Old-Fashioned Niceties We Hope Make a Comeback in 2019
Some things, like good manners, never go out of style.
What are good manners in the modern South? One of our favorite examples of basic etiquette comes from a wonderful Greek restaurant in Birmingham called Niki’s West, famous for its long but swiftly moving line, a zipping queue of eager diners who know they had BETTER decide what they want before they reach those steam tables. Equally famous is a sign at the entrance:
TO BE SERVED MUST BE PROPERLY DRESSED
NO TANK TOPS
NO BARE FEET
NO ROLLERS ON HEAD
Ponder what that sign says about social etiquette and good manners. It wouldn’t be there unless the proprietors had, at some point or another, seen more than a few diners with tank tops, bare feet, and "rollers on head." I feel their pain—especially when I head down to the continental breakfast room at a chain hotel and see ADULTS in PAJAMAS toasting bagels and loading up on bran flakes. If you’re 3 years old, you can eat your cereal in your Batman footie PJs at the Holiday Inn Express, and the rest of us will think it’s just precious. But if you’re 30? Get some britches on!
I read an article that said young people don’t think it’s rude to answer a text while they’re having a conversation with Memaw. But here’s the thing. Young people don’t get to decide all by themselves. Memaw gets a vote, too. And when in Memaw’s house, do as Memaw does. No visible phones at the table if you want her to keep the cornbread dressing coming.
Speaking of grandparents, do things for yours without being asked. Call them. Visit them. You’ll thank us later.
We asked our Facebook Brain Trust for more fading Southern civilities that deserve a comeback in 2019. As you can guess, yes ma’am, no, ma’am, please, and thank you were high on the list. Ditto what one reader called “the gentlemanly arts”: opening doors and car doors for women (just because we can do it ourselves doesn’t mean we want to), offering us a chair, walking on the outside of a sidewalk so we're safe from traffic, helping us with our coats, sending flowers for no reason . . .
“Proper undergarments deserve a comeback,” added one reader. “A scene from Steel Magnolias comes to mind.”
“Bear Bryant never wore his hat when the Tide played in an enclosed stadium, and if the Bear can remove his hat indoors, so can everybody else,” a Bama fan asserted.
Also, there’s a place in this world for housekeeping courtesies. “Push your chair back under the table when you leave!” says one exasperated Southern diner. “When did people stop doing that? The table looks like a disaster area when people leave their chairs all over the place! Plus, Pepaw could trip over them!”
Of course, some people say these old-fashioned Southern customs—aka good manners—are out of style. Memaw says anybody who thinks that can consider her pecan pie, her Christmas divinity, and her homemade rolls out of style. So you won’t have to worry about talking with your mouth full.
WATCH: Modern Dating Etiquette "By Two Old People"
When it comes to good behavior in the South, these women know what's what. After all, they're the authors of Being Dead Is No Excuse.