Every Day In Every Way…

I’m getting bitter and bitter.

You gotta be careful when you get past certain ages. The danger points are 14, 19, 35, and 65. They all expose you and others to the possibility that you will become a menace.

14: Hello, puberty – goodbye manners. You’ll find that you can eat more, scratch more, belch more, crave more, and obey less when you hit 14. Everyone around you who is older will recognise the signs. They will put up with it for a surprisingly long period of time, but beware when they come to end of their patience.

Your mother will take the longest to crack – she’ll make all the internal excuses for you that she possibly can to save her sanity and save you from Juvenile Court. She will feed you, clean you, and tolerate you in a way that would not seem possible. She’s had training – you were once 2 years old and she knows the sort of thing to expect. But beware when she has finally had enough of your bullshit and turns on you. There will be nowhere to hide from the Wrath Of The Mum.

Your father will not put up with the BS anywhere near as long. He’ll grasp you lovingly by the neck, hold you against the stove, and use his fist to explain how you need to behave in future.

19. Well, ain’t we just the biggest thing since the TITANIC?

We’re all grown up. We have opinions. We have a little bit of money. We have a girlfriend or several. We have a car. What more could we possibly want?

Sense and manners for a start. Kewl thuggery is a great temptation. We think that nothing is going to resist us and nothing will be ever sheeted home to us.

The luckiest 19-year-olds are drafted into the military and discover the horrifying truth within two days. Then they can be stripped down, carefully reset, and turned into proper men by their sergeants and petty officers.

Failing that, the ones who enter workplaces or universities where instructors and charge hands do the same thing stand a chance of being successful.

35. I can get away with it. I’ve been getting away with it for years now. I’ll never get caught.

Whether the ‘ it ‘ is adultery, tax evasion, professional incompetence, complacency, plagiarism, arrogance, pride, sloth, gluttony, anger, or any of the other sins, you always think that no-one knows and no-one cares.

You’re always wrong.

65. Well – now that you are 65 you are put out onto society’s windowsill to cool like a pie. But no-one comes along to steal you…

You are in danger of finding this out and becoming angry about it. You’ll cool, harden, develop an impenetrable crust, and a bitter filling. If you are the sort of pie that has that criss-cross pastry top, no-one even wants to look at you.

The secret to overcoming this is to be come self-sufficient. I’m not suggesting that you get a garden allotment and grow your own sparkplugs – though you can if you like. What you really need to do is find out what pleases you, and make arrangements to do it. It may be a case of not buying or owning pleasure, but of finding or developing it.

A caution: if your greatest pleasure is sitting at the bus stop with a catapult and firing ball bearings at cyclists passing by, you will have trouble. Substitute hard round chocolates instead. You’ll still knock them off their bikes, but it’ll be easier to make it sound like a sweet and lovable eccentricity in court.



” If You Don’t Know…”

” I’m not going to tell you.”

How often have we heard that one? It was the constant litany of the Kool Kids at school when the rest of us asked a question. It was used to make us feel left-out…even more so than to begin with. And it worked very well for the first few times that it was employed. We would go off sad and insulted, and there seemed to be no answer to make.

I bring this up because of a Facebook posting recently that floated past my feed line. It was a topic I would normally have taken no interest in, but it appeared because a friend had entered the general discussion. She was interested in one person’s assertions regarding nutrition, and asked very politely for some references that she could pursue in her studies.

Well, she got a sneering version of the standard reply. And then some equally rude passing commentary from other anonymous sources. It was the schoolyard all over on the internet.

I mentioned earlier that this sort of thing worked well for the first few times. My school days were a long while ago, and it has stopped working – indeed it stopped working long ago. But the interesting thing was that it was a standard ploy used in many situations for a very long period of time.

When I encountered this sort of rudeness from people of my own age I was able to dismiss them as fools or braggarts that had no information or knowledge to back up their assertions. When I encountered it from a lecturer in the University of Western Australia’s Dental School I was taken somewhat aback. But it took a further 10 years of solo practice to harden me enough to respond to it when it happened again.

The chap had moved on to be a specialist consultant in a mechanical branch of dentistry. I had a patient who needed the sort of thing he did – and referred the patient by letter to the specialist. Apparently they did not get on well – and I eventually received a high and mighty letter sneering at me for sending that referral and telling me not to do it again. And I never did – I sent the people who needed a prosthedontic specialist’s attention to other practitioners and everyone was happy. I did have the satisfaction of writing a polite note acknowledging the order*.

I suspect that whenever this sort of thing happens it is because of a number of factors:

a. The person being rude does not know what they are talking or writing about .

b. They have no material to which they can refer.

c. They are naturally ill-mannered. Or they have developed ill manners as a cover for worse characteristics.

d. They are writing from Mom’s Basement, with no other connection to social interaction than the reactions to their trolling posts.

I suppose we can be grateful that at least they are not in specialist practice…

* Good manners in the face of bad is always the best answer. Public good manners is even better…