Growing up in a super WASPy family, there was often the social convention that you were to prioritize politeness over truth. What you were thinking was never as important as what the other person is feeling. Instead of saying what you actually mean, you would say the polite thing. For example, when my grandfather gave my brother and me toilet paper and a plunger for Christmas, we smiled and said “Thank you. I’m sure we will find many uses for this fine gift.” Yet what we were actually thinking was, “seriously dude, what the dick!?”
Manners are in essence the guiding principles of how to maneuver your way through social situations. Sometimes they may be oppressive to the individual, but you honor them for the emotional disposition of the group. So rather than vocalizing loudly at a luncheon, “I’ll be right back, I have to go diarrhea.” You are expected to whisper under your breath, “please excuse me for a moment.”
As it might be painfully obvious to you, I make it a practice to challenge cultural protocol. There is a way in which hiding behind etiquette is an avoidance of depth. This mentality of “oh we don’t talk about such crass things as death, sex, politics, or money.” When you are too hyper-aware of proper topics of conversation, your conversation tends to be pretty superficial. I personally like getting deep with people and talking about things that aren’t part of the “normal” lexicon. Like seriously, what is your masturbation strategy? I wanna know! That says a lot about you!
Yet with all my desire to blast open societal standards, I also have to admit that when you blatantly disregard them, you are also super annoying.
Let’s take the social experiment of handing out candy for Halloween.
Since I live secluded in the woods, Munch went “trick or treating” in my friend’s neighborhood. I decided to have the adult experience of being the candy-giver-outer because I had never done that before. When I lived in a NYC apartment, we never had “trick or treaters” – unless you count the homeless guy asking for meth.
I didn’t think there was that much to handing out candy. I just have to sit on a porch in all black right? Since I assumed it would be a chill vibe, I figured it would probably be a good idea to smoke a little pot.
Little did I know the chaos that was to descend upon me.
You see, I was under the impression that all children not only knew, but also obeyed the cardinal rule of Halloween. ONLY TAKE ONE PIECE OF FUCKING CANDY! But it turns out a lot of kids go rogue on this concept, and end up doing whatever the fuck they want.
Maybe that wouldn’t have been problem if I had purchased countless bags of GMO chemical candy to give out. But no! I AM NOT GOING TO GIVE OUR YOUTH POISON CANDY! I had purchased a bunch of organic treats so as to BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION! And no… they weren’t chia seed covered prunes. I’m not a monster.
Because everything we bought was organic, we didn’t have an endless supply! We had enough if everyone followed the rule! TAKE ONE!
My original plan was to leave the basket on the porch, and just let the kids come and take their pick. Yet within the first three minutes, one little girl took about 6 handfuls. Her parents were just watching as my friend and I stared in amazement. It was funny because I was high, but also horrifying because I was high. What kind of person does that? A future serial killer that is who!
Finally my friend tried to stop the girl, who just used her paws to negotiate around the protest, and took more. The only reason why this little girl ever stopped was because my friend physically took the basket away. The parents continued to do nothing – never saying, “hey kid, are you a sociopath? Maybe you should just take one?!”
Barely did we have time to recover when another kid came and started taking HANDFULS OF FUCKING CANDY WITH HIS 9 YEAR OLD HANDS!!
My Friend: Only one please!
Greedy lying kid: I’m only taking one!
HE SAID AS HE HAD 7 PIECES IN HIS HAND!!!
Again the parents ignored the blatant disregard for Halloween rules, and also this kid’s pathological lying!
After that group of kids left, I had had enough.
Toni: Give me that mother-fucking basket of candy. I am going to hand that shit out individually. And only after each one of these little shit heads comes and shows me their damn costume.
So there I was holding the basket of candy like a covetous witch. Each kid had to approach me directly to gain access to my cauldron of organic goodness.
Toni: Come here little girl. What are you? Oh princess Elsa from Frozen? Lovely and so original. Would you care for a chocolate or a chewing candy? Don’t worry. They are both organic, because we care about your future.
Now some of the little kids were super polite. They would say “hi,” explain their costume, tactfully decide what they wanted, and left with a “thank you.” And you know what? I LIKED THOSE KIDS A LOT MORE AND GAVE THEM TWO OR THREE PIECES OF CANDY! Then there were those kids who would ignore me, put their sticky hands in the basket, and try to grab what they wanted. We would wrestle over control of the basket, until I won (of course). Don’t worry, I still gave them candy even though I wanted to punch them in the throat. BUT ONLY ONE PIECE!
My conclusion after this experience of cultural anthropology – even though we shouldn’t self-censor and live surface level lives never asking any provocative questions, manners are crucial when it comes to people wanting to give you free candy.
(Just so you know… this little angel ONLY took ONE CANDY at every house she visited… except when she took 2)