Sunday, December 18, 2011


Since the debut of this blog, and its companion column in BakersfieldLifeMagazine in February of this year, the message of civility has quickly taken root, resonating with readers disgusted with the decline of social graces. The feedback, experiences and suggestions have been wonderful, reminding me that while I often feel I am swimming upstream on this mission, we are all in this boat together in our quest to restore civility. 2011 was a year chalked full of the best and worst in good behavior, in our own backyard and on the national stage. Pouring over the past twelve months of blogs and columns, there were strong contenders on both sides of the bad form fence. High-fives were in order for those motorists yielding the right of way to another driver, those who greeted strangers with a smile, and others who engaged in verbal eye-to-eye communication WITHOUT the use of an electronic device, to name a few. And there were plenty of lowlights we'd all rather forget as well, including the people who mistook roadways and parking lots for their own trash can, and others who thought nothing of engaging in spirited private phone conversations in public restroom stalls. My goal of initiating and continuing public discourse over the importance of civility, which really DOES 'Manner A lot', remains unchanged going into 2012. To the readers who have weighed in with their own questions and concerns, as well as ideas sent by e-mail and calls into CalifornianRadio, a heartfelt thanks for hopping aboard on this journey to restore social graces and a toast of the champagne glass to a more civil new year. With 2011 coming to a close, ItMannersAlot unwraps its inaugural list of winners and losers:


1. The Litterer. It became easier and easier this year to trash-talk this year's worst offender - Litterbugs on foot and on wheels. Nevermind that littering is a violation of local ordinances. The occurance of trash and dirty diapers being tossed out of moving vehicles, or disposed of in parking lots and movie theaters was appaling. This act of disrespect initiated public service campaigns aimed at heightening the community's awareness. And sadly, we're not alone. From coast to coast, other states and municipalities are battling the trash epidemic as well. ENOUGH already! Let's TRASH this bad community habit in 2012!

2. The Cell Phone. No question these ingenius devices made our life easier this year, but they also triggered the degeneration of our behavior. Not only was it the year we STOPPED talking to each other, except to tweet, text and twitter, but the public's obsession with the mobile phone and its interference with polite behavior moved but one text away from 9-1-1! Inappropriate use of the mobile phone led to distracted driving, made taking in a movie an unpleasant experience for some, and brought down the rising political career of at least one U.S. Congressman. Here's hoping users hang up, don't answer, and silence their devices in the new year until it is safe, quiet and private to talk, and leave photo sessions to the imagination.

3. Celebrities Behaving Badly. From Oregon coach Chip Kelly telling rabid Duck fans to shut up while in the midst of a post-game interview, to actor Alex Baldwin's less than friendly attempt to fly on American Airlines, by way of throwing Greyhound under the bus, and the high-def histrionics of Charlie Sheen, these high profile folks landed in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. But none more so than attention-a-holic Kim Kardashian, whose wedding to NBA player Kris Humphreys lasted fewer minutes than it takes to microwave a bag of popcorn, and certainly even less time than it took to have her makeup applied for the reality shoot of her nuptials. Even groundhogs suspected the joke was on us. But no one was laughing about Kardashian's major faux pas in NOT returning the wedding gifts, but opting instead to donate the monetary value of the presents to charity. Wha? Like them or loathe them, celebs like Kardashian who have hijacked the public spotlight are admired and looked up to, and should know better, whether aboard an airliner or in divorce court.


1. JAPAN'S QUAKE SURVIVORS & TUSCALOOSA RESIDENTS. Without out a doubt, the people of Japan, who survived the devastating 8.9 earthquake in March off the country's east coast, displayed unimaginable grace and compassion in embracing the human conditions resulting from the disaster. Tens of thousands were killed, even more were displaced, and the toll of human suffering remains incalculable. Although unitended, the victims taught the world a valuable lesson in empathy and mercy. The same could be said for the residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who witnessed unbelievable devastation when a series of tornados tore through their community in April killing hundreds. The residents and survivors banded together to begin the healing, and inspired their neighbors in weather-stricken states around the country to do the same.

2. LAWAY ANGELS. Occupiers and Protestors grabbed headlines this year, yet, seemingly out of nowhere, angels appeared, most annonymous, in layaway departments of retail stores around the country. And in coffee and fast-food drive-throughs. What a beautiful movement of paying it forward and comitting conscious acts of kindness, without fanfare or recognition, in the true spirit of giving. May this be a growing trend in 2012.

3. The Royal Wedding. There were several royal nuptials this year, but ItMannersAlot sends a 'virtual' thank-you note to Prince William and his bride Kate. Their lavish union not only gave a global audience a reason to wake up early, but the occasion served as a glittery reminder to a new generation of brides and bridegrooms who will say 'I do' in 2012, as well as their bridal parties and guests, of the important role we all play in the pomp and pageantry surrounding one of life's most momentous occasions. From the obligation of giving a wedding present to responding to the invitation, the royals reminded us that all things big and small related to the marriage of two people really DO 'Manner A lot'.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Holiday Brief

They are starting to pile up: The greetings within the greetings. The annual zeroxed update from friends and family that is as dreaded as the stale fruit cake. If you don't send one, you've no doubt already received some - the holiday newsletter. This is the time of year when we reconnect with family and friends near and far and welcome the updates on their lives. But if an Emily Post Institute survey is any indication, the jury is still out on these photo-copied summaries. The survey showed that 53% like them and 47% do not.
Those holiday briefs, some longer than legal motions, don't have to be one long run-on sentence, single-spaced tomes covering the front and back of several sheets of paper. While there are no formal rules about this popular holiday greeting, thankfully tips abound for creating one that won't be set aside until after the holidays when recipients have more time to read them. Above all else, keep it brief. Two to three paragraphs max on ONE side should cover the year's highlights (and low-lights). Try to keep it light. If the letter includes a chronic illness or the passing of a loved one, details are not necessary. Same goes for your 12 day cruise to Alaska. Everyone has a general idea of what you were served on the ship. There's no need to use the holiday newsletter to journal your adventure. Stay positive and sprinkle in some humor. Avoid the temptation to belabor the hurdles your family faced this year. Share exciting news, but don't boast. If someone received a raise, there is no need to give specific amounts. Keep in mind who will be reading the newsletter as well, and to whom the letter should be sent. If the family dentist and pediatrician are on your holiday card list, there probably isn't a need to insert the newsletter. And remember to have fun. Engage your children in designing the letter's border. In this age of Facebook where every day is a mini-newsletter of sorts, make your holiday apprisal an enjoyable read for everyone on your list. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


If you aren't knee-deep in potato skins, plates and pie tins right now, then you will be a welcomed guest in a few hours at the holiday table of family or friends. On behalf of the legions of hostesses the world over, I'm carving up some important reminders EVERY dinner guest SHOULD keep in mind today when saddling up to the Thanksgiving table. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot':

* Greet one another with warmth and sincerity, and count your blessings - many today will be out in the cold or at home alone.

* Leave ALL gadgets at home or in the car. Ipods and cellphones aren't utensils and will not get the turkey and gravy from the platter to your plate with ease.

*Say grace - no matter your beliefs, and count your blessing that you live in a country where freedom of speech and expression is a right.

*Engage in conversation with each other - you may not have seen each other for a long time, and may never see them again.

*Don't play with your food - count your blessings again, as many today will go hungry.

*Thank your hostess for the blessing of good food, companionship and good times.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I have always loved the day-before Thanksgiving. I remember the drives to Grandmother's house up Highway 99 in the fog, my sisters and I in the backseat that had become a makeshift futon. Amazing how resourceful our father was with plywood back then. Years later as a television news reporter, I coveted the night-before-Thanksgiving requisite live shot from the Palm Street overpass. Beneath me, a bumper-to-bumper carpet of headlights and tailights. The travel, or coverage of it, always signaled the beauty of Thanksgiving and eagerness to be with the ones we love. Unfortunately, not everyone's trip to the table Thursday will be wrapped in warm experiences. An estimated 23 million people are expected to take to the sky within the next ten days, still making it the busiest travel day of the year. It will also be among the most uncivil. If that includes you, make sure to pack plenty of patience. Longtime friend and former Bakersfield resident Kathy Eddy, who now lives in Fairhope, Alabama with her husband, former KC District Attorney's office investigator Howard Eddy and their two boys, shared some useful advice recently which she had gleaned from interviews with airline officials, travel agents and seasoned parents when she worked at Meadows Field about flying with children. "One mom said Benedryl is a 'must.' Taking something to make your child sleep is proactive and a relief to other passengers. If you do not take something to make your child sleep, do not schedule a flight during the child's normal nap time because they will not sleep on a plane. Ok, maybe they will, but not without a lot of fussing first," Kathy wrote.
She added that toys, snacks, a favorite blanket, bottles and pacifiers are all appropriate as well. The sucking works the way chewing gum does for adults.
"One mom told me that during her business career (pre-kids) she hated flying with children who screamed. She went prepared for her first flight with her daughter. She visited the pediatrician and got sleeping drops. At her stop-over, she bought herself a glass of wine and gave the baby the sleeping drops. When she arrived at her mother's house on the other side of the country, she pulled out the sleeping drops and said, 'We'd never have made it without these'. Only then did she notice she had accidentally packed the baby's vitamins rather than the sleeping drops. Morale of the story - sometimes it is the uptight parent who projects frustration onto the child."

I've chimmed in on air travel before, tomorrow and in the coming weeks it is especially important to remember that it still is a mode of PUBLIC transportation where we all have to share and respect each other's space. EVERYONE is in a rush. Extend a little courtesy - like surrendering the arm rest or the extra space in the overhead compartment, or grabbing the overweight bag from the luggage belt for the elderly traveler. Let the words 'thank you' roll off your tongue frequently like bags coming down the chute. Be thankful for the blessings of health, family and the ability to travel, and in turn, be thoughtful and courteous with your fellow passengers. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Unfortunately, the way some trash our community has come to define us. Read Jill Cowan's article in today's The Bakersfield Californian about the litter problem here and nationwide, and ongoing efforts to heighten a city's awareness to this ugly habit. Litter: It REALLY is beneath us, and really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Exactly when we began to lower the standards of what to wear out in public is unclear, perhaps sometime between the 1980's when Madonna popularized undergarment outerwear, and the gangsta oversized trousers of the new millenium. This month's issue of Town & Country magazine features a fabulous spread devoted to the current fad of donning pajamas for everyday wear. Eccentric Howard Hughes and John Lennon and Yoko Ono glamourized the look years ago, and today silky haute couture versions by Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo are coveted by the fashion elite. While you won't find a flannel set on either page of the T&C feature, these days one can't grab a quart of milk, gas up the car, or drop kids off at school without encountering someone in flannel pajama bottoms, often accessorized with dirty and worn fuzzy bedroom slippers. Seriously, pjs have become the new track suit! I missed the memo on this. When did we sink so low as to think wearing nightclothes out in public was acceptable? If it is the 'just rolled out of bed' look people are after, they are missing their mark. The pajama party look wreaks of plain laziness and screams 'I don't care'.
It is a sad commentary on our society that it has reached the point in some parts of the country where, as in Louisiana, there is a movement to enact an anti-pajama ordinance. Shreveport Caddo Parish commissioner Michael Williams has suggested enforcing such a code after encountering a group of young men at a Wal-Mart wearing pjs. According to Williams, one of the men's private parts were exposed as the result of the lounge wear. Shreveport's on a roll. The city already has a no-saggy pants law. Williams told the Wall Street Journal "the moral fiber in America is dwindling away. What is it going to be tomorrow? Walking around in your underwear?" (Memo to Williams: Madonna already took care of that). Several years ago, the principal of St. Matthew's Primary School in Belfast, Ireland, scolded parents in a scathing letter for picking up their children in sleepwear and slippers, calling it "slovenly and rude". It came on the heels of a decision by a supermarket in Wales to prevent customers from shopping in their nightwear. According to London's the Daily Mail, the reasoning behind the ban as noted on signs posted at the store's entrance was "to avoid causing embarrassment to others."
If only those signs had been posted at the Shreveport Wal-Mart. Recently, joined the pajama party discussion, and according to the site's Farhad Manjoo, apparently pajama-lovers have suffered persecution for some time. According to a 1929 article in the New York Times under the headline "Court Sanctions Pajamas in Street", a New Jersey barber named Samuel Nelson had made a bet that he could walk from Newark to Irvington in pajamas without being arrested. Of course, he was wrong. He was arrested and jailed, before a judge freed Nelson, saying the arrest was "both asinine and stupid.” He admonished the arresting officer, "Neither you nor I are censors of modern fashion here.” We are a long way from New Jersey and the colorful, roaring 20's. Whether fashion censorship is around the corner remains to be seen. I, for one, will be keeping a keen eye on commissioner Williams' idea. Making a U-turn on the Freedom of Expression highway to drive down the road of censorship of any kind is a bad move. But I say it's time to turn the lights out on this ridiculous pajama party that has young and old parading around in public in their sleepwear. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner Alot'!

Friday, November 4, 2011


For Kim Kardashian, surely the end of this week couldn't come fast enough. Seems she is so 'distraught' over the attention she has received after filing for divorce from her husband of one trimester, Kris Humphreys, that she 'can't function'. I say, wipe those tears - all 72 of them, and make a date with the mailman to return all the pricey wedding gifts. Her decision to donate the value of the presents to charity is certainly a generous one, of which she will also reap tax deduction benefits. But the right thing to do is return to sender. Social graces have eroded over time, and this week even the house of Post (Emily's) has been divided on the subject of returning wedding gifts, but it has always been customary to give back any unused wedding present if the union dissolves under one year. Ten weeks shouldn't even be up for debate. Give the unused gifts back - all of them, including the $1695 perfume bottle and the $7,850 vase. Besides, why would anyone want to be surrounded by material reminders of a bad decision? No explanation is necessary. In this case, the gift givers have already read about it in the paper. Kim Kardashian has built an empire of fame and fortune on being a 'good' example and role model for young women. Here's hoping she does the right thing and gives back everything from the the fondue set to the frying pans before the ink is dry on her next endorsement deal. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Halloween was just a mere 60 hours ago, but it's as faded a memory as the winner of last season's 'Dancing With the Stars'. As promised though, here's a brief post-mortem on the social graces on display Fright Night, and a couple of great ideas sure to be exhumed next year. If the infestation of Locusts arrived on buses in our neighborhood as it reportedly did in Old Stockdale, I never saw them. But the streets on our side of town were crawling with monsters young and old. So were our newly-seeded front lawns. Tuesday morning's gutters were littered with candy wrappers! But much to my delight, the majority of trick-or-treaters were in costume, and uttered those magic words: thank you. Halleluliajh! Maybe my work here is done. Then again, maybe not. I found it difficult to follow my own advice on the 'no costume, no candy' rule. Easier said than done. A mob of strangers at your doorstep can be intimidating, and I was certainly outnumbered. Thanks to Jennifer Etcheverry of My Husband's Nuts, and Old Stockdale survivor Lisa Andrew for their suggestions on getting around the grown adults with pillow cases, and newborns in strollers. Next year, we'll have three separate bowls: candy in one, fruit in the other, and baby food biscuits in the third. Afterall, striving to be more 'consumer friendly and demographic specific' on Halloween might just 'Manner A lot'.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Here they come: Ghosts, goblins, aliens and zombies, some on foot, others in strollers or atop their parent's shoulders. However they arrive, may these monsters be civilized, and those doling out the loot be pleasant and gracious tonight. Not everyone welcomes this ancient celebration - cavity-conscious parents, irascible neighbors, homeowners with newly-seeded front lawns, but as sweet teeth rejoice, there is something undeniably Fall-ish about costumed-children criss-crossing the street, trick-or-treating from house to house. Inevitably, there will be some for whom creepy costumes and wickedly bad behavior will crawl out of the woodwork hand in hand this evening. With that, here's a Halloween primer guaranteed to make fright night a pleasant one for everyone. If your youngsters are ringing the bell, remind them to be respectful and appreciative, and say thank you. If you are the one handing out the goods, be kind and generous. I blogged about this last month, but it bears repeating: If the lights are on, the candy store is open for business. No costume, no candy. My cutoff is 14 and under. No teeth, no stash. Grown men and women with pillow linens needn't waste their time. If you fall into one of these categories, don't curse at me or steal my yard decorations. Some neighbors will go to great lengths to avoid foot traffic on their front lawns by cordoning them off with crime scene tape. As for the rest, use the front walk or driveway. And even though the excitement will be too much to contain, no one wants strangers trampling overthemselves into the entryway, hands first into the candy bowl. Believe me, we have been expecting you - for 364 days! We know you're coming, and one knock or ring of the door bell is sufficient. If our house is darker than the morgue, just assume no one is home and move on. This year Halloween falls on a school night, thankfully. Homework and a good night's sleep will trump the fun at some point. If you are the designated door greeter in your house, even though this mob might be high on sugar, greet Willy Wonka and Lady Liberty with cheer. If you run out of loot, don't panic. But don't start handing out loose change or cans from the pantry either. When your supply has dwindled, turn out all the exterior lights. Everyone knows that's Halloween code for ‘do not bother’. Unless you want to invite disappoint, don't answer the door anyway to explain how sorry you are that you have nothing left to give. Whichever side of the door you are on this evening, have fun and keep it civilized. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'. Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Forget Reality television, the real motherlode of televised incivility these days appears to be presidential debates. This week's GOP debate in Las Vegas showcased would-be world leaders behaving worse than mean girls at the junior high lockers. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, interlocked in a verbal wrestling match over fact versus fiction, did little to demonstrate their gentlemanly side, but spun the 'impolite' ball around the room like a roulette wheel. Perry couldn't wait to finish Romney's sentences; Romney found Perry irresistable apparently. Evidently Romney decided it was time to show America, and his challengers, that he really is a 'hands on' sorta guy. What a guy! Now they can add 'poster boy for rudeness' to their political resumes. A person's public personal space should always be respected. It is a golden rule in business and professional settings. Keep your hands to yourself. It was condescending of Romney to place his hand on his opponent's shoulder just as much as it was disrespectful of Perry to continually interrupt his neighbor. It wasn't as if these two 'buddies' had just finished shooting hoops and were headed out to grab some cold ones. Nor was this the warm, touchy-feely exchange of a few years ago between First Lady Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth, with each woman genuinely patting the back of the other, inspite of centuries-old protocal. The gesture had Fleet Street up in arms, but was never really viewed as anything other than an expression of sincerity. This week's behavior by men who aspire to be the next president of the United States was embarrasing, juvenile and uncalled for. Next time these guys get together, make sure they are separated by lucite panels and Anna Post is the moderator. After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Monday, October 17, 2011


"OhNoHeJustDidn't!" That was my first thought at the conclusion of Saturday night's football game in Eugene between the Oregon Ducks and Arizona State Sun Devils. There stood perenially-wound up Coach Chip Kelly, the night's victor, about to answer a question from perky ESPN's Erin Andrews. Mid-syllable, Kelly turns to the overzealous fans behind him and spoke the two words i'm sure he'll never utter again, at least on national televison: SHUT UP! Seriously? I may have been stunned, but Andrews clearly was thrilled to know that Kelly had her back when she said very matter-of-fact, "thank you." In her defense, anyone who has worked in front of a television camera knows what it is like to have morons jumping up and down in the back of your live shot. It can be unnerving to say the least. And she gets that stuff alot more than Kelly does, yet i've never seen her sink to the depths he did on Saturday night. His scolding of his own fans on national television ignited a debate in our house. Full disclosure: We are Oregon Duck fanatics, so the discussion of whether it was a big deal was a spirited one. I agree with my husband, the true Duck in the family, who acknowleged that Kelly could have used a bit more tact, or turned around and said politely, "hey guys, show some respect." Bottom line, telling someone to shut up, let alone a group of them on national television when you should be on top of the world is NEVER OKAY! If it is a co-worker or airline seatmate babbling incessantly, pop in head phones or mention that you have some work to do. It is a popular command among siblings, I know. But may Kelly's final play of the night serve as a reminder that asking someone to quiet down should never include the words 'SHUT' and 'UP'! Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'!

Friday, October 14, 2011


I've blogged about this before, but channel surfing through E Entertainment Television made me drop the remote. Surely Lamar Odom, handsome from head to toe in the front row of sister-in-law Kim Kardashian's Fairy Tale Wedding that by now has been viewed by billions of people, shooting stars, aliens and even groundhogs - was not chomping away on a piece of gum before television lenses!
It was someone else, I thought. It wasn't. He's not really chewing, probably just yawning in boredom until the NBA matter is resolved, or the vows are over, whichever comes first. He was. I wanted to grab him by the bow tie and dunk him!
And we've all seen our share of Lamars: the mourners at a funeral, the church-goers at Sunday's service, the peppy secretary at the front desk - all chomping away on a wad of gum! Emily Post once wrote, 'It is still impossible to imagine a lady walking on a city street and either chewing gum or smoking.' Sure, she wrote that before color television, ipods and the Kardashian clan came along, but imagine what she would think today? It is a bad habit practiced so regularly now that many people aren't even aware that it is in poor taste and disrespectful. If polite, civilized behavior is based on the tenet of respect, then how inconsiderate is it to worship in God's house, gather to witness a marriage, or conduct business while chewing like a cow? Not only is it rude, but it is a guaranteed impression-buster. If you're going to go to the trouble and expense of suiting up for an important or special occasion, why undo your efforts with gum-chewing? You might as well light up a cigarette and grab a flask while you're at it. This nervous habit is not lady-like nor gentlemanly and is best left in the privacy of your own home or car. So from my keyboard to Lamar's ears, here's hoping before the Fairy Tale Reunion episode, Kris or Bruce discreetly offered the Laker a tissue. After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot."

Saturday, September 24, 2011


October treats us to a bounty of autumnal delights - the whiff of cooler weather to come, the possibility of wearing a sweater before Thanksgiving, the dream holiday of sweet teeth everywhere dreaded by dentists and cranky neighbors that is Halloween, and homecoming floats and touchdowns.
These fall rituals we look forward to every year can also be spooky if incivility is in the end zone or comes to the front door dressed in costume. No one likes a poor sport, or worse yet, a sore parent shrieking in delirium and pantomime from the sidelines. And your little angel may trick-or-treat as a monster, but grill it into them like tri-tip the importance of acting like a lady or gentleman when they ring the bell. After all, it really DOES ‘Manner A lot’.
By now, chances are everyone’s seen a parent or two behaving badly from the sidelines of a local football or soccer game this season. They are easy to spot. Their face is as red as Red Vines, their verbal tsunami will surely lead to a stroke if they aren’t restrained by cheerleaders. Don’t be one of those parents, unless your goal is to humiliate yourself, your child, and clear the bleachers around you in ten seconds.
There is no grace in being a sore loser or an armchair quarterback from the first row of the stands. The late, great John Wooden said, “things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out”. If only parents had to sign an agreement to that effect before watching a game. Good sportsmanship on the part of our student athletes should go hand in hand with our own better fansmanship.
Temper your expectations and lock your ego in the car’s glove compartment. Respect the coaches, the referees, their players and calls. Don’t confront them outside the locker room with physical threats. And keep it clean too. Hurling obscenities from the bleachers won’t help move the ball or change the score. Competition is healthy, getting ugly in one’s overzealousness is toxic! As easy as it is to lose ourselves and common sense in the blinding Friday night lights, unbridled enthusiasm should never include yelling instructions from the sidelines.
One wouldn’t dream of walking into the classroom to tell the instructor how to teach or scold the student for not learning better. Don’t do it from the turf! This isn’t the national championship. Don’t take it so seriously. Remember, it isn’t in the victory that we learn about ourselves, but in the losses and defeats. Emily Post wrote that if someone ‘can’t take sports with grace and good temper, then don’t go in for them’. Winners don’t gloat; Losers don’t sulk!
Fright Night, when creepy costumes and wickedly bad behavior alike come crawling out of the woodwork, shouldn’t scare homeowners into shuttering their house, cordon off their yard with crime scene tape, hide under the beds or leave town rather than endure the endless stream of manner-less monsters? This playbook is simple: be a respectful, appreciative trespasser and a kind and generous neighbor. If the lights are on, the candy bar is open for business. No costume, no candy. My cutoff is 14 and under. You may have been transported in from three zip codes away, but as cute as the toothless newborn ninja in the stroller looks, even I know she won’t be having the Snickers for breakfast. No teeth, no stash. Adults with pillow linens need not apply. If you are politely denied, don’t threaten me, swear as you walk away, or steal my Styrofoam headstones.
If you qualify, please don’t cut across the newly-seeded lawn or force your way into my entryway. We are expecting you. One knock or ring of the door bell is sufficient. If the home looks darker than the Munster Mansion on Mockingbird Lane, assume no one is home and move on. When Halloween falls on a school night, the timing has a way of taking care of itself. Either way, after 8 or 8:30, consider calling it quits. And remember those other all-important words besides trick-or-treat: thank you!
If you are the designated candy patron, save the homemade popcorn witch hats for friends or the neighbors’ kids. Greet Buzz LightYear and Woody cheerfully, even if they are part of a mob high on fructose. If you run out of loot, don’t start dolling out change, canned vegetables or leftovers. Let’s face it, this is a sweet tooth’s senior prom. It is no time to give a penny for their thoughts or cleanout the pantry! When your supply has dwindled, turn out all the exterior lights. Everyone should know that’s Halloween code for ‘do not bother’. Likewise, there is no need to answer the door in the dark to explain how sorry you are that you have nothing left to hand out.

Whichever side of the door or sideline you’re on, be civilized.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


There are a number of things I have always wanted to do from 30,000 feet above sea level: Take a bubble bath, have first class all to myself, and post a blog. On this trip from ATL to LAX, one out of three isn't bad. An earlier connecting flight from MEM provided great fodder and another display of frustrating incivility. I'm not sure what is worse -the teething toddler in excruciating pain or the adult motormouth who intends on making small talk from takeoff to taxing to the gate! We were treated to the latter - a 75 minute chat-a-thon between the man two rows behind us and the poor woman seated next to him who made the mistake of saying hello.
Polite conversation is one thing; talking so loudly you have pulled everyone else around you within a 10 row radius on both sides of the aisle into your babbling about your family reunion in Tupalo is downright inconsiderate. Assuming the seat mate really was interested in hearing about how many times you have riden It's A Small World, turn down the volume! Airplanes are tight quarters, not Grand Central Station. If you are going to hold a fellow passenger hostage in a verbal head lock for an entire flight, at the very least, don't wait until the plane has landed to start making the conversation a two-way one. Should you be unlucky enough to be seated next a chatterbox like this, smile, be polite, then whip out a book, headphones or laptop faster than the speed of light. If the blather continues, there is nothing wrong at this point with mentioning that while you'd love to visit about the weather in Wichita, you have some work to do. Afterall, the friendly skies should be considerate, not monopolizing. It really DOES 'Manner A lot'!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Author Elizabeth Drew one wrote “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.” I have a hunch she penned that observation from a rest stop in between family road trips. If you're miles away from civilization and the incivility broadcast on Bravo, take a pen and paper with you while on vacation and take note of the no-no's that seem to abound these days.
Continental breakfasts are a staple of most off-the-highway lodging. Maybe it is time to post the same 'no shoes, no shirt, no service' signs that greet diners and bar patrons. Note to shirtless guy inhaling pre-microwaved hash browns: you may have just rolled out of bed, but you needn't look like it when you're in a public space! Shoeless is fine if you're in the shower, not at the breakfast buffet.
Part of the fun of traveling is exploring new places and sampling different cultures. Memo to loud guys by the entrance to a local eatery: When patrons at nearby tables can't tell whether they are in a recommended local micro-brewery or yankee stadium as they attempt to eat and drink like the natives, it's time to stop behaving like animals.
Poking fun of the housekeeping staff, nabbing a dozen freshly baked cookies instead of one upon check-in, and splashing other guests with your cannonn balls at the hotel pool is guaranteed, as Drew wrote, to lengthen the conversations about incivility on roadways and byways of the great American summer vacation. After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'. Happy Trails!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


"If you can react the same way to winning and losing, that is a big accomplishment. That quality is important because it stays with you the rest of your life." - Tennis great Chris Evert

Sadly, that quote was lost on Canadian hockey fans last night after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins. We've come to expect that scale of sore losership in some corners of the world. But we were blindsided by the behavior of the Vancouver fans, which served as another reminder that good sportsmanship and better fansmanship 'manners a lot'!
Whether one is a player or a zealous spectator, the manner in which you behave in the wake of the win or loss is a true mark of social grace and civility. For it isn't in the victory that we learn about ourselves, but in the losses and defeats.
Last night's rioting had an uncomfortable familiarity to it - losing one's self and common sense in the blinding lights of the moment.
We should all take note of the bad behavior in Vancouver, and remember that the next time our team is victorious, or flames out. As esteemed basketball coach John Wooden said, 'things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." If you haven't yet seen the article at about teaching our kids how to be a good sport (which I blogged about last fall), check it out.
Unbridled enthusiasm should never include disrespecting or demeaning someone else or their property. Emily Post writes that if someone 'can't take sports with grace and good temper, then don't go in for them'. Winners - don't gloat; Losers - don't sulk! Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


The dictionary defines the word 'Mother' as a female parent, a mother-in-law, stepmother, or adoptive mother - a noun; or being a mother, like a mother bird - an adjective; acting maternally, as in a verb. No matter how you define the word, whether the mother in your life is young or old, has brown hair or silver, is here or deceased, all the 'mothers' in our life deserve every bouquet of love and warm wishes today and everyday. This blog would be remiss in not penning a love letter of thanks to mothers everywhere. The women who brought us into this world, wiped our tears, taught us to cook, and along the way made sure we minded our manners, not to mention the ones who came into our lives midstream, and those with whom we don't share a last name or gene pool, but who have 'mothered' us through life's storms. Of all the gifts the mothers of our world can give, that of social graces should be counted among the most valuable. My own mother's life-lessons, 35 years' worth, like a strand of cultured pearls, remain with me today. 21 years ago I was doubly-blessed to inherit a mother-in-law who continues to be the very embodiment of the art of loveliness, with her thoughtful, handwritten thank-you notes, well-set tables and her linen handkerchiefs. So to all 'mothers', heartfelt appreciation for teaching us the importance of being polite and gracious, for molding us and shaping us, and and reminding us that those little words like 'thank-you' and 'please' do go a long way. Our world is all the richer for having had you in it. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


No one in the world will likely exchange wedding vows in front of as many uninvited guests as Catherine Middleton will when she weds Prince William in the morning before a global televised audience estimated to be in the millions. Protocol experts have been busy helping those who received an invitation brush up on their royally best behavior. The rest of us will be able to get by without wearing even so much as a robe or slippers, and we won't have to worry about how to address the Queen at the punch bowl.
But the Royal Wedding serves as a fun reminder to anyone who is invited to witness such an important occasion as the marriage of two people, that everyone has an obligation of some sort. Wedding guests should participate in the celebration and enjoy themselves, but not detract from the stars of the show - the bride and groom. Invited guests who attend a wedding and reception are expected to give the bride and groom a gift. Presents should be delivered to the bride's residence before the big day, although it is acceptable to bring it with you to the reception.
Guests should not be late. It's doubtful the bride will enjoy the photographer's picture of her about to walk down the aisle on her father's arm, with her co-worker in the background trying to slip into the church.
Once seated, guests should acknowledge friends and relatives with a smile and nod. Leave the high-fives for the reception, especially if the wedding takes place in a house of worship. Be mindful of the dress. Your clue is the time of day. A wedding before five or six o'clock in the evening will not require such formal attire. We are in the land of Levis here in the San Joaquin Valley, but even if you're a denim dude, ditch the jeans. Same goes for your 10-gallon cowboy hat and chewing tobacco. Remember, this is the bride's big day. All eyes should be on her, not the guest who looks like her shift at the strip club just ended.
And take note to the names of the invited guests on the envelope the day the invitation arrives. If it says Mr. and Mrs. Smith and family, bring the kids. An event such as a wedding has been in the planning stages for months, with costs calculated down to the number of people expected to attend. It is not a come- one- come-all affair.
When the bride begins her march down the aisle, give her a beaming smile should your eyes meet. Don't whistle or wave to try to catch her attention. You'll have plenty of time to share the love after the ceremony. Remember, an invitation to witness the union of two people is an honor. Respect the privilege. After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The shelves in the bookstore aisles devoted to social graces and self-improvement are filled with great reads with useful advice. Make room for the newest, by newswoman Katie Couric, who smartly is now on a book tour she hopes will deflect some of the speculation surrounding her broadcasting future. "The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives", strings together pearls of wisdom from some of Couric's most celebrated interviews from the past spanning the worlds of pop culture and politics. Among those called on to share their advice is actress Nia Vardalos, who Couric writes, has made a conscious decision to react to society's rudeness by being even nicer. "Never fall to the level of the behavior of the people around you," Couric recounted to Matt Lauer on the Today Show, adding how that little bit of advice struck her. Couric went on to say that on the subject of manners, it really does matter, always encouraging young people looking for a job to write thank-you notes, make good eye contact, give a firmer handshake, and never forget that there are no second chances to make a first impression. I too took a moment to digest Vardalos' attitude. It is, afterall, so much easier to hit incivility with incivility. It is much harder to grin and bear it, rise above and take the higher road - over and over and over. But eventually, that lemonade-out-of-lemons approach will become habit, and hopefully contagious. Give it a try. I plan to do the same. Thanks Nia for the lesson, and to Katie for shining the spotlight on social graces. It DOES 'Manner' A Lot!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Tragedies bring out the best and worst in people, as history has shown. Some events are so horrific, they leave us with a loss of words and a sense of complete helplessness. In the wake of the devastating Japan earthquake, the stories don't seem to be getting any better. It's all still too fresh, raw and surreal. But this morning's Los Angeles Times featured a piece by Laura King, reporting from Tokyo, on the impeccable manners of the Japanese - the only thing that doesn't appear to have been destroyed by the seismic wrath. You can read the story online at
Reading it on page A6 of the Times is gut-wrenching, with the accompanying photo above the fold across two pages that no words can help comprehend. May this remind us all to give generously to aid organizations providing relief to those affected by this catastrophe, and to take stock of our own preparedness while taking note of the grace of the Japanese. It DOES Manner A lot!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


It will be all things Oscar from now through tomorrow as the film industry honors its own before a global television audience, not to mention those in attendance at the Kodak Theater. I came across this piece which first appeared a few days ago in the Los Angeles Times, and can be found in today's Bakersfield Californian and online at http:/,0,1712933.story.
The article by the Times' Rebecca Keegan is a nice reminder of the importance of a stars' polished behavior on the biggest night of their lives. From Sacheen Littlefeather's Oscar refusal on Marlon Brando's behalf at the 1973 ceremony to the infamous streaker the following year, the mother of all awards shows may be hard to predict where the winners are concerned, but you can bank on at least one presenter or winner behaving badly. And that's what viewers SEE at home!
Covering the Academy Awards and its red carpet action as I did four times for 23News was always my favorite assignment. But it wasn't just the occasional bejeweled star behaving badly. Some sandwiched in like a sardine in the press corps deserved their own golden statues for incivility too. It was a sequined and black-tie shark tank. But it was always great fun, and tonight I will watch with fond memories of Oscar's golden night, and hopeful that those in the spotlight whom we admire on screen and follow off screen are on their best behavior. Because it DOES 'Manner' A lot! Enjoy this article and tonight's show.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The Thank You note is the simplest of courtesies and yet the most overlooked, it seems nowadays. We have become a society in such a hurry to get through our to-do lists that so many consider the written expression of appreciation too time-consuming and archaic. But when it comes to the thank-you note, thankfully, times HAVE NOT changed as much as we think they may have.
It still takes less than five minutes to put pen to paper, address and stamp the envelope and walk it to the mailbox, same as it did 30 years ago. Okay, maybe ten minutes more if you're still using an ink quill. But that is still but a fraction of the time the gift-giver no doubt spent selecting and purchasing your present.
If you don't have informal stationary on hand, a simple card purchased at the drug store will suffice. It isn't necessary to send a note after a dinner party, but it will certainly be received as a lovely touch if you do.
E-mail thank-yous are arm-wrestling the traditional notes for social acceptance these days, especially in the techno-mindset of the business world. But unless you are expressing thanks to a prospective employer for the opportunity to interview for a job, don't express your appreciation electronically either by e-mail or text message.
Over the years, we've been the recipients of a number of the fill-in-the-blank notes following children's birthday parties. Why bother, really. There isn't a hint of personalized expression in a fill-in-the-blank form letter, even if it has cute clowns and balloons on it!
Make sure your grown son or daughter sends a hand-written note of thanks to those who wrote college application recommendations on their behalf, and to especially to those schools who gave them an interview or personalized tour.
And most importantly, write and send the note as quickly as possible, because the timely gesture of a handwritten expression of gratitude really DOES 'Manner' A lot!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Thank you blog followers and readers for your positive response to the debut of this blog's companion column, It Manners A Lot, which premiered in last Saturday's February issue of Bakersfield Life Magazine. I look forward to having you along on this journey as we help polish social graces.
If you have not yet seen the latest issue of Bakersfield Life, it is available at newsstands throughout Bakersfield and Kern County, as well as online. Visit We are working on the next issue and tackling the subject of dating. Young or old, modern or old-fashioned, who hasn't had a dating experience to remember, or one we'd rather forget?
I 'd enjoy hearing from you. Please feel free to post here or e-mail me at with your questions and thoughts.
Lastly, several weeks ago KGET 17News featured this blog as well as a local children's etiquette course taught by Iris Doyle in a story. You can learn more about Iris' programs and contact her at her website
Finally, as we head into Super Bowl weekend, I know many of you will be enjoying good food and good times with family and friends, whether your team is playing Sunday or not. Here's some football finger- food for thought: If you are the guest at someone else's home or apartment, DO take something. Super Bowl Sunday is the mother ship of potluck days. Even if it is something you grabbed at the market on your way over, the host or hostess, and especially their guests will appreciate it. The pre-game, actual game with commercials and half-time entertainment are long enough. Don't overstay your welcome. And don't scare people with your enthusiasm for the plays.
Win or lose, remember when it is over, to thank them for their hospitality.
And if the football revelry is on your home turf, have fun while making sure your guests are enjoying themselves. I will be discreetly picking up used plates and napkins as I go, so as not to make my guests feel as though they need to abandon the game to help me clean up.
I also make sure the game is on in EVERY room (restrooms included) so visitors don't miss a second of the action.
The best gift a host or hostess can receive is a guest's genuine appreciation for having had a wonderful time. Make your guests feel welcome and send them home wishing to return again soon. Afterall, it does 'manner', a lot!
Happy Super Bowl Weekend! GO PACKERS!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Someone asked me recently about how I came to create this blog. I had to think for a minute. It wasn't just the frustration of daily dealings with so many ill-mannered people. It went deeper and further than that, 3,000 miles away in fact. Several years ago our family invested in real estate, and in turn, a lifestyle, in the South. In doing so, I came to realize the stark contrasts between the cradle of civility - the South, and the have-nots - the West Coast. Every visit further underscores the great divide of social graces.
So today I read with great interest the latest poll on America's Rudest Cities. I was not surprised. I could be blindfolded mid-flight and know the minute we've crossed over into California airspace. The golden state isn't alone. New York and Philadelphia deserve top 'worst' status as well.
Note that there are no Southern cities on the list, if you don't count Orlando, Miami and Dallas. Herewith is the link to the list at I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Thank you Leslie Lopez and 17News for shining a bright light on the demise of social graces. Tonight's feature by Lopez profiled Iris Doyle and this blog. If you didn't have a chance to view it, go to to view the story. I will post Iris' contact information as soon as possible. This is a topic that resonates with so many of us. Remember, manners and etiquette have nothing to do with where you live, how much or how little you have, or your blood lines. It is about treating each other with respect and kindness, every minute of every day.

Friday, January 14, 2011


President Obama's call this week for a return to civility was delicately woven through perhaps one of his best speeches, striking the difficult balance between embracing a shocked nation with assurances of better days while honoring those Americans whose lives were forever changed last Saturday in Tucson.
The welcomed dialogue now taking place around the country of civility and civil rhetoric has all roads leading back to Washington. The horrific events last weekend outside the Tucson Safeway defy logic, explanation or reason. History is still unfolding.
But since civility has been painfully kicked onto the national stage, i'd like to share with you a wonderful op-ed piece by columnist David Brooks in this week's New York Times:

and George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation: A Book of Etiquette:

If you don't have a copy or have never read the latter, please do. Both links are well worth your time and vital foods for thought.