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An Exercise In Superiority
by Stefi Sparer
My father used to say, “Act civilized!” to both my sister and me when we were too rowdy in the backseat of the car on a road trip. For some reason, this was never as effective as the “shut the hell up, already” that he usually resorted to. From an early age, I was taught to “act civilized”. And for my first eight or so years, I just thought that “civilized” was defined as “to be bored and not talk”.
I know better now. It also means “to not leave the door open because we don’t live in a barn” and “to eat with your mouth closed because you’re not an animal.” Although, technically, we are, but I won’t get into that.
Nowadays I like to think that civilized behavior doesn’t have to end with abiding everyday civil laws, but can be extended to every day social norms as well. For example, not driving drunk is not only the law, but a consideration to the public and a well accepted social norm. By being sober, you’re being polite, being safe, and practically giving a cheerful wave as you zoom-zoom by in your five-mile-to-a-gallon cherry red Hummer with spinners. “Hello!” you seem to say in your civilized manner, “I am not drunk today!” You use your blinkers out of courtesy, you stay inside your lane, you even stop on red. You are a model citizen.
“So easy, a caveman can do it”? Please. No. The Neanderthals weren’t half the civilization we are today. The stone flint has nothing on the modern day matchstick. Why have a cave when you can have a McMansion? And OK, yeah, they had slightly bigger brains than we do, but they were also incredibly hairy with huge teeth and a heavy brow ridge. You are so much prettier than Neanderthals. And classier. No one can cut a perfectly small piece of fire roasted chicken with a knife like you can. No one can not burp in public like you can! No one can not expose themselves in the middle of the mall like you can! You wear clothes. You have a language. Hot damn. You are civilized.
Being that, civilization also takes a certain amount of superiority, as you can see. And some civilizations are more superior than others.
For example, you might say that its true that Americans speak English, but British people will tell you that only the British speak English, and that the Americans speak American. It is a very well known fact in England that every time an American mispronounces “schedule” as “skedule” a Spice Girl loses her solo career.
I myself feel I am civilized. I’m not particularly lewd or crude and I eat the European way. I am polite, I follow rules and regulations, I’m a big fan of puppies, and I’ve never killed anyone. Why I haven’t received some sort of a medal already is beyond me.
Stephanie is way classier than the Neanderthal.