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Mourning the death of Oliver Good Manners

Larry French • Nov 2, 2018 at 8:36 AM

Oliver Good Manners, age unknown, and a descendant of the late Sir Thomas Chivalry, died last week due to complications resulting from human apathy.

Shunned for years by countless scores of individuals in both the public and private sector, Manners, once considered the action word for respect and politeness, lost his battle of appeal to a society besieged by me, myself and I.

Manners rose to prominence in America following World War I, and remained there until the late 1970s when he began to show a slow decline in popularity, brought about by the emergence of a new and more self-absorbed X-generation.

However, it was not until the mid-1990s when death seemed all but certain. Still, Manners struggled to survive, hoping his longstanding reputation would not go unheeded as the me, me, me millennial generation arrived in full force.

Sadly though, time was not on Manners’ side and for the most part people just lost interest, along with their respect of others.

Although Manners appeared to have died from natural causes, authorities have not ruled out the possibility of foul play.

Speaking on a condition of anonymity, a spokesperson for the family said, “Manners’ was a victim of societal inconsiderateness.”

Manners is preceded in death by his half brother, Aaron Customer Service, who died in 2002.

Graveside services were held yesterday at an undisclosed location.

While the above obituary may sound outlandish to many, I am by no means trying to be humorous. I’m simply trying to draw your attention to the fact that for the majority of Americans, manners have become nonexistent.

There was a time when a gentleman would open doors for a lady, or for that matter, the elderly and the handicapped, but in today’s society the word gentleman is quickly becoming an oxymoron.

I can’t recall the last time I saw a gentleman offer to help a lady into her seat at a restaurant; however, I’ve witnessed countless men rush to the table and sit down before the Missus barely made it through the front door.

And then — without delay — both resorted to their cell phones and began texting, completely oblivious of each another. I assume it’s a new secular religion: Couples who text together stay together.

Yes, it was once fashionable for men to wear hats in public and to remove them upon entering most places. But not anymore. Today, we’re inundated with individuals who would enter St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and never once think about removing their preposterous looking baseball caps.

I called those baseball caps preposterous looking because the last time I checked the bill is worn in front.

This genuine lack of manners isn’t limited to public places anymore, either.

The family dinner table, once a sanctuary for good manners and open conversation has become nothing more than a junkyard of personal hat racks accompanied by mind-numbing and brainless comments.

However, if you sit down at my table with your hat on, I’m subject to ask, “Is your head cold?” As for your mind-numbing and brainless comments, don’t ask.

Which brings us full-circle to the me, myself and I society, a phenomena of selfish and inconsiderate individuals who have successfully helped to advance America into a callous society.

You have a cell phone in one ear, an I-Pod in the other, and a total disregard for anyone who’s outside your self-centered, preoccupied, unmannered space.

In fact, the cell phone for all its intended and worthwhile benefits has fundamentally contributed to society’s lack of good manners.

Besides inane texting — which includes the ever-present lunacy of texting while walking and your “Outta of my way” attitude — the cell phone disrupts movies, dinners, family outings, concerts, funerals and church, and its continued use while operating a motor vehicle is directly linked to the unmannerly and infamous “one-fingered howdy.”

Of course, the one-fingered howdy usually leads to circumstances resulting in a complete loss of manners and thus amplifies the point I’m trying to make.

If your vehicle isn’t equipped with Bluetooth capability or some other hands-free device, please put the phone down and be cognizant of your surroundings. It ain’t difficult.

I learned years ago that good manners, as with most important things in life, begins at home and manifests itself in public. Like it or not, a lack of good manners in public or private is a direct reflection of one’s upbringing.

So, is there life after death for Oliver Good Manners? Only the few, those very few remaining individuals who are members of a mannered society are capable of answering that question.

As for the rest — the unmannered, lazy, narcissists — you can either exhume Good Manners, or continue to be an obnoxious thorn in the side of society.

Larry French lives in Butler. He is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the Society of Professional Journalists and teaches composition and literature at East Tennessee State University. You may reach him at [email protected]

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