Bitch on the Blog

November 16, 2011

Niceties

Filed under: Culture — bitchontheblog @ 11:10

A question which has long been burning a hole into the fabric of my life:

If you saw a stranger walking around with his fly open, her tights/stockings laddered, were talking to someone with a bit of spinach between their front teeth: Would you point this out to them?

U

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13 Comments »

  1. In general, yes. A complete stranger just walking by? Perhaps not in this case – it is a bit trickier. However, if you are engaged in conversation with someone, I presume there is sufficient interaction between the two making it perfectly appropriate to mention such an easily fixable adjustment. Awkward perhaps, but something most people can chuckle about afterward – after all, we are imperfect.

    You can count on me to politely tell you if your slip is showing, and I’d expect the same treatment in return. I could use the extra help anyway. Now pardon me while I go check to see if my fly is unzipped…

    Comment by Phil — November 16, 2011 @ 13:07 | Reply

    • Phil, I can’t imagine you with your fly unzipped. You are too particular for that type of oversight. Spinach between your teeth happens. I’d rather be told than, half an hour later, realising that the fact you were spell bound and couldn’t take your eyes off me was because of a piece of greenery, not my intellect.

      Suppose worst that ever happened to me was when a couple of days after giving birth I went shopping. Supermarket. Proud mother. Babe in arms. I thought everyone was looking at him. Though couldn’t understand a group of youngsters sniggering.Till some kind old lady told me to pull the shawl lower down. I was bleeding like a pig at point of slaughter. No pain. Hence unnoticed by me. Small error of the midwife. Slice of placenta had been left in place. I can’t say I was “embarrassed”, though did flee to car. I just couldn’t believe that – for a good ten minutes – no one had said anything to me. Maybe they thought it was a weird party trick. Though being end of September it wasn’t exactly Halloween yet.

      People, in England, are easily embarrassed. Which is why I will tell anyone, in passing, fleetingly, discreetly, what needs to be adjusted – to spare them when, two hours later, they find themselves unzipped and laddered. Aren’t I just such a wonderful human being? I wish there were more of me.

      Yours,
      U

      PS I will admit to a certain amount of resentment that nowadays it’s perfectly acceptable for bra straps to show. In fact, it’s compulsive. Wonder what FOS – him so critical he’d point out a fault before you’d committed it – is making of that. Well, I hope he will now suffer in silence when he enters the circus of the public arena.

      PPS And I do not want all of your female (or male) fan club to barge in and tell me that they CAN imagine you with your fly unzipped. Your wife, she clearly unflappable and sanguine, and I, flappable and fearing the worst, will stand side by side.

      Comment by Ursula — November 16, 2011 @ 13:45 | Reply

  2. This being California, I would assume it was a new fashion trend and would be reluctant to critique an artistic statement.

    Comment by Looney — November 16, 2011 @ 14:24 | Reply

    • I knew it, Looney. You are reading too much philosophy. In fact have just dedicated a whole post to you – as yet to be published. Do blame me should your post bag swell to proportions that Einstein would have to put some relativity to. Whether anyone has anything to say is another matter.

      U

      Comment by Ursula — November 16, 2011 @ 15:08 | Reply

      • U, I would think that Einstein’s laws will be shown to be wrong before my inbox gets out of control, but we shall see!

        Comment by Looney — November 17, 2011 @ 14:23 | Reply

  3. I’d hardly tell as stranger. Put yourself in the recipient’s position. I suspect that this is where English Good manners come into operation once more. After all these may just be some sort of eccentricity on their part.

    A vision occurs to me of the archetypal cockney hallooing across the road, “Here mate, do you know your flies are undone?”or some awful East Enders type of female screeching a similar greeting to a lady of the fair sex, or even a lady of the “un fair sex”… As for the spinach…. that is even more intimate and if I were close enough to identify the vegetable then we would hardly be strangers.

    By the way, do tights still suffer from laddering? It is many many years since I heard a woman complain about a ladder in her stocking and thus have to offer to find a bar of soap to help limit the damage.

    Comment by magpie11 — November 16, 2011 @ 14:46 | Reply

    • Sorry, David. I do disagree. It is extremely BAD manners to let someone walk around whatever their predicament. All you are doing is spare your SELF embarrassment (at having to tell them) at the expense of their, for lack of another word, “embarrassment”. As to spinach, close up and personal. I recently had a cumin seed stuck right between my upper gnashers. Didn’t matter. Neither did i kill the guy across the counter who had “manners”, only to blush later [me that is, not him].

      We have spoken about manners before, recently if memory serves me right. The English have no patent on “good” manners. In fact so proud are they, the English, they will take delight in tripping you up every which way. I say this with some passion, and from personal experience. I was only young when I arrived here. I was brought up so well I used a starched napkin, knife and fork and sat upright even when eating on my own. To this day I do not pick my nose.

      Enter the British, stiff upper lip. You know what bad manners are (in my book)? When the foreigner is made to feel that he/she is “bad mannered”. Let them fight wars over Poland and Iraq. But when a British, in my own country, tells me how to break into a boiled egg, there are few words that come to mind. All of them [words] are all English. Which is partly why I so much prefer to write in English because anything goes, doesn’t it? Who gives a fuck? To say that in my mother tongue would be unthinkable. Yes, politeness. Manners. I am of the Debrett variety. And when in Rome I will do as the Romans do. But I shall not be told what constitutes “good” manners. After all, and by way of titillating Ramana: Aren’t there countries where it’s considered bad manners if you don’t sleep with your host’s wife?

      As to ladders: It’s called “built-in obsolence”. Tights and stockings could me made to the grade of German engineering. Where is the money in that? There isn’t. That’s why – before they hit the shop floor – they are put through shredders which will make sure that, eventually, you will totter to your nearest whichever label you prefer and “stock up” again. Which reminds me: Wasn’t it sweet how the Americans traded favours in exchange for a pair of nylons? And that last remark shall not fall on ears who hear only the sarcastic. I mean it: It was sweet. Gentlemanly. Generous. Gallant.

      U

      Comment by Ursula — November 16, 2011 @ 15:43 | Reply

  4. I think the boundaries lie within the context of how deep the infraction and how you might or might not be connected to the victim. If I saw a woman walking down the street with her skirt tucked into her stockings I might say something because of that chilling thought that there but for the grace of God go I. A man with his fly open, probably not. Spinach in the teeth is usually best handled by peering at it continuously during the conversation so the victim can not help but raise a finger to the mouth to explore what it is that is evidently so interesting.

    Comment by winsomebella — November 16, 2011 @ 20:46 | Reply

    • Oh my god, Bella. Thanks for painting the one scenario that has me dying with shame just thinking about it: Part of your skirt tucked into your knickers. However good your legs (and/or bottom) it’s not sexy. It testifies to a certain absentmindedness. Have grown so paranoid that when I leave the house/any bathroom I actually tug at the back of my dress just to make sure.

      One of these days, and before long, I will find myself, ca five miles from home – on foot, conquering the world in my favourite pair of white slippers (you know: The kind they give you in five star hotels’ bathrooms. And no, I didn’t steal them). And that will be the day I shall be so very grateful no one pointing out “zee faux pas”. Ever the optimist I hope it won’t be on the day when I am meeting my son for lunch. There are limits to what he is willing to endure. Still, at least my feet will be under the table and he can always claim that he doesn’t know me.

      And you never know: On my way back some kind soul might take me to the nearest shoe shop and buy me a pair of Louboutins.

      U

      Comment by Ursula — November 17, 2011 @ 09:31 | Reply

      • When I were a lad the girls used to tuck their skirts into their knickers when they were doing gymnastic things in the play ground to avoid embarrassment. Nowadays, it seems, they don’t care. Either that or they don’t wear skirts.

        Comment by magpie11 — November 17, 2011 @ 18:17 | Reply

  5. Absolutely yes. I would let a person know (even a stranger) if s/he had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction, dental disaster, or obvious oops. My motto (one of many): treat others as I wish others would treat me. I’d want to know before I went forth into the world and made a bigger fool of myself than I already would with just what I would normally say or do. Of course, I would be discrete, kind, and probably say something like, “When this happened to me just the other day, …” I’m not adverse to white lies when it serves the greater good. 😉

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — November 16, 2011 @ 21:52 | Reply

    • You set me thinking there, Lorna. There is actually a fine line between saving someone blushes and being tactful. I think myself of being frightfully tactful (only the blunt think of themselves as frightfully tactful) and saving blushes at the same time.

      Fact No1: People will thank you profusely for pointing out that which they can’t see for themselves. Fact No 2 – and you hinted at it: We are all human. Let’s stick together in the fight against spinach, ladders and Bella’s (see above) skirts in knickers. As to guys and their flies and ties: Call me old fashioned. But they do need looking after. Particularly the not so observant.

      U

      Comment by Ursula — November 17, 2011 @ 09:44 | Reply

  6. Back in the days when rooms were full of cigarette smoke, I got home from a party & mascara was all over my face. “Why didn’t you tell me!”, I said to my husband. He said, “I didn’t want to embarrass you.”

    Comment by bikehikebabe — November 30, 2011 @ 00:10 | Reply


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