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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


Mac McKinnon

Friday, February 20, 1998


By Mac B. McKinnon

Good etiquette
doesn't mean
healthier lives

Dave Barry is a columnist who writes a humor column for the
Miami Herald. Like all humor writers, he, at times, doesn't
always get the humor across.

I'm not a humor writer, don't claim to be and don't even try
it because in my mind, it is the most difficult type of
writing there is.

However, most of the time, Barry hits the mark with his
column. He pokes fun at the "establishment" such as the
subject matter in this past week's column having to do with
etiquette. For those who don't know what that strange
looking word means, it essentially stands for manners.

Barry talks about a woman who is on a "lifelong crusade to
get Americans to use good table manners." This woman issues
an annual survey listing the Top Ten Most Polite Cities,
among which was New York City.

That selection seemed to gag Barry as it does most people
who have ever been to "The Big Apple."

The woman told Barry that she believed the movie "Titanic,"
was a "good etiquette lesson." Some areas of etiquette are
quite amusing, especially the way Barry writes about it.
Consider this quote in regard to holding and using a knife
and a fork: "I found that I have many problems with my
technique. Among other things, I've been using the shovel
method, and making my turn way too early; I also tend to saw
the food rather than stroke it. Knife and fork usage turns
out to be an extremely complex topic. The main thing to
remember is: Whatever way you're doing it now, it's wrong."

That leads me back to the movie "Titanic." It seems like
almost everyone in the world has seen the movie including
me. It was really good and one of those movies I'd like to
see again.

One of the things I liked about it was the emphasis on
portraying life among the elite such as existed at that
time. That includes the etiquette.

A number of offshoots of the movie include a catalong
selling items from the movie including the wardrobe of those
in the show at some pretty fancy prices.

There is a cookbook out on the recipes used on the ship.

In about 3-hours and 15-minutes, viewers of the film get a
very good history lesson as well as a study on human
behavior, the best along with the worst.

The people who created their movie, while obsessed with
accuracy, should be congratulated on their accurate
portrayal of everyone having to do with that doomed ship.
That did make it expensive but that investment has paid off
as movie goers are still turning out in droves to see the
film. It will probably go down in the anals of film history
as an epic alongside the few other truely great shows
including "Gone With The Wind."

Most of the really good movies do serve as a history lesson,
and yes, most portray good manners - proper etiquette - as
it existed in the time period portrayed in the movie.

As I've noted in this space previously, good manners are
important in life. However, I'm not sure that people with
good manners have healthier lives as contended by the lady
who discussed etiquette with Dave Barry.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is the Editor and Publisher of
the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears each Friday. He
can be e-mailed at:

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