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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Say it Ain't So!

It's official: Three 6 Mafia has lost it's collective mind and its street cred in my book. reports tonight that the rap group, which recently won an Oscar for the single It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp, from the Hustle & Flow soundtrack, will be collaborating on a song with Paris Hilton.

I don't have anything against Paris. My view on socialites is the same as my view on pro sporting events: the market takes what it can bear. And just as with the crazy high prices of some sporting events, when the public gets tired of the extravagance affiliated with the socialite lifestyle, they'll turn their attention somewhere else. And my motto is typically "Don't hate. Congratulate." But I don't know if I can follow my own advice this time.

I'm writing my congressman and asking that new legislation be introduced banning the use of tough words like "Mafia" in the name of any artist who willingly, eagerly even, enters into such a collabo.

What planet did I visit earlier...

when a colleague and I stopped at a gas station a few miles from The Herald, and he went inside to pay, only to be told by the owner "We don't sell gas?"

Run that by me again?

Can't wait to find the bakery that doesn't carry bread.

The epitome of hoodrich

The guy I saw in the checkout line of a Target this afternoon: expensive looking shades, jeans, and shoes (Hey, I'm a reporter. I notice details), but on the checkout conveyor, a stack of those five-for-a-buck Oriental soup noodles - the kind many of us survived on in college. He walked out of the store, bag full o' noodles in hand and climbed into a Porsche, put the top down and drove away in what we call back home a gangster lean. Not hatin'. If my wife would let me I'd probably still buy those from time to time too. Then again, I'm not flaunting a $100,000 car.

For those who don't know, hoodrich means carrying on what appears to be a champagne lifestyle when out on the town, and a skunky beer lifestyle in domestic matters and at home.

It's a clear violation of Burnettiquette. Putting on a front qualifies as not acting right.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Random chowder heads

  • The guy with the red Ferrari parked outside a Hollywood Blvd. Sandwich shop earlier in the evening. I sat outside the shop waiting for my take-away order and watched this guy walk up to his car, take an attempted subtle look around clearly hoping he was being watched, and caress the hood for a sec. Sorry dude, I think I might've been your only audience member. Anyway, this rocket scientist grabbed a parking receipt from under a wiper blade, crumpled it, tossed it on the ground next to the car, and replaced it with a new receipt. A small piece of paper, I know, but it was very uncool to toss it like that. Besides, how dumb do you have to be to put those parking slips on the outside of your car?
  • The elderly woman in line in the grocery next to me who kept nudging the woman in front of her with a loaded grocery cart. One bump is an accident. Two are careless. Three or more? Intentional, and a sign of impatience or insanity. The woman in front, who happened to be pregnant, turned and asked in an exasperated tone if the cart pusher minded? The cart pusher waved her off. So the pregnant woman got angrier and said if she'd been hit hard enough by the cart she could've fallen and injured herself or her baby. The elderly woman's response? "You want me to hurt you? If I wanted to hurt you or your baby I could."
  • The guy walking by my house who hocked up a huge a huge one and spit his goo on my hedges as my wife and I stood just feet away grooming the lawn. He felt the eyeballs searing the back of his head, 'cause he turned and sheepishly apologized seconds later. I guess I'm glad he didn't let fly on the sidewalk where someone could've stepped in it, but my hedges? Why not that little strip of grass on the other side of the sidewalk, the one that belongs to the city, not me?
  • The guy who tripped and nearly took a face full of sidewalk the other night while I was on my way into a club with my guys. Don't get mad. I'm not clowning him because he tripped. I'm clowning him because of why he tripped: he was wearing really dark sunglasses late at night in an apparent lame attempt to look cool. And apparently he couldn't see where he was walking. Hmmm. Pitch-black glasses in the dark? No lack-of-vision-related accidents waiting to happen there.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Would you like some book with your library?

I stopped into my friendly local public library last night w/my wife. She had to grab a few books to use in the reading classes she teaches to 1st - 3rd graders.

All was good at first, 'till a cell phone ringer went off. And it wasn't just the volume that jarred everyone within 50 feet of the guy, it was the ring - song lyrics celebrating the wonder and amazement of the female behind. The guy whose phone it was didn't answer right away. He tapped his foot for a few "rings," keeping beat with the tune, and then answered like that Loud Howard character in the Dilbert comics. He proceeded to plan out an evening's entertainment, trading jokes and barbs w/whoever was on the other line, oblivious to the intentionally low volume in the rest of the place. That conversation lasted about two minutes.

Then I went hunting for a book or two of my own. But I couldn't find a free computer to search on. No problem. It's evening. Kids and adults are there doing homework. Many don't have computers at home, right? I can't be mad at 'em for taking their time when they do get computer access. But while I waited for a computer to open up I decided to stroll around that section to burn time. What did I see? two out of three kids - they were mostly teens, just a couple of adults - were playing video games. I assumed they were educational games and kept moving.

I eventually stumbled across the section where my books were - 'cause a computer terminal never opened up - and I went to the kids section to check on my wife's progress. When I got there, I saw a row of computer terminals against a wall. And since my wife was digging through a stack of books near that row I figured I'd sidle over and see what kind of activity was going on. Sure enough, video games. It became quickly clear that these were not educational games. One kid, about 13, got up while I watched and walked to another terminal to explain to another kid how to throw a "death punch." I was curious. So I asked the kid the name of the game. He turned, glared at me, mumbled "Doom" something or other, and swore, because I'd apparently distracted him in the middle of a life and death battle. One kid, also about 13, wasn't playing a video game. He was wearing headphones and listening to tunes on On the screen when I walked by? The album cover for 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

Now, I know kids will be kids. But where have I been? Can't we get a kid to even read a book in the library, of all places?

I'm not hatin' on libraries or their administrators though. I'm not even hatin' on the kids. Kids will be kids. A lot of times they do what they can get away with.

My beef is with whatever parents have under-emphasized the joy (and lifelong benefits) of reading so much that a trip to the library for their kids means going to a place to play free video games.

If you're one of those parents, you're triflin'.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It's Hard out Here For a Simp

If you didn't get the joke in the title, it's a play on the recent Oscar winning song by rap group Three 6 Mafia, titled It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp.

Without getting onto a soap box and rattling off my beefs with that song and with it winning an Oscar, I'll just say that I have seen a lot more simps of late than I have pimps.

And in order to understand that, you have to understand modern notions of pimping. Pimping in the most literal sense is bad, criminal, immoral, etc. Happy?

Now, understand that in recent years, when young people and allegedly hip people talk pimping they're doing it in a complimentary way. I have no judgement on that. Some think it's strange. Some say it's nuts. Some say different strokes. I say whatever's clever. Either way, there's no denying that these days young guys who admire their buddies' outfits tell those buddies that the clothes are "pimp," or "pimped out," or "pimpish." On MTV, cars that get souped up in a major way are "pimped." On ESPN SportsCenter, the jocks on the embarrassing end of highlight reels are "pimp slapped." I have a couple of buddies who have supplanted hip hip hooray with "pimp pimp hooray!"

Some people just use the word. But there is another element of "cool" people out there that believes "pimpish" is a status symbol to strive for.

I think it's funny though, because these are usually the people who spend all week preparing for Friday night in the club by starving themselves and neglecting bills so they can buy a going out outfit. These are the people who try to walk in slow motion the way Baywatch lifeguards used to run to rescue scenes (and still make it to the victims in surprisingly fast time - go figure). These are the people who look expensive, if that makes any sense.

Even funnier is even if you use the modern alt. definition of "pimp" being a cool, hip, in-the-mix, dressed-to-the-nines, holding wads of cash person, most of these folks still don't qualify.

So Thursday night, after attending a pool party in South Beach in connection with the Winter Music Conference, I attended a fashion show a few blocks away with a few buddies.

My first reaction was to be in awe at all the glam I saw around the runway. Bling and expensive looking clothing everywhere. And that was just among the people there to watch. But then the Angel of Good Sense - first cousin to the Angel of Death, I think - pimp-slapped me back to reality. And I focused on the show - Sean John, nice stuff, especially the light-weight single breasted suits with side-vented jackets.

Still, before I snapped out of it I asked one of my guys who has lived here longer than me "Who's that?" and "Who's that?" and "Isn't she on that show?" and "Is that somebody?" and "Why are all the photographers crowding that woman?"

One by one, my well-connected buddy answered "nobody," "nobody," "no," "(a singer who will go unnamed)," and "she's (a designer who will go unnamed)."

We watched the show and afterward stepped outside to a bar/reception area where we saw two of the most glammed up cats from the audience. I still wasn't convinced they were not famous or rich or both. They had such an air about them. So again I asked my guy if he was sure about their status. He laughed, nodded, and motioned for me to move a little closer to the suspects. We sidled over until we were within earshot.

Funniest thing I've seen and heard in a few weeks? These two guys, decked out in $250 jeans, $200 shirts, $500 jackets (all prices are guestimates, you understand), and loaded up with more electronics than Robocop, were digging through their pockets like paupers trying to scrape up enough change so each could buy drinks. And when I say change, I literally mean they were fumbling with coins and $1 bills for the increasingly impatient bartender.


Second funniest thing I've seen in the past few weeks? One of the guys was wearing a big-faced watch that at a distance appeared to be a Rolex. By the time my guy and I were just a few feet a way it became clear the watch was a knockoff. The second hand was ticking - not continuous - and slower than the wind-up I used to sport when I was 10-years-old. And I swear I think there was a "G" were the "R" should've been. That dude was wearing a Golex!

So here's my call. These guys were fakers, frauds, fronters, posers, whatever you want to call them.

Wearing knockoffs and off brand clothes is just fine. If we're smart, we buy what we can afford and present it proudly and with dignity. But wearing knockoffs and off brands and pretending you're a celeb and that glam-LOOKING gear makes you hot stuff? Well, that just makes you a "simp," defined in some circles as a wannabe pimp.

And simpin' makes for poor Burnettiquette.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If I was gonna steal something...

Well, I wouldn't. But I'm just dreaming. That's the kind of "if" that precedes things like "a million bucks," "a vault full of diamonds," "a Monet original," etc.

Things I wouldn't steal - assuming I was ever so inclined to have sticky fingers (Again, I'm not!)? I wouldn't steal garbage cans. I wouldn't steal a solitary discarded shoe, or even the pair of shoes someone tossed over electrical lines. I wouldn't steal the lens cap that those rocket scientists left on the Hubble telescope years ago.

I'm just grasping at straws folks. I can't really think of a lot of useless things to not swipe. But what makes me think of stealing in the first place is the fact that Hallandale Beach officials are considering a new rule that would compel retail stores to post signs on where customers should put their carts when they're done shopping and come up with plans to curtail the theft of shopping carts and recover the plundered carts once they're abandoned around the city.

Stealing bread 'cause you're starving? It's illegal, I know. But I could understand your motivation.

Stealing shopping carts? That's just triflin'.

Kudos to

-The young guy on my train this morning who gave up his seat to another guy with crutches.

-Miami for making the Men's Health Magazine most charitable city list. According to the mag, in 2005 Americans donated $273 billion to charitable causes domestically - due in large part to Hurricane Katrina. And of 100 cities given grades ranging from "F" to "A+," Miami ranked 21st and got a grade of "B." Atlanta and Washington, DC were one and two respectively, with grades of "A+," and Corpos Christi, TX, and Manchester, NH, ranked 99 and 100 respectively, with grades of "F." Want more details on the survey, go to and click on the link to "What's New in Men's Health?"

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Meat Rage

If you've been reading this blog from the start - and I hope you have - you know I have a huge pet peeve with people who cut to the front of service lines in stores or interrupt whoever's at the head of the line, 'cause they feel their need is greater than everyone else's. Or, in some twisted way, they assume their need is smaller than everyone else's. So it's OK to interrupt.

So my wife and mom-in-law were in Whole Foods on Biscayne Blvd. in Aventura - City of Excellence - Sunday afternoon buying stuff for a barbecue we held later that day.

I would have helped, but I was busy in Best Buy looking for new electronic toys.

Anyway they split up their shopping list and my wife waited in line at the always busy meat counter. When she finally got to the front and began explaining her order to the butcher, a young guy - she says late teens/early 20s - beaugarded his way in front of her, interrupted, and proceeded to ask the butcher about something he needed.

Wife is shocked and annoyed. Butcher sees her reaction and shakes his head and laughs after the oblivious meat skipper walked away.

"That's nothing," she says he told her. Then he went on to share with her a recent week's worth of ill behavior at the meat counter.

There was the guy who couldn't get a certain cut of meat - not because they weren't willing to serve it, but because it just wasn't available - and was so angry about it he told the butchers that he was going home to get a gun and he'd be back.

There was the string of mostly women, who, angry about the cut or the size of or the wait for their meat, loudly rained racial slurs on the butchers (black and Latino men).

And then there were the line skippers who ignored the protests of customers who had waited their turn, because, the butcher told my wife, they seemed to think their meat needs were greater than everyone else's.

Who knows? Maybe they were hosting Atkins Diet parties at home and were stressed about it.

But how nuts do you have to be to threaten to shoot someone over deli meat?

Monday, March 20, 2006

White House/Church, Which Warrants Better Clothes?

First my disclaimer: If you don't attend some kind of worship facility, that's on you and not my business. But if you choose to attend some kind of religious service, you gotta follow the "White House Rule."

If you're not familiar with the story, last year - mid summer, I think - a women's college sports team was invited to the White House to celebrate their national championship. A number of the young women wore flip-flops and were roundly scolded by readers, TV news viewers, columnists, and broadcast pundits, for not showing proper respect to the White House by dressing so casually. Some people guessed - and they were probably right - that every one of those young women owned more formal shoes, appropriate for a visit with the President of the United States. So the assumption was they didn't wear their nicer stuff, 'cause visiting the White House wasn't that big a deal to them.

I'm not uptight about fashion. My style says balance the setting with your comfort zone and you'll put together the right kind of clothes.

But what I want to know is where were the critics Sunday morning, when my wife, my visiting mother-in-law, and I went to church, only to see several teenage girls who, with every step they took, grimaced and tugged downward on their realllllllllllllllllllllly short skirts? And they were wearing flip-flops. There was the teenage boy, with ill-fitting surf-style shorts that exposed way too much of his boxers, a really tiny t-shirt, and, yes, flip-flops. And finally, there was the grown man who at least wore shoes... With socks, but he capped the outfit off with shorts and a wife-beater t-shirt.

Now, I'm not hatin'. But I remember the mantra my folks and grandparents chanted when I was a kid: If you go, wear your best. Not because you need to show off or keep up with the Joneses, but because wearing your best is a means of showing respect to your house of worship. And no one on the planet is gonna convince me that those teens and that grown man were wearing their best. The adult was wearing expensive tennis shoes. They looked new, scuff free. If he could afford those kicks, then I'm betting he owned a shirt with sleeves and maybe a collar on it. The teen girls? Their folks were decked out in nice suits and dresses that left everything to the imagination. Trust me, there was loot for slightly longer skirts and shoes that covered entire feet for them too. And the teen boy? Tell me he didn't at least have a belt so he could've kept the shorts high enough to cover up the boxers. His mom was looking pretty sharp too. Guarantee you he owned long pants.

Assuming I'm right and those teens (by way of their folks) and the dude in the wife beater weren't destitute, then the fit-for-a-backyard-barbecue gear was triflin' - poor church Burnettiquette.

And speaking of triflin', I lost a good bit of a healthy appetite during Sunday brunch on Hollywood Beach, when a random parade of dudes in Speedos and thongs came walking past our table on the Broad Walk. If there ain't a law about exposed doughy cheeks there should be. My omelet didn't taste right after that display.

All you lifelong South Floridians, is that a Florida thing, guys in banana hammocks on the beach? Or was I just too sheltered in the Midwest before moving here last fall?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Child Abuse

No worries. I'm not gonna talk about beating kids or feeding them broken glass. I'm talking names.

I ran an errand on a lunch break earlier and in the store I saw the cutest little girl - maybe six or seven, pig tails, etc. Like so many kids her age her mother was trying to get her attention, and the girl wasn't listening. So finally, frustrated, mom yelled out the little girl's name: Chardonnay! ChAR-DON-NAY!

Quit naming your kids after alcohol (and cars), people. It's cruel and unusual.

I don't want any hate mail. I'm not dogging ethnic names or names rooted in family heritage. Remember, where the latter is concerned, I'm James H. The 3rd. So I can't hate. If Cletus was your beloved grandfather's name, then fine. Name your kid Cletus. Otherwise, you're setting him up for grief. I knew twins when I was younger nicknamed Mark and Luke. Their formal names? I kid you not, Lucian and Marcian.

Children can be cruel - often taught unwittingly by adults in their lives to be that way. And if you think your kid named Space Cadet or Moon Beam or Tequila isn't getting hassled by their peers you're nuts.

And what's gonna happen when they're of working age and they're going for that job interview. In a perfect world only their qualifications would be considered. But we all know that won't happen. And unless Kahlua is a genius and has designed a better mouse trap and built a safer space shuttle, someone is going to hold the name against her.

Peace, and hair grease. I'm out 'till tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hey, that could put an eye out...

Is what I should have said to the woman on the train next to me yesterday clipping her crusty fingernails and sending them flying in every direction like little jagged darts.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

No backing down. Some things shouldn't be seen everywhere

To the latest anonymous person who emailed me off the blog to question my criticism of the 8th & Ocean model who bragged in that MTV show's opening episode about seeing "anus" everywhere, yes I was right!

You are kicking it in a strange place if you are seeing that part of the body everywhere. And I can only guess it means that you are either staring up the business end of a tidy bowl, or you're having nightmares from your internship in a proctologist's office.

But really, this isn't a conversation about orifices, it's about people trying so hard to sound cool instead of just being themselves that they stick their feet in their...mouths.

Puff puff, please!

Thought I was gonna finish that fragment with "pass" or "give," didn'tcha!

But I believe in eating vegetables not inhaling them, unless they're covered in cheese sauce.

Still, we all have our vices. The question is how, when, and where do we indulge, if we insist on indulging?

I can tell you one place that's a no go: your front yard, when there are children running around. My wife and I were doing a little yard work a day or so ago when she noticed one of the rowdies in the apartment building across the street from our house lighting up a left-handed cigarette. Hey, we were both in college once. We know what that lighting process looks like. As he puffed - and eventually passed out on the stoop in front of his building - kids were running around him playing, oblivious, I think, to his actions.

That, my friends, is bad Burnettiquette. That puffer will be the same cat complaining in 10 years when his kid's a teenager and is putting something other than food into his own body. Kids are gonna find out about this stuff quickly enough when they become school age. Do we really have to speed up that "learning" process by indulging in front of them?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mr. Manners

So I just got a scolding from "Anonymous" who wondered if I'd won Etiquette Idol and if such a win combined with a proper upbringing qualified me to comment on folks' behavior. Two answers: If there was an Etiquette Idol I wouldn't enter, because like I said in my first posting I really don't care which fork you use or how you fold your napkins. I hate to disappoint you, but I didn't attend a finishing school. Second, yes, "Anonymous." I was raised right, and that does partially qualify me to comment on how people carry themselves in public. That being said, I have no problem admitting my own flubs.

And in keeping with that position, I have a few to share for "Anonymous" so he/she doesn't have to worry about whether I'm really human.

This is a one time mulligan though, "Anonymous," because if you had read my first few posts, you would have seen at least one admission to a behavioral flub on my part. But you want to know my bad behaviors. Here are a few. And no worries, if I step in it, I'll write about it just as quickly as I would if I saw you "act 'a fool." Trust me, if I didn't admit it my wife and friends would find a way to post it for me.
  • I was recently at dinner with my wife, when I spotted a friend and co-worker who waved me over, so that her husband could meet my wife. Before I thought about it I'd called out to my wife, who was standing about 20 feet away with other friends waiting for our table to be ready. It was only after I shouted her name that it struck me I was in a restaurant and that my loudness was in bad taste and probably annoying to the folks already seated.
  • Two postings ago I said that last week I made an assumption about a young man, because of his appearance. And I turned out to be 100% wrong about his intentions.
  • I used naughty words a few weeks ago, when I stubbed my toe carrying materials out of a hardware store. Might've been excusable, but there was a woman with a small child standing within what I believed to be earshot of me. The woman didn't react and the child was oblivious. So maybe they didn't hear me. But it still wasn't cool on my part.

"Anonymous," I hope those examples demonstrate that I'm human enough for you. I forgot to tell you the other thing that qualifies me to comment on folks' behavior, including my own. Good sense.


I couldn't have just heard that

It's late Sunday night - technically Monday morning and before I hit the hay I'm trying to catch up on TV shows I recorded earlier in the evening. One of the shows was 8th & Ocean.

Now, before anyone makes fun of me, I am still new enough to South Florida that when I see a nationally broadcast show about some element of my new home town I think I'm entitled to watch an episode or two.

Anyway, the show was the premiere of 8th & Ocean, and the scene was several of the male models discussing women and hot bodies and all the beautiful people in the area, while they prepared to go out to a nightclub.

One of the guys, Vinci I believe, made a gleeful comment about "anus, everywhere." Something about when he saw it he'd call and, oh nevermind.

Now, maybe I'm getting old. But I don't think I've ever heard anyone get publicly geeked up about the "a" word he mentioned, unless they were an adult film producer or actor. And I wouldn't have heard that directly mom in case you're reading this. I would have heard about it. I mean complementing a standout body part is natural. I distinctly remember my guys and I commenting on that related body part that also starts with "a," the one that in PG-13 arenas is acceptably referenced as booty, butt, behind, etc.

But you complement standout body parts because you can SEE them. They catch your eye. Even if, God forbid, the part the model mentioned is on your mind when you're out on the town, how exactly do you offer a compliment on it? On second thought, don't answer that.

I don't know. Guess I am getting old. But in case I'm right and that comment on the show was way off the wall, then that scene will fall under the banner of lacking Burnettiquette.

Later, till later in the morning.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Settle this Debate... Please

So Sunday afternoon, following a day of errand-running - mostly to hardware stores and garden centers - with my wife, I had an email chat w/a buddy who is also learning to balance his recently abandoned single man tendencies with family life (wife, pets, home maintenance, etc.).

BTW, if you're a conspiracy theorist, someone who craves dirt on others, or just a person who reads too deeply between the lines, I hate to disappoint you but "single man tendencies" is not a reference to playing the field or cheating or anything like that. It's about those tendencies to be stingy with your time and space, especially leisure time.

Anyway, my guy and I were discussing cue etiquette, because I spent what felt like a third of my day standing in lines at checkouts and customer service counters waiting to ask a question or get technical advice.

Each time I waited anywhere from five - 15 minutes to get to the head of the line. But after making it to the front I'd get maybe a few seconds into my question before being interrupted by another shopper, who without warning began asking my helper how to fix their problem.

The first time I brushed it off, 'cause the interruption lasted less than 30 seconds. But the next half dozen times I thought about the fact that the person interrupting me hadn't stood in line in front of or behind me, and he annoyed me. They'd walked up, seen the long line, decided they couldn't or didn't want to wait, and then justified the interruption by telling themselves that it was OK, because theres would just be a quick question.

The funny thing is, we - meaning all of us who waited our turn - were all there to ask quick questions.

So here's the problem: I say the interrupters were out of order. Nevermind that none of them excused or pardoned themselves before bellying their way into my customer service time. I'm engaged in conversation with a store employee, trying to find an elusive item or get a tip on what materials to buy, and you interrupt me to ask where to find your item or how to assemble your widget? You're out of line, no pun intended.

My buddy disagreed. He said that if I was willing to wait in line, then my question must've been more complex and more time consuming. So it was no big deal if someone bit 20 or 30 seconds out of my time to ask a more simple question.

He's nuts, and I'm right. Right?

Give me your thoughts. Is it OK to skip the line and cut in on another person's time, because you assume your query will be so quick they won't mind?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

First contact, first kudos

If there is anyone out there who claims they never make snap judgments on other people based on their appearance they are lying like a my opinion. But that's OK. Few of us want to admit such a prejudice, 'cause we think it makes us come off as uncultured and unworldly and maybe even some bad word that ends in "ist." Honestly though sometimes it just means we're human and we've bought into the hype about what makes the man or woman.

I make snap judgments all the time. I usually find myself later doing a Homer Simpson - you know, "Doh!" and slapping my forehead - when I learn my assumptions were wrong.

One of those times was earlier today, when waiting to board my train -no, I'm not a hippie, but I do dig public transpo - I saw a young man in his late teens/early 20s come running for the train like O.J. through the airport in a Hertz commercial. He sported a crazy 'do, crazy clothes - not raggedy or anything, just out there for my tastes, and a sullen look.
  • First, I thought "He's worried he's gonna miss the train."
  • Second, I thought "No way he's gonna miss the train. We've still got a minute till the doors close and he's 10 yards away at most."
  • Third, I spotted the elderly woman with the roller suitcase in tow at the steps of the train door closest to me.
  • Fourth, I observed my sullen friend boring holes through suitcase woman with his eyes and making a beeline for her position.
  • Fifth, my heart began to beat a little faster 'cause I jumped to the conclusion that he was gonna knock her over, grab the suitcase and run. And I was asking myself if I had the wherewithal to step up if necessary and defend the woman. I didn't have time thankfully to answer that question, 'cause...
  • Sixth, my Homer S. side came out seconds later as I watched the young man stop on a dime a foot from suitcase woman and ask her softly if she needed help. She nodded with such a look of relief, 'cause apparently she'd been standing there with oblivious knuckleheads like me just feet away unable to get her suitcase up the steps. The young'n smiled at her, and as she gripped the handle of her suitcase he squatted and lifted the heavier end up the steps and onto the train. He then walked her to a seat in one section of the train, smiled again, nodded and strolled away to sit in another section.

Hey, credit where it's due. That kid had good manners and exercised great Burnettiquette. And me? I'm a chucklehead who is trying to learn to make fewer assumptions.

The Chronicles of Ridiculous

What up, folks? So I'm getting what I asked for - your stories about examples of triflin' behavior that need to be called out.

Our first example comes from a young woman who this morning observed a girl - approximately 6-years-old - strolling down 6th Ave. in nothing but underwear.

Seriously, that's only cute when your kid is like 2, and being captured on film for future laughs and memories among family. And unless that child on 6th Ave. had just run out of the house to escape a fire, a tsk tsk goes out to her guardian(s) for letting her walk around like that.

Young parents, I know we said keep those silly pseudo-sexy t-shirts off your daughters, but that didn't mean keep all clothes off of 'em. Cover 'em up young and when they get a little older hopefully they'll be so used to being dressed they'll cause you less headaches by wanting to keep their clothes on.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Jump Off

Greetings kind readers.

I say kind, ‘cause it’s good for The Miami Herald, and by extension, me, if you’re reading this blog. So thank you. But if you’re going to read it on a regular basis you should know a little about me.

First, read my bio in the About section of this blog. And hopefully it'll tell you enough to make you want to keep reading.

Second, you should know that James Burnett does not care about wack people.

Who are wack people? They are people who don't mind their manners or exercise proper etiquette. But see, classic etiquette is about yesm's and no'ms and knowing which fork to use and how to fold a napkin. I'm all for that stuff, but your folks or your finishing school can teach those things. And the other obvious stuff? Like crime, which gets a brief mention in About, well, if you need to be told not to do it, you're beyond my help.

All that being said, Burnettiquette is on a whole 'nother wave length, when it comes to good behavior. It's about "actin' right," as my pops would say and "actin' like ya got good sense," as my Grandma Rosa would say.

Burnettiquette represents that good behavior we should all exercise when in public and when interacting with other people. Not everyone gets it these days. But that's OK.

I’m the cat who is going to call out the guy using lame pickup lines in a bar at happy hour. He gets a yellow card for improper Burnettiquette. The woman who names her kid after hard liquor or canned vegetables. She gets the penalty box. The busters who walk like they’re bow-legged in order to sort of hold up their 3X too large blue jeans. They get technical fouls and should be benched. The woman who tells me I’m articulate on the grocery store cue, as though she expected me to sound stupid. Double technical, ejected from the game. It continues.

There are the people who feign confusion about where they should be and use that to skip to the front of long lines. Folks who pull their cars into the middle of intersections and block oncoming traffic, not because there was a break in the flow, but because they were just tired of waiting and felt entitled to go. The kid who puts fake spinner wheels on his 1988 LeBaron, because someone working on commission at the local auto parts store told him it looked cool. The parents who let their 12-year-old daughter out of the house wearing that “Sexy Princess” t-shirt. The people who lean on their car horns behind you, ‘cause you came to a complete stop at that red octagonal street sign. The hippies I can't seem to escape, who claim to love the Earth but let their dogs pollute my front yard. Guys who are dumb enough to think the only quality woman has Hollywood looks. Women who look down on guys who don’t drive luxury cars. And ANYONE - male or female, young or old - who dares ask me, an individual, any question that starts with “Why do black people…”

And when I call them out, maybe people who recognize their own bad behavior in these anecdotes will feel a little old-fashioned shame and straighten up a little. And if they don’t, we’ll keep hitting ‘em with Burnettiquette lessons.

But don’t let this be about my adventures and observations alone. If you see someone lacking good sense and want some weight on the issue, tell me about it - when, where, how, etc. And if you see someone in a trying situation exercise incredibly good sense, I want to hear about that too.

Till next time, try hard, keep your cool, enjoy life, but most of all as Grandma Rosa would say, “Act like ya got some sense," and you will make the world a better place and have greater odds of getting along w/everyone around you.