Paulelmo's Blog

A few words on social grace…and umbrellas

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One of the greatest regrets I have about my drinking life is caused by the lack of class I had when in the throes of drink. I value social grace highly in my sober life, and I even did during my drinking days…when I was sober. Still, there’s a lack of class that comes with heavy drinking. Whether one drinks heavily every day or just goes on binges, classlessness is a byproduct of excessive drinking.

I say that I value social grace, and I typically see a lack of it from sober people. At least with a drunk, you can explain it away. The lack of class isn’t so much the problem as simply forgetting that drinking too much of that stuff will make us less well.

But for someone to lack class, to give little thought to social grace, is simply irksome to me, and it’s selfish. I’ll let you decide for yourself what it means to have social grace, but a broad sketch for me is anything that infringes on the well-being and fluid living of others. Selfishness is always a factor, but I can’t do much defining beyond that. It’s something like that thing someone once said about porn, “I don’t know what pornography is, but I know it when I see it,” or something to that effect. Was that Jimmy Carter?

I try to keep the Spanish words “un hombre of buen educacion” in my mind. “A man of good education” isn’t one who has learned well or gone to the best schools; rather, a man of good education is a man whose parents have taught him to act like he knows a little bit of something when he walks out of the house.

Maybe having class means putting others first. Still, I’m just spitballing.

A man of good education is one who doesn’t tarnish the name he has been given, and he doesn’t make it embarrassing for those in his circles to claim him.

That parent thing stands out. My parents did a lot for me, and maybe I’d have been able to drink more tolerably if I had respected what all they had done for me and tried to not embarrass them with my actions. Perhaps.

Putting others first is definitely one of the paths to having class; doing for others simply for the sake of being good fellow humans is about as classy as you can get. Take the gender politics out of it; it isn’t that men should hold doors for women or that women should hold doors for men; it’s that we hold doors for each other as dictated by the situation.

We always go back to the holding the door thing, but a better example to think of is who holds the umbrella. The taller person holds the umbrella for the shorter person. It’s a classy thing to do because it is one person doing something for another, and it’s reasonably dictated by effectiveness. And I’m not too tall, so if you want to hold the umbrella for me, I’d certainly appreciate it; and I’d know you have some class about you.

I wish I would have thought these things earlier in my life, but wha’ya gonna do. I think them now, and I find them important enough to sit here and share them with you. I hope you take something from them.

Be well, my friends. I’ll be thinking of you.

Until soon.

4 Replies to “A few words on social grace…and umbrellas”

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