Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Charm School

At dinner the other night my husband joked that one of our sons, the one with an entire cookie stuffed in his mouth, his cheeks bulging out and a ring of chocolate around his lips, ought to be enrolled in charm school. "Mmrmph!," objected the child in question, as crumbs spilled onto the table.

It was all in fun, of course. But today the idea of charm school popped back into my head -- charm school not, however, for children, whose parents can serve perfectly well as charm school instructors, even if many parents don't seem to understand that such duties are theirs by virtue of birthing the little critters in the first place.

No, I was thinking about charm school for adults. Here are just a few examples of adults who could use some retraining:

The woman I saw today in the hair salon, who believed it wholly appropriate to allow her four-year-old son to sneeze and cough repeatedly on the stylist cutting his hair, and then to let him grab the push broom, sweep other people's hair into the corner of the room, and turn on the switch to activate the salon's floor vacuum system, which carries a dangerously strong suction. This is the same woman who while her son was "sweeping" and "vacuuming" beamed and exclaimed, "Isn't he cute?" Lady, your kid does not get a cute pass simply because he is a) a kid; and b) your kid. You put the stylist in an uncomfortable position (she tells your son not to play with the vacuum system, and then she loses her tip?) and quite possibly infected her with your child's germs.

Colleagues of mine who awkwardly shift their gaze to the floor (which does not go unnoticed, although they seem to expect that it does) rather than greet people they deem professionally inferior to them. Everyone deserves a "Good morning." Every single person is worthy of basic courtesy.

Television reporters who besiege Oscar attendees with this gem: "Who are you wearing?" First, grammatically bizarre. Second, just, well, gauche. Tacky. Watching the Oscars this year, my husband mused that people never used to ask that question. Can you imagine Katharine Hepburn answering such a thing? Lana Turner? Jimmy Stewart? What is it with our contemporary culture that has us wanting to know every single irrelevant little thing about strangers? None of our business! We could all benefit from holding our tongues more than we do. Think Greta Garbo, not Joan Rivers.

Phew. I feel so much better now. You?


alejna said...

I think you could put together a whole academic program. Sadly, there are many areas where courtesy is lacking. Driving. Online. Even walking on the sidewalk. But how do we get those in need of remedial courses to attend? And can we somehow make a profit? (I suppose the potential benefits to society should be reward enough. But it's a tough economy.)

Nicole said...

I think my blood pressure just went up on your description of that child in the salon. I haaaaaaaate that kind of behaviour. Plus, gross. GERMS.

When I was a grad student in economics, I was always astounded at how so many of the profs would awkwardly look away and mutter when I said "hi". I realize that these men were generally shy and awkward individuals (hello, PhD in economics!) but come on! SAY HELLO DAMMIT.

Bibliomama said...

Dimwit parents like that spike my blood pressure, because they give fodder to the childless people who act like ALL parents behave like that. Plus, obviously, the primary annoyance factor. Ugh. And wow - I'm too superior to you to say good morning? That's, um, irony or something, whereby they think they're being superior but it really makes them worse... can I plead flu?

Mary Gilmour said...

I would love to hand out rudeness tickets, carrying a big fine.
A great observation.
Also, my hand itches when I see things like the salon incident, and it's not the kid's bum I want to smack.

Christine said...

Totally agree. I am routinely offended by the everyday rudeness and pettiness of people. The worst, to me, is not saying "thank you" to others. Chaps my hide!

ozma said...

I probably do all the bad things. I'm sure I need charm school.

Elizabeth Dahl said...

We are painfully deficient since we lost the extended family culture where many generations lived close enough to raise the next generation together. Now we get our societal cues from watching others through media indoctrination. That 'pay it forward' commercial where strangers catch each other doing random good deeds? That may be an example of 'good peer pressure' but its worrisome that being kind and helped is no longer ingrained in our character.

kellypea said...

Loved this -- and it's so true. A charm school for adults could be a booming business where I live. Oh, my. (And I'm wearing Target today, thank you.)