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Etiquette for boys can be a challenge

I've searched high and low for a book of etiquette written specifically for boys. I suppose the general consensus among people who write such books is that there's no market. Boys couldn't give two noodles for a manuscript on manners.

I, on the other hand, would happily fork over 12.95 pieces of pasta for an almanac of acceptable male behavior I could point to each time one of my boys (husband included) indiscriminately behaves like an oaf. Some years ago I decided to record a few points of protocol myself.

1. Don't spit. Never spit just for spitting's sake. Spitting should transpire in a contest format, such as seeing who can spit a sunflower hull the farthest. Girls do not enjoy seeing spittle or hearing boys hock loudly. The only time a girl deems it acceptable is if you include her in the spewing match. Never use spit as a weapon.

2. Don't burp. Loud, smelly burps should take place in private or in the company of men in the woods on a hunting trip that lasts more than three days. By that time you should smell so foul that the wild game evacuated prior to your crude gastric emissions. The most appropriate occasion for burping occurs, like spitting, within the confines of a competition determining who can burp the longest, the loudest, and the lewdest. Never burp at the dinner table. Your mother (or wife) experiences grave disappointment, particularly when the baby girl mimics her hero.

3. Stand when a lady enters the room. This includes every female visitor right down to the FedEx delivery lady. Eyeballs glued to the television does not constitute a reasonable excuse for not standing. If seating is not available for your female guest, offer her your own. Reclining on potato chip crumbs while mashing your thumbs furiously on the Play Station controls and saying "you can sit here if you wanna," without ever looking up or moving, will not earn you a Boy Scout badge.

4. Boys should be seen and not heard. This applies to all situations when adults have gathered for conversation. The only time you may break this tenet is if your brother sucked instead of spit and lies choking on a mouthful of sunflower seeds. Then politely say "excuse me, Bobby inhaled half a package of seeds and turned blue on the front lawn." When you get shushed, excuse yourself and call 911.

5. Keep all sharp objects in your pocket. Pocket knives got that name for a reason. If you can't resist extracting it from your pocket, remember not to open the blade. Blood makes mamas faint. Do not put an open knife in your pocket. It will hurt.

6. Choose open-air latrines carefully. Just because you can't see anyone, doesn't mean that someone can't see you. Consider these off limits: porch railings, front yards, pre-school playscapes, neighbors' windows, and between the bushes (rather than behind). Again, the only time dropping your trousers in a group is acceptable is for the purpose of a challenge. Never conduct such affairs in the presence of girls as they do not have the game gear.

7. All creatures, dead or alive, should remain outside. Do not hold hopping or flying things in your hand, letting them go in your mother's face when she demands to see what you carry in your clutches. Leave the "still alive" lizard tail outside. And because you exhibit an enthusiastic willingness to handle all things creepy and crawly, you must also exterminate any vermin a female in your household requests eliminated.

Web posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01


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