Sing It, Nell Carter

As you might know by now, I am the queen of giving myself a break. I don’t really go in for all that self-hate stuff and if that makes me a class A fuckwad, then so be it, I have long ago made my peace with that.

Well, if I am being honest, it’s more accurate to say that I mostly give myself a break. I don’t do the “I’m so fat” or “why can’t I have hair like hers?” or what have you. I just don’t. However, there is one way that, if I feel inadequate, I frickin’ drive myself crazy.

It has to do with etiquette. I can be a sort of Emily Post on steroids.

Living life gracefully is important to me. With courtesy and kindness toward other people, amen. It’s a part of what we used to call, when we were growing up, “home training.” There was no worse insult in the world back then, than acting like an ass and then having someone say about you “clearly, he just hasn’t had good home trainin’.”  Please do not confuse home training with being house-trained. Totally different things. One has to do with shitting in the house. The other has to do with being a shitass in someone’s house. There’s a very clear distinction there.

Respectful courteousness is one of the things I love best about being a librarian, in fact. The ethics and expectations in this profession are that we treat everyone with respect. Everyone, consistently, no exceptions. I adore that and I find it really beautiful when done well. I am so proud to be a part of a profession that values this so highly.

(Before you all write me emails and comments about the mean librarian you had when you were little, or the mean librarian at your own local library, I didn’t say that all librarians were generous, respectful people. There are librarian assholes, it is true. I am just saying that overall, the librarianfolk are supposed to be democratically respectful to all. Not every doctor has good bedside manner and there are teachers out there who seem to genuinely loathe children. Every profession has its expectations and every profession has its mofos).

So good etiquette. It’s important to me. And there is nothing worse to me…NOTHING WORSE…than if I am in some sort of social situation and I unintentionally act like a dick and then only realize it later. Like, there was this one time, I was on a first friend date, and I was so tired, so exhausted, that I just couldn’t act enthused about the first friend date with this extremely nice person. I didn’t realize it at the time, because I was too tired to notice, but then the next day, when I realized how FRICKING LOW ENERGY I was, and how I didn’t really ask very many questions or engage the way I should have? OY.

This happened over a year ago now, and I still feel bad about it, can you tell? I have a really hard time giving myself a break about stuff like that.

I even make myself feel bad about stuff that seems totally socially acceptable to everyone else but me. For instance, answering emails, voice mails, etc. I have this idea that when someone emails me or calls me or texts me or sends me a smoke signal, then I should respond within 24 hours. 48 hours TOPS. And I know this is not what other people seem to have collectively agreed upon, because other people are not doing that, and it’s all ok. No one will die if an email (and I am talking a non-professional, non-worky email) goes unanswered for a little while, so what’s the big deal? I DON’T KNOW. But there are times when I forget to email someone back for a few days longer than that, and when that happens, I feel horrible. I feel like I have dishonored their time by being lame for no good reason. I think about it for a long time and feel remorse. It’s dumb. I mean, really. My email correspondence is not heart surgery. If someone emails me it is usually along the lines of “whazz uuuuup?” But if I don’t email back in a timely way to say “whazz uuuuup back to you, suckaaaa!” then I feel terrible. All out of proportion terrible.

So last night, Biogirl and I went out to dinner at one of our favorite haunts. We had dinner, and then we sat at that table and gabbed our faces off for hours. I think we met there at 6:30. We didn’t leave until almost 10pm. And it wasn’t like we were ordering drinks that whole time or anything. We just had a regular dinner, and then monopolized the table without realizing where the time was going. So then, the check comes, and in the midst of our intense conversation, I went on autopilot and left a regular tip.


I have had many friends who have waited tables. I know how important it is for tables to turn over so that waiters can make some cash on the tips. So what I should have done is realized that we had parked our hineys for a long time, and prevented that table from turning over, and didn’t even really order anything more than just dinner, so LADY LEAVE A BIGGER TIP.

But I didn’t. Totally not thinking. Until I got home and I realized it. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

It’s the next day and I’m still thinking about it. And there doesn’t seem to be a break from me to me in sight.

Dear Me: GET A GRIP.


  1. Yikes, there are few worse feelings than when you realize you have undertipped. Better to have the waiter run out into the parking lot and smack you with a pepper grinder than to have that feeling. And you can never fix it, really. It's like you called that person a no-account dookey. You can't unsay it. Best you can do is leave a nice card with an extra fin or sawbuck saying how well they served you and how your wits temporarily fled you. But even you don't you're still a good person. Being imperfect sucks.

  2. I am the same way. I try to be nice to everyone and feel like a total buttface when I realize that I didn't give someone proper attention or whatever. If it's one of your regular eating places, maybe you can leave her an extra big tip next time?

  3. Notice the politeness thing I'm kicking myself over, but I totally understand. I wish I could kick it, but at the same time, it's hard not to strive for perfection. I don't want to be discourteous!

  4. Oh! The whole librarian and courtesy thing… I find myself striving to be courteous to everyone. I really do. But, occasionally, I really wonder how the human race has survived this long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s