Common situation in an elevator: Mr. Mouthbreather near you has a ringing phone, which he answers, and talks into, loudly. He should be facepunched, right? Right! Ergo, Sunday Styles trend piece: People now vigilantly fighting back against manner-less, oblivious pricks.
This is a really, really bad problem, especially in New York, where I can feel my neighbor's aura getting dirt on my goddamn windows (it's green, and ugly). People here live really close to each other, and it's part of why we like the city! Because we're totally batshit insane, but also, because there are unspoken agreements that we all adhere to, like we're in a special club. It's really cool. We've even got a name for them: manners. There are other chapters of this club around the country, each with their own modified rules. But there are some rules that are the same no matter where you go, the one universal dictum being: stop being an asshole. If you don't know what this means, then you're probably doing it. But since we have manners, we try our best to contain our murderous rage at you, and then, the universe, for allowing you to exist. It's a double-edged sword. Except now, some people are swinging it.
The lede to Douglas Quenqua's whimsically-titled Sunday Styles masterpiece, As the Rudes Get Ruder, the Scolds Get Scoldier :
Amy Alkon, a syndicated advice columnist and self-described "manners psycho," certainly thinks so. Just ask "Barry," a loud cellphone talker she encountered recently at a Starbucks in Santa Monica, Calif.
"He just blatantly took over the whole place with his conversation, streaming his dull life into everybody's brain," Ms. Alkon recalled in a telephone interview. Among the personal details Barry shared that day - errands to run, plans for the evening - was his phone number, which Ms. Alkon jotted down. "I called him that night and said, ‘Just calling to let you know, Barry, that if you'd like your private life to remain private, you might want to be a little more considerate next time,' " she said.
The only way that paragraph could've possibly been more pleasurable was if it were followed by an italicized Mothafucka.
There are other examples of so-called "manners psychos"—which, linguistically, I enjoy; I would also enjoy some kind of play on words involving this concept and Al Qaeda—that unfortunately doesn't involve anybody being water-ballooned or beaten with a soft jammy. Like when Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig went off on an audience member on Broadway whose phone kept ringing:
That person should've had their ass kicked. Instead, they were just outed. Patti LuPone, who's essentially Shiva, The Supreme God to Broadway Gays, also doesn't enjoy it when people take pictures of her:
Yeah, you don't mess with Patti LuPone. You just don't. Unfortunately, there are some people who don't do things the way we New Yorkers do.
Better to fight rudeness with sticky sweetness, said Anna Post, a great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute (yes, there is such a place). "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar," Ms. Post said.
Aw. That's cute. But when you kill flies with vinegar, it's kinda fucked up and sadistic, you know? Like pouring salt on a slug? Humiliating someone in public for being an ass is a great feeling. There should be draconian punishments for these things, like really, the next time someone gets in a subway before everyone has stepped out, or the next time someone refuses to get up for a preggers on the bus, or the next time you're at the airport and someone body-blocks you at the baggage claim, and then hits you with their oversized Tumi as they use their body-weight to throw it off the carousel, they should be fined $50. No, $100. They should be fined $100 and have to go to court, where they're given the option of paying the fine, going to a class (like driving school, but you learn about how not to crash into people with your asswizzardry), or, if they're too broke to pay or too stubborn to take a class, they're subject to an arbitrary water-ballooning for two weeks: they will be water-ballooned, it will just be a matter of when, where, and how. They should have to live in fear of this water balloon. They should not be able to escape the constant threat of it.
This is an issue to some people. Can you tell?
[Ed. Note: I had a reference in there to "manners psycho" Amy Alkon as a "right-wing loon." Turns out she's not a right-wing loon! But she's still batshit crazy about manners. Then again, I almost shiv'd someone who body-blocked me on the L this morning. To each their own neurosis, except when you're interrupting with my morning commute. I will not hesitate to cut you.]