Decorum and the Conservative Soul

[This piece is originally from 2015]

While my memories might verge on the edge of fuzzy nostalgia from time to time, I remember quite clearly what the women and men of the 1970s did in small-town neighborhoods.  In those years, I absolutely loved reading (and researching and writing—though, this would be another post), but I also loved running, biking, and exploring.  I could be. . . rather. . . well. . . hyper.  When I got too hyper and misbehaved, neighbors (usually women, as the men were at work) corrected me.  I don’t ever remember being spanked by a neighbor, but I certainly remember receiving stern “talking to”s.  The worst, of course, came if the neighbor decided to call my mom and let me know that I’d misbehaved.  If it went that far, I’d embarrassed not just myself but my entire family.

Regardless, in the 1970s, it was not just the right but the actual duty of the neighbor to discipline when necessary.  I certainly never questioned this, though I did sometimes fear it.

I also remember eating at a good but not excellent restaurant in my hometown of Hutchinson, Kansas, when I was in fourth or fifth grade.  A man at another table cussed.  When he did, heads turned, but everyone let is slide, presuming it was a one-time outburst.  When he continued to offer foul language at full volume, however, the other men in the restaurant became agitated, formed a small group, and approached the offender, letting him know in no uncertain terms that he had crossed a line and needed to cease such behavior.  My memory is that he needed no more persuasion after the others approached him.  Most likely, the men who approached the offender didn’t know each other, but they had a common purpose once he disrupted the atmosphere.  They knew it, and so did everyone else in the restaurant. 

Why these autobiographical stories?  Because, in 2015, I’m lucky if I can get out of a Wal-Mart without overhearing another shopper dropping the f-bomb, usually at her or his own kids.  What happened between 1975 and 2015?  A lot, apparently.  But, it’s not just Wal-Mart.  It’s in nearly every airport (once distinguished by some class—in dress as well as language), in nearly every shop, and certainly at every gas station.  But, if course, such horrific language is not just in person to person to communication.  TV shows—at least the science fiction ones I like—use sh*t without even the pretense of restraint, and podcasts about culture drop the f-bomb without any semblance of discrimination.

[To continue reading, please scroll down a bit to hit page 2]

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