Bad Language = Bad Manners
Just about everyone has had the unpleasant experience of being in hearing range of a complete stranger whose vocabulary consists of F-bombs and other words best left characters played by Joe Pesci in movies by Martin Scorsese. In the movies, they’re funny and we laugh even while we see the darker side of humanity. Besides, when you go to a Pesci movie you go knowing what you’re going to hear.
The same is true of sporting events; it’s hard not to hear some frustrated fan using expletives to describe a player’s goof or an umpire’s myopic call. But again, that’s part of the game and even rather entertaining at times.
But, when you’re in a restaurant and seated next to a table with someone whose language isn’t what is considered “proper table talk” what do you do? This isn’t a Pesci movie or an irate fan; this is someone who is a fellow diner. How you choose to handle it says a lot about how you handle life's situations.
In a pricey restaurant I recently had the experience of hearing someone’s table mate use the “fornicating-under-consent-king”, the heretofore mentioned F-bomb, as a noun, an adjective, an adverb, and a verb.
Pretty much any part of speech was fair game. This guy made sure his word began with ‘F’ and ended with a sharp ‘K’. And, it went on and on in whatever story he was telling.
The people at my table were raising eyebrows, looking askance at the man, coughing, all to no avail. A quick look around the restaurant told us that there were no other available tables for us so escape by moving away from him was not a possibility. Nor did we want to get up and leave. One of the men with us asked if he should say something to the jerk or tell the maitre d’ but we all said no.
“Why bother to cause a scene and get upset?” explained my friend Cate.
She’s a lawyer who deals with high-powered execs famous for using choice words during company negotiations. Cate has learned to remain cool and unflappable.
Jayson teaches high school and the F-bomb is certainly not unknown to him.
“Once the food comes and he's got something in his mouth, he has to stop talking, right?”
Even while eating, this man kept up a litany of F-bombs in various parts of speech while he told a convoluted story about his break-up with some woman. He was clearly upset. We coped by ordering another round of drinks. Unfortunately, even the lull of alcohol wasn’t enough to calm our annoyance with Mr. Potty-Mouth who seemed totally unaware of his offense.
Truthfully, when something like this happens you have every right to speak your piece and ask him to please watch his language. At the very least, a manager should have been notified of how uncomfortable we were made to feel. Were we being too polite or were we all just concerned with, as Cate said, not causing a scene? Why were we so willing to give up our right to a pleasant time for this idiot? What was the proper way to defuse this guy?
As the meal progressed, so did the level of vulgarity and when he called his ex the C-word, as in “see-you-next-Tuesday”, we did complain.
"Excuse me, that was uncalled for."
“Hey, buddy, come on, okay? No one needs to hear that word here.”
“Let’s watch the language now.”
“Show some manners, man.”
The man just looked at us as if we were the ones disturbing his dinner and not the other way around. Nothing made an impression on him and I figured we were all going to get into a shouting match.
He was about to respond in a nasty way when Cate sighed audibly, leaned towards him, and said very sweetly, “You know you’re a very good looking guy. I would expect someone like you to have a much nicer vocabulary.”
The Mouth looked at Cate and...miracle of miracles, he apologized! She had undermined his pique by giving him a compliment within a subtle criticism. "I'm just, you know, coming out of a bad break-up. Sorry."
Dinner and after dinner drinks went by undisturbed.
As we left the restaurant, the woman who had been his table mate came over to Cate and thanked her. "That was great the way you got him to stop that talk. Thanks. Honey, you've got balls!"
Cate smiled and said nothing.
© 2011 Copyright Kristen Houghton
Kristen Houghton is a fantastic Lifestyle journalist who writes for many media outlets, including The Huffington Post, More Magazine and OWN. She is also the author of the top-selling book, And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First