Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Magic Words

   “Knock knock!”
   “Who’s there?”
   “Godfrey who?”
   “Godfrey hairs on me chest!”

   One of the reasons I decided to write this blog was to be able to get a few things off my chest from time to time.   
   Which is a funny thing, now that I think about it, because there’s nothing on my chest except a little hair and a couple of nipples.
   No rings or tattoos. No piercings. Nothing like that.
   No, the things that I want to get off my chest are really in my mind.
   My friend John suggested it, after I’d bored him silly over a beer one day with all the complaining I did about something, my boss, my wife, my sports team, I can’t even remember what.
   "You're a writer," he said. "Well, why don't you write about it?" 
   So I put my impossible-to-finish second novel aside and started blogging, mostly as a way to explore new ideas and keep limber as a writer, and of course to try to understand and make fun of life and it’s impossible moments. 
   With that said; 
   You know what’s been bothering me lately? 
   Who knows? Maybe it’s been bothering you, too.
   The lack of “Pleases” and “Thank Yous” that I do not hear all around me anymore.
   That's what's been bothering me lately. 
   Everywhere you go, nobody is saying it.
   It came to me last night as I was having a beer at my local. It’s a friendly place with a good crowd and cold beer, but guess what? Nobody there says please or thank you either. 
   I noticed this as I sat there, sipping my beer, listening for once to the voices in the tavern instead of the voices in my head.
   “Gimme a Bud!” demanded a guy at the bar.
   I turned and looked. He sported a magnificently large spare tire type belly. A Dunlop, as my wife calls it, not because it’s a spare tire, but because it's ‘done lopped over’ his belt. His nervous foot tapping made his flip-flops flap loudly against the bottoms of his feet.
   He was handed a Bud. He took a sip.
   “Got a menu?” he demanded instead of saying thank you.
   He was handed a menu.
   Nothing from Dunlop, who immediately started scanning the menu. 
   The server turned to another patron. 
   “I’ll take a dozen chicken wings," ordered a young man with a tattoo of Huckleberry Hound on his forearm. Huckleberry Hound. Of all the images in all the world to permanently apply to yourself, why Huckleberry Hound, I wondered? Oh well, at least it was well drawn. I should know, I used to be in the drawing end of the cartoon business. Ye Gods, how many so-called Stitches have I seen tattooed on someone’s shoulder or ankle that broke my heart! On his other arm is a tattoo of his mother, I think. It’s either his mother or Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies, it’s difficult to tell from where I’m sitting. 
   But judging by the family resemblance, it’s his mother.
  “Not too spicy!” interrupts his girlfriend, sitting next to him. You can tell she's his girlfriend, she's been sharing his drink through the same straw. You don't do that with your sister or a coworker. Not if you're over six-years-old. “And some twirly fries!” she adds with delight.
   Delight, but no “please.”
   She’s no Princess Leia, I notice.
   But then these days, who is?
   To my left I hear, “Gimme a burger. No, a cheeseburger. Uh, make it a double.” 
   I turn to see another patron straight out of Star Wars, who really does look like Chewbacca, at least he does from the neck up. Must be the long blonde hair and beard, I figure. And something about the dark, somewhat canine nose. But that's all. 
   From the neck down, he more closely resembles Jabba the Hutt. 
   He adds, shouting at the server who has turned to go, “Put some bacon on that burger! And a diet Coke too!”
   “Okay hon!” the server answers over her shoulder.
   “Could I please have another Yuengling?” I ask as she passes.
   “Sure, sweetie!” she responds. “Anything else?”
   “No thank you. Just a beer.”
   I know she doesn’t mean it, she’s just being friendly, but I’m nobody’s sweetie. 
   It occurs to me now to mention, seeing as I started it, that I look more like the evil, hooded Palpatine from The Emperor Strikes Back than anyone else I can think of from Star Wars. 
   You know. The bitterly angry guy who shot electricity out of his hands.
   Him, or a tall, skinny Yoda with a greying goatee. 
   When I was young, younger than I can even remember, my parents taught me to say “Please” and “Thank You” and to say them in a pleasant tone of voice when the time was appropriate.
   And oh boy, watch out if you didn’t say them or otherwise forgot your manners in any way!
   I don’t want a return to those more restrictive times when children were seen and not heard. I delight in children and welcome their presence. I was one myself, once. And I don’t mean to imply that I’m perfect. 
   Just that I try, as I was taught, to remember my manners.
   Especially in public, when social niceties are appreciated the most.
   I suppose that please and thank you are among the first words one ever learns. In whatever country you reside and whatever language you speak, these words are the currency of good manners. 
   My mother called them the Magic Words. Because like magic they make things happen, and like magic they are everywhere all around us all the time, if we just remember to look for it.
   Just like The Force.