Skip to main content



February 25, 2013

Is it me or does it seem as if manners are a thing of the past?  Like chivalry, maybe manners are slowly meeting an untimely demise.  If so, it's unfortunate.  I'm hoping they survive and make the comeback they so desperately need.

Occasionally I find myself on the receiving end of an off-the-cuff comment that I'm not sure how to respond to right away.  Then later I'll have numerous responses that I should have said or wish I'd come up with at the time... but it's too late. 

A comeback has to happen immediately or else it would be called a comeback-later-if/when-you-think-of-something.

I also don't like to intentionally hurt some one's feelings so in effort to be nice, I let a lot of remarks slide without a reaction.  Sticks and stones, right?  Don't get me wrong, there aren't people constantly slinging insults my way (or to my face, at least)... I'm no victim.  However, my ears have fallen prey to backhanded compliments and subtle digs over the years.  Both of which infuriate me.  I'd rather one be direct then to say something with a subliminal, underlying message that punches me in the stomach after I've thought about it and over-analyzed it in my head.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here are a few examples of what was said to me, what I said back and the shoulda/woulda/coulda's.

Jerk #1Why are you dressing like Mr. Rogers?  Is your wife picking out your clothes these days?
ResponseWhat do you have against a cardigan? Actually she did pick this out as a Christmas gift.
At that particular moment, I was wearing a navy cardigan that I got for Christmas.  Now I've never owned a cardigan before and I've been on the fence about it ever since I unwrapped it, but figured I would give it a shot and then this jackhole smelled my indifference and attacked like a shark with blood in the water.
Comeback LaterIt's better my wife pick out my clothes than my mom as in your case.  I'm sure my reward at the end of the day far outweighs yours.  Or a simple don't hate would suffice.

Jerk #2Some one is having a bad hair day.  (Insert raised eyebrows and a head tilt in my direction.)
ResponseYeah.  I could use a hair cut.
Comeback LaterI know!  It must be in the air. I'm relieved to see you're having one, too.

Jerk #3You're really putting on some weight around the middle there, aren't you?
Response:  Blank eyes.  Awkward smile.  Uncomfortable chuckle.  Exit.
Comeback LaterI'm just trying to catch up with you.

Jerk #4You should go back to college and make something of yourself.  Now that you're getting married, you'll need to support a family.
ResponseThanks.  Are you going to pay for it? 
Even though this happened years ago, I can still taste the bitterness that rolled off my tongue that day like the lingering heat from a smokey jalapeno.  Let me set the scene here... this comment was made to me at a wedding shower thrown for Allison and I in a room full of other people by someone I've never spoken to in my life.  Clearly, my mother confided in this person somewhere along the way her disappointment that I didn't complete my college education and this person saw this as ammunition.  I'm a huge advocate for furthering your education and regret some of the decisions I've made in that regard; however, a degree shouldn't define you nor should it be the sole factor of your identity.  I'm not one to discuss the financial hierarchy of one person to the next as I believe that money isn't a direct reflection of one's character or heart... but, that being said, I feel it's worth sharing I currently hold a management position at a salary level that competes with those that have degrees.  I've also seen the struggle of people who have degrees that cannot find a job or are forced to take a lower paying job because nothing else is available.  Bottom line -- it's never okay to question, judge or discuss someone else's financial situation unless they bring the topic to you.  It's also in poor taste to bring up sensitive topics in a room full of acquaintances.
Comeback LaterSomeone once said, and I think it's applicable here, you can pay for school but you can't buy class.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Of course, I would never use those comebacks because I have manners... okay maybe I would use that last one but only because I enjoy well placed Jay Z references.  Overall, it's better to kill people with kindness.

Sadly manners are underrated these days.  As parents of the next generation, I encourage every mother and father to stress the importance of a simple Please and Thank You, the kind gesture of holding/opening a door for someone, the significance of treating others how you would like to be treated and to smile in passing because joy can be contagious.

I've told Madison one of the secrets in life is to have good manners... good teeth and good credit.  If everyone maintained those three, the world would be a better place.  If you had to choose three things to share, what would they be?  Would manners be one of them? 

I got 99 problems, but manners ain't one.


  1. My best comebacks always appear in my brain when I'm in the shower. :)

    I hope none of these people are your friends, because I cut people like that loose without a second thought.

    1. My best ideas come to me in the shower! There's something about being fresh and clean that encourages the thought process... that and with a toddler running around the house, it's the only time I can have a complete thought uninterrupted.

  2. kindness, compassion, honesty. manners are found somewhere in these three things. my 3 littles are under 4 and they all say please and thank you (yes, yes, yes, we have to drag it out of them at times, but then there are those times when they blow me away with their manners and i want to do a happy dance in public. but i don't, because that would be inappropriate and unmannerly).

    and by the by, jerk #4 has appeared in my husband's life, too, more than once. guess what? he's doing brilliantly without his piece of paper, same as you. :)

    1. With three little ones under age 4, you're allowed to do a happy dance whenever and where ever you desire! Especially in cases where they display good manners.

      Unfortunately, jerk #4 can show up at the most random places and ruin a perfectly good mood/day... I'm happy to hear your husband is fighting this battle with me. There's more to life than titles and labels.

  3. It's funny that we emphasize manners with our 2.5 yr old and then realize how little ppl actually say Thank You and other nice things throughout the day! I hold doors for people all the time & aint no one even blinked an eye! Though I really appreciate when youngins hold the door for me & make a special point to look them in the eye and give them a genuine TY.

    And what about please? We make our son say that all the time. But as long as I say my request with a upswing of tone, how often do I actually say please?

    Guess what I'm saying is that I teach my son manners because it's a good basis for adulthood. Even I or he won't use the actual words TY and Please, at least the "heart"/intention will be there.

    As for snarky comments, I only make them to snarky people, which apparently are scattered in your life. Seriously, who tells someone they're looking heavy? I do tell co workers their hair is getting long though. Maybe I should stop. I didn't know it was so offensive!

    1. Please and Thank You can go such a long way. I'm guilty of saying "I'm sorry" even when I have nothing to be sorry for... I've been working on it. The less manners someone displays, the more mannerly I am to them which I'm not sure is a good thing or not. Lead by example? Maybe. At least we're trying, right?


Follow @bradleycowan on Instagram