Still working over time, so I hope you enjoy a little something from February of 2011...
I spend a lot of time thinking about social norms, about the fact that the expected behavior in one place is considered unacceptable in another.
Consider the act of taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home, for example. When I was young, this was done at the front door of the trailer automatically. When I did it at a particular neighbor’s home, however, I was ridiculed for being, and I quote, “La-dee-dah”.
After that, they called me “Princess”.
Human behavior fascinates me – which is not to say that I was not as critical as the folks with the filthy carpeting as they were of me and my shoe-removing ways.
Take the folks, say, at the Famous Dave’s in Roseville, out for lunch last Saturday, hair matted and in what was clearly their pajamas. Their behavior serves me well: I get to feel good about the fact that this will not happen to me in my lifetime (insert judgmentally shaking head here) and I get to make up little stories about why they couldn’t brush their hair (the directions on the tick-removal shampoo suggested that they not) or get dressed (plans to eat a whole pie in the parking lot following lunch, perhaps, requiring something roomy enough to accommodate expansion).
There is one thing I’ve noticed recently, though, something that must be nipped in the bud immediately.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but I enjoy a beer now and then. This is something I do whilst out with friends, a social thing. I don’t care to drink by myself. You’ll never stop in, for instance, and find me having a beer while brushing a cat or watering my plants; but if you’re going up to The Spring later, I’ll have three, thank you very much.
I tend to run a little hot sometimes, and a couple of beers help me put things in perspective.
Which brings me to a most important point.
If you’re out, sitting with friends and acquaintances, and someone raises their beer and you raise yours as well, clinking the glasses in recognition that yes, we are in wild agreement, you and I, then the next step to this social dance is the drinking of the contents of said glasses.
You wouldn’t think I’d have to say that, would you? And yet I am surprised, every time it happens, by the number of people who will clink but then do not drink.
How can you clink and then set your drink down?
If you do not drink, following the clink, you have made a mockery of the system; and without the system, we have chaos.
Without the system of clink-then-drink, how will we know whether you truly agree that so-and-so is a jolly good fellow or if you are just going through the motions? Perhaps you have evidence to the contrary and don't have the heart to tell me? Perhaps you are swiping onion rings from me while my glass is lifted?
You see? It all falls apart.
People, we need a system.