Joe Carney: Becoming my parents – Learning Manners


I know that the past few weeks I’ve told you all about my transition into my father and the reluctant white flag I wave when I see it coming. Well, this week I was given a reprieve. I actually relived a childhood experience from when I was about 10 years old. The only difference was the actors in the play.  I portrayed my mother in this particular action/comedy.

I’d like to give you a little background into the original actor, my mom (Ceilie baby). The best and most accurate way to describe her is a more street savvy version of Judge Judy. From her ability to tell you what she thinks of you in a sarcastic, yet humorous tone to her facial expressions and disapproving sighs which let you know that you are a moron. I have inherited her wonderful “say what I want and you can kiss my ass” approach to life and everyone in it. If we love you, you will know it on a daily basis. If we don’t like you, sure-as-shit, you will know that too. It may seem excessive at times or a little too passionate, but you will always know where we stand.

Now, the scene I have been referring to took place in ’83 at the Menlo Park Mall back when “Hanes” was the flagship store. I was with my mother and my 3 siblings enjoying a post shopping snack as we were leaving the mall headed to the parking lot. As we were approaching the door we could see some shoppers headed into the store. My mom told my brother and me to show some manners and hold the door for the woman who was entering the building. We did.  We held the outside door while my mother held the inside door for the same lady. As the woman walked through both doors she didn’t even so much as look at us with a gracious nod. And as she walked through the inside door held agape by Ceilie baby, she made a crucial mistake. She ignored my mother’s act of relative kindness and went about her pompous, obnoxious way. Now, let me digress a moment. My mother was down the mall with 4 kids and my elderly aunt. It was hot, we were annoying the shit out of each other and Ceilie was “done”. This woman had no idea whom she had just slighted but was about to find out.

My mother grabbed all four of us and explained that we were about to learn a very valuable lesson in manners. When we caught up to the oblivious “diva” my mom spouted one of the greatest “Who the hell do you think you are?” speeches ever delivered. It went like this. “Excuse me ma’am, I’m not sure you saw me back by the entrance door, I was the little piss ant who held the door for your majesty. I wanted to let you know that for 35 years and raising 4 kids I still had no idea why God put me on this earth until this very moment. Apparently it was to hold a F@#$%&G door for you. Thank you for giving me my meaning of life….BITCH”

See kids? That’s manners.

manners1That story stayed with me for 39 years. I memorized it word for word, not knowing if I’d ever have the chance to deliver my own interpretation. That was, until last weekend. It was a Saturday morning, and I was in a great mood. My two kids and I were leaving Dunkin Donuts with our respective frozen drinks and in came Mr. “George Hamilton tan, pink polo wearing, collar popping, Caddy driving, cell phone talking, obnoxious turd” guy. I asked my children to hold the door just as my mom asked us. Sometimes history has a way of repeating itself. They did so and he walked in like King Kamayamaya, never even glancing at the minions who held his door.

THERE IT WAS! My shot at the bigs. I had to take a different approach. I am too big and scary to take Mom’s approach. If she’s Judge Judy, then I’m Bull Shannon. As he walked towards me I greeted him with a smile, He looked at me with an uncertain glance and nodded as if to say “Do I know you?”  I thanked him. I thanked him for helping my kids find their meaning of life. I told him that most people don’t find that until later in life if at all. Now my kids can rest knowing they fulfilled their mission of holding a door for you….Asshole.

The kids stared at me as I did my mother. This time not in embarrassment as they usually do. No, this time it was in awe. They asked me why I said those things to that man and I explained as it had been explained to me….. That’s manners kids. Hopefully someday they can take that and make it their own, add a little twist. Maybe someday it is for someone who doesn’t extend the proper thank you wave when given a break on a left turn in traffic. So, be polite to people or you may ignore the wrong person.

1 reply
  1. mammy
    mammy says:

    Now, and forever, I will be burdened with thinking of YOU every time I hold open a door for someone! Thanks a hell-of-a-lot!!!

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