Laments? I’ve Had A Few...
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
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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