Okay, as we’re well into 2010, it may be a little late to call it the new millenium, but “new age” sounds like a “hey, let’s all go out and buy some black Windrunners” level of creepy. Anyway, not the point. Something I’ve noticed more than the lack of jobs for America’s youth or our increasingly anti-social behavior and reliance on technology (believe me, I’m a victim of both of these phenomenons) is our attitude. Now I’m not saying this in a disapproving motherly tone nor am I going to pretend like I’m always on my best behavior. This is just a general observation that the attitudes and mannerisms of the youth in America (and by youth, I really mean anyone under the age of 30) leaves something to be desired. So don’t think of this as condescending or me looking down my nose at my peers, but think of this as an Emily Post for our gen… although I hesitate to call myself an Emily Post figure… mainly because I’m a dude… and again I digress. ANyway, here it goes, just a simple guide for meets and greets.
1. When meeting someone a handshake is appropriate. I’m not saying you hafta love the person or go in for the hug. In fact, I’ve had way too many people go in for the hug on the first meet and greet. When faced with this awkward hug, the only thing to do is tighten up with your hands at your side. This should let the hugger know that this level of familiarity within 15 seconds of meeting one another is unwelcome. No, but seriously it seems to be one extreme or the other; either too little respect for boundaries or no respect at all. It’s just common courtesy to shake hands and it’s not like it’s the hardest thing in the world to do. Like they always say, it takes 17 muscles to smile, 43 muscles to frown, and countless muscles to be a dick so just do the damn handshake already.
2. Listen, I know our generation (especially myself) is known for having an inappropriate sense of humor, but maybe wait a little while before you pull out the Helen Keller jokes. Oh yeah, that goes for using terms like “that’s so gay” or “quit bein’ so retarded”. Don’t get me wrong, I use these as much as the next guy (oh God, I’m goin’ to hell) but it’s safe to say that your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents won’t find them as funny… at least until you get to know them. I know, I know, you may ask “well, what the hell’s wrong with them?” if they don’t laugh at this, but I guess some people are just politically correct or some bullshit…
3. A little modesty and respect for your elders is never a bad thing. Listen, I know we all have fun and colorful names for the in-laws or even our own parents. The one thing to remember is… well, they might not find them as funny as you do. For instance, I call my old man “Doc Bob”. I mean, sure it works for me, it’s an affectionate pet name or whatever. In an introduction, you might do well to show a little humility. You say “Dr. Kersten” or “Mr. Kersten” and once prompted with “Oh, you can call me Bob” you’re in the clear. But in general, nicknames are best suited for taking behind one’s back. If not, shit can get awkward pretty quick.
You stick to these rules and you’re golden. No, but in all seriousness, use some goddamn common sense folks. I’ve literally gotten a “What a polite young man” because I shook someone’s hand and said “It’s nice to meet you”. These things should be pretty standard. Don’t get me wrong, I love the compliments, but if you can’t even muster that, well, then you’re in a bad way. The basic civilities shouldn’t warrant compliments, but evidently folks don’t expect much these days or they’ve been given reason not to… either way, it’s too grim to think about it.