Polite

A darling reader dropped me a line about this and that. One of her observations involved Monty and Gomery, and how they seem to be a bit more polite and respectful than some guys can be in their early 20s.**

Interesting food for thought. (Although you know some very polite guys around that age, right? I do.)

I have a love for percentages, as the little game Fair and Gomery sometimes play attests, so I'll put this in a percentage, too. The guys' politeness is 85% where they work and live and 15% wish fulfillment.

Now about that 85%...

A lot of young people work for their family business, but for most people that involves driving to an office or construction site or wherever. But the Overboves reside at their office. Monty and Gomery Overbove are "on" the moment they open their bedroom doors in the morning. They have to be on at all hours of the day, since a motel is a 24-hour business. And a motel is a public place, where there are strangers in the mix every day. It isn't an office where a person doesn't see anyone but his coworkers.

The cousins have dealt with that their whole lives. Thus they have demeanors that are pretty easygoing and polite. They certainly don't always feel polite, and I don't think I have to make the argument here that Monty is far mouthier than his glasses-wearing cousin.

(They also have great, strong moms who raised polite sons. Gotta give the moms props.)

So basically the cousins' bedrooms are their only retreat. Same for Fair Finley. She is also "on" when she steps out of her room. That private space probably has a bit more meaning for those hotel and motel people than for most of us (though we all likely love our bedrooms).

(Slightly off topic: That's one reason why I wanted Fair's bedroom to show up at the motel. Her last refuge and bastion, exposed and on display, and in front of the cute guys next door, too. I thought about how I was at age 20, or 19 and 51 weeks rather, and how that would have mortified me beyond all other things. So it definitely had to go in "Wilfair"!)

That's the 85%: Monty and Gomery live where they work. It's shaped them into two congenial guys who can talk to people. Over the course of their fairly young lives, they've probably helped a thousand people with problems both large and small.

The 15%? Wish fulfillment. I like when people are polite and kind, and I don't care if they're men, women, young, not young. Perhaps I'm selfish, but I spend a lot of time inside these stories, and with these characters, and I want them to be people I enjoy being around.

This isn't a universal view among writers, of course, especially those writers whose books are full of villains and such. A writer doesn't have to like her main characters. It's just my thing. I lean happy-sunshine-hugs more than anything, though I do try and keep a few thornier things in the mix.

One last thing. The idea of three people who have been "on" their whole lives pairing up -- or trio-ing up -- intrigued me. They immediately get each other. They get that the other people in the trio are rarely relaxed or able to let loose. They have sympathy and understanding for the others' similar situations.

(I really, really want the Wilfair people to let loose and relax. I think they're starting. Phew.)

Ultimately, an "on" person finding another "on" person that they can safely turn "off" with is pretty wonderful. It sometimes even results in love.

So basically Gomery's mission is to turn Fair "off" and vice versa. :)
 
** Where do you stand on this topic? Does the media sometimes give guys short shrift at that age? Or is it just a growing time in general, where people haven't reached their full potential and burnished personalities yet?

I ran this post by my husband, him being a guy, to get his two cents. He gave his thumbs up. Let me also note that I met him when he was about this age and he was delightful. He also had a bit of a mullet, too, which was completely the cherry on top of the cherry for me. I knew he had to be mine.

6 comments:

Erika said...

I was raised in a LARGE family with strict(ish) parents and a lot of older people. I was taught politeness all my life and so were my male cousins and brothers so I know a lot of polite men in their 20's. I think it's a trait that isn't as valued when you are younger, at least by your peers, because I knew a lot of people who were just rude when they were young.

I think a lot of men and women still are caught in group mentalities and mimic the people they wish to be accepted by and as they get careers and mature into adults they mellow out and become more polite, at least around people they are just meeting.

I also find that a lot of women I've known associate politeness with men and fail to notice that it is not a man specific trait and it's not just about giving up seats and opening doors (things that women can also do -and should do- for others). Has anyone else noticed this?

Carly said...

I also grew up in a large family, with step-parents and siblings into the mix and politeness was expected of us. I like that you give credit to the Overbove's moms, Alysia. My mom gets all the credit for any manners I have, lol.

Also, what you say about Fair and the boys having to be "on" is totes true. I work in an optometrist's office doing front desk and other stuff. Knowing that the way you behave and treat people reflects good or poorly on others (in this case my bosses, whom I love) really motivates you to be polite and as personable as possible. Plus, that saying that you get more flies with honey than vinegar? GOSPEL TRUTH.

I will totally agree with Erika. I've actually come across more women lacking in politeness and manners. I would say the media gives men and boys less credit than they deserve and less encouragement to be nice than they should; but I've personally come across more rude women than men in real life.

Wilfair Book said...

Ohhh, a hot topic! I enjoyed reading your responses, ladies, and you're right: It isn't an age or man-woman thing in the end.

Next question: is there a distinction between politeness and general courtesy? The latter seems a bit more relaxed of an idea to me and perhaps more easy to practice.

Wilfair Book said...

Ha ha -- "more easy to practice." I'm thumbing this on my phone. Couldn't wait to respond! :)

Erika said...

I think general courtesy gets a bad (w)rap actually (wrap...like gifts...it's a pun...HAPPY HOLIDAYS) and I do find them to be synonymous. I think that opening doors, and giving up your seat is polite and a general courtesy. I think general courtesy sends to be viewed as the unfriendly brother of the two. Politeness is associated with a smile and a sunny disposition (in my opinion) and while I think those are important things some people are shy and don't offer up a greeting with a grin. Doesn't that make them more polite though? Stepping out of their comfort zone to be polite?

I suppose I see polite as the happier attitude of general courtesy.

Polite:

a: showing or characterized by correct social usage

b: marked by an appearance of consideration, tact, deference, or courtesy

c: marked by a lack of roughness or crudities

Courtesy:
a: behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others : courteous behavior

b: a courteous and respectful act or expression

So they are essentially the same things but I think socially they are associated with moods and joviality.

Wilfair Book said...

Erika: I've reread this several times and I love your thinking on the topic. YES. I also like how you say they're associated with moods and joviality.

I also like the thinking that "polite is the happier attitude of general courtesy."

This was great. Saving this comment. Thank you. :)

 
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