Just bitchin'

The Lost Reality of Etiquette


“Reality ain’t nuthin’ but rude.”

She was large, obese, with a babe in arms and a bevy of other little ones storming her for attention. She was standing in front of one of those stores whose idea of window dressing begins and ends with rank upon rank of television monitors.

She was referring to a reality show featuring a few drunk twenty-somethings stumbling into walls, spitting curses and throwing whatever came to hand, their images multiplied a dozen times over. She turned a sad eye my way.

“Don’t matter what I say; when my kids see this kinda stuff, they figure ‘s okay to b’have like animals.”

The world of social media is geared toward acquiring followers, likes, hits, attention. And it’s far more interesting to observe the antics of misbehavior than polite manners.

This woman is raising her children at a time when rudeness is applauded, encouraged, rewarded with reality TV star status. Act out, incur conflict, and you’ve got an audience. More than that; you’ve got a following! Doesn’t matter if you’re liked. What matters is you’re seen.

The woman herding her progeny before her, and away from the spectacle of over-the-top confrontation, told me it’s a losing battle. She can exercise all the parental control available in her home, but at some point whether it’s TV or online or from playmates inundated with the same ‘reality’ message, rudeness will filter down through the cracks like ashes in Pompeii.

“Kids’ gonna be rude and won’t know how to spell, neither.”

My guess is she’s blaming the space limits imposed by Twitter and texting for that last. But I could be wrong. There might be a reality show out there about spelling bee losers that I haven’t encountered yet. I’m not worried.

I’m sure it’ll filter down and coat me with its fine ash.

‘Cause you can’t escape reality. And like the lady said, ‘Reality ain’t nuthin’ but rude.”



Just bitchin'

Imperiled Yogurt


Apropos of absolutely nothing to do with writing, I just have to mention what I saw today at the supermarket: a child of perhaps seven or eight…old enough to know better…using a pencil to rupture those papery lids that cover individual yogurt containers.

Trailing behind Mama, he did a rapid-fire, stabbing as he trotted along.

Behavioral issues aside, with all the attention that’s paid to safety and the prevention of product tampering, why did they abandon the plastic lids for yogurt? I may be in the minority, but I don’t always want an entire 6 or 8 ounces of the stuff. Often I use it as a garnish on top of oatmeal, or a spoonful of the plain unflavored type as a substitute for sour cream.

I liked the plastic lids. I recycled the plastic lids. I reused plastic lids under tiny, little plant starts. (Never mind what’s under my grow light…that’s not the issue here.)

At the store, I called the boy’s mother’s attention to what he’d done.

She picked him up and ran.

And I reached as far back on the shelf as I could to select my yogurt from an area well out of reach of a tiny Jack The Ripper of the dairy section.