Thursday, January 20, 2005

Best Behavior: Be On It

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As you may know, if you are my mother or a close friend, I am nuts about manners. Etiquette books captivate me. I'm pretty much walking around the time, thinking about good behavior (if only I could act on this fascination . . . but that's another post altogether.) Anyway, a week ago the Meddler wrote a post on the importance of good manners and it just set my manners brain on fire and I've been thinking about etiquette extra hard for the last week and I've finally come up with this, the Steady Mobbin' A to Z of Brilliantly Great Behavior. You might think this is a big joke, but I'm totally serious, and you may think this is a big rip off of something you may have seen in Vice once, but I'd rather you not dwell on that.


Apartments One of the first things I learned about Manhattan manners is that it is not rude to ask people what kind of square footage they’ve got or what sort of rent they’re paying. It’s pretty much how one says hello to someone they’ve just met out here.

Busses If it’s the early evening and you’re supposed to meet up with a friend, it is very bad manners to take the M14 bus because it will take forever and you will be late. “I had to wait forever for the subway” is always an acceptable excuse for tardiness, “I was on the bus forever” is never an acceptable excuse because we all know it was really sloppy for you to think you could take a bus in the first place.

Car Door It has always been my manners fantasy to get to open the car door for someone who was getting out of a car.

Dog Runs The signs at the dog runs always say that you aren’t supposed to bring your dog to the dog run if it is in heat, and this always cracks me up, because I’m not very mature . . . especially if you were also going to break the rule about bringing a big dog into the small dogs dog run (but I suppose it’d be more funny if you were to bring a little dog to the big dog dog run, but I’m going to far.) Also, the signs at the dog runs also say you aren’t supposed to pick up your dog, because an exposed dog belly is a sign of weakness and invites attack. Sorry Kelsi.

Elvis Costello I’m sure Elvis Costello really appreciates how discreet I am about how he lives in the same apartment building as me and how I may give him good, long stares whenever I see him in the lobby but never get all up in his grill. But should we ever wind up in the same elevator, whoah boy, he’ll be getting an earful. (Note to Self: learn something about Elvis Costello’s music)

Friends It isn’t polite to tell your friends if they’re doing something that’s bad manners, which is a crying shame, because you’re a real pig sometimes.

Garbage Room I say it isn’t rude to take your neighbors old magazines that they’ve put in the garbage room recycling bins home for your own perusal, but I’m not sure what they’d think. Also, it is very good manners that if you’re leaving a defective appliance at the curb to be taken away to leave a little sign on it like “Danger! This Lamp is Dangerous!” because you know somebody is going to see your old lamp and want to take it home.

Helping People Move If someone helps you move, you pretty much owe them, or someone else who comes along in the great chain of moving karma, help moving—or you at least owe it to yourself to have a really, really good excuse as to why you can’t help them move (besides “I’m sorry, I really hate moving—that’s why I had you help me that first time, you know” even though if honesty truly equals goodness it would be the best excuse in the world.)

Ice Cream It was rude of me to eat an ice cream cone in front of you because I always make the biggest mess. I’m realizing that the cup is no longer a sign of weakness or lack of fancifulness but a statement I shouldn’t be afraid to make, “Yes, I Wind Up Sticky When I Get a Sugar Cone.”

Jokes Everyone loves jokes, if they’re appropriate. If you think of a funny joke, but it’s inappropriate, then you shouldn’t tell it. But if you think of a funny joke, and it’s really, really inappropriate, then you should definitely tell it. Works for me, at least.

Karate Chops If your friend is practicing his karate chops, it would be rude of you not hold a wooden board for him to chop—but if he’s practicing his flying karate kicks, it’s okay to say you’d rather not hold the board in front of yourself for him, because he’s probably going to go flying right through it and into you.

Love If you love a new TV show, it’d be rude of you not to start a website or bulletin board about how much you love that new show, especially if it’s a reality show.

Mala Educacion Pedro Almodovar’s new movie is called “Mala Educacion”, and all the signs in English call it “Bad Education”, but, in Spanish, to say someone’s got a “mala educacion” is to say they’ve got bad manners. No wonder everyone is giving this movie four stars, it’s probably a totally awesome Spanish movie about the importance of manners. For cross-dressers.

Nerf Weaponry Even though your Nerf sword is soft that doesn’t make it okay to hit people with it whenever you want. (Especially if those people are old.)

Old People You should always be nice to old people, especially old people you don’t know, because, hey, that could be someone’s grandma, you know? And how would you feel if some stranger was rude to your grandma? However, it isn’t rude of me to ignore the crazy old lady who lives next door to me when she’s lying in the hall, moaning for help, because that’s just a game she likes to play.

Puppies I sort of regret that paragraph I wrote on dog run manners. I could’ve been a little more mature than that.

Questions It is good manners to say "There are no stupid questions" but in my life I have definitely heard at least one stupid question. I was on a tour of JPL in Southern California (it's pretty much the NASA of unmanned spacecraft) and we visited this fake Martian landscape where they had tested the Mars rover before sending it to, uhm, Mars and the dirt was all red and the rocks were all red and craggly, y'know, just like in the pictures of Mars and when our visit was opened up to questions this lady asked "How did you get all these rocks down from Mars?" That, dear reader, is a stupid question.

Really Late Being really late is like the worstest manners there are. What, you caught a bus or something? Oh, you were waiting for the subway? Ok, nevermind then.

Sushi The sushi chef takes great offense if you soak that sucker in the soy sauce because it is his fishy little work of art. Also, word is the pickled ginger isn’t a topping. Keep that in mind. And rubbing your chopsticks together to de-splinter them is rude because it’s a sign of stinginess, and who wants to look stingy on half-price sushi night?

Television Everytime you watch something like “The Fabulous Life of . . .” or “E! True Hollywood Story” you are being rude to yourself because that is time taken from your life that you will never, ever get back, no matter how much you learn about the cast of Gilligan’s Island or the spending habits of Hillary Duff. However, watching "I Love the 90's" (or any of the "I Love . . ." series of programs) and "Best Week Ever" actually makes you smarter.

Unusual Smells If you notice an unusual smell in mixed company, don’t make a scene. It’s not polite.

Vampires Say what you will about Vampires, they have very good manners. They’re pretty much the only psychotic monsters that absolutely won’t come into your home unless invited. But once you have invited a vampire into your home, there’s not much accounting for their manners from that point on.

Walking In my notes I’ve indicated that I wanted to address the etiquette of walking. I cannot imagine what I had thought I should say about the walking manners. Uhm, don’t walk in weaving line down crowded sidewalks, maybe? Here’s another one: Wanting to Be a Writer. Make no more movies, plays, musicals, or books about people who want to be writers. I'm not having it any more. If you want to be a writer, that's great, but don't make me watch a movie, play, musical or read a book about your desire to be writer.

X-Men Dear Makers of X-Men (the Comic Book): The reason I quit reading your comic in the 90’s is because you kept reforming the team every fourteen months. That was bad manners. I started reading Uncanny X-Men just in time to catch the Mutant Massacre story arc back in 1986 or 87, and I kept reading for the next seven years waiting for the team to completely recover from the beating they took from the Marauders and then I finally got it: the X-Men I knew weren’t going to get back together, you just wanted to keep coming up with new lineups and costumes and STUPID characters like Bishop.

Yoga It’s not polite to stare, but if one of your law school classmates does yoga poses like this one in the hall during breaks, that’s your freebie right there.

Zoning When NYU Law started building their (our?) new law school building and realized it’d block the sun from reaching the stained glass of a nearby church they built a giant box of light bulbs to simulate the sun for that window. That, my friends, is very good manners.

And if you were wondering, yes, this was my special post I mentioned earlier that I was working on. I know, I know, you probably expected lots of photos or something. And since there's been some questions, yes, I came up with this whole post on my own, to have taken other people's ideas without giving them a shout out, that'd be bad manners.

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