View from the Side’s weekend theme is on “Manners.” Immediately upon reading that word, I was chilled thoroughly by a sudden “blast from the past.” As well as moved to consider behavior I have noticed recently. I remembered a concert given by the music department of our sons’ grade school one year, in particular (although I have consistently been witness to such behavior). There were performances by the choirs and the bands of the school. My husband and I were appalled when we realized that we could barely hear the band, let alone the choir, over the incessant talking and gabbing among the parents in attendance. Up to that point I hd never seen or heard such rudeness – especially in front of children, when we are to be examples of good manners, and simple consideration of one another – even if you don’t like the music! No excuses. Period!
This is becoming more and more the case, however, and I believe it is due, at least in part, to “home theaters.” Watching movies at home via DVD or whatever, allows us to talk as much as we like, (or as much as our partners will allow), because we know we can stop, pause, rewind, or fast forward, and manage somehow to see and hear the entire movie – in some fashion or another. Because we have become so free in our viewing habits, this behavior has spilled over into the public forum as well. And there seems to be nobody, except for a precious few of old fogeys and members of COLA (Crotchety Old Ladies Alliance) to object and/or protest! Some times, depending on who is in attendance, and the movie rating, it is almost impossible to hear or see a movie in a theater over the noise, walking around, and cell-phone ringing and chatting that goes on. Makes me very angry sometimes. I’m one of those COLA members who will turn around or lean over and GLARE at the offender(s). So be it. Doesn’t help, except to make me feel a bit better. It is all basically a complete lack of common courtesy and consideration for those around you.
Therefore, I have penned (typed, spoken to Sonya) this rather rude and crude little ditty to Manners:
“Manners, be damned!” said the woman by me –
I didn’t know her at all.
I learned later on she was Katie’s mom,
The child in the front row, quite small.
Katie and my son, and the rest of their class
Were singing in concert that night
But throughout the performance this woman blabbed on
Her rudeness, it seemed, out of spite.
Dismayed, we all tried to hear – over her noise
The program the kids worked so hard for.
In vain was the effort, for naught could be heard,
Except this annoying blow-hard, for
Her voice covered the music like so much white noise,
Except her noise was obnoxiously black.
I tried being polite, looked her way and said “Sshhhusssshh!”
She ignored me, so I took another tack.
My hand on her arm, I spoke with a whisper,
“Please, mind your manners, and shut it!
Our children are singing, we’d all like to hear them!
I want to give you a kick in the butt! It
Seems that may be the only way
To get you to hush your big mouth!
No wonder our kids have no manners these days
When their parents’ have all gone south.”
Her mouth closed for a moment, then that’s when she said
“Manners be damned! I don’t care!
It’s my right as a citizen to talk when I want,
Anyway, any time, anywhere!”
Sighing, I got up to vacate the seat
I had chosen with utmost care
To have the best place from which I could hear
And to make sure my child was aware
That I’d come to see him and hear his class sing,
And I wanted him to see I was proud.
I simply could not at all understand
Why this woman was so rude and loud.
But, she gave the rest in attendance there
A lesson in how not to behave.
She gave nothing else that I could tell,
But robbed us of memories to save
Of a time when our children, for all who could hear,
Sang with angelic voices.
So, for families of children who sing in a choir
There really are only two choices:
Come to the concert and quietly sit,
Smile, and respond with clapping.
Or otherwise, stay home to yak all you please,
Spare us and your kids all your yapping!
Children learn by example, this saying is true –
Show them how best to behave.
Or there’ll be just the rude noise of their disrespect,
When your body is laid in its grave.
As far as rude behavior goes, (except for this rather rude poem, that is), haven’t we all had enough?