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4 Good Manners It's Time to Stop Pretending We Care About

Listen, I'm the most genteel motherfucker around, and I'll violate your useless slop-hole if you say otherwise. But even I have to admit that some aspects of our polite society are at best outdated and at worst needlessly complicating our already hectic lives. (And some of us have long days of slop-hole violating to get to -- life's busy enough.) There are some social faux pas that, for better or worse, we just need to let go. You're not going to help anyone by ...

#4. Holding the Door

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I know it seems like a small gesture of courtesy to hold a door for somebody. And it is, in theory. In practice, however, holding a door for a stranger is an upper level physics problem where all the variables are sentient, stupid, and possibly insane. Every time you volunteer to hold a door for somebody, you are presuming to know not only their every thought and motivation, but their pace, dedication, and priorities. They might slow down, speed up, swivel in place, change direction, or just dance every single step to the "Thriller" video right there in the parking lot. You just don't know. That person you're so arrogantly holding the door for may interpret the gesture as chauvinism -- are you saying she couldn't possibly heft a whole door by herself, or maybe just that she lacks the mental capacity to understand a basic hinge and, if not for your heroic efforts, would be left standing outside, pawing at the glass like a dog in a Humane Society commercial?

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"... in the aaaaarms of the aaaangels ..."

Or worse, that person you're holding the door for may have been going somewhere else entirely and just happened to be passing by when your insistence and presumption pressured him into crossing a threshold he was not intending to cross. Now you've just ingress-raped a total stranger; I hope you feel good about yourself, monster.

Every time you hold a door open, you're attempting to solve one of those "a train leaves the station going west at 120 mph" problems, only in this case, the station is an entryway to a JC Penney, the conductor has shitty depth perception and no sense of timing, and the train is another human being who may be jogging up not to catch the door, but to nail you with a flying dive tackle. Why do we even bother anymore? Almost every public doorway has a handicap assistance button that will swing the thing open automatically if somebody is so distressed by the concept of portal-wrangling that they need external help with the issue. So I propose that we do away with the institution altogether: Starting today, everybody needs to turn around and carefully force every door they pass through shut afterward -- even if other people are actively trying to slip through it at the time. You just stand on the other side of that glass and determinedly wrestle the door to a complete, full-click latch while looking the other person directly in the eye the entire time.

It's the only way to avoid an awkward situation.

#3. Calling the Fart Police

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Let me tell you a purely hypothetical story about a veritable mountain of a man named Bobert Rockway. Bobert was at his office one day, taking the elevator down from the weekly meeting of the World's Greatest Detective Society, when a small Asian lady stepped into the car with him. The pair waited in polite silence as the ride progressed uneventfully. Suddenly, Bobert's stomach grumbled -- being the bastion of public service that he is, Bobert is often too busy knockin' out supervillains and knockin' up supermodels to grab a reasonably timed lunch -- and, after a few seconds of silence, the diminutive woman turned to our hero and said, "Did you just fart?"

Somehow, Rockway restrained himself. He did not laugh in her face and tell her, "No, honey, I have man-farts." He did not jab a finger in her accusatory eye and inform her that "When I fart, you'll know it." He did not go on to elaborate that "When I fart, the fire alarm will go off. When I fart, confetti rains from the sky like a fucking Rip Taylor bit. When I fart, it's like somebody says the secret word on a kid's show: Everybody stops what they're doing and just. Starts. Screaming. My farts have flashed veterans back to 'Nam."

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"Charlie's deployed gas -- get your masks on, boys!"

He just smiled pleasantly and said, "Nope, my stomach growled. Missed lunch."

The Asian lady turned away from Bobert, visibly disgusted, and said, "Yeah. Right."

This is not a unique situation. There are entire comedy bits about this exact scenario: Somebody moves a chair across rubber, or their leather jacket squeaks just so, and then they have to awkwardly explain to a roomful of witnesses that what kind of sounded like flatulence was but sound and fury, signifying nothing. My question isn't "Why do we persecute these people without evidence?" Nor is it even "Is not a man innocent until proven guilty?" My question is: Why do people even ask? I'm genuinely curious what answer would make somebody happy in that situation. Do they really want personal confirmation of whose guts they're inhaling? If you inquire after a fart, and the offending party says "no," what are the other options? "Oh God, it must be a natural gas leak -- let's get outta here, gang!" If they look you dead in the eyes and simply answer "yes," how does the ensuing conversation go? What if they follow it up with "Welcome to the wrong side of my butthole" -- do you shake their hand because, damn it, you don't condone the act, but you have to admire the honesty? Some questions are better left unanswered, and when it comes to a stranger's intestinal musk, maybe we just embrace the enigmatic nature of life and try to take shallow breaths until the mystery passes.

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Robert Brockway

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