Talk to the Hand : The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or, Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door
"Talk to the hand, 'cause the face ain't listening," the saying goes.When did the world stop wanting to hear When did society become so thoughtless It's a topic that has been simmering for years, and Lynne Truss says it's now reached the boiling point. Taking on the boorish behavior that for some has become a point of pride, Talk to the Hand is a rallying cry for courtesy. Like Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Talk to the Hand is not a stuffy guidebook, and is sure to inspire spirited conversation.
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November 07, 2005
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Excerpt from Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss
THE FIRST GOOD REASON
Was That So Hard to Say
The trouble with traditional good manners, as any fool knows, is judging where to draw the line. Politeness is, after all, a ritual of tennis-like exchange and reciprocity, of back-and-forth pick and pock, and unfortunately there is rarely an umpire on hand to stop play when the tie-break has been going on for four hours already and it's got so dark you can no longer see the net. "Thank you," says one polite person to another. "No, thank YOU," comes the response.
"No, thank YOU."
"No, really, the gratitude is all mine."
"Look, take it, you swine."
"No, please: I insist."
"After you, I said."
"No, please: after YOU."
"Look, I said after you, fatso."
"No, please, after you."
Did they ever discover perpetual motion in physics In manners, it has been around for aeons. In 1966, Evelyn Waugh famously issued a warning to Lady Mosley that, if she wrote to him, she would always receive an answer. "My father spent the last twenty years of his life answering letters," he wrote. "If someone thanked him for a wedding present, he thanked them for thanking him, and there was no end to the exchange but death."
But although it can get out of hand, the principle of civil reciprocity is a solid one, for which reason it is an occasion for total, staggering dismay that it appears to be on its way out. The air hums with unspoken courtesy words, these days. You hold a door open for someone and he just walks through it. You let a car join traffic, and its driver fails to wave. People who want you to move your bag from a seat just stare at you until you move it; or sometimes they sit on it, to make the point more forcibly. As for the demise of "please", you may overhear a child demanding in a supermarket at the top of its voice, "I want THAT ONE!" Hope briefly flares when the harassed mother bellows back, "You want that one, WHAT " But you might have known how this would turn out. "I want that one, YOU EFFING BITCH!" shouts the kid in response.