Wednesday, April 18, 2007


My mother made sure that manners were embedded in my soul before I left home. I never chewed with my mouth open or put my elbows on the table and I always knew which fork was the salad fork and which side my bread plate was on. That was, of course, before university. I've since forgotten all that. Except chewing with my mouth open. That's just gross.

The funny thing I've learned about manners is that they are, with a few exceptions like the chewing with your mouth closed thing, almost completely arbitrary.

But I digress. (I know: shocking, isn't it?)

The last time I threw a dinner party, my coworker N was the last remaining guest, other than my girlfriend at the time. N and I drank the better part of a bottle of scotch together at the end of the night. My manners dictated that I walk her to the door, which is down a flight of stairs, when she finally left. How I didn't break my neck doing so is unclear.

At work, N always seems to have some horrible task for me to do. She claims she's just the messenger; that these onerous, odious, tedious chores are issued from on high and she's just passing it along. I dunno if I buy that, and even if I did, I'm totally a "shoot the messenger" kind of guy. In a vain attempt to get her to stop, when she asks me to do something painful, I threaten to poison her at my next dinner party. Every time I get a new job, the number of doses of poison goes up:

N: Oh, by the way, you'll have to [insert annoying task that will take way longer than anyone expects] on Friday.
Me: Uh huh? I'm going to use a really painful, slow acting poison for the second dose.

Finally, about a week ago when we reached 4 doses, she looked at me and said, "it's funny how you're mad enough to kill me, but you'll still invite me to dinner."

"Well," I reasoned, "I don't want to be rude."

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