Missing: Self-Respect

Dalrymple talks about how everyone’s all concerned about self-esteem, but completely lacking in self-respect.

Not only do people fail to make the most of themselves, they seem determined to make the worst of themselves, as if they were setting a challenge to others not to remark on them or pass a judgment about the way they look.

Actually, it’s worse than that. People are so caught up in their self-esteem that they think it’s more important than self-respect — in other words, that how they feel about themselves is more important than how others feel about them, and missing the point that both are important.

T.D. talks about clothing:

In England, fat young women (of whom there are lamentably many) squeeze themselves into unbecomingly tight costumes, like toothpaste into a tube. It is as if they were intimidating you into not noticing how hideous they look.

Well, yes;  it’s the classic mark of the narcissist.  And that attitude is just as prevalent in these here United States.

Look, I understand all that:  goths, hippies, biker gangs, Mods ‘n Rockers (yeah, I’m dating myself badly here) and all the so-called fashion trends that bedevil every generation.

All of them, however, have one thing in common:  they denote that the wearers are societal misfits.

Since I passed the age of adolescence, where such nonsense was important, I’ve always had one or the other of these self-imposed restraints on myself whenever I leave the house:  would my Mom / wife / grandfather be ashamed to be seen in public with me, dressed as I am? 

If the answer is even marginally “yes”, I change my outfit.

And quite frankly, if there’s anyone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks of me, that would be me.  But I care, deeply, about what my close family and -friends think of me, and that reflects itself in many aspects of not only my dress but also in my behavior.

Alone with my male buddies, I’m a total lout.  In polite company, I’m a different person altogether.

It is the habit of a lifetime, drilled into me by parents, boarding school, the army and wives;  and frankly, I’m too old to change my ways now.

In a business setting, for example, I’m always well-dressed (suit, tie, polished shoes and all that) and likewise groomed (neat hair, trimmed beard, clean-shaven and nice-smelling).

So when I go to a company and see a bunch of men with scraggly beards, clothing which looks like they were slept in and with body odor to gag a vulture, I honestly don’t care about their self-esteem;  I just find them repulsive — and no matter what, I can’t take them seriously.

Judgmental?  You bet your fucking life I am.

Table Manners Matter

Over at the DM, Tom Utley talks about table manners, and the apparent disdain with which the foul Gen Z twerps regard them.

If we’re to believe a poll out this week, however, old-fashioned table manners will soon be consigned to history. A ­survey of 2,000 teenagers and adults found that 60 per cent of those aged 12 to 27 — known as Generation Z — think table manners in general are no longer important.

More than three-quarters of them, finds Censuswide, say they don’t care about elbows on the table, while more than half think it doesn’t matter which way round a knife and fork are held.

I have a rather jaundiced view of the whole thing, because I’ve found that all manners — never mind just  those at the table — seem to have taken flight and disappeared from modern life.  And while the article is Brit-specific, it’s certainly true in the U.S. as well, and both New Wife and I continue to throw up our hands in horror when we encounter such societal contretemps.

But as for table manners:  our kids (her two and my three) have all been indoctrinated in the matter, and I’m pleased to note that they’ve passed on that training to their other halves and kids.

I remember well the first time I noticed how well-mannered my kids were, several years ago.  The occasion was afternoon tea in the St. James Room at Fortnum & Mason, where impeccably-dressed waiters and waitresses brought us plate upon plate of foods (sandwiches, and then scones with jams and clotted cream) and of course, pots and pots of F&M’s delicious Royal Blend tea.  (It’s still the Son&Heir’s favorite, and it’s a staple birthday present choice.)  Anyway, the kids showed impeccable table manners, and of course we the parents were hugely gratified that all our efforts had not been in vain, and that we were not embarrassed by any loutish and gross behavior.  (The same was evident when New Wife and I were treated to afternoon tea at the Ritz by her two sons, a few years back:  exquisite table manners all round.)

I have a visceral reaction to someone with terrible table manners:  I finish the meal as quickly as possible, and make a point of never eating with that person ever again.  When someone gobbles down their food like a baboon, and speaks with a mouth full of food, I actually feel nauseated and try not to look at them at all.

I’m somewhat indifferent to the American style of eating, whereby one cuts the food into small pieces and then transfers the fork to the right hand to spear it.  (It’s the way children eat their food, back where I come from, but it’s a method that is firmly discouraged once they reach the age of seven or eight and have developed the dexterity to eat properly, i.e. with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right.)

Living here in Murka, I’ve always been keenly aware that I’m the “guest”, so to speak, and that if that’s the cultural norm, then manners preclude me trying to change it in others.  That doesn’t mean that I’ve changed my eating style, of course, and when American table companions point out my “British” style of knife-and-fork usage, I just shrug and say, “South Africa was still a British colony when I was born, and that’s one of the little legacies thereof.”  To change the way I eat is unthinkable.

The whole point of good table manners is respect for the feelings of others — hell, that’s the point of good manners in toto, and not just at the table;  and I find it amusing that in these times, when everyone has to tiptoe around the feelings of others so circumspectly, that the most important of these is no longer de rigueur.

Anyway, I’m just glad that I’m unlikely to be exposed to the boorish table manners of the child-like Gen Z people, because to be honest, I have no interest in any kind of intercourse with them at all, let alone at the table.  And if exposed to them in public (e.g. in a restaurant), I’ll just put on metaphorical blinkers and try to ignore them — unless it all gets too much, and I’ll flay them with scorn and contempt, loudly if in the mood.

As Gen Z seems to be, as a whole, a bunch of tender snowflakes, I don’t think I’ll be in any danger.

Bad Behavior

Back when I was still on the dating scene (shortly after someone discovered fire), I was thankfully spared the prospect of my date behaving badly by being glued to her cell phone during the meal.   (Back then, I didn’t even have a landline phone because the phone company — in South Africa, the Post Office — had a three-month backlog on new home phone installations.)

However, that was then and this is now.  Here’s what one guy did when faced with such a situation:

A man has caused a debate after admitting to walking out on a date without paying his portion of an $80 bill because his potential love interest was ‘constantly on her phone’. The man, who is from a major US city, revealed he met up with the woman after matching on a dating app. The pair hit it off and decided to meet in person.

The man was quick to brand the woman as a ‘vapid moral monstrosity’ who had the ‘attention span of a gnat’, after she spent a whole five minutes ferociously texting as they waited for their food.

When they finally began to chat she was quick to, yet again, start answering her ‘buzzing’ phone . The man attempted to make a few hints to his date about her antisocial behavior by joking and even saying he would throw the phone out of the window if it continued. However, his incessant hints fell on deaf ears as her eyes continued to be glued to her phone screen.

An appetizer and two drinks later, the man realized he was miserable and there was no possible way to turn this date around. He headed to the toilet, promising himself that if her eyes were still locked on her phone screen, then he would be making a swift exit out of the door.

When he came out to find her eyes fixed fixed on the screen, he validated that promise by quickly leaving. He detailed: “I looked the other way and there was a service door open behind the kitchen. I turned right instead of left and exited into the sweet, sweet air of freedom.”

And here’s the kicker:

It was only 30 minutes after he had left that the date even realized his absence, texting him: “Did you leave?”

Good for him.  I’m even glad that she got stuck with the tab, because having such appalling manners deserves to be punished.

I don’t even know why there would be a “debate” on the topic.

Flaunting It

It’s a well-known fact that I am somewhat conservative in my outlook [chorus of “No, Kim… not you!], but not really when it comes to women’s clothing.  Having come of age during the late 1960s and 1970s, I kinda like it when women show off their bodies (allowing for the Lizzo Exception, of course).

However, this one made me stop in my tracks:

Granted, she’s another one of those Brit Celeb/Actresses/Houris [some overlap]  but at least she’s apparently married to the father, so there’s that.  But I still feel a little… uncomfortable? looking at that display.

Now I’m not one of those “cover up everything because pregnancy is somehow shameful” people — sheesh, that went out with the Victorians — and I recall seeing some awfully-sexy pregnant women in Chile who were not at all shy about wearing tight little mini-dresses and high heels as they strutted their stuff around downtown Santiago.  I love the whole thing about pregnant women, too;  I think it’s glorious.

Still, I can’t help feeling that the above is a little too ostentatious or even vulgar.  Can we not say that women need to be a little more ladylike about the whole thing?

I know, I know:

“Kim, women show off their tummies in bikinis and midriff tops all the time — and you’re a serial offender when it comes to posting those pics, you dirty old bastard.  So why should it be any different when they’re pregnant?”

Because it IS different.

I welcome comments on the topic.


After the Great Wetback Episode Of 1986, one of the biggest changes in societal customs I had to face was this business of “eating on the run”, or indeed even “eating quickly”.  This made about as much sense as “traveling tastily” or “delicious walking”:  the melding of two disparate activities actually made me angry.

Where I came from it was understood that when you eat, you sit down down to do so, in a place which caters [sic]  to eating and not in a car (exceptions made for a drive-in place like Sonic).  Even when traveling, when it came time to eat, it would involve pulling off to the side of the road — preferably at a rest area, but otherwise well off the road to avoid a collision, and then eating your (prepackaged meal brought from home), preferably outside the car at a table (rest area) or right there (tailgating).

Don’t even get me started about the custom of “brown bagging” whereby one eats at one’s work desk.  Ugh.

After a while, though, I got sick of ranting about it, and just went along with the strange foreign practice, although in the three or so decades since, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually eaten a meal in the car when it was in motion.

At college, I was astounded at the number of kids who would bring their Big Macs and what have you right into the classroom, and gobble it down while waiting for the lecturer to show up, or sometimes even during the class (if the professor didn’t care).

Nothing is more disgusting than being subjected to the smell of someone else’s food in a place that isn’t a restaurant.

So when I read this story, I gave the man a (virtual) standing ovation:

A young London woman travelling alone at night was told she wasn’t allowed on a bus – because her fried chicken wings would ‘stink’ it out.

Predictably, all the usual moans about safety and such were trotted out — but to no avail, because:

Stagecoach’s website states: ‘You can’t eat or drink anything that will cause offence or upset other passengers.’

Of course, the driver was found to be in the wrong and no doubt Head Office whacked his pee-pee.  But get this:  this stupid tart hadn’t come off the night shift, she’d been visiting a friend’s house.  Why the hell couldn’t she have eaten there instead of taking her stinky chicken dinner onto the bus?  Of course:

‘I have always eaten on buses, on the way home from school. There weren’t that many people on the bus anyway. Some people were just shouting at him to just drive the bus. I felt really embarrassed. People were looking at me eating and I felt so fat. I felt a bit depressed by it. I went and sat upstairs right at the front for extra safety.’

Oh boo fucking hoo.  You act like a mannerless lout, and then get upset about being made to feel ashamed?  (And by the way:  you are fat.)

It’s the fact that people have somehow become accepting of boorish behavior that nonsense like this is tolerated.

I should point out that I called out one oaf in a lecture room, and told him to go and eat outside.  “Why?” was the hurt question.  “Because I’m not interested in smelling your rancid food,” was my response.  He didn’t move, whereupon I said, “Do you want me to come over and take your food and toss it?”

He gave me an angry look and went out.  A couple of the kids looked at me like I was the bad guy, but one girl said, “Thank you for that.  He’s always doing it, and it makes me feel sick.”

He never did it again.

The structure of manners is society’s lubricant in that it allows us to get along each day without killing each other, and I am not going to be cast as the bad guy simply because I try to remove the irritant.