Manners, Yes, Etiquette, Old Fashioned


written in books


at home, school

went away

when life


more casual,




seemed to go

gradually too.


about how to act,

who to hold the door for,

which fork to use,

who to stand up for and greet

did offer

formulas for how

to behave.

There was value

in knowing what


could  help people

feel more comfortable,

doing the right thing.

Did the baby get thrown out with the bathwater?

Underlying etiquette

is manners.

Manners are not about

formal rules


more important

about how to treat


with respect,



One day last week,

I was crossing a busy

city sidewalk.

A large group

of pre-teen boys,

uniformed with bow ties, shirts

trousers or shorts

moved in a pack around me.


No stepping to the right,

I was stuck in the middle.

No eye contact,

not even seeing me,


I was there.

High school tuition,

but what are they learning?

Later that day,

the local news


an inner-city class

of boys and girls,

paired somewhat


in a position of holding

in dance position.

Guided by an unseen voice,

they were learning


No white gloves

this group.

A girl said,

“oh, this is ok

except his hands are sweaty.”

Gradually they seemed

to become

more comfortable.

Decades ago I remember

going to dance class

at the same age.

Other than the tall boys

choosing the short girls

leaving we tall girls with the short boys,

we learned to dance

and our manners, learned at home and school

were expanded

to other situations.

I will hold open

the door for you

and you for me.

It doesn’t matter

our age, our sex,

our neighborhood.

It is thoughtful courtesy.

One thought on “Manners, Yes, Etiquette, Old Fashioned

  1. Pingback: Manners, Yes, Etiquette, Old Fashioned | Living Lines Moment by Moment

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