Civility and Things I Refuse to Do Anymore

August 27, 2022

It’s been a while. I think I was having a dry spell and felt as if I had nothing worthwhile to say. You may read this blog and think I should have continued the spell, but I think I am back in the proverbial saddle.

I decided to make this a two-parter. First the serious stuff and, because some people are whining (you know who you are, you pain in the ass.) that the widow hasn’t been funny enough lately, I will interject a wee bit of mirth at the end. Bear with me please.

So, I am standing in the checkout at a big box store the other day and an angelic looking (emphasis on the word “looking”) young lady, aged approximately seven or eight standing in front of me announces to her mother that she wants a Heath Bar. I don’t blame her. I love Heath Bars. I should probably give more context. It was her method of asking that gave me pause. She didn’t ask; she announced – in no uncertain terms. She’d obviously had a lot of practice using that tone with her mother. “I want a Heath Bar.” Well, Mom made a feeble attempt to say “no” to her little darling. She obviously has been down this road before as well, and daughter, not the least non-plussed, just ramped it up, didn’t raise her voice, because she’s not a toddler after all. She simply grabbed three Heath Bars and tossed them into the cart. I suppose I should give her credit for not grabbing more. Does that count as some semblance of parental respect? And Mama just let it happen. She didn’t make the slightest attempt to show the kid who’s in charge. Oh, that’s right, the kid is. I bit my tongue, knowing that my grandchildren wouldn’t try to get away with such antics, nor would their mothers at that age. Because they knew better.

I predict that little girl and perhaps her siblings, if she has any, will transform into sullen teenagers a few years down the road with their noses stuck in cell phones and video games. They will speak in monosyllabic grunts to their parents and other adults, have few responsibilities on the home front and not be made to face consequences for their actions. They are not taught to be kind, empathetic, take no for an answer, and learn that having less can be a lesson in life that will carry them well as they lean into adulthood. They may never learn accountability. They may become bullies, and in a worst-case scenario, even inflict emotional and physical pain and/or injury on those weaker than they. And why? Because they have never mastered a fairly basic life skill. It’s called civility. Civility used to be a much simpler concept. Back in the late 1920s, my mother’s maiden aunt penned a short missive called just that, “Civility.” It sat on my refrigerator for years. In my move south it was misplaced, and I do hope I find it eventually because although it is dated in many instances, addressing proper etiquette, manners and the like, its basic tenets speak to universal themes that are relevant today, those of simple common decency and respect towards others. And these themes are not applied just to children and teenagers. In the current world we live in, a lack of manners, social conventions if you will, speak to much larger ills; it’s a bona fide toxicity that has become pervasive in human behavior and it’s frankly alarming. If one can’t speak kindly to another person merely because they are just that – a person, then we, ladies and gentlemen, have a significant problem. Beyond the child willfully throwing candy bars into a grocery cart, we are seeing punks for no reason other than sport cold cocking innocent bystanders into unconsciousness, and in some cases death, wreaking havoc in retail establishments, and in schools, not allowing our grossly underpaid teachers to teach. At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, “what is our world coming to?” My brother has a saying: “I weep for the future.” He is weeping and so am I.

So many studies, blogs, news programs, weekend think tanks, neighborhood potlucks, spiritual retreats, drum circles, you name it, have attempted to solve the seemingly recent phenomenon of the ugliness that pervades our society. Personally, I think it’s always been here; but is now more pronounced and prevalent, because thanks to the availability of information and lack of privacy, everyone sees it. It does unfortunately start in the home. I refuse to engage in the “work outside the home versus work inside the home” discussion because I truly believe that is not the issue. I believe all mothers are working mothers, regardless of whether some draw a paycheck and health benefits. It is how the children are made to feel that is the issue, not whether Mom is there at lunchtime. I worked outside the home and my kids turned out great. I know folks where mom was “stay-at-home” and honestly, the children are pretty screwed up. What matters is what values children are taught, whether they are made to accept responsibility, understand that yes, there will be consequences, and that respect for others is paramount. My guiding mantra of parenting was always “I’m in charge,” “No means no” and my favorite, the venerable “golden rule.” I think it’s something so timeless that when you think about its simplicity, whether you are four years old or 64 years old, its beauty is its purity and straightforwardness. Now, today with social media, fractured families, an alarming increase in bullying, both in person and online, mental health crises, and food and housing insecurity, young people, in particular, are lashing out, likely because it’s the only outlet they have. Or, they simply don’t know how to deal with a complex range of feelings or perhaps, a more deleterious situation at home that they are ill-equipped to handle, so lashing out at someone weaker is their only release. It’s not an excuse, just a possible explanation. And without spending too much more space on the subject, the sad reality is that without being taught at home to love and respect one another, it simply doesn’t just happen. It takes a strong person to escape a bad environment and dangerous influences. I hope and pray that my grandchildren and their children have a bright and safe future. Realistically unless things change, I know that may not happen. Maybe if we all practice civility just a little bit better…Practice makes perfect. Be kind.

Part Two

Things I Refuse to Do Anymore

So, here’s the deal. I am 72 years old. I think I look half decent for an old bag. I mean I don’t think a person seeing me for the first time has the urge to retch or anything. I think, as the average senior citizen female goes, I pass the gag test, I am, I would surmise, of average attractiveness, “for a woman my age.” But honestly, I don’t really give a damn. I like myself. I am not obsessing over my looks at this point in my life. It’s counterproductive and a waste of time. Time, I don’t have. Of course, I take care of myself; I am not a total cretin. But in the overall scheme of things, it’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I just don’t care.I like to dress up for a night out, fix my hair, put on some nice jewelry, etc.   BUT

  • I will not wear heels. Or any shoe that is uncomfortable, narrow or dangerous. Who wants to break a hip at my age? Nor will I wear backless shoes or sandals that require me to have anything between my toes. Hell to the no on that one too. Wedge? And me fall on my fat ass? That’s also a NOPE! And those shoes that have toes so pointed that the shoe enters the room 30 seconds before the rest of you? What’s up with that?  And why??? Squashing my size 10 foot and the accompanying toes of a size 10 foot, (and did I mention it’s a size 10 WIDE foot?) into a pointed toe size 10 shoe, we are talking gondola here, people. Not a pretty sight, but more importantly, because this is about me after all, HOW can this be comfortable? So, without ever really entertaining the idea, this is a big, overblown, hell no. I think I have covered footwear sufficiently here. Let’s move on. Oh, one more thing. It’s time for UGGS to go. UGH.  ALSO
  • I will not wear pantyhose. Hell no, to that bullshit. First, can we talk about the whole process of putting them on? It’s painful, it’s humiliating, it’s dangerous and in some instances, it’s chafing. Ladies, need I say more? And now that I am in the south, the fluctuations in heat and humidity; actually, there are no fluctuations in humidity; it’s always humid; ergo, pantyhose should be outlawed out of basic human decency. As for this enlightened female – I am done. In fact, I would hazard a guess that most women don’t wear them that often. Why put yourselves through that torture unless you work in the pleasure industry if you catch my drift. Then it’s part of the job, wink, wink. Moving on.
  • I don’t wear a bunch of makeup anymore. When you are as naturally stunning as I, why spoil it with a bunch of garbage piled on your face, right? Kidding. Of course, one wants to enhance what the good Lord has given one, but I think less is more and women of a certain age should enhance rather than hide. As a result, I don’t wear foundation anymore. I read somewhere that foundation emphasizes our lines and wrinkles more thus making us look even older. Why don’t men have these major world problems to deal with? I try to keep what supple epidermis I have left moisturized, throw on some blush, a little mascara, call it a day. If it’s a special occasion, I will add a little eye shadow. I never wear eyeliner. Lack of a steady hand in the past made me look either like a goth princess or Ozzie Osbourne after a bad batch. So, I swore off eyeliner back in the seventies. On a related note, a point of contention for me has always been the beauty industry. My bathroom used to be overrun with products – creams, lotions, scrubs, peels, face masks, blah, blah, blah. All these potions and magic elixirs designed with mystical restorative powers to somehow make us young again. And we buy into it. And our wallets are lighter. And the beauty companies get richer. Note to self: call financial advisor requesting a stock purchase of highest yielding beauty product company fleecing gullible American women over 50. The truth is we all have to face the truth: while we can certainly forestall a few things, keep our skin a bit softer – for a while; smooth out some rough skin by removing a layer – for a temporary fix; inject foreign material to make things look smoother and fuller – until it needs to be done again; it’s just temporary because nature and time always win. So, I’m saving my time and money and just doing the basics. This is me – take it or leave it. All the above sounds so high and mighty, doesn’t it? The truth is I’m just a lazy bitch.
  • I will not obsess about my weight anymore.  I shouldn’t use the word “obsess,” because I never have as much as others. I didn’t enjoy carrying around extra weight and I used to be much heavier than I am now. Even then, I always liked myself; I just didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I hate that women are judged so harshly for their appearance. And it starts young. I accept who I am and if I need to lose weight, that’s on me and if you judge me, then step away, because you are not a person I want to waste my time with. Similarly, if you are someone who disparages others for how they dress, speak, etc., get over yourself. You are a jerk. Buh-bye. It’s time for lunch. Grilled Cheese or Cottage Cheese?
  • Things I haven’t said never to – YET. Right now, I am hanging on to my hair color and highlights. It’s not that I have an aversion to grey; in fact I may just do it sooner rather than later. Many of my friends have taken the leap and look fabulous. It’s just fear of the unknown I guess, and the knowledge that my grey isn’t a pretty grey. The jury is still out. Stay tuned. I still plan to get my nails done, just out of sheer laziness; same for pedicures – which is laziness and the deliciousness of the process. Nothing better. For the good of the public, I will continue to wax my upper lip and pluck the errant hairs on my face and eyebrows. And finally, I will continue to shave my legs. You are welcome. And finally….
  • I will never waste time on inane nonsense because time is fleeting. Pass the vodka. Let’s laugh. Tell dirty jokes. Don’t take life too seriously. Love one another despite our differences. Be kind. Help others. Perform a community service. Buy a lottery ticket. Travel. Visit someone who never has visitors. And Never Ever Wear Uggs. Ever.

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