In A Manner of Speaking

The definition of manners is a person’s outward bearing or way of behaving toward others:

his arrogance and pompous manner | a shy and diffident manner…
polite or well-bred social behavior : didn’t your mother teach you any manners?
• social behavior or habits : Tim apologized for his son’s bad manners.

I’d like to take this time to apologize for the world’s bad manners in general since they seem to be lost possibly never to be seen again.

This essay was inspired by a book I’ve recently read by Henry Alford called Would it Kill You to Stop Doing That?

 Alford’s book made me realize, manners are virtually absent across the board.

In New England, where I’m from, etiquette was as important as personal hygiene. My mother drilled them into me where they still live actively I’m happy to report. The only downside is my shock that they’re not complemented more often by others.

To sum it up, most people are fucking rude.

The last time I went to my neighbor Trudy’s for a fish dinner she kept taking phone calls… not short and sweet ones either. As a matter of fact I actually left while she was on the phone without as much as a good-bye from my not so courteous hostess. I couldn’t handle being so blatantly ignored any longer.

Her behavior especially galled me since she complained all evening about how awful her daughter-in-law behaves. If you don’t mind me saying, the elder is the example.

That’s just one incident to elaborate on. I have many.

How about inappropriate cell phone use in general like on the bus or in a check-out line. Do you really need to know what someone had for dinner that’s been causing all that morning tooting?

How many doors slam in my face on any given day? Men think just because women got the vote means they should get the door too.

We mustn’t forget how the term thank-you seems to be at large.

I’m a big gift giver and have trained myself to glean joy from it – receiving is in the giving as they say. I never give anything expecting it returned in kind…EVER.

But I would like to know that you’ve received it. Oh I know, such an outlandish expectation, right?

There’s a woman up the block I’ve known for a good fifteen years who always struck me as being lonely. When I tap into this I can’t help acting on it in some way to try to make things a tad nicer since it takes so little. It’s that Catholic residue still lingering.

Trouble with this lady whom I’ll call Ann is, she never acknowledges anything I do that usually entails leaving whatever it is with her doorman.

I’m constantly wondering, did she get it?

If I see her on the street I will have to ask and she’ll say as innocently as can be, “Oh, haven’t I seen you since then?” It’s rather embarrassing at this end since it appears that I’m looking for praise when it’s merely delivery confirmation.

Is she brain dead I’ve often asked myself? She’s very rich, I know that much, but there could be a part missing. Camille, the voice of little bullshit, thinks she’s just insanely cheap and is afraid she’ll be expected to reciprocate if she acknowledges my attentions.

If any theory called for a drink it was that one. Make it a triple.

Finally, two-hundred gifts later, she presently only reaps a Christmas card.

I need manners, I do. I find civility very comforting in a very discomforting world. I need you to be polite.


Because it’s a gentler, kinder way to be that lessens my fear of the general planet.

I want everyone to act as if they work at a good hotel. If you’ve never had that experience please, go have it.

You’ll hear please and thank-you…can I help you, so much the seeds of courtesy will take root in your brain.

Doors open till you’re safely through them with a smile thrown in for good measure.

Imagine that.

A little cheer goes a long way even if it costs 400 buck a night. I say it’s worth going into debt for and you can take home all the stationary 🙂

While we’re on the subject, I find animals to be better mannered than most men. Have you ever seen a dog leave a woman at the curb by herself while he hurries along? Don’t think so.

Take Anthony the pit for instance – he waits for Jennifer, his mistress, no matter what. He may show a little impatience by licking the area where his balls used to be, a subtle hint to his mom to get a move on, but he’d never abandon her for his own park needs, I can tell you that.

I’ve had dates leave me after throwing money on the table before rushing out to go get the car. When I think about it I was lucky, pulling up at the curb, they came to a full stop.

This is why once in a while I have to cross the Connecticut state line to get my bearings back.

That aroma of good breeding invades my nostrils the moment I hit Greenwich.

Come to think of it, maybe I’ll catch the 10:05.



About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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22 Responses to In A Manner of Speaking

  1. Amen Susannah A…freaking …men! I didn’t think it was possible, but I think it’s actually getting worse. Sunday at the store the man pacing behind me had 2 items in his hand and I had just a few in my cart so I offered him to go ahead. The response “Well, I do only have 2 things!” I said your welcome, but I don’t think he knew what I was talking about.
    Don’t change your ways girl, hopefully they are contagious. By the way, I think Camille is dead on about Ann.


    • Yes, Camille should lecture. Not having the cheap gene it’s hard for me to comprehend that someone would behave so badly for fear of having to give in return. Omigod!!! It’s so foreign to me…reminds me of the time a model I knew wouldn’t share the half of her turkey sandwich even when she wasn’t planning on eating it…”I might want it later,” she said, after famished me offered to buy it. BUY IT…and she still said no. Did I mention we were on location and there was no food to be had. Someone had made a huge culinary error. Manners, soon we’ll visit them at the Museum of Natural History next to the brontosaurus.


  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    Yes, I agree that Camille hit the nail on the head with her summation of Ann. Manners are dwindling, but not gasping their last breath here in the Adirondacks. On the other hand, they are MIA in my husband’s mom and three out of four sisters. He, his two brothers, and one sister have them. The stories I could tell you!
    Texting is definitely a manners killer and is not allowed at my dinner table when my children and their significant others come to eat. I’m happy to say that cell phones haven’t been a problem with my own outside guests. Oh wait, maybe that’s because we live in a dead zone. Texting by my guests has occurred. If one of chmy children is present, I sweetly say, “No, Marissa (or whichever one is there), you may not text at the table just because (insert rude guest’s name) is doing it.” Believe it or not, this does not always deter the guest, in which case it is their last invitation to dinner at my home.
    The tuna sandwich example is priceless.


    • It’s like anything…manners have to be taught. My mother with all her faults taught me to be polite. When I got a gift, the note was written before it was out of the box. If I didn’t say please and thank you there was hell to pay. Parents nowadays feel it’s a weakness to teach their kids gratitude and humility. Arrogance is the theme of the day. You see it everywhere. Those kids grow up to be snotty adults who appreciate zip. It’s really a shame. Sorry about your relatives Skinny but you can be the example, and who knows. one day they may surprise you.


  3. after 27 years+ in southern CA, I thought manners were extinct… moving to the south helped verify that they were not dead… that is part of the south I adore. I get Ma”med and thank you and please, you can come visit me if you want! DAF


  4. micklively says:

    You are so right Susannah. I’ve taken to delivering a loud “You’re welcome” in response to the thankyou that never was. It rarely seems to impinge upon the perpetrator, but it makes me feel better. Tiny victories.


  5. D. D. Syrdal says:

    I work in a university setting and let me tell you the entitled little bastards that go to school here are the worst. Don’t ever expect a ‘thank you’ for holding a door, apparently they see it as their due. I want to send them all to Miss Manners’ Boot Camp. As someone once observed, “Good manners don’t cost anything.”


  6. katecrimmins says:

    I’ve got a great story. I was walking in a Home Depot and I guy with a big pole slung over his shoulder rounded the corner and almost took me out. Did he say, “I’m sorry?” No, what he said was, “Now I suppose you think that was my fault.” Damn tooting I do, idiot! Talk to my lawyer!


    • You’re so funny. He’s lucky you didn’t smack him. What an arrogant thing to say. I remember an older man being so rude to me in a check-out line that I incensed him when I said, you know, you’re so awful I’m going to pray for you. He got so mad at this concept screaming, hollering. The cashier was laughing so hard at what an idiot he was. You have to wonder who raised some of these folk…I’d say wolves, but frankly I think they’re better parents 🙂


  7. backonmyown says:

    Great post, Susannah. I, too, had manners hammered into me when I was a child. And I can’t believe how many people don’t bother to let me know when they receive a package from me. I’m happy to say my grandchildren are pretty good about notifying me. They know I expect it. And I’ve made it clear I don’t seek thanks, just acknowledgment. They usually send a text but that’s okay.


    • Nice to hear from you…it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one not notified. If you give me a stick of gum, you get a note. I don’t expect that from others, but I know you get my point…hope all is well.


  8. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, I’m sitting here laughing at your comment about the rude guy in a checkout line. I can’t wait to use your line, ‘You’re so rude I’m going to pray for you.’ Ha ha. Love it!


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