Manners don’t go out of style

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

Times change, and certain customs and conventions die with passage of time. And sometimes that’s a good thing.

For example, a couple can nowadays refer to one another by their first names before they become engaged – none of that Merchant-Ivory, Masterpiece Theater nonsense these days. A teacher can continue her career and have a marriage and family, too. A member of a racial minority can eat in the same restaurant and shop in the same business as anyone else.

But good manners – the essential things, like showing gratitude to all those who aid you; being respectful of your elders and superiors; knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet and listen – all these things are timeless and worthy of always remembering.

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They never go out of style.

In many ways here in the south we remember our manners. We usually say, &uot;yes, ma’am&uot; and &uot;no, ma’am&uot;, &uot;please&uot; and &uot;thank you&uot; and treat strangers with hospitality. We even invite Midwestern senators to return to our fair city after they describe us in less than glowing terms on the Internet.

But I have to confess I am increasingly appalled at certain public behavior I see at some of the events I attend as a writer/photographer for the newspaper.

Case in point: Saturday night’s beauty pageant at Greenville High School.

There was a good-sized crowd in the auditorium that night, and the program was a long one – after all, there were 54 young women who participated in the pageant. The girls all really looked lovely and I hope not a single one felt great disappoint or hurt if they didn’t &uot;make the cut.&uot;

I was, however, greatly disappointed in how some in attendance behaved.

They talked and they talked – through the girls’ introductions of themselves, through emcee Todd Henderson’s introductions of the contestants, through the special entertainment provided by Miss Greater Greenville Christen Clarke and Leigh Taylor – they talked and giggled and hooted and carried on in such a way I could only assume their mamas hadn’t raised them right.

Those young ladies deserved respect, every one of them. Sure, cheer on your favorite girl or player or candidate, whatever the event may be – but give everyone his or her due.

Have we become so enamored of the sound of our voices in this country we cannot bear to simply sit and listen for a while? Are we so concerned with &uot;doing our own thing&uot; we can’t show consideration to others?

Yes, times do change. But basic courtesy will never grow outdated.

Another thing that will likely never go out of fashion at the newspaper, certainly is the deadline. While we make every effort to get engagements, wedding announcements and other social items in the paper in a timely fashion, we need your assistance in doing so.

First of all, keep in mind the Lifestyles, or B-Section – the section you are currently reading – goes to press at least one day earlier than the A-Section of the paper. I say &uot;at least&uot; because this section also frequently goes to press as early as the Friday before publication on the following Wednesday.

We also run such announcements on a &uot;first come, first serve&uot; basis and space is, of course, limited. In order to avoid disappointment, please turn in your photos and information a MINIMUM of two weeks before you want them to run. If you have any questions, call me or Chris Henley at the office at 382-3111. And remember – manners matter!