Me: I just don’t want to feel disrespected anymore, doctor Weakly.
Dr. Weakly: We know that feelings aren’t facts, don’t we?
Me: As a matter of fact, just this morning, a woman pushed her way in line directly in front of me at the store.
Dr. Weakly: What did you say to her?
Me: I told her if she didn’t go to the end of the line, I would hit her so hard her dog would bleed.
Dr. Weakly: Don’t you think that was an extreme reaction to someone who cut in line?
Me: Don’t you think a 95 year-old woman should know not to cut in line? At least her seeing-eye dog should know.
Dr. Weakly: Do you always should on people?
Me: No, not always, sometimes I coulda woulda on them too.
Dr. Weakly: Do you have another example of being disrespected?
Me: I went to a department store last week-end, when an army of police marched in and cordoned off the area I was in. I was sent to a holding area and waited for hours.
Dr. Weakly: Were you by yourself?
Me: God no. There were hundreds of us. We were packed in like cattle. They said we would have to wait until 9am to take advantage of the sale.
Dr. Weakly: I’m wondering, did your parents ever instruct you in the fine art of simple manners?
Me: Manners?! What do manners have to do with the basic respect that should be extended to everyone, including me?
Dr. Weakly: My mother forced me to read Emily Post’s book of etiquette when I was fourteen years old. I will always be grateful.
Me: Emily Post? Oh yeah, I heard of her, the hostest with the mostest. She wrote all kinds of manner pornography in the early 1900’s.
Dr. Weakly: Pornography?
Me: It may as well have been. Were manners present in her life? Did you know that she divorced her husband in 1905 for having affairs with chorus girls and actresses? I guess he didn’t read her article on proper marriage etiquette, now did he?
Dr. Weakly: Maybe we should go over a few basic simple manners to separate out the difference between disrespect and ignorance.
Me: Are you calling me ignorant?
Dr. Weakly: No, what I’m saying is most people are ignorant of good manners and this may be mistaken for disrespect.
Me: Give me an example.
Dr. Weakly: For example, don’t use filthy language or tell off color jokes.
Me: Have I ever? I mean…
Dr. Weakly: Don’t greet a co-worker with the question, how they hangin’?
Dr. Weakly: Don’t interrupt others.
Me: I wouldn’t…
Dr. Weakly: And when dining in the company of others, cut your meat with your fork in your left hand and the knife in the right, put your knife down, switch your fork to the right hand before putting the undersized bite in your mouth. Many years ago, a girl I dated broke up with me for not passing the fork test. And the belching! Judas Priest, I shall never forgive myself.
Me: Wow, and I thought I was sensitive. You know, in the Far East, belching is considered a compliment to the chef.
Dr. Weakly: She was right to leave me! Oh, God, how I wished I had paid more attention to Emily Post!
Me: I can appreciate your regret, but what does this have to do with me feeling respected? I really think manners are subjective. I have a friend whose boyfriend insists on walking on the outside of the sidewalk to protect her from mud splashes. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to protect her when a mugger lunged out from between buildings and snatched her purse.
Dr. Weakly: What I am saying is that everything is connected, Unfortunately, consequences are not always easy to see. It's like stretching a rubber band. As you stretch the rubber band further and further, the tension increases, but nothing seems to happen, so you think that nothing ever will. Then, suddenly, the rubber reaches its limit. It burns when it snaps.
Me: I think I would have understood your words without you shooting me with that rubber band, and the paper clip you attached to it really hurt.
Dr. Weakly: With experience comes great wisdom.
Me: I see. So, you’re saying if I improve my manners, I will understand that relationships form for our mutual becoming. Lives intermesh, thoughts and feelings intermingle. Events influence one another and the relationships we share are like the bits of color in a painting, affected by all the surrounding hues?
Dr. Weakly: No, what I’m saying is, if you hold your fork in the wrong hand and belch after you eat, you may regret it for the rest of your life.