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Strive to be uncommon in behavior and personal habits. . .

Guys, don't BURRRRRP outloud anymore.  It's foul.

It always surprises and dismays me that there are so many boys and men walking around these days, who labor under the delusion that behaving like pigs in public is somehow acceptable.  It's certainly not the first time, but this morning as I held office hours in one of the student dining commons on campus, not one, but two guys in different parts of the large room emitted huge, window-rattling burps in the space of about 10 minutes.  Chalk it up the the parents I guess.  If Lowbrow Dad behaves like this at home and in public, I guess Lowbrow Junior is going to as well, Passive Mom will keep her mouth closed about it, and nothing will seem amiss. 

Please, don't anyone leap to their defense with the tired old "They're just kids."  Guess what?  They aren't kids.  If a person is 18, 20, or 22 years of age, he is an adult.  He's old enough to drive, hold a job, live away from Mom and Dad, vote, serve in the military, and has very probably been enjoying sporadic cheap, irresponsible, and largely meaningless sex for several years already.  He's no longer a kid, but rather an exceptionally rude, uncultivated young man.  Nothing more.  Time to set the record straight on that.  Ok? 

While some unsavory behaviors might be understandable in very small children, certain basic habits and niceties ought to be firmly in place by the time a child starts grade school at least.  This overwhelming lack of civility is one of the things wrong with so many people in all walks of life and across all socio-economic classes.  Am I mistaken, or weren't more people more aware of this stuff in the not-too-distant past?  Where exactly have Mom and Dad been when they should have been modelling pleasant habits and behavior during their children's formative years?  Surely, the answer is not as simple as both parents being at work all day, or everyone eating his or her supper at separate times and in front of the TV.  That must be only a small part of the picture.

More vexing is the reaction, or lack thereof, from others when one of these geniuses belches out loud like that.  A number of outwardly pleasant, reasonably pulled together, and fairly intelligent college women continue to crowd around these neanderthal guys.  The gals, based on my very casual observations during office hours and student-instructor conferences, actually put up with this kind of disgusting behavior without saying anything.  Heck, they don't even get up and move to another part of the dining and cafe area.  Why do they put up with behavior like that?  Do these young women really think so little of themselves that they'll befriend, date, sleep with, or (shudder) eventually marry guys who act like complete swine in their presence?  In which universe is that considered attractive and cool?  

Not so very many years ago, girls and young women would call out guys who behaved like this, label them pigs, and never give the time of day to "boys" like that again, doing their very best to avoid future contact.  Guys who acted like that became untouchables in a sense and, for the most part, were quietly relegated to the social fringe chiefly due to their gross behavior.  That's certainly how it was in my small, rural public high school during the first half of the 1980s, where kids from white collar, blue collar, and farming families freely mixed and socialized.  I'm totally perplexed by the apparent rapid erosion of even very basic social graces in the years since, regardless of the age group we are talking about.   Whatever happened to refraining from doing things that might be offensive to others?  That's the basic foundation of good manners.

If there are actually any young men out there tuning in to this blog for pointers on everyday style in the broadest sense, let me offer one suggestion.  It will go a long way in helping you polish up the presentation of yourself to the world.  Possibly to an even greater degree than decking yourself out in classic clothing or expensive shoes.  Stop belching out loud -- and/or passing gas -- in public.  Just don't.  It's neither funny, nor couth.  It does not matter how cool or expensive your clothes, car, or gadgets might be, how much money your family might have, or what degrees you've got under your belt.  You come across as a complete rube and prole without a clue when you behave like that.  Got it?  So, how about showing a little consideration for others?  Have a little self-respect too, and control yourself.  It's entirely possible.  Besides, no one wants to hear or smell that, and others shouldn't have to endure your rudeness.  

Presumably, you weren't raised in a barn.  So why continue to act like it?  And regardless of one's precise social origins, attempts to improve oneself in all respects should not be viewed as some kind of strange liability.  It's time to demonstrate a little more refinement and sophistication in your daily actions and behavior and take some quiet pride in doing so.  At the very least when you are out among people.  You're not in the 5th grade or at summer camp anymore after all, guys, so let's not continue to be common in our behavior and personal habits.  That's certainly not the way to win friends and influence people.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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