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I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the world isn’t such a nice place and it seems to be less nice every day. Discourse in our country is conducted in escalating measures of power-plays, swears, and various stripes of violence. And I’m only just referring to queuing up at Ben and Jerry’s on Free Scoop Day. If an alleged peace-loving tree hugger will step on your toe for a free scoop of Chunky Monkey, there’s no telling how close the apocalypse is.

As a parent, I often stand at the front step with a copy of Emily Post in one hand and a nail-impaled two-by-four in the other and wonder how I’m going to prepare my little girl for this rude, rude world. I’ve done more than wonder, in fact.

As a lesbian and by extension, Indigo Girls fan I’ve also went to the doctor (who laughed at me), went to the mountain (which ignored me), I looked to the children (Mabel, my daughter and resident “Children Consultant” happened to be butt-dipping/finger-sniffing at the time and really could not be bothered) and drank from the fountain (which was plugged shut with a wad of gum).

Needless to say, the pursuit led me to the local park district catalogue. This is what I found:

Manners and More! Learn social etiquette. Class is designed to help young ladies develop their social skills and self confidence. The girls will learn table and restaurant manners along with how to write a thank you note, make introductions and good telephone etiquette. Additional manners covered will be how to stand,walk and sit in a ladylike manner in order to make a favorable first impression. They will also learn the importance of good grooming and nailcare. The class concludes with a lunch at the Olive Garden where the girls can practice their newly-learned dining skills.

Strangely enough, the park district offers no corresponding course for boys. From this, I’m left to infer that boys (and by extension, men) are expected to conduct their affairs unfettered by the niceties of decorum. If they want to flick the bird at the world, fine. And if that bird has never known the grooming grace of the nail salon, so?

Nice is for girls, apparently. While our country careens like a mutinous pirate ship toward the waterfall that awaits us at the end of the earth, our daughters should sit in a ladylike fashion as they compose thank you cards expressing gratitude to the captain for allowing them on the ship in the first place.

As Ghandi said to the personal affirmation poster companies, “Be the change you’d like to see in the world”.  I for one, I don’t want to be a party to a world in which little girls are held hostage at the Olive Gardens, manicured pinkies to the sky, unable to voice any objections they may have for fear of shattering that all-important first impression.

So, manners are for girls. I think I’ll be conducting my own golden gloves etiquette course.

–Submitted by Joan of Arkansas

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