Miss(ed) Manners

August 6, 2004

Miss(ed) Manners: A Tale of Middling Height, Part I

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 8:24 pm

I had a conversation with an ex-girlfriend the other day. One of those paint-by-number chit chats that cover all the current event bases. How are you? How’s the job? How’s he? How’s she?

Questions that sum up to conversational calisthenics before the deep talk track meet. Once the gun fires you’re off into a full on sprint of hopefully one of those great dialogues you dated that person for in the first place.

In this case, I came away from the ten minute hurdles with one main-point medal, apparently, I write too negative, too much. Taking a cue from this, I’ve polled some friends, family and street performers, to see whether or not this has been an issue for anyone else. Overwhelmingly, most people just seem to think that it’s a character trait of mine, to bitch and complain. Which is an understandable conclusion given the facts.

So, since it was her birthday yesterday, and since I feel like I owe a lot of people an explanation as to why I write the way I do, I’ve decided to jot down the first part of my autobiography. Maybe it’ll help explain why I get so mad when I see some “big boned” person leaning up against a subway pole in a manner that both of her ass cheeks envelop it, forever ruining car 7658 on the F line.

And so, without further delay:

Part I: The Early Years

I was born on May 22nd, 1980, 8:45am. There’s a certain amount of lore and myth surrounding the actual details of my birth. How much of it is true, I can’t actually be sure. The question of whether or not I’m the love child of Steve Perry has been met with only laughter. Suffice to say, details are foggy at best.

My birth name is David Brewster Conkling, there’ll be more on this at a later date. For now, let’s just say that it was the result of an unfortunately timed geneology, and no, I was not a fan of the show.

I was born a full month late. So happy was I in my mother’s midsection that I refused to come out until she resembled Alfred Hitchcock’s silohuette thrown through the silly mirrors at a funhouse. Eventually, when I did emerge, I weighed in at around 10 and a half pounds, complete with drag queen shoulders. My head was so large that its soft, unformed mass was sculpted into an alien-like cone. No word on whether I craved Tang.

So there I was, weighing more than a Christmas ham, laying on the bed, cone shaped head, drag queen shoulders and in dire need to evacuate my bowels. Which is apparently the second thing I did out of the womb. Don’t wrinkle your nose at me, bitch, I was in there for TEN months, with my mom craving Big Macs the entire time.

Immediately preceding this movement, I made an even stranger one. Laying in a swaddle cloth next to my mom, I rolled from my back to my stomache and pushed myself off of the bed, in push up fashion and looked around.

Ok, let’s recap here. My mother, who had just carried me around for almost a year goes through a few hours of labor to crank out her second son. When it’s all over, she’s greeted by a giant baby shaped conehead doing push ups with his drag queen shoulders and taking a champion shit on her bed.

A story only a mother could love… to tell, and she does.

Some time later, conehead slightly fixed, I met my mother’s mother, for whom this column is named. Grandma Bette was, is, and will always be referred to in our family as “Miss Manners.” While most kids visited their grandparents and say, went shopping for toys, playing on the playground or organizing pitt bull fighting gambling rings, I was at home with Bette learning why I’d get my elbows sanded off if they touched the table again.

She’s a card carrying cynic, a fire cracker, a real bitch, all three of the main reasons why I love her so much. Did your grandma have an Atari for you to play when you came over to her house? Mine had a slingshot that she gave to us to try and thin out the local squirrel population.

It was from Bette that I learned every rule of polite society, rules that over the years have formed into my Modus Operandi.

Don’t talk so loud.
This was before I could actually talk.

Watch where you’re going, there are other people in the street.
Definitely wasn’t pushing my own stroller.

It’s pronounced Pe-cahhhhhn, not peecan.
I hate pecans.

I think society needs more Bettes. Hell, without her I probably would have turned into one of those slobbering idiots I’m constantly bitching about. It’s because of women like her, with her “figure out which one is the salad fork or I’ll chop a finger off” attitude, that society stays together.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: In a large part, we’re the product of our upbringings. In my case, I was born a freakish, defecating conehead. However, thanks to my Grandma Bette, I am the slightly less coneheaded, bitter, jaded and socially correct man you read before you right now.


Stay Tuned for Part II: Scars, Birthmarks and Old Man Injuries

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