Are manners dead?
Your writer grew up surrounded by books; the place where toys were stored was adjacent to a voluminous family library, and reading books was a fascination which continued until age diminished the capacity to read.
Biographies were a staple, and one that had a lasting impact was a 1922 book entitled Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home; in which Emily Post dealt extensively with behaving properly. For some reason this publication intrigued this young reader, and her words remained a constant.
As our society has progressed throughout its various stages reminders of her rules of proper behavior flare up before these tired eyes with disturbing regularity; especially so with the invention of the cell phone, and advice published by her great-great grand daughter, Anna Post.
Following in the footsteps of her famous family member, Anna wrote excellent advice on cell-phone usage, excerpts of which appear below, and aught to be made law; since Congress seems to be constantly in the mood to write frivolous laws. Further, it should be made required reading for everyone who knows how to read.
The younger Ms. Post begins by urging cell-phone users to learn how to use features such as “silent ring,” or vibrate, to name a few.
There's virtually no reason that those of us who are availing ourselves of various amenities of social life should have to listen to the abominable musical features which come with most cell phones. To add insult to injury, the users of these blights seem to revel in allowing their phone to blast forth an unending cacophony of annoying sound upon those of us who would prefer to enjoy our meal, or even just the quiet of life in its absence.
As to dining room etiquette, high up in the degree of dining room rudeness is to let ones cell phone blare out some stupid sound; then, after all the diners within earshot have had their diner interrupted, answer the phone and engage loudly in some inane conversation that could have waited for a more convenient time. That's rude!
There's nothing more discourteous, in your writer's estimate, than having to listen to an unending blare of simple-minded music while trying to enjoy a meal, or any other component of daily living. Then to have one's quiet insulter by being made an unwilling witness to witless blather of no intellectual consequence.
It's not enough that cell-phone users have to inflict this abomination upon the rest of us, but they seem to take delight in letting it go on forever.
Ms. Post goes on to urge cell phone users to speak softly when they insist on annoying the rest of us. We don't want to share in their conversation—we don't care to listen in; but we have no recourse.
Miss Post's advice in this regard, is especially true in church, the library, the theater, or at the dinner table. The rest of us don't really care to listen in. Spare us.
And her advice is also true when one is driving. Before your writer finally put his vehicle to rest; being nearly run off the road by cell-phone users was almost a daily occurrence.
Ms. Post notes, regrettably, that people using cell-phones “rarely take others into consideration” when they are using their phones in public. Amen!
At one time the cell phone was a novelty and users seemed to think they should share with others the fact that they have one. Not true any more. Most of us don't care, are not impressed, and would appreciate it if the users would spare us this impertinence.
We're happy that some people have cell phones; but the should use them somewhere else—or better still, don't use them at all in public. Emily, where are you when we need you?
Give the diner what you promised
If we're going to be forced into vegetarianism, why not be upfront about it?
In an earlier edition your writer discussed “fake meat,” and its tastelessness.
Further research discloses that “fake meat” or “meat analogues” have been on the market for some years. They're even touted as being more healthy for us. Proponents say they are, for whatever reason.
But there are those of us who, when we order a steak, want a steak, despite all the negative aspects attached to eating meat.
We don't want to have to choke down a tasteless product that resembles shirt cardboard, rather than meat.
For some years now there's been a move on to alter our dietary habits by removing beef from the table and replacing it with something more healthy—or so its proponents say.
Of course this will also destroy the livestock industry; but who cares?
Your writer cares.
Being brought up in a Mormon environment, eating meat sparingly was taught as a virtue. That's OK.
But to slip something else off on a person when that worthy is expecting a sizzling steak is fraudulent.
It's downright shameful.
Some years ago your humble scribe entered one of his favorite fast food restaurants and ordered a big, fat, greasy, but previously delicious, hamburger. What was presented; however, was something else. Something disgusting.
When one reads on the menu that steak, or whatever other meat product, is being served,
precisely that is what should be presented. Don't sneak in a tasteless substitute—that's fraudulent.
There are some foods a person learns to love and enjoy, and when that person wants this sort of food, that's what he or she should get. Anything else is unacceptable.
But the industries which provide us with our food are convinced otherwise.
Either for profitable or nutritional reasons—and one suspects the profit motive is the strongest—the food industry has been moving rapidly over the years into giving the diner something other than what he or she has asked for—or wanted.
“Fake meat” is touted as being more healthful—and perhaps it is. But if a person wants to eat healthy that should be his or her decision; not someone else's. Especially if that someone stands to make a penny in the process.
That being said, those of us who are obliged to eat in order to stay alive will be forced now not to eat the delicious meats to which we had been accustomed. Especially those of us who have no control over what we're being served. The menus don't tell us we're being fooled; but we are, and that's shameful--if not dishonest.
If those who provide us with our sustenance must cheat, they should be up front about it.
If one wishes to dine on “leavins' and sweepins' then that's what he or she should receive.
But if that person is promised a “steak,” then steak he or she should receive. Not a cheap, tasteless substitute.
And that's, that.
What's up in December?
December is an auspicious month in the Christian world; for this is the month in which those of the Christian faith celebrate the birth of Jesus.
There are no less than 11 references to this event in the Holy Bible, references located in seven books in the Gospel; in Isaiah, twice, three times in Luke, twice in Matthew, and once each in Micah, Zachariah, and in John and John 1.
In Isaiah 7:14, readers are told of the “sign” of the impending birth; and the birth is foretold in Luke 1:30; and in Matthew 1:18-24, readers of the Scriptures learn just how the birth of Jesus came about.
Predictions of the birth are mentioned in Isiah 9:6, and of the fact that “of peace there will be no end;” perhaps.
In Luke 2:1-15, Biblical readers are told about Joseph's travels; and in Matthew 2:1-12 King Herod sends out a search party to learn more about the new king who was about to be born; a person who, in Micah 5:2, is said to be the person who will rule over Israel. An event over which Zachariah 9:9 tells us to “Rejoice greatly.”
In John 3:16 one may read the immortal words: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
And, in Luke 1:26-38, Mary is told that she is “Blessed among women...” for the child she is bearing.
And to wrap it all up, in John 5, we're told that the event was God's testimony, that He “has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
And this is what Christmas is all about. This is why we decorate our homes, stuff ourselves with delicious meals, spend more money than we should on gifts and revelry, sing songs, and give thanks.
Of all the holidays we celebrate each year,
Christmas, for most of us, has the greatest significance. It brings us together, and temporarily lifts us out of the daily trials and tribulations we must endure.
Despite the strife and turmoil that seems to be engulfing us at this time, there's a strong likelihood that we'll survive it all, and next year we'll be celebrating Christmas once again, as we have over years past.
For us, Christmas is the most enjoyable holiday of the year.
From this curmudgeon's quarter: Merry Christmas to all.
And to all: Be Blessed.