Miss Barbara Whines About Manners

Barbara Morris

This is about Edward (not his real name), who needs a few pointers to win friends and influence people. I’ve given him one of my favorite books, The Power of Charm by Brian Tracy, (ignore the strike through) which is not only useful but often humorous. If he has read it, little has sunk in. Maybe I should also give him Dale Carnegie’s book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People.” Hope springs eternal according to Alexander Pope’s  Essay on Man

Socially, Edward is a tad clueless, but he’s trying, and he’s improving. Bless his heart, he is in his twenties and realizes he doesn’t yet know it all. He has not yet developed the maturity those his age had years ago. He’s a budding real estate mogul, euphoric about the current red hot real estate market, and he’s good at it. Very good. But alas, he hasn’t learned the necessary niceties that make him a polished gentleman. (Do they exist anymore?)

If you think I’m “complaining,” I’m not. Instead,  I’m “explaining,” trying to be helpful.

Without further ado, I’ll explain why, in my opinion, Edward is sometimes clueless and why it matters, especially when with older people, whose homes he hopes to sell.  I’ll give two examples.

First example: Edward has a girlfriend, Mary Beth, and she’s a lovely and loving “older woman” by a few years,  which  is good because Mary Beth has a maturity that is helpful to Edward whether he knows it or not.

To give a specific example of what I am “explaining and not complaining” about, for my birthday, Mary Beth gave me two beautiful teacups, along with exotic aromatic tea bags. Frankly, I thought the cups were too pretty to use, but without saying, “May I?” –, Edward took one of the tea bags and brewed himself a cup of tea. To be clear: Edward did not realize it wasn’t cool to “try-out” what was not his. He knows enough to say “please” and “thank you,” but “May I” is not yet part of his social vocabulary. Thoughtlessness may be okay among his peers, but older people may take exception to inconsiderate actions.

Here’s the next example. Sitting in a group, watching TV, Edward nonchalantly put his feet (with shoes on) upon the table in front of him. (Horrors!) It made me so agitated I embarrassed him (and myself) by telling him to take his feet off the table.

In response, he pointed out that the fellow sitting next to him also had his feet on the table (which is also not acceptable), but the difference was, the other young man didn’t have shoes on. I didn’t scold the shoeless fellow, although I should have because one does not put their feet on furniture with or without shoes. In their  own home, they can dance on the tables if they want to, but not in Miss Barbara’ abode.  Those sitting around were aghast that I would chastise Edward, but I was annoyed. Please do what you want in your own home, but older people don’t like it when you make thoughtless assumptions when in their home.

Am I right? Have I become a testy grouch (Hold your fire, girlfriends! That will never happen.) who doesn’t care about offending sensitive youth who have never been told they are wrong and don’t seem to reach maturity until after middle age? After all, for the most part, no one has ever told the snowflakes they are inappropriate or inconsiderate about anything. It may trigger a meltdown and require a puppy to hug.

Alas, if only Edward had my mother! She would have chewed him up one side and down the other. Know what I mean?




  1. Zenobia L Silas Carson says

    I do not think you (or we) are grouchy, I just do not understand the lack of manners and/or common sense in those who would want to push me around in my wheelchair at the retirement home. Just kidding about the chair, I think.
    These young ones are barely able to muddle through a common conversation, all the while checking their phones with only a slight turn of their heads towards the person standing right in front of them and I will not blame it all on the 20 somethings, I have two adult children in their forties (they are the youngest of my kid collection from the 60’s and 70’s) who barely hear me unless I call their names and use them in a sentence when I am speaking to them. If Nikki (the 47 year old) or David (the 46 year old) is not spoken out loud when I am speaking, they are oblivious to the movement of my mouth and the voice emitting from said mouth. I know. I sound like a typical grouchy 70 Plus women but I am going to switch gears here and talk about the lack of common sense and graciousness in our peers. I live in a building of 90 units. Folks use the laundry facilities and do not clean the lint filters, so people like me have to come along and clean their strange residue from the filters, or in the cold snap decide to use the laundry room trash cans for…what? household trash and garbage, cause, baby it’s too cold outside to walk to the dumpsters. On it goes. We just grew up in a different world and this one seems not to be our home!

  2. Miss Ginger indexed the first edition of Put Old on Hold. She is the sweetest and most capable woman you can imagine. I cherish the time I worked with her and our abiding friendship.

  3. Dear Miss Barbara,

    The title of your email made me smile/laugh. You are wonderful. 🙂

    Sympathy about your socially awkward guest. I remember a similar experience, only, oddly, it was with an older gentleman (he seemed older then–about 20 years ago–but he might have been about my age now!). He showed up at our house uninvited…we had company; some of my husband’s relatives were visiting, for lunch…put up his feet, asked for some tea and sugar, and then, began helping himself to lunch before any of the rest of us. (And we hadn’t really invited him to stay to lunch!) Then he began complaining about my late father, in front of all these people he’d never met before.

    Not sure why he would behave like that…I was so stunned.

    I guess I don’t have any words of wisdom–it’s still a mystery–but I would have been similarly rattled by the experience you describe. Mystified by it!

    But YOU, Miss Barbara, are a delight. I still remember your kindness in sending me an entire case of that excellent bread–was just telling my husband about that, and also about how you have utterly succeeded at putting old on hold, and are a role mode to the rest of us. It’s been lovely being in touch with you over the years.

    With big hugs from your old friend,


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