In the era I grew up in, table manners were a big deal. Curiously, this was one commonality in our family no matter where I was. Pick a place: Mom’s, Dad’s or the Grandparents. Come with me, now, to see how those formative years gave birth to my own golden rule: Don’t talk with your mouth foul.
Before you start groaning that this is one of those “back in those days” type posts, it’s not. Well, not really. But all tales require context, so this will require a little backstory.
Briefly, then, there were four major table manner rules:
- Elbows off the table
- Say please and thank you
- Finish your plate
- Don’t talk with your mouth full
For me, #1 was the toughest to maintain (although, at Grandma’s, it shifted to #3, because she kept piling more food on my plate). The easiest was #4, but mostly because I didn’t talk that much as a kid.
Now, sure, there were other rules, but they seem self-evident. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to put your napkin on your lap? Over the decades, I’ve saved many shorts and pants by that simple task.
But, those were the “Big Four”. All of which I practice today. And, yes, I still have trouble with #1.
Now, to the point of the matter of today’s post.
Recent events give me more causes to be angry than in any time since I was working. (Aside: those of you still working know full well how often the daily grind can create causes for bad thoughts).
Yet, I’ve tried to keep my tone and manner civil through the process. For example, in all my diatribes against Donald Trump, I’ve not used any slurs or insults. Criticism, sure, buckets of that, but I’ve kept it, if not respectful, than at least not disrespectful.
But the recent killings at a local school and some of the responses (or lack thereof) the tragedy has generated, has strained my graciousness.
Understand, I’m no saint. Indeed, I have a full complement of curse words at my disposal. It’s not a mint set, plenty of those words are dog-eared.
The thing is, most of the times I’ve used them have been self-directed (such as after a particularly costly mistake in tennis or when I’ve sliced part of my finger preparing a meal).
It’s a rare thing when I bring one out for “emphasis”. Even when writing three books about middle school kids, I didn’t use one curse word (although, I do think I slipped up and used “scumbag” once in there…I should edit that out someday).
I get that, for some reason, it seems okay that these words are used so casually now. People don’t even notice when “young adults” use them – frequently.
Occasionally, one of my nieces slips up and lets one fly while discussing something they’re upset about. I don’t even have to glance at them anymore before they apologize.
Again, I’m not a prude or a prig. But I don’t see why foul language has to be as common as “um” or “y’know” in people’s speech.
Plus, communication begins with ears that hear. Make a point interlaced with vulgarity or curse words and you’ll shut down some people. Or just make them fire back. Not very effective.
So, yes, there are some choice words that I want to say about slain children, politics-for-pay and disgusting conspiracy theorists. And I do say them.
I just don’t talk with my mouth foul.