Mr. Manners is here to help

Originally Published: April 20, 2011
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

Mr. Manners

Spring is upon us. The air is warm. Flowers are blooming. Nature is at its best.

But we must always be at our best, as manners are always in season. So let your best behavior be evergreen. And be wary of the etiquette crabgrass.

Also, don't make people suffer through extended and strained analogies. That's not very polite. It's time for another edition of Mr. Manners. Let's begin.

Dear Mr. Manners,
I recently was scheduled to fight in a boxing match. But on the day of the fight, I decided I didn't want to go. However, instead of just skipping the fight completely, I sent my identical twin brother to fight in my place. Unfortunately, fans noticed that my brother's tattoos were different than mine and my/our cover was blown. Now the fight promoter wants his money back. Did I/we do something wrong? Considering I could have just been a no-show, I thought sending my twin was good manners! No?
-- Jose C. (Florida)

Dear Faking in Florida,
First of all, thank you for including a web link in your letter. While a refined person of manners such as myself still much prefers hand-written correspondence due to its personal nature, ink-on-parchment is noticeably lacking in html.

As to your question, identical twins have plagued mannerists for centuries. While the average person has only their dog to blame when they, for example, defile the breathable air in a room, an identical twin can pin all of his misdeeds on the sibling he shared womb space with. Or, in your case, conspire with the doppelganger to commit misdeeds.

Yes, it was wrong of you to send your twin to fulfill your contractual requirement. I can understand the temptation that identical twins have to misbehave. But no one said the lifestyle of good manners is easy. And I think you would agree that practicing good manners is not nearly as painful as it would be to get your tattoos matched perfectly with your twin's tattoos.
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
The team I coach, the Washington Capitals, is currently playing the New York Rangers in a playoff series. They play at Madison Square Garden. In a recent radio interview I was asked my opinion of the venue and its fans. So I spoke honestly: I feel that their fans are quiet and overrated and that the arena itself is a dump. Now I am being criticized for my opinion. Should I have not spoken honestly?
-- Bruce B. (Washington, D.C.)

Dear Blustering Bruce,
A man of good manners must always strive for honesty. However, everything has context. In your case, you are associated with the Washington Capitals. Up until quite recently, the only crowd noise at their games were from opposing fans or from the local fans loudly saying things like "Who put ice all over the basketball court?" or "This is the worst 'Disney On Ice' show I have ever seen!"

So, in that context, perhaps you can understand why your criticism of the fans of a historic franchise could rub some people the wrong way. And while it's true that honesty is a virtue, honesty can also be impolite. You could have answered the question this way: "We are so focused on the game that we can barely hear the fans." See? Same truth, just softened a bit. As for Madison Square Garden itself being overrated? You have a point there, too. But perhaps you should not be so glib about things that are overrated considering you are the head coach of the Capitals.
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
I am a starting pitcher in the major leagues. I just got arrested for stealing six American Rag T-shirts valued at $59.88 from a Macy's here in Cincinnati. What can I do to get back in the good graces of fans and be seen as a practitioner of etiquette?
-- Mike L. (Cincinnati)

Dear Sinning in Cincinnati,
Going forward, it's best to not commit misdemeanors or felonies. That's pretty much the basics of manners -- that's Step 1. Then you move up to wearing shirts and shoes to get service. Then it's not belching at the table. Then it's using the right utensils at meals. And before long, you'll find yourself wearing ascots and sipping brandy.

But as far as quickly getting back in the good graces of your home fans, I think you already touched on your salvation: the American Rag T-shirts. Make sure to stress this brand. Every other major leaguer would have stolen Ed Hardy shirts. I think everyone can agree that you deserve some credit for not wearing those.
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
I recently yelled a gay slur at a referee. I apologized, clarified that what I said was not meant to be taken literally, and even explained how I regularly defended gay students back in high school. Am I in the clear?
-- Kobe B. (Los Angeles)

Dear Crude Kobe,
Yes. Great work all-around. You are very well-mannered. (← Not to be taken literally.)

All the best to you (← also not to be taken literally)!
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
At a speaking engagement over the weekend, I erroneously stated that none of Kentucky's basketball players who went pro after the 2010 season finished the year in good academic standing. I was trying to make a point about the negatives of the one-and-done philosophy in college basketball. I have since apologized for singling out Kentucky.
-- Bob K. (Indiana)

Dear Calipari Critic,
You did the right thing by quickly apologizing for your error. Another option would have been to say that your words "should not be taken literally." Or, if you are interested in a political future, try something like "What I said was not intended to be a factual statement." Rep. Bob K. (Indiana) has a pretty nice sound to it.
-- Mr. Manners

DJ Gallo is the founder and editor of His first book, "A View from the Upper Deck", is available at fine discount book retailers. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.

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