Please. There ARE Other People.

Over the past decade or so, I have become increasing disturbed and disheartened by the way people present themselves and conduct themselves in public. There is a total lack of consideration and respect for other peoples’ space and their desire to go out into the world without being victim to the total lack of decorum and repulsive behavior which, sadly, has become the norm in our so-called civilized society.

I travel a great deal during the course of my work and often find myself in a new restaurant, bar, coffee shop or other gathering spot. Invariably, I am subjected to a barrage of the most repulsive language, including “f-bombs” that, for some, make up every other word of each sentence they speak. This goes for patrons AND staff. They do nothing to conceal it and give no thought to who is within earshot. They assume that because I am a man, I speak the same way and am not offended by their gutter language and locker room talk. They’d be wrong, particularly when I enter a restaurant or bar to have a quiet meal.

If you think men are the only culprits, you’d be wrong about that, too. Historically, men are wont to talk trash when they get together as a group, especially when alcohol is involved……but have you ever been around a group of women? When I was growing up, men always made sure to curtail their ribald conversations when a woman walked into the room. Now, women not only join in on such conversations, they initiate them and escalate them.  

Several years ago, I worked for a Catholic school where I frequently observed teenage girls singing along with and gyrating to the most vulgar hip hop and rap music, right in front of the boys and in front of me, a man who could be their father or grandfather, with no embarrassment or shame, whatsoever. I won’t even put the language to paper but, suffice to say, it would make George Carlin do a double-take. What passes for music today is replete with every one of Carlin’s “7 words you can’t say on television” as well as many new ones that have become part of the American lexicon over the past several decades.

As if the language weren’t bad enough, the way both male and female hip hop artists portray women, their various body parts and sexual acts is something I have never encountered in my life, but now observe with increased frequency. I have even seen middle age parents partying with their own teenage children while listening to this filth. The same feminists who pound the table about sexism and misogyny walk around half-naked while engaging in this behavior while wondering why men don’t respect women. No self-awareness at all. NONE.

Speaking of clothing, there are a couple of old adages, “Clothes make the man” and “Don’t dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.” In essence, dressing well and presenting yourself well helps you to be successful.

Have you seen the way people put themselves out there? What type of fashion statement are you making when you dye your hair purple, green or orange or pierce your entire face into a 1953 Buick Roadmaster and tattoo your body into a road atlas? Ladies, what are you trying to say about yourself when you leave your home in pajamas or stained sweat pants and bedroom slippers or when you’re morbidly obese and squeeze yourself into spandex pants as if you were trying to get ten pounds of ground pork into a five pound casing, pants so tight there’s not enough room for you to pass wind? Why must all of us share in your losing battle with “camel toe” and cellulite? Do you own a brush? Then why do you go out in public with your hair looking as though you woke up and combed it with the pillow?

Why do men with a 60-inch waist insist on wearing size 36 jeans, pulling them up just so much, then allowing their considerable corpulence to cascade over their belts until it almost touches the ground? Why do men simply refuse to shave the backs of their necks in-between their annual haircuts, only to look like the curb-feelers on a ’57 Bel Air? And what is with the beards? It’s starting to look like ISIS has expanded their caliphate into the United States. And don’t even get me started on the hairpieces. Ladies, how can you let your boyfriends or husbands leave the house wearing something that looks like it was found in the median on the New Jersey Turnpike?

Finally, if you suffer from Onychomycosis (toenail fungus) either buy some Fungi Nail at your local Walmart or wear sneakers. No one wants to be subjected to your Fritos Corn Chip toenails. Oh, and if you’re a smoker, standing outside, right by the entrance to a business, so that I have to walk through your carcinogenic fumes to enter……really doesn’t help me. Smoke somewhere so that I cannot smell it. After all, isn’t that really the point?

Isn’t it always the case that the people bitching and complaining about income inequality and demanding a $15 minimum wage for dispensing Coca Cola are the very same people I’ve just described? If you’re 40 years old and are still a Walmart greeter or Wawa coffee pot filler working for minimum wage, perhaps you might want to reconsider your lifestyle choices. It’s called “self-awareness.” When I sit down in a restaurant, I’d much prefer that my waitress not look like a Papua, New Guinea native with a bone through her nose or appear as though her mother is a human while her father is a peacock.

By the way, if you’re thinking this type of behavior and dress is limited to dive bars and restaurants, Walmart and the DMV, think again. I’ve been a Roman Catholic my entire life. In my 58 years, there have been only one or two brief periods where I did not attend mass regularly. In the past few years, I have been giving serious thought to giving it up, not because of the priest scandals, not because of the offensive and radical comments of our Jesuit, socialist pope. No. It’s because I can no longer tolerate the behavior of the parishioners, let alone their dress.

I live in a shore community and in the summer, it is a potpourri  of tank tops with protruding armpit hair, back hair and “moobs,” as well as bathing suits with coverups…..including the one that looks like a woman in a bikini……and old, worn out flip flops that would smell under water. In the winter, it’s a sea of Eagles jerseys, worn even by some of the ushers, who are septugenarians. Mother of God.

At 58, I am among the youngest in the pews, which does not portend good things for the Church. With more frequency, I find myself telling congregants old enough to be my parents how to behave once they enter the sanctuary. It is a Roman Catholic Church, not a nightclub nor a coffee klatch. Your first clue would be the huge crucifix which hangs before your very eyes as you enter. We are not interested in your prostate, your goiter, your colon, your Squamous cell, the Phillies, your awful daughter-in-law, your grandchildren, your retirement account, the new joke you heard, Donald Trump or the latest local election in which you’re running as you campaign in the vestibule for all to hear. Either have your conversations outside or at the local bagel shop AFTER mass. Some of us are here to sit quietly and reflect and pray. I’ve decided to attend mass on Saturday or Monday mornings, when it is sparsely-attended and very quiet.

There was a famous local comedian in South Jersey who often quipped, “Have you seen these kids today? They dress like we HAD to.” Sadly, it’s not just kids anymore. If you are one of the people I’ve described above, please consider my advice before the next time you walk out your front door:

Please. There ARE other people.

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