Pass the Peas Please: Life Rules, Part 1

An Empty Subway: Where Are They When you Need 'Em?

The train that I took home was so crowded. People were forced to touch, leaning and twisting between one another’s arms in order to steady themselves on the nearest pole. Tryphena was here for a visit, and we enjoyed a catch-up conversation the whole way back to my house. It’s funny to think that only a short year ago we became friends, and I was squinting in the bright sun at an outdoor Bible study asking her to repeat her name so I could make sure I was saying it right. (Tri-feen-uh). I tend to turn into a southern White woman when I’m introduced to people with names that have more than two syllables and/or are uncommon.

“Well heavens to Betsy! My stars! I do declare, wherev-ah did your mother find that name?”

Tryphena has gorgeous skin, and I discovered why. It’s her face wash! Not only do I enjoy having childish sleep-overs, but I like that it gives me the opportunity to try out the beauty products that are working for my friends. When I run out of my other stuff, I’m making my way to that store.

The train was crowded AND it was filled with grumpy ghetto girls. Not cool girls like Tryphena, who has shaved the two sides of her head. The mohawk in the middle is a subtle red, and it looks fantastic. I am edgy and unpredictable on the inside, but on the outside I am a plain-Jane and will remain with hair that’s straight-as-a-bone…and it will probably never, ever be dyed.

I regret calling those girls ghetto. It’s such a harsh term, and it’s most often thrown onto minorities, which irks me. But these few girls were deserving of the title; they entered the car yelling at everyone to move in and that one of them had a son. As if your son, your tiny small son who could easily be held in your arms, deserves to have an empty subway car. I really wanted to yell back, but I kept thinking ‘React like a Christian, be kind like a Christian, don’t bop this girl over the head…like a Christian.’ Some guys behind me made a few comments, and I laughed. Delighted to have an audience, the guys continued to say funny things like, “Ewww, fix ‘ya face. Stop yelling at us, crabby. There IS no room in here!” I realized that one of them was my neighbor, and thus I felt comfortable enough to relax my arm a little bit and let it nudge him even harder in his back. And I said “Excuse me” every time the conductor hit the brakes and I bumped him s’more.

I’d like to pat myself on the back for having excellent manners. I’d like to credit a book my mother bought for me when I was six or so, called “Pass the Peas Please”. In it, a family of pigs learn to be well-mannered and they live happily ever after. New York City’s Department of Education should hand this out. For FREE!

It’s etiquette, people. Simple etiquette. Can we talk for a minute? (Saying ‘Can we talk for a minute’ makes me think of Tevin Campbell–what happened to him?!) Anyway, going back to etiquette, everybody knows you do certain things.

Things You Do On An Everyday Basis:

  1. Say “Bless you” when the person next to you sneezes.
  2. Lift your umbrella when the sidewalk is crowded with a lot of people holding open umbrellas.
  3. Hold the train doors when you see people scrambling to make the train.
  4. Call your parents’ friends by their LAST name. I don’t care how old I am, Tasia’s mom will always be Mrs. Munoz and Yasmin’s mom will be Mrs. Fodil. Not Gizella, MRS. FODIL.
  5. Tip 15% minimum. Unless you’re having lunch with your grandparents in a truck stop in the South. The one in Auburn is great, and they will refuse anything more than 10%.
  6. Lower your music after 10pm. My neighbors follow this rule, but they forgot the part about NOT PLAYING IT BEFORE 8am.
  7. Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain. The only time it’s ok to yell “Jesus!” or “God!” is when He’s talking to you or you’re praising Him. But not when you’re frustrated. Try saying “Jiminy Crickets!” instead.
  8. Give your seat up for pregnant women. Look, I’ve done this twice and TWICE the ladies weren’t pregnant. It’s horrible. But it doesn’t mean you quit offering. (I also ADORE people in the medical field, and if you’re wearing those big clunky tennis shoes and you look like you’ve pulled a 16-hour shift, you too can have my seat!)

Things You Don’t Have To Do If You’re In NYC:

  1. Wait in line. Lines don’t seem to exist here. You just walk up to the teller/cashier/person behind the counter and slap money down. Even if there’s someone ‘in line’ standing right there with their juice on the counter. I just did it like, twenty minutes ago. It sounds rude, but I’m telling you that nobody respects a line in a Brooklyn deli.

Today I used most of my tips. Go me. I’ve got more to say on etiquette, but I’ll put my patent-leather-baby-jane-shoes and prude bonnet away for the night. To be continued…


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