Another Introduction to Bolivar Shagnasty
I have a very old friend with whom I have shared the joys the sorrows and philosophies of life; opinions on current events; beliefs in the political arena; on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; thoughts of any nature including religion, gossip and dreams; and to cover all four corners: amusing stories the color of which is of little concern. Quite often I have tried to get this dear friend to allow me to share some of his philosophies and stories with the readers of my column and his answer has always been no.
"No thanks, you can make an ass out of yourself with your writing but I would give you a damned good whipping if you ever used my name in something you wrote."
"But I wouldn’t tell your name", I assured him.
"Yeah?" he said, "That’s what you told that "Jackie Who" fellow you wrote about and hell, everybody in Brady knows who you were talking about."
"I tell you what I will do" I promised, "I will give you a fictitious name, a name that no one will recognize and one that could not possibly be identified with you."
After many months of pleading, he finally gave in and we agreed on "Bolivar Shagnasty" a name for imaginary characters that has been in our vocabulary since childhood. Therefore our readers are advised that future articles in this column referring to "my friend Bolivar" or "from the Shagnasty corner" will be thoughts provided by an old friend of mine with the fictitious name of Bolivar Shagnasty.
Just to introduce him to you and give you some idea as to how his thoughts run I am printing the following excerpt from a long distance telephone call he made to me quite some time ago— Ring, Ring, Ring:
"Hi Bode, this is Bolivar. How are you doing?"(You will note that he refers to me as Bode, which he calls a Bodenhamer shortcut).
"You don’t have to tell me who you are Shagnasty, hell’s fire, I can recognize your voice with my eyes closed. What are you up to today?"
"W-e-l-l" he says, just as if he were Ronald Reagan, "I just received the Brady Standard and I am calling to find out why you are raising all of this hell about men wearing their hats while eating?"
"Because it is a rude, insensitive, and demeaning act" I replied.
"But why are you picking on the men, it’s not their fault" said my friend.
"What do you mean it’s not their fault, they wear the hats don’t they?" I asked irritatingly.
"Sure", said this friendly voice, "they’re wearing the hats , but Bode, you are not getting the big picture, the blame for this whole issue must be placed where it belongs, squarely on the women of our nation."
"Will you please explain that statement in terms that I can understand." I said.
"With pleasure," said this old friend. "Look at it this way. The man wears the hat, but does he wear the britches? Not by a long sight he doesn’t. Do you think for an instant that boys and men would wear shaggy beards, long unruly hair, and slouchy clothes at any time, or wear hats or caps while eating if their women did not allow it? Put the britches on the right person buddy. The woman can insist that her man, child, or boy friend observe the long established rules of etiquette. So put the blame on "Mame". (For the young I will explain that "Mame" is the name of a song that we of the older set will remember). For if she was not taught proper manners in her youth; if she has no requirement for social behavior in her life-style, then it is understandable how her men can ignore those established rules in her company and in the company of others. Or could it perhaps be that the "New" woman in declaring her rights to equality has decided that she can be as rude and as crude as the men with whom she keeps company?"
This being a new angle to the problem that I had not considered I sidestep by asking "Hey, that’s laying it on pretty thick isn’t it buddy? Are you saying that since women are now being allowed into the military; into police work; and into other heretofore man type work that they are also entitled to act like those men who refuse to observe even the most elementary of good manners?"
"Oh, Bode, Bode" he said, "You are reaching an extremely old age but I am happy to find that you are beginning to see a little of the light at the end of the tunnel. To me the prime reason for this lack in some women which many of us fail to admire, is, as Webster puts it "ignorance of social behavior rather than deliberate rudeness."
"I hope that you are not suggesting that I tell my women readers that they are ignorant." I said.
"By all means not" he replied, "but in my view it would matter little if you did, for I seriously doubt that the women to whom I refer even read your column."
"Gee, thanks feller, you certainly know how to make a man feel good."
"While you are treading the dangerous waters of etiquette and social behavior" came this jeering Shagnasty voice," you might want to tantalize the thought of proper decorum in the use of the common toothpick. After all there are those who look upon the use of a toothpick in an eating establishment to be just as crude and rude as wearing a hat."
"I would rather not touch that one with a 10 foot pole" I answered, " for I have, on many occasions, hidden my face behind a napkin in order to dislodge a hunk of meat out of my teeth with a toothpick."
Once again with his imitation of Ronnie he tries to comfort me by saying "W-e-l-l, Emily Post might not forgive you for that offense but I will, for I have been caught in the same circumstance."
" The primary transgression in the use of the toothpick" he continues, "is thought by some to be the act of picking your teeth when at the table while others will say that it is just as bad to use the pick any place in public. Some look at the person walking out of a restaurant with a toothpick in his mouth as being ill-mannered while another might say "That old boy enjoyed his meal and he wants to finish it as soon as he gets into his car." Many of the old cowboy type will carry their toothpick behind their ear until they are outside before using it for it’s intended purpose."
"I seem to remember" says Bolivar still pursuing the subject," that in the olden day, perhaps before toothpicks were freely furnished by eating establishments, some men carried their own toothpicks, which were made of celluloid, in a vest pocket." (I’m telling you right now that once this guy gets started he is hard to stop, and since this call is long distance one would think he owned stock in the telephone company but sucks he is just a poor as I).
"Cooks use the tooth-pick as a cake tester; as an economical and useful holder of hors d’oeuvres; as a napkin holder around a hamburger; to hold together the pieces of a quartered sandwich and at the same time provide a means for the customer to enjoy the last tid bit of the food.
"In today’s world while the toothpick is looked upon as a God send by folk with food catching teeth, prosperous dentists see them as pure dee "gold diggers" since they provide so many patients who have loosened expensive fillings that must be replaced. However, even after a lifetime of supporting dentists, I find that a shirt pocket without a toothpick in it could be compared to a pocketbook without any money."
"Well Bode," there he goes again "I guess I’ll let you go now but if you ever need any more good advice just give me a call."
"Thanks a lot for those thought provoking Shagnasty philosophies on etiquette and I truly hope that they produce more results than mine.
FOOTNOTE: With reference to the above philosophy I am fully aware of the following words by Einstein: "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods."