Mark O’Malley has no Manners to Mind
Each and every one of you knows a guy like Mark O’Malley, and no doubt you’ve seen his kind in action many times. Although I like Mark and he is a friend of mine, I cringe every time I witness the total lack of chivalry he shows to the people around him. When walking with his wife, he’s always two steps ahead and to my knowledge has never opened a door for her. During church services, he promptly marches down the aisle quickly to enter the pew first. His departure remains consistent, never stepping back to allow his wife to take the lead.
And as can be expected, Mark’s son Mike, (recently married) shows the same disregard toward his new bride too.
Those like Mark (not always, but at times), can also exhibit a conspicuous habit during a conversation of interrupting your answer with another question. Mark’s favorite second retort is “Huh?” just as I begin to collect my thoughts and answer his first one.
Unlike me, Mark was apparently not blessed with an extended family present to remind him to mind his manners, so his lack of courtesy is not really his fault.
Yes, I was truly bestowed with an abundance of blessings. Grandma lived with us in our home for a while and so did my Aunt Millie. I also grew up with two sisters. The seven aunts (on Mom’s side alone) and numerous female cousins made sure that a youngster understood the magnitude of being mannerly. If their remarks weren’t made directly toward me or to my brother, they were repeated enough in conversations so that their points were driven home like a 10-penny nail from a pneumatic nail gun. Yes, the pressure I felt was similar to the force of air emitted from such a device too.
“Remember to say please and thank you,” I heard from the age of three. “Do not interrupt adults when they’re speaking,” came along shortly thereafter.
“If an adult offers you anything, and you don’t want it, remember to say, ‘No thank you,’“ was a biggie. And Lord forbid but if “you accept something to eat, you better finish it.”
By the time I was five years old, I was a nervous wreck. I had my hair on my temple pulled so often that today, I have spots where my hair still won’t grow on my left side of my head. My ears were yanked too, especially if I had recently gotten a buzz haircut and it was the only thing mom or dad could grab. Today, I have a sixty percent hearing loss in my right ear.
I doubt today that I would interrupt another person even if their clothes were on fire. I’m sure I’d wait for a lull in the conversation before I politely interjected, “Oh, pardon me Sir, but I think your pants might be burning.”
Once I accepted a piece of freshly baked bread right out of the oven during a visit to my Aunt Ann’s. I was so afraid to hurt her feelings by not eating all of it and even more frightened that Mom would notice, so I managed to consume every bit if it. The bread turned out to be rye bread, which I couldn’t stand. Mom or Dad never knew why I got sick on the way home that evening and vomited all over the back seat of the car.
As I grew into adolescence and mastered the early lessons in manners, I was exposed to more advanced directives. I can still hear my Aunt Millie demand, “You better always open and close the car door for a date, young man. There’s nothing worse than a man with no manners.”
And if Mom noticed that I hadn’t made eye contact with each and every person in the room when speaking, I heard about it later on that night after all our company departed. “Include Clark,” she would reiterate, if she spotted my eyes passing over my brother in law during a discussion. At times, she would give me the signal with her own eyes too, while I was in the process of trying to talk to visitors. In case you’re wondering, these subtle directives (during a discussion) don’t do much good for a person’s self confidence in groups either. And subtle body language signals did little to help me stay on track too.
I learned those lessons so well that once years later, I was driving a carload of fishermen to Will’s Creek in Bedford County and was so intent on making eye contact with my passengers that I flew right through a stop sign on Route 31. You should have seen Clark’s eyes that day and my dad’s facial expression too! They realized just how well I minded those manners from my younger days.
On two other occasions I was driving and hadn’t noticed that the traffic ahead was stopped dead because a few cars up, someone was attempting to make a left turn off the road. Because of on-coming traffic in the other lane, the turning car had to come to a total stop. Without skipping a word of my conversation and continuing to make that ever-so-important eye contact, I found room somehow both times to swerve to the right over a curb and back onto the road in front of the stopped, turning car. My sister, Clark’s wife was a passenger with me on one of those occasions. She too discovered the significance of those lessons in manners. Clark, on the other hand refused to allow her to ride with me after that.
Today and no big revelation I might add, but about three fourths of my extended family enjoys prescribed medications like Xanax and Valium. One of my regrets is that I hadn’t purchased stock options in that area of medicine, while retaining the title of the world’s most mannerly driver.
It’s also of little surprise to discover that nowadays; I jump around from topic to topic in discussions like a frustrated football fan searching for the college game of the week on the TV remote.
You know, the more I think about those old lessons in minding one’s manners, the more I realize that the title of this piece needs changed big time.
I will wager that Mark and Mike O’Malley have an equal amount of hair growing on both sides of their temples. I bet too, that neither one of them has a sixty percent hearing loss in one ear, even if they do over use the interrogative, “Huh?” I have an odd feeling also that they both have safe driving records, without doing nearly as much curb jumping as I have. And I’m sure my eating disorder (a compulsion to finish all of my food, all of the time) is greater than any of their disorders combined.
So,… Never Mind that Mark O’Malley has no Manners to Mind.