"Excuses are the nails that build the house failure."

Paul Bunyan's Beard

The Manners Monster:  Let Him Out To Play

The Manners Monster: Let Him Out To Play

Let's talk about manners today, and how you should be minding them.  Well, I'll tell you, it's difficult to mind anything when you don't have the particular quality in question tucked into your arsenal.  There is something amiss with this elegant trait we all used to carry with pride.  Apparently times they are indeed a changing, and I'm not so sure I like it.  

I'm playing pin the tail on the donkey and I cannot locate that ass's caboose to save my life.  I kid you not!  What's the deal with politeness just being a present day "nice to have" versus a necessary tool of the trade from far back in the good old days?

Today I struggle to bat .500 when it comes to holding the door open for someone and eliciting gratitude as a response.  Truth be told folks.  Usually I'm greeted with crickets, and not the little sprite fellow with a fancy coat, tiny umbrella and one hell of a whistle.  No, I get the crickets with a tattered trench coat, expired candy and a windowless van.  Those crickets are brutal.

Moving beyond the holding of a door, one might find themselves in a grocery store, library, or perhaps a Blockbuster (There's a fun little joke for ya!  THOSE don't exist anymore!  Even if they did, I'd still go to the Family Video, because if I'm going to be subjected to shopping for rental movies in a brick and mortar shop then I'm going to do it with class.).  Anywhose....just place yourself in an aisle staring at a shelf stocked full of items you're considering for purchase.  Lately my nemesis has been the grocery store.  Multiple offenses occur here:  One is the stolen base.  My nose is about a foot from the nearest jar of peanut butter as i'm seconds away from a crucial decision; crunchy or creamy?  Just as I've made up my mind and prepare for the reach some gangly bastard in skinny jeans, "worn out" boots with red laces, a beanie, and HEADPHONES cuts across my line of sight like the God damn ghost of Christmas past.  You don't have to guess what happens next because you'd be wrong.  The answer is nothing.  No, "Excuse me."  Nary a "Sorry, just going to squeeze by quick."  Nope.  That little prick just waddles by like a penguin with club feet.  I get it.  He's probably right in the middle of an EPIC Arcade Fire song.  No time for disruptions.  

Ah, and here we go!  Just allow me to site a few examples and you start stirring the Manners Monster from his slumber.  You've entered his lair.  Prepare to suffer the consequences.  Curious as to the nature of our fantastical beast?  His origin?  His necessity?  All shall be answered.  You see, I'm a firm believer in using a bit of force to drive my point across if it won't take in the first pass.  

Let's start with the basics for these ungrateful simpletons.  Please and/or thank you.  How damn hard can it be to force those words out of the front of your melancholy face?  Use the words!  Show some appreciation to someone who's gone out of their way (it's irrelevant just how far they go, in case you were curious) to give your day a little bit more sunshine.  I am typically railed for allowing myself to get all sorts of worked up over what some consider a "small" incident, but if I don't coax the Manners Monster from his slumber than who will?  And once I set that beautiful mess free there aren't enough pitchforks or torches to keep that animal at bay.  Let him go to work.

Tempt the madness you ungrateful bastards!  Don't say 'thank you' or show appreciation of ANY kind while I'm holding the door open for you; just know that once you're through those doors you've walked smack dab into the Monster's Den.  Don't see him at first?  Oh no!  Where is he?  It's so cold and so dark.  Fear begins to claw up and down your trembling body.  The suspense might be enough to fill a third season of Stranger Things.  Queue the moment from any horror show meant to elicit a shocking response.  Our Monster appears....His screams rattle your bones to this day...."OH!  YOU'RE WELCOME!"

Some may be scratching their puzzled brillo pads over that last paragraph, so I'll explain further and I do apologize for any unwarranted confusion.  I merely wish to express our fun little adventures with a bit of gusto rather than the drabness of predictability.  So, what happened was my very own recipe of fun and frustration.  The Manners Monster came out.  Sadly, I've wielded this very move all too often.  I open a door, the recipient of my gesture either ignores my offer or just decides not to acknowledge, at which point I decide to take matters into my very own loving hands.  Screw you pal.  If you think that just because you didn't say 'thank you', I'm going to roll over and bypass the follow-up 'you're welcome' then you're bat shit crazy.  This is EXACTLY what I do.  I sneak up right behind you and with a little extra volume than might be necessary I tell you that YOU ARE INDEED WELCOME.  

Go on, shake your heads.  Call it overkill or unnecessary or a move that negates me being kind in the first place.  Everyone's entitled to their own opinions.  Hell, I'm sure you can find someone who didn't like Forest Gump.  Likely the same dirty diaper who didn't appreciate me holding the door for them.  Say what you will.  The Manners Monster gets results.  I've never had someone turn on me and give me grief, a sour look, or even a copy of Tom Hanks' cinematic masterpiece (sadly).  The worst I've received was a snarky 'Oh, sorry.  Thank you.'  Would you like to know WHY I don't ever get shit on in return?  Simply put, those snail trails all knew they had slipped up.  I was the reminder.  Justice served.  And really, if you picture that scenario in your mind's eye it's just ridiculous enough for anyone involved to remember, should they ever find themselves in the same situation again....and they will. 

I view the miniature tirade as a verbal slap on the wrist.  Mind those manners.  Observe the world around you and all the wonderful people in it as you waddle your way through life.  Do you recall nights at the dinner table growing up?  Don't ignore that pile of broccoli shoved off to the outer edges of your plate.  You'll eat those dastardly greens with the rest of the family sitting at the table, or you'll protest and eat them in a dark kitchen all by your lonesome.  I suppose it depends on how much of a sweet tooth you have and whether or not Mom's chocolate chip cookies are worth the misery.  Who are YOU kidding?!  The dessert is always worth it you filthy sasquatch.  The Manners Monster is that cold and lonely kitchen when no one else is around to watch you sob your way through cold side dishes.  It's the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag when you try and snatch up that brownie before paying your culinary toll.  Just eat the damn sprouts and utilize those P's and Q's.  They're both good for you.  

Ya know, if you're looking for some validation, (which, I'd have no idea what kind of infection seeks a reason to be kind other than just for the sake of FEELING GOOD) I'd recently heard of a survey being conducted which measured people's willingness to help others throughout their day after they themselves witnessed a kind act being bestowed upon one stranger from another.  Simply put, people who saw others being kind to strangers gave them a feeling or perhaps a type of obligation to "pay it forward" for having witnessed such a glorious scene.  Well now!  Who'd have thought!  My whole life I was under the impression that when someone committed a nice deed there was a heartless gargoyle out there Cruella DeVille'ing a litter of poor puppies just to get a fluffy coat out of the deal.  Dirty bitch.  Relax!  I'm here to calm you.  Supposedly we're in the clear.  Turns out one kind deed pivots and dominoes itself all over the land!  Rejoice.  

I yearn to live to see a day when every single one of those random acts of kindness needs no assistance from the Manners Monster.  For now?  I still think there's room for the big fella.  Sometimes certain folks just need that extra nudge.  Perhaps setting their pupils on someone helping an elderly woman with her groceries doesn't pluck the heart strings.  They see something wholesome happen and yet they're just as dead inside as they were when they stumbled off of their moped and started slithering into the store.  And it's at that moment where are Monster can do his work.  Hold that door open.  Ohhhh shoot!  Our little disinterested jerk-off isn't paying attention to you whisking them into the store?  Give 'em that little reminder.  Some say that a picture has the power to reflect 1,000 words.  Well I say that the Manners Monster can force you to look inside yourself and do some spring cleaning on that filthy soul of yours.  Three words.  You are welcome.  They'll mean so much more to the ignorant choad who drifted past you.  Now they're existence has been called into question.  Maybe after a little nut tap they'll start paying attention.  One hopes.

Now I'm not drafting an army here folks but it'd sure be lovely to see more of God's children extending a hug and an olive branch toward their fellow man.  Too much white glove treatment these days.  Exhume a bit of sauciness; yet like all heats, apply with discretion.  The Manners Monster can help but remember, he's still a monster.  The more freedom your Monster experiences the harder it becomes to cage that puppy up when you need to most.  Think about it: there's a reason Halloween only happens but once a year.  We can't all be running around flailing our arms and sweating under rubber masks 365.  That's sheer lunacy.  Little nibbles here and there.  Apply in formulated amounts.  Be wise.

But find your monster!  Holding doors, letting in a car, giving up your last doughnut hole.  Whatever your ray of light don't let someone's shadow distinguish your flame!  Cast aside all naysayers.  We've all got the kindness in our hearts but sometimes the Monster wants to come out and play along.  Include all interested parties.  Let the Manners Monster live on.




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