Friday, December 7, 2007

The dental patient.

Not that this is an absolute sign or revelation that societal collapse is imminent--a horse that’s been flogged past the point of death for countless generations--but the following little anecdote is another mile-marker on the road to a nasty, brutish, low-class society, a pit whose bottom we must surely be nearing, for I cannot believe that it’s all that much deeper.

Earlier this week, while dropping off a ballet ticket for my wife to one of her friends, I was blindsided once again, per usual, by coarse behavior. My wife’s friend works at a dental office and I went to the front desk and asked to speak to her. While waiting, a young female patient was on the phone at the other end of the short counter apparently trying to cajole a ride from the party on the other end of the connection. The other party must have shown some reluctance to grant this request because the young female patient said, without any hint of hesitancy or shame, that the other party had better give her a ride, or “I’ll f--k you up.” Then she concluded the conversation and went to sit down in the waiting area.

Not only I heard this exchange--the receptionist heard it too. She glanced at me with a kind of resigned, embarrassed, what-can-you-do look. Judging from the clientele (lots of baggy, sports team-emblazoned sweat clothes filled with pudgy figures built from processed foods) I noticed in the rather spacious waiting area (perhaps I should say holding area) when I walked in, I doubt this is the first time she heard this type of crude talk, or the last.

Now, here is where the disclaimer should come that says I am not a prude, snob, or elitist and that I, too, have used that type of language (although not in a public setting). But, you know what?, I don’t believe I’ll do that. Why? Because I am better than those people, at least in terms of public manners and comportment. Thank God I had parents who raised me to be polite to others and mindful of my surroundings, and who taught me that the world does not revolve around me. And thank God that I spent my formative years in a time when self-control and self-censorship was seen as the hallmark of a decent, normal, unexceptional, person.

How did I escape this? I was not exposed to any great degree to the effluence pumped out by Hollywood rump-humpers and money-maddened music-industry morons. There was still a measure of decorum within these areas of entertainment, at least outwardly, although even then it was beginning to crumble.

More than anything else, I feel sorry for the people exposed to all sorts of crass, vile language/behavior the entertainment industry uses to make a buck. These poor folks, raised on garbage pumped directly into their homes by parents who were, in turn, raised the same way, have no concept of what passes for polite public discourse.

All of which brings me to another point. I wish I could say this behavior is limited to a certain socio-economic class, but, alas, it isn’t. It has seeped out and soaked practically every stratum of society, although it usually doesn’t manifest itself as openly in the "higher" classes as the example I gave earlier.

Thanks, entertainment moguls, for taking the low road to make a buck, and in the process coarsening a society and making it unfit human habitation. Thank you for helping to destroy the long evolution of everyday civil behavior built over centuries. Thank you for children who now carry baggage they were never meant to lug via your graphic images, situations/stories, and language; their childhood has been stolen from them and, once gone, it can never be replaced. You have so very much to be proud of.

Take care.

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