A man-boy with a plaid paunch slides into his car in the faculty parking lot and purposely drops a pile of fast food wrappers outside his open door. Why, I wonder, does he not get out and take those two easy steps to the nearby garbage can? Is it gas? Given the trashy leftovers he’s left behind, I imagine there must be something that doesn’t smell right coming out of him about now.
It is not just his lazy littering that causes me to pause. This is a university lot where I must first look out, not for oncoming cars, but for fresh splatters of saliva where the male population have hocked a mouthful onto the asphalt. The sound of a young man calling up a new wad of slimy phlegm in his throat makes me click my open toed wedges faster to my destination than the cover of darkness or any threat of a would be mugger jumping out of the bushes.
The lack of proper everyday etiquette amongst the opposite gender transcends social lines. It transcends race and even monetary ones too. No matter how many times I ask my husband and stepsons to refrain from doing so, they continue to loudly blow their noses in their napkins at the dinner table. During the summer they wear “wife beater” t-shirts making them not so unlike those exotic European women who suddenly lift their slight arms and shock the rest of us, at least those of us in the U.S., with heavy clusters of matted hair. My meal ruined, the sounds and sights of it all makes me almost dry heave.
As for my late father, a successful lawyer and businessman in his day, he never once spent a buck or two on a box of sticks with a dab of cotton at the tip. An absolutely pointless expenditure, he might’ve said. His house key dug far deeper and produced far more from his inner ear canal than something so dainty and decorative it’s collected in a glass jar on the woman’s side of the bathroom countertop. Not to mention his sturdy house key was environmentally friendly in the sense that it could be reused countless times over.
And when it comes to the bathroom, if a guy resides under this same roof, there is always to be found a well-stocked magazine rack. One time in class I asked a young male student where his textbook was and he replied reflexively, even unabashedly, “I left it on top of the toilet tank.” For upon the john is arguably where many a man experiences his biggest mental and otherwise bodily breakthroughs.