Aug 26, 2009


If you live in the general vicinity of Mishawaka, Indiana in the good 'ol U.S. of A. you should probably brace yourselves. In the next 24-48 hours I am determined to launch a project that has been in the works for the last several months.

To begin, I should first tell you that I am not a small woman. I'm not. As a matter of fact, I'm as big as a house and I'm one tomato sandwich away from qualifying for my own zip code.

I should also reveal that I am a dead ringer for the actress Kathy Najimi. That is, I am a dead ringer for the actress Kathy Najimi before she got skinny. If you don't know who Kathy Najimi is, please rent "Sister Act" and view the shenanigans of Sister Mary Patrick. That, my friends, is me. Really. I'm not kidding.

So with all of this in mind, I am off to the costume shop to rent/buy/find a full-length nun's habit in the style of the sisters of old who only showed their lovely little faces and possibly a whisker or two of chin hair. (As a Catholic school girl I often marveled at the smoothness of their complexions and I agonized over whether it was the fact that they didn't wear any makeup or if the headgear thingie they wore secretly contained a Clearasil-like substance that prevented even the tiniest pimple from emerging.)

Once I am properly attired in said nun’s getup, I intend to roam the streets of my little Gotham on the lookout for rudeness, blatant buffoonery, and general inconsiderateness everywhere. I might even develop my own logo that can be projected into the sky whenever I’m in need, and if I think I can manage it, I will find the perfect motorized vehicle to transport me to the scene of "courtesy crimes" in a manner that will draw the envy of every pre-pubescent boy and the giddiness of people everywhere. I’m thinking, of course, that this vehicle needs to be pink. Or fire-engine red. And it should probably have a lot of chrome and look like it came straight out of Orange County Choppers, but these are details for another day.

It all started, of course, as most things do, when I attempted to go out in public. I should have known better, but I was determined to see “Julie and Julia” on the big screen, so I handed over my $87.50 and proceeded into the theater with the rest of the semi-literate masses like the sheep that I am.

I won’t bore you with the ENTIRE two and a half hours of agony, but suffice it to say that I was subjected to: talking, whispering, chatting, snot sucking, throat clearing, and elbow-hogging-the-arm-rest hooliganism for the entire length of the movie. People conducted themselves as though they were stuffed into their Barco-loungers and despite the fact that the sound of the movie was loud enough to split eardrums, they felt the need to talk, whisper, chat, and snot-suck over the din.

I tried, I really did, but I found it impossible to enjoy the movie so long as the gentleman (and I use this term loosely) felt the need to clear his obviously clogged sinuses and then spit them into what I can only hope as a relatively clean hanky.

The grocery store trip that same weekend wasn’t much better, nor was the treat of a dinner out at a favorite restaurant, thanks to a population that has just generally lost all sense of decency and consideration for other people. What the hell has happened to us?

This weekend brought the arrival of college students back to our little town, and I was pleased to see that the community welcomed them appropriately with business signs and bus tours here and there to show them the sites. Where, however, was the informative talk on manners and how to live in community with tax-paying hard-working townies that just can’t take one more influx of rude, obnoxious, spoiled brats who think the Target is there solely for their shopping pleasure?

Sister Mary Etiquette to the rescue!

Sister Mary Etiquette will roam the streets armed with nothing but a ruler, some little note cards, and the sheer determination into shaming people into behaving themselves. Sister Mary Etiquette won’t be afraid to walk right up to somebody and say “What’s the matter with you?! Were you born in a barn? Comport yourself properly young man!”. And with that, she will hand over a little note card that outlines (in very simple terms) the proper amount of space to give someone at the grocery checkout. Or why it is NOT acceptable to slouch your way through a store while talking on your cell phone to your girlfriend who just has to hear every little detail of your hot date the night before with some investment banker who picked up the check and was really hot in bed but who has no intention of calling you for a second date. Ever.

Sister Mary Etiquette will confront the man in the restaurant who insists on yelling at his dinner companions so that they can be sure to hear every word of his inane opinion and who insists on imposing said inane opinion on every table within a square mile of the place.

Sister Mary Etiquette will know how to form an orderly queue, won’t take the last piece of anything, and will always be the first to gladly give her seat to an elder, a pregnant woman, or anyone who looks like they just might need a seat on a crowded subway more than she does at the moment, and she will NOT, ABSOLUTELY NOT feel compelled to talk on a cell phone unless something is on fire or a small child is trapped under something heavy.

Sister Mary Etiquette will always bathe so as not to offend others with any “personal smell issues”, she will not block access to anything somebody else might want to see/grab/hold/witness, and she will know when and where it is appropriate to show affection and/or groom one’s eyebrows.

Sister Mary Etiquette will put a stop to this ME ME ME culture of obnoxiousness and will do her part to return society to the genteel atmosphere of a Jane Austen novel.

Sister Mary Etiquette will know how to use proper turning indicators in a vehicle, when to send hand-written thank you notes for gifts received, and will R.S.V.P. promptly to every invitation that draws her forth from her well appointed, clean, and orderly home.

You get the idea here, right? There’s no need for me to blather on and on about the entire Sister Mary Etiquette agenda, but suffice it to say that I will not rest until every person of age in this country of ours…nay the entire planet….learns how to behave properly and act like a person should.

I’m off to the the costume shop, and then the bookstore for the latest Emily Post. One mustn’t be loathe to update one’s knowledge of things now, mustn’t one?

(Note: This is a little something I'm working on. What do you think?)


  1. How about the people who insist on dropping the f-bomb throughout what passes as conversation for them? Not all of us want to be constantly subjected to it. You go, girl!

  2. If you need an assistant I am available....possibly I could do this in Pennsylvania. Best post I've read in a long time! I can only say "ditto".

  3. AMEN SISTER!!! I'm tired of the selfish me mes.

  4. Hear hear! I'm sure there are more of us that feel the way you do than otherwise, so why do we put up with it and why has it become acceptable? Well said, or rather, well written.

  5. Sister Mary Etiquette, your Courtesy Crimes vehicle must be red. The ruler must be of shiny, shiny chrome.

    Would fuzzy dice be too... gauche? Hm.

    "...talking, whispering, chatting, snot sucking, throat clearing, and elbow-hogging-the-arm-rest hooliganism for the entire length of the movie. People conducted themselves as though they were stuffed into their Barco-loungers and despite the fact that the sound of the movie was loud enough to split eardrums, they felt the need to talk, whisper, chat, and snot-suck over the din."

    This is why I haven't been to a movie theatre since 1994.

    "What the hell has happened to us?"

    We have gone to hell. In a handbasket.

    Will you insist that males and females alike Stand!Up!Straight! ?

    Speak coherently?

    Ban the use of l33t speak (oh please, please, PLEASE! ... how many Hail Mary's will this require? I'll start right now!)

    Might I be a novice in your new order? I do swear a bit though... but Dang! would I look good as a nun!

    (I kid you not... the word verification is downfall!)

  6. Typical day in retail:

    Customers barging up to counter before other customer is done and standing about 1 inch away from them.

    Talking on cell phone while being waited on.

    Giving me a sealed envelope containing a check which I then have to take the time to open while they stand there.

    Not saying hello in return or giving any response what so ever to anything.

    Tearing open packages of socks to "borrow" a pair.

    "Borrowing" clothes and returning them and then saying they were not worn though so obviously so.

    Drinking various Starbucks beverages while shopping, spilling said beverage or leaving cups on displays.

    Taking beverages into bathrooms (yuck).

    Then there is of course, the insane amount of shoplifting which I don't know qualifies as bad manners but really stinks.

    Well I could go on and on but I wish we had a Sister Mary Etiquette to come to the rescue!

  7. OMG!! You sound just like me. I just posted today about how I hate people. I hate even venturing out in public. I forgot to mention in my blog the clerk at CVS who talked nonstop on the telephone on an obviously non-work related call and did not proceed to say hi, bye, thank you, nothing. And this was a grown adult, not a teenager or young adult.

  8. Ummm, when you're done showing manners in IN, can you please come to CA and have a lesson or fifty with my so-called neighbors and other residents. I don't know about you but I've actually shouted at people in the movie theater. I do not pay $10+ to go to a movie to listen to other people. It's my biggest pet peeve...that, and slow-poke drivers. :) Sadly...manners have become obsolete.

  9. Coni, I just found your blog a month ago, and I love it! I especially love this post. I am still relatively young, 25 and proud, but I completely agree with you! It bothers me to no end how discourteous people are. Etiquette is not an inconvenience, it is a social lubricant that makes society more clam and eases complete strangers' limited interactions with each other. I have started calling people out on their thank you note writing, or lack thereof. You go!

  10. I am with you in spirit from Alabama. USA is a ME ME ME Place. I think each state, county and city has to deal with others that were taught no manners. I am 44 and I was taught manners and I was taught to think about what you do.. Do you want others to act this way in front of you? I catch myself not saying anything to someone who almost knocks my down to get through a door before me... This drives me crazy. I am going to take a cue from You and start saying something.. All you need is a video camera and you would have a very propular TV show....

  11. my DH and DS#2 pump gas part time. Customers pull up to the pumps talking on their cell phones and then tell DH and DS to hold on, there are other customers in line. How rude. I will not answer my phone while at a cash register and being waited on. The call can be called back when I am done.

  12. SME sounds like a winner to me!! Onward into the fray.....

  13. You must submit this post to your local newspaper as an opinion piece. Everyone who can read should get the message, and those who can't or won't, should be tapped with Sister's ruler!!

  14. May I please add to your delightful list (how did you get inside of my head?) the rude know it all I work with who does LONG conference calls at his desk? This when not micromanaging the lives of his children. Lord help us all.
    I am happy to help anytime.

  15. Please, please, please come to my world. We need you here for all the reasons you mentioned ... and more. I'm working at doing my part by insisting on good manners being demonstrated by all the kids I see at school. And my daughter wants me to tell you that I yell at other people's kids in stores. I can't see myself as a nun, but I'll be happy to join the group.

  16. I had a guy stand so close behind me while waiting in line today at the bookstore, that I thought I must know him. I mean, my husband doesn't even stand that close to me in public. If I had been wearing heels I would have taken that one swaying step backwards and stomped on his foot. Not so effective in flip-flops.

    I'm all for Sister Mary! The world needs more like her.

  17. Brilliant! I'm constantly amazed at the total lack of manners everywhere I go...

  18. I live in Tallahassee, FL where we have just received our invasion of college students, and can I say that I volunteer to drive whatever vehicle you decide to use. YOU GO GIRL!!!!!

  19. Amen, Sister! Bring manners to the people!

  20. ABSOLUTELY AMEN! And the people who play with their cell phones in the theatre? Or the groups of teenagers throwing popcorn all over? And people who let their kids run wild in the stores? Or the old guy who verbally attacked me in the parking lot because he said I didn't drive an American vehicle? I'll admit to being quite rude right back to him, for all that he was at least 20 years older than me. (I drive a Hyundai, made in the good ole U. S. of A.)

  21. I'm sorry that Julie & Julia was spoiled for you. On its own, it's a delightful movie. Everyone was very quiet when we went to see it on a slow Tuesday morning.

    Though I am considering buying some sidewinder missiles to mount in my car to be used on those that don't use their turn signals or those that pull in front of you at 60 mph when there is less than a car's length between you and the car in front of you. As for the rest...I try to do as much shopping on the internet as I can. Our UPS delivery gal is very, very polite and helpful.

  22. I totally agree! However, I have a little story about how easy it is to make someone's day (bear with me!)

    Husband comes to mall to meet me after work (he's in his biker outfit, never judge someone by how they look!). He's early (like a good husband!) and goes in to get a coffee. On his way out, in front of him is a 'mature' woman and in front of her, two young men (20's). The young men go through the doors but....this is good.....hold the doors for the mature woman and my husband. The mature woman says "oh two nice gentlemen!". So my husband, not to be outdone, rushes ahead and holds open the next set of doors, smiles big and holds up three fingers saying "three nice gentlemen" (he's a bit cocky).

    Well as he's sipping his coffee sitting on his bike (waiting so patiently for his wonderful wife) who comes around the corner but the very same mature woman and behind her a shop employee carrying a tv. My husband catches her eye, holds up four fingers and says "four nice gentlemen". The mature woman laughs and says "yes, and all so handsome!".

    I did mention that my husband is a bit cocky? Without hesitation and with a big grin, he says "That's because you still got what it takes!".

    I think he just made her day!

    Wouldn't the world be more wonderful if everyone had fun with manners! Send out the word Sister Mary Etiquette, turn the offenders around!!

  23. You, dear Coni, are a delight...and spot on I might add!!

    I think that every city, county, and state needs their very own SME...I know we do here in the good ole' South, which I am ashamed to admit. That image of the true Southern gentleman or woman is almost non-existent any more!

    Whatever happened to respect for your elders, protect the children, and treat others as you want to be treated??!! Makes one ill just thinking about the the indifference people show towards others, doesn't it??!!

    Best of luck with the project...I will strive to do my part here in my neck of the woods!!


  24. OK, Coni, all these people egging (is that really how you spell that word??) you on are not going to come to visit you in the looney bin after the cops pick you up!!
    Cute idea, though.
    I have given up going to the movies, because a)yes, it does cost $87.50, and b) I can't stand the seats or the people at the movies - for the same reasons you stated. I usually wait for the DVD - if I can remember the name of that movie I wanted to see way abck when by the time it comes out on DVD, that is!

  25. Hello! I want to join the Order of SME, too.

    Also, add to the list the oh-my-god-I-absolutely-have-to-text-and -walk-without-looking-where-I'm-going people. It kills me the dirty looks of these people when they bump into someone.

    Sometimes I wish all the manhole covers in the world went missing just to teach these fools a lesson. When you're done schooling Indiana, can you jump the border into Michigan? We are in desperate need.

  26. When you finish over there, we need you here in the UK please. Dropping litter annoys the hell out of me the most I think, but the students who hog the pavements (sidewalk) so that you feel intimidated even walking in town and they are all so TALL - even the girls, I swear they must be 6 foot at least and they're only 18.

  27. You go Sister!

    Can you think of a particularly nasty punishment for those who spit their chewing gum out onto the pavement (side walk).

    BTW been visiting (and loving) your blog for a few months now, but have not yet introduced myself.

    I'm Carol-Anne, pleased to meet you.

  28. We could use you over here in Germany as well. Please do stop by. Btw, did you get my mail?

  29. Coni - agree 100%, people are very inconsiderate of others!

    You need to drop by my blog - I posted some pictures for you!

  30. WOW, I feel refreshed! Go and conquer!

  31. Coni,

    I really enjoyed your rant...thank you for so brilliantly putting into words, what so many people think ! I think the TV show idea is WONDERFUL !!! Really, it would be so much more entertaining than that "reality" crap that's all over the TV these days !!

    While I am here commenting...I have to make a confession to you Coni. I have become ADDICTED to your Blog !!! You have such a lovely way with words, and your photos are great, and of course Stewie is great too. I am in awe of your stitching prowess ! Not only are you a wonderful stitcher, but your fast too !!!!

    Keep up the good work....and know that you brighten my day tremendously :). Thank you !!

    Beth Ann

  32. I am pleased that you are going to clean up Indiana...I live here too, part time. But the REST of the time I reside in NYC, and if you think there is rudeness in IN, you MUST come visit me in the big apple! There we deal with not so much the citizens, but the tourists. They literally clog the sidewalks (stopping in the middle) and because they are trying to get that camera shot just right, they won't move over so you can pass with your grocery bags or whatever...we don't drive to the shops because there is no where to put a car! And besides the Taxi cabs would run us down!
    I will set up the ground work for you, and check the costume rental, or even the older churches to see if they have any extra habits.

  33. It is a sad commentary that this post is even necessary. But unfortunately it isn't something new. 14 years and a bit ago I was a young mum with a 6 yr old and a 3 yr old and 9 months pregnant. We took the train out to Heathrow to meet my mil's plane (she was coming to help with the new baby. Silly me thought the boys would enjoy the adventure and we could save on the cab fare there.... I ended up having to stand the whole slamming jolting way there. Not one person thought to offer me a seat. Had my baby the next day. You go girl!

  34. If you are still taking applications to your "Robin" (aka sidekick/trusty right-hand gal), please let me know! I'll gladly furnish my own knuckle-rapping ruler. ;P

  35. Just wanted to chime in with my thoughts. As an elementary teacher and a mother I fight daily against the bad manners that plague our country. And I have found it is not just the young...but evidently the young at heart who are rude! The stories I could tell! SME, you have your work cut out! Good luck and please know, you are not in this fight alone!

  36. Sister Mary I just found your blog today - what a great post and I support you 1000% Just yesterday while filling my tank at the gas station I had to listen to someone in the next aisle explaining divorce details on a cell phone yack yack yack. Why do people have to talk so LOUD on cell phones?? As I was driving away I yelled out the window "WE DON'T CARE!!" I just couldn't go girl!
    P.S. My DH and I rarely go to the movies because of all the issues you mentioned - we prefer being in our own family room just annoying each other.....

  37. Love your blog and I will be calling you as I am doing a needlepoint project that I have never done some of these stiches that is requested. Well...ok I will admit it-I am a newby! And I picked a piece based on my love of the item and not the complex design and what it would entail with my lack of skills. I just figured that there would be someone out there to guide me along my journey of finding myself again in my creativity venture of needlepoint. I love it!
    Have a wonderful day!