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HORNER'S CORNER: Sometimes it's OK to drop the bomb
It may have been just another transaction at the deli, but boy it irked me.
The woman in front of me at the deli was ordering her dinner and there was not a single please or thank you to be had in the whole conversation. She might as well have been typing in answers at the bank machine for all the humanity she showed the poor girl behind the counter.
I don’t think I’m too much of a rebel when I suggest there’s a place in social interactions for basic good manners.
You don’t have to be a Prissy Purepants to have good manners. They work for everyone. Think of it from an entirely selfish point of view if you must. Displaying good manners makes people like you more.
They’re even useful if you’re soul is pure evil. Because they make people like you more, it’s easier to manipulate your victims when the time is ripe.
Hey, I’m no angel. Although my usual swear words include “Christmas!” and “Criminy jinkets!” I have been known to use the occasional overly-colourful phrase in the newsroom. I put this down to my desperate need to fit in.
Imagine my horror then, when I heard my own son, my flesh and blood, drop his first F bomb the other day.
We were up on Zippermouth Mountain at my mushroom patch when it happened. I was pretty excited, because the weather had broken and it had been raining for three days. I had realistic expectations. I just wanted to find one nice, big yellow chanterelle to wave in the face of my mushroom-picker colleague who scoffed that it was way too early.
Once we hiked through the bush to my first patch though, it was Bingo! Bingo! Bingo! We came out of there with three pounds between us and I was feeling pretty smug as we hiked up towards patch number two.
Suddenly, Alex’s foot hit the ground with a different kind of crunch and when he looked down he saw his foot was covered in bees. He’d stepped on a nest and the bees were really, really mad.
“AAAAAHHHH! &*^$#!” he bellowed and jumped back, frantically brushing his legs.
As any parent can tell you, in a situation like this, blind instinct steps in. As a father, it was time to act.
“Don’t swear!” I yelled.
He was running now, jumping over logs and swatting the air.
“&*%$#!” he yelped. They’re still chasing me! OWWW”
“We don’t use language like that!”
Later that day, over a bottle of calamine lotion, we talked about what happened.
“Come on dad, I was being attacked,” he said. “They got me seven times!”
I like to think of myself as a pretty progressive father, so we eventually worked out a compromise. It is now perfectly OK in the Horner household to drop the bomb, but only if you were being swarmed by bees.
This was later amended to include finding yourself covered in leeches — my own personal horror. Although realistically, any vocalizations I made in that scenario would likely be high-pitched beyond human hearing, it’s always a good idea to be sure, manners being so important and all.
Neil Horner is the assistant editor of The NEWS.