We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"Arms off the table; Sit up straight; Don't talk with food in your mouth; Don't pick your teeth; Don't touch your face or your hair; Don't start before others; You're not a pig at the trough - converse and eat slowly; Don't slurp your soup; Ask people about themselves and don't talk about yourself; Look people in the eye and give a firm handshake; Don't bring up religion or politics, etc., etc." I have it all memorized.
Word to the wise: Please don't tell me about your kids. I only asked out of politeness, not interest. Tell me jokes and lies, be entertaining, and tell me something interesting.
Glad to see it. Our service academies need to be turning out Officers AND Gentlemen (and of course, Ladies). I was brought up right and already knew most of this when I went to the Blue Zoo back in the 80's, but I think some of my classmates could really have used some instruction in this area. Codes of honor and gentlemanly (and ladylike) behavior go hand-in-glove. One reinforces the other and makes for better officers.
Formerly known as Skeptic
Instruction for enlisted men back in the 60's was considerably shorter and to the point. It consisted of drill sergeants advising the troops to watch their language and not sit at the table and ask for the f@#$% butter when they got home on leave.
I was at USAFA in the middle 60s. We got tons of training, formal and informal, on just about every social nicety you can imagine. Meals? 4th class [freshman] year, you sat at attention on the front six inches of your chair -- no slouching. You never put anything bigger than your thumbnail into your mouth and you chewed only 3 times then swallowed -- never have your mouth full, you may need to make conversation.
Lots of other stuff, and each table had 3-4 4th classmen seated with 6-7 upper-classmen who hectored you until you got it right consistently. This lasted until you had passed through Hell Week and got your upper class wings.
We also had formal and semi-formal dances [mandatory attendance] where we learned that type of etiquette and behaviors. For instance, women were brought in from nearby colleges, by bus, and no young lady was allowed to be a "wallflower". Any young lady who had not danced for two consecutive dances had to be asked to dance the next time by someone/ [I met several very nice ones that way.]
The first year we were not allowed to have anything in our trouser pockets because it made bulges. Yet we had to have with us at all times a ballpoint pen and some money. Those then went into your socks. We had sock garters to hold up our socks and hold down our shirts.
I'm shocked this training has to be re-introduced.
Forgive, but I find humor in such reminiscences, and regret. I mean really, instruction in proper dance etiquette. Though, I suppose, such skills might have some usefulness in climbing the muddy hills in SVN. Having participated in those activities, guided by such savants of propriety, I think not.
Oh, about the kids - if it's someone I've never met, I figure that if they ask a sentence or two on each is reasonable. "I've got two kids; 'x', my daughter, is 'y' years old, got a degree in 'a' at 'b', lives in 'z' and does ... for a living. My son is ...." and then drop it unless they ask a second question.
They can get posted anywhere in the world, and there are a lot of people whose only direct exposure to an American is one wearing a uniform. Many of these people have different cultures than we do, and a certain percentage of them just might decide to try to kill you if they think you're being rude. The rest may or may not decide to cooperate with you - and give you information that may save your life or your buddies' - based on a similar perception.
Just as I tell people in my company that no matter what your job is, if you're talking to a customer you are in sales.