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Laments? I’ve Had A Few...

By LC Van Savage

Great word, “lament.” Its roots are Latin and it means to express sorrow, mourning, and the occasional keening over a great loss. I regret that I spend probably an inordinate amount of time lamenting. But I definitely never keen.

For example, I lament that men wear hats while dining in restaurants, all restaurants, and that they do not remove them when they greet a woman, or when a woman enters an elevator, that they leave them on during the national anthem and worst of all, that they’re no longer tipped.

I regret that it’s no fun to cuss any longer since all the good words are ruined by being overused in casual conversation. What a pointless waste.

I lament the fact that no one dresses up for weddings or funerals any longer, arriving at these august occasions as if on a lunch break from physical labor. Maybe that’s actually how it is sometimes, but even in the codger days, people did physical labor and still managed to dress up for weddings and funerals. I deplore the death of the shoeshine.

It saddens me that the words to the “Star Spangled Banner” or “America the Beautiful” or the stirring “God Bless America” are almost unknown. I greatly miss that the classic old poetry is no longer memorized, that the repetition of the multiplication tables is extinct and that no one ever adds or subtracts with pencil or paper any longer. I lament the death of perfect cursive writing. I grieve the death of perfect spelling. I mourn the death of the apostrophe.

I shudder that customers are annoyances and the threat of “I’ll never shop here again” is met with a shrug. I lament that I’m cheekily called by my given name by professional people without my permission, that “please” and “thank-you” are disappearing, and I deeply grieve the loss of the thank-you note.

I am sad that no one stands when a woman enters a room, that students do not stand when a teacher enters a classroom, that no one stands when an elderly person enters anywhere, that old people and pregnant women are not offered seats on public transportation, that “sir” and “ma’am” have vanished from the lexicon, and that phone manners are all gone.

I am sad that divorce is the norm, that couples won’t make it work, that children grow and repeat the cycle, that ethics are dying. I hate that gloves are no longer removed for handshakes and I loathe the vulgar and disgusting habit of blowing one’s nose at the table and using the linen napkin as a handkerchief with no thought to the wait people who have to clean that up. It’s grievous to me that people yawn uncovered and scratch any body part any place anytime it suits. I am bothered that no one waits for everyone to be served before eating, that kids today have no good old tunes to hum and sing into old age, that the fox trot, waltz, rumba, samba and tango are only danced on TV. Where did antimacassars go? And long Sunday afternoon drives?

I know that in the great scheme of things, who cares about all that? It’s thought that these archaic old customs are antediluvian, boring, unimportant and sexist and there are assuredly weightier, more tragic doings in our skewed world with which to concern ourselves. And while I do not rend my clothing out of respect for their memory, I nonetheless mourn their passing. These small, silly customs were just that, but they somehow separated us from more primitive creatures, raised us a bit higher and smoothed out civilization’s roughnesses. Replacement customs? They’ll never take the places of the aforesaid, nor be as gallant or agreeable. Those kindly old rites were never pointless. Genteel conventions, they came into every day use for substantial reasons. But, they’re almost all gone now and I lament that. Thanks Sam.

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Email lc at
See her on LC&CO on local access stations.
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“Senior Moment”

Tuesdays at 1:30.


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