According to the gospel of the internet, Wikipedia, social graces is defined as ‘’skills used to interact politely in social situations. They include manners, etiquette (the specific accepted rules within a culture for the application of universal manners), deportment, fashion and refinement (also known as sophistication)’’.
Social graces are an extreme pet-peeve for me. I think it is because society has become so self-centered and individual-driven, that people no longer feel the need to think about anyone or anything beyond themselves. Social graces are glaringly lacking in today’s adults, leaving little hope for what can be taught to the upcoming generations.
All that follow are my experiences with a lack of certain social graces in various circumstances, with my socially ungraceful take on those found guilty.
1. The Cell-Phone Lovers
These people feel the need to be on a call at all times, I suspect, in order to feel a sense of importance. Their lives, jobs and circumstances are always more important than anyone around them and they cannot, for the love of God above, get off their phones to conduct the matter at hand; whether they are at a bank, doctor’s office, cashier, or in front of me at Parents’ Day. A parent was on his call from the time he sat in front of me and rudely gestured to me to start the conference with his wife and daughter while he was doing something that was obviously more important. Needless to say, I greeted the mother and told her that we would wait until he was finished his important call before we discuss his child’s academic performance in my class. Cell-Phone lovers do not care about you. They are rude and disrespectful, ill-bred and devoid of class.
2. ‘Good Morning’ haters
While we are not and cannot all be morning people, once we brush our teeth, shower, dress and leave our houses, it’s time to shake it off! Nothing irks me more than when adults walk into an office, bank etc., and sit there without a general greeting to all there. Equally disgusting to me, is when I walk into an establishment and greet everyone generally, and no-one responds. At that point, I usually continue with, ‘’or not’’. When adults are so ill-mannered, whatever are we to expect from their children? Too many times our staff room door would be knocked on and as we answer, a students is there, eager to ask for who she needs to see. No greeting. No apology for disturbance. Nothing. My solution is always the same and quite simple. I tell them that since they left their manners at home, they should probably return and get them, and when that’s done they can come back and ask for whom they need to see. These types of children are raised to feel entitled; entitled to no manners. They are usually raised by entitled adults who feel themselves better than others in the first place.
3. Men who hate to open doors…for anyone!
This breed of jackass is so prevalent everywhere. They don’t just lack chivalry towards women; they lack basic manners towards humanity. Dude, opening the door for me does NOT mean I want you, or that I will want you…ever. It means that you weren’t raised by a hooligan mother. I have seen men NOT open the door for me, as they glance across at their significant other, knowing it’ll be hell to pay if they did open it. Ladies, if you are one of these women, please ask yourself why you would want to be with a man who won’t open the door for someone else. Does it means he loves you less? If your answer is yes, then seek some help…psychological and social. If my man didn’t open the door for a woman, I swear, he would never hear the end of it. I’d hate to be with a man like that, as much as I hate men like that. I was walking into a pharmacy some years ago and a couple walked in before me. He held the door open for his…whoever she was, and was about to keep it open for me. I was a few strides behind. Just enough time for her to look at him with daggers. He let the door go. I opened the damn door myself (not that there was a choice at that point), walked in behind them and said, ‘’Thanks! You are such a gentleman!’’
Now this door-hater can also be women. I think women believe that they do not need to be chivalrous because they have vaginal immunity. Ladies, really. When you let the door go behind you in someone’s face, you are simply lacking in poise, grace and class. You are a hog in mud!
4. They see you fall…literally
Boy, have I had some experience with these twits. They transcend all gender and age. They are a special breed of crass. They would see you trip, drop something, get your clothes caught in a door, or fall down and would glance at you and continue along their path of righteousness. You are in public, people! Interacting with other human beings, not wild animals that if were in a mall, should actually be avoided at all costs! Were you seriously raised by wolves? Or in a barn? Or fed pellets as a child? Shopping in the mall one day, I had many packages in my hands and for those who know me well, that is not uncommon or difficult for me to accomplish. However, that day one bag was slipping out of my grip and as I tried to regain bag-control, they all slid to the ground. This imbecile walking behind me, watched me struggle to get all the bags back in my grip…from the ground, and watched me as he walked around me to get on his way! I got up the same time and said to him, ‘’don’t mind me! I’m fine, thanks for helping…ass!’’
Then there was the less amusing time that I was trying to get into my car when I slipped off the pavement and was dangling in the drain outside my house, while holding on for dear life, or at least dear shame, while my neighbour opposite simply looked at me. Apparently, I was the daily soap opera! I ungracefully, and with extreme difficulty from the pain caused by the skin scraping off my leg, climbed back on to the pavement. He didn’t even ask me if I was ok! You are 90 years old (or look like it), with daughters and granddaughters! Have you no upbringing whatsoever?? Death stare to you, forever.
5. Get your a$$ off the seat!
You are in a bank, office, bus, agency…doesn’t really matter. You are in a public place with provided seating. The men and even the women who sit their asses down with no signs of mobility, even when an elderly person, pregnant woman, woman walks in! Oh sweet baby Jesus, the patience that I am forced to muster when I witness such social disgrace! Selfish people who are self-centered behind closed doors, is no concern of mine. But to be so lacking in etiquette and basic courtesy is as unbecoming as a human being can get. While I have no examples of this happening to me, I have witnessed it too many times to count. I don’t know if it is culturally rooted or just rooted in the grossly ill-bred among us.
6. You put on weight?
Help me, oh Father, for I will sin, the next time someone tells me that! I cannot understand the pleasure that one gets from saying that to another person. Furthermore, is there a particular point you are trying to make, that you feel they will remain ignorantly unaware of, if you don’t ask that question? And exactly what answer would please you? Yes? And then what? Or no? And then what? Women, and the more oestrogen-friendly men, are particularly guilty of this social blunder. Maybe women FEEL skinnier when they point out weight gain to others. Then there are those who haven’t seen you in 20+ years and ask it. Yes, I have put on weight since you saw me last….at 21…22 years ago….fool. I believe that lacking this particular social grace is quite hurtful to others. You don’t know what their struggles and insecurities are and why it’s so. For me, it is quite difficult to hear. First of all, I have had chemically induced weight gain, from medication and resultant hormonal imbalances; weight gain from steroids that I NEEDED for asthma control. In addition, for anyone under 40 years of age, you should really consider shutting the front door! You have no clue how hard it is to lose weight after a certain age. I don’t eat excessive white flour at three meals a day or gorge myself on pasta, fried foods or desserts. I train hard, almost everyday, but it’s hard after 40. And it’s depressing. In addition, I have and always had inherently broad shoulders, which is not common in women, so I am automatically considered, big…or strong…or fat. I don’t have a big ole belly! But who cares! All we see is shoulders! I have never in my life told anyone that I found that they had put on weight…never. It adds no value to my life, their life, our relationship or our conversation. It would simply shine my lack of grace everywhere. And grace is essential to us dancers.
7. I’m not hungry right now, can you pack it?
I was married to this breed of poor carriage so my experience in cringing is endless. If you are invited to someone’s home for a meal, then you go and you eat. It is a very simple concept to understand and execute. You knew in advance what the evening’s plan was, so there is no reason to go to eat somewhere, with a full stomach. To compound the lack of social sophistication, you tell the host to pack it for you because you are not hungry and prefer to take it away. Is this Mc Donald’s? The lack of culture makes my blood crawl. By all means, if the host asks you to please take some home, that’s a different story altogether! But at least allow them to insist before saying yes. It is simply inelegant to go to someone’s home for a meal with a pre-conceived plan to pack and carry!
8. The children of the socially ungraceful
Parents please! I understand that it must be hard for you to raise children with decorum if you have none of your own, but please, do some reading, take a class, do something. But don’t send or bring your children in public if they lack a certain level of behaviour! Supermarkets and restaurants see the worst of this. The child who cries incessantly, shouts at the top of their voices, bangs the cutlery, wants everything in sight. I have so often been reminded that I am not a parent, because clearly I didn’t get the memo that I am without child. Yet I can still accept that children will be children to a certain point. Anything beyond that point becomes parents being irresponsible, inconsiderate and impolite. Teach your children to cover their mouths when they sneeze and cough in public because we don’t want their germs. It is quite straightforward. Teach them to greet people in a becoming manner, whether at home or in public. Not doing so, reflects your haughtiness, not just theirs. Show them the value of thanking people for gifts, rather than raising entitled brats, that you the have the audacity to send off into the world. Please have them stfu when adults are speaking and understand that adult conversations do not invite their input. While I understand that children will take time to learn social graces, it doesn’t mean that it must be short changed. Do the work, do it consistently. Raise well-bred young men and young ladies who will be able to shine and share their social etiquette wherever they go. After all, a child’s manners, or lack thereof, is a reflection of their parents.
9. The Doctors
This is a special one that unnerves me. Your momma didn’t name you ‘Dr.’ so don’t be introducing yourself as ‘Dr anything’ in a social setting! You are at a party, house warming, club, dinner….news flash! Nobody cares if you are a Doctor! You are just you…if you even know who that is! By all means be proud of your title…when you are at work or a professional function. My granny, at my grandfather’s one-year memorial, introduced me to someone as ‘Dr. Whateverhisnamewas’. So I asked him his name. Granny repeated herself and his title. So I asked him if his mummy named him ‘Dr.’. Granny said I was being rude so I re-introduced myself to him. I said, ‘Hello, my name is Teacher MyLastName.’ Doctors and their God complexes are as unattractive to me as crying babies. I think it irritates me even more since, years ago, my friend, who is a Doctor, was coming over to my home. As he walked in and I was about to introduce him to everyone, he whispered to me, ‘Please don’t say Doctor, Barry is fine, please V.’ That’s when I realised that being a socially ungraceful Doctor was a choice of arrogance and feeling of being better than your social acquaintances, not a phenomenon inherent to the profession. Furthermore, being a Doctor in a social setting, only impresses the unaccomplished and ailing among us.
10. When are you getting married/having a baby.
The sheer unfairness of this question to women of any age is just heart wrenching. This is another hurtful display of social misgivings. You simply do not emphasise someone’s ‘singleness’ if they don’t do it themselves. You don’t know how they feel about it or if it a result of choice of circumstance! It can make people feel inadequate when it is really your lack of upbringing that is. Similarly, the baby questions is just as horrific. Do you know their medical history of possible infertility or miscarriage? If not them please invite yourself to silence. Not everyone wants or needs to get married or have children. Those social expectations are becoming increasingly archaic with the onset of the educated in today’s world. Neither one leads to the path of happiness for everyone, and frankly it is really absolutely none of your business. Know your place in life: in need of some social training.