I Can't Even...
… In Public
Let me preface this article by saying that I love my friends, but my goodness can they be uncouth ruffians. I recently went out in public with a large group of compatriots and let me tell you, it was a test of patience at times. Not just patience with them, but with the public as a whole. It seems that people either don't care or don't know how to act while out and about. Fortunately I am here to remind them.
I previously wrote an article on general feasting etiquette which can be found here: I Can't Even... Social Etiquette Please review it. It's apparent that you all need to.
This goes beyond dinner table manners though, and into the general way that we act as groups in public. I tend to focus more on how an individual can improve upon themselves, but what about how a collective can better each other?
When we gather in groups, the public's perception of you will be based off of your party as a whole. All members of your company are not weighted equally, however. The less well behaved among you will have a greater impact than than the most mannerly. (Mannerly means the one who has the best manners, not the one who looks most like a man). This is because annoying people are far more noticeable than polite ones. No one notices the family in the corner with the kids who are well behaved, but we all see the family with the screaming brats who are completely undisciplined and running amok. It is the same with ill-mannered adults. People aren't going to say “look at that fine gentleman who is sitting up straight and using a fork”, they are going to say “look at that barbaric moron who is spilling things all over and using his sleeve as a napkin.”
“But Zarine, we don't have an uncouth pleb in our group...”. Oh, yes you do. Every group has at least one, and if you don't think yours does, then it's probably you. You're dragging your whole group down with your filthy mouth, inappropriate clothing choices, and lack of decorum. Think of other people for once. Do you want your friends to be looked down upon because of your uncultured vulgarity? I think not, dear reader!
Groups of friends don't exist to tear each other down, but rather to build each other up, or so I am told. If that is the case, then start doing it. You may not be meaning to disgrace the group with your actions, but intent is not really what is important here. If you are one of the more respectable people in your group and you sit and stew while your friends tarnish your good reputation then you are not helping either. You need to work together to bring the whole group to a more civilized position. If someone is humiliating your gathering, say something to them, preferably in a productive manner that will help rather than hinder your goal. If you are the problem, the first step is admitting it, realizing you need help and accepting it.
I know that I used my own friends as a point of departure, but really they are not all that bad. Over the years, we have all grown into responsible adults and have helped each other come to a place of respectability. We all have to elbow each other now and then to remind us where we are, apologize to servants for someone having a bad day and being rude, hand someone a napkin, or clean up a friend's mess (See: I Can't Even... Be the Sober Friend). It's part of being on a team or in a group. You look out for each other. My friends let me use them to make valid points on Tuesdays, but they are becoming less of an example as they are more influenced by myself and others who are more socially refined. And even I had to become cultured at some point, and it certainly didn't happen on a pirate ship or living with Trent. So if you think you cannot change yourself or your social circle's public perception you're wrong. You can. It takes some work, but aren't your friends worth it?
See you next Tuesday.
Zarine is the proprietor and Madam at Alchimia Lupanar, a magic marshal approved practitioner of medicine, an award winning author, and has 36 years of experience in giving her unsolicited opinion.