, “I’m 8. I’m only 8! I don’t drink alcohol! I don’t drink alcohol!” – as if I were the stupidest person in the world. It was gorgeous. I had control via absurdity.
Thinking about Bobby, got me to thinking about my future-Gayby. When I think about Gayby, I think about the world around me. It seems, these days, we could all use a little manners. So, I’ve written some first steps. Feel free to photocopy this list and paste it on your fridge or better yet, give it to someone you love – someone who, maybe, is on the verge of becoming a little a**hole. Here we go.
Don’t Eat Like an Animal / Learn How to Use a Fork
There is a way to eat and there is a way not to eat. The way that involves using your hands and grabbing the drumstrick and gnawing on it like you’re a wench or a scab at a Medieval times reanactment is WRONG – just plain wrong. You should eat European-style. Fork, turned over in your left hand, piercing the meat or carrot, knife in your right hand, cutting gingerly. Once you have an adequate-sized piece, place the knife down, pierce the food with your left, turn it daintly, lift, and place in your mouth like a lady or a spoiled, little, lord. (If your left handed, that is a sign of the devil, so learn how to use your right. I’m not explaining that all over again.) When you are done, don’t place the fork and knife all skiawampus all over the damn plate. Knife and fork together, knife with the round side up. If you can’t handle these simple things then eat only Ethiopian meals where the food is placed on a plate made of bread. You rip the bread with your hands and swoop up the yummy goods. Everyone will think you are cultured and well traveled, only I will know the truth – you are lazy.
Get everything custom tailored
Wifesy and I argue over this. She thinks I get my pants hemmed too short, I think she lets hers trail around her like a vagabond. Truth is, there are only two people in the world who can wear clothes right off the rack and neither of them are very nice. The rest of us, normal folk, need to get a slightly bigger size and then take it to the nice tailor and have her pinch it in, here and there, until it fits us perfectly like a glove. Fitted is how you want to wear your clothes, not like some hoochies be wearin’ their pants these days – all snug like a sausage trapped in a thimble. Not like that. I do not want to see your ass. In fact, and this goes for you – all the mens-es worldwide – pull your pants up! Up, pull ‘em up! There should be two layers of clothing between you and any seat at all given times that you are in public. So, underwear and your pants, that equals two layers. If for some reason your pants are buckled below your ass, you’re doing things all wrong, not to mention defying gravity, and stressing out all the natural laws of personal hygiene! And worse yet, stressing out Momma!
Use headphones while listening to or playing electronic gadgets
Beep. Beep. Beep. Click. Click. Beep. Beep. Click. Buzz. Beep. Buzz. Buzz. Shut that feckin’ thing up. Period. You are not at home. You are surrounded by other people. So, either shut that sh*t off or put some ear buds in your ears. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of a total stranger ramming your electronic device down your throat and this is dangerous to the esophagus, even at the best of times. People tell me it’s how Whitney Houston lost her voice. Some say crack, I say using a Mario Brothers on a crowded train.
Never actually use a hankerchief
Hankerchiefs are disgusting. If you use a hankerchief you’re either old as feck or you’re way too eco-friendly and allergic to kleenex. However, none of that means you should carry your snot around with you. Since I don’t pee into a bandana and then put it in my pocket, then you should’nt get to carry your snot around. Gross. Now, if you’re a man – you’re allowed to use a “pocket square” – a pocket square is a nice flash of color that perfectly rounds out a suit, but you are never allowed to blow into your pocket square, ever. You are allowed to put it down on the grown so a lady can walk over a puddle though, because that’s just cool.
Don’t expose your crotch in public
You would think this goes without saying, but it doesn’t. One day, a long time ago, I went to take a bus out of New York’s central, bus-hub, known as Port Authority. As I waited on the ticket line, I watched a young father shield his young boy’s eyes. I followed his blinded gaze across the line to the wall opposite us. Sitting there was a woman in a skirt with her legs retracted, her knees up around her ears, and her skirt practically around her neck. She looked constricted and pained. The only thing that was free and liberated on her entire frame was her beaver. Her beaver was taking in the breeze. In fact, I think she was using it to hold her bus ticket. Try not to do this. It scares children. And adults, like me, remember it for the rest of our natural lives.
No personal hygiene routines in public areas
I once experienced a man clipping his nails on the downtown train. I was drinking a cup of coffee and I just couldn’t enjoy it. I kept trying to focus on the trajectory of his snapping, flying, nail shavings and fearing one would land directly in the open hole on my coffee lid. It was all I could think about – this man’s dna sample in my morning coffee. Thank god, the bus-line-lady with the open beaver wasn’t around. I can’t imagine what area she would’ve been worried about.
Pay for things every once in a while and always tip well
Pick up the drinks every now and again, simply because you’ve had a mini-windfall of good prosperity in your life and you want to share. Always, tip well, even if the service is sh*t. As the musical band, Live, so eloquently put it: “Everyone deserves a little bit of feckin’ change.”
Shorten up your posts
Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged. I am hoplessly guilty of writing too many words. So, consider this last note from me a sublime gesture to watch my manners by stopping here. No, here. Here. There. No, really. I’m done.
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