Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker

Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water are now available for Kindle and Nook!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In Which Miss Palmer introduces herself and identifies the Top Ten Civility Offenses.

So I'm writing this play called Miss Palmer's School for Penmanship and Civil Behavior. I thought I'd share the first few minutes. If you wish to leave a comment below, feel free.--Irene



Good evening, nonviolent civility offenders. Welcome to Miss Palmer’s School of Penmanship and Civil Behavior. My name is Vidalia Palmer, and I am here to help. Have some instant gratification.

MISS PALMER lobs a fistful of soft candy into the audience.

Did you know it is a civility offense to rustle cellophane in a theatre? Oh, yes, punishable by incarceration. That’s why we’re all going to reach into our pockets and purses, root among the used tissues, broken cigarettes, and escaped tablets of unknown origin or potency, and retrieve whatever life savers, breath mints, or cough drops are lurking there. Let’s pull them out, unwrap them as noisily as we can, and enjoy them right now. Go right ahead.

Miss Palmer knows from experience that some of you may be confused as to why you are here today. Allow me to explain: you are here because you broke one or more of the Top Ten Civility Offenses. Right now, you simply stand accused. The civility justice system, in all its wisdom, believes you can benefit from community-based guidance, and has appointed me, Miss Palmer, to reshape your characters. I refer to both the letters of the alphabet and the sturdy core of moral fortitude you currently lack.

 Miss Palmer believes that the proliferation of incivility is linked to the decline of our national handwriting. Miss Palmer extols, therefore, muscular motion handwriting as an antidote to your boorish behavior. Because mastery of this method requires physical training, regimented practice and the patience of Job, it has been proven effective in reforming delinquents, strengthening our workforce and, more to the point, assimilating nonviolent civility offenders like yourselves.

Those of you who complete this 90-class will receive lesser sentences and improve yourselves. Those of you who do not complete your lessons will get locked up and probably shanked. Personal idiosyncrasies will be discouraged. The first person to dot her i’s with a heart shall undergo shock treatments, which I will personally and happily administer.

I’d like to remind you now to turn off and put away anything with a keyboard. So-called smart phones and similar devices distract you from the here and now, and prevent you from connecting with fellow human beings.  Furthermore, cell phones carry cancer. And people who text are slow learners, as I shall later prove.

MISS PALMER utilizes VISUAL AIDS, which reinforce key points.

We’ll begin this evening with a quick look at the Top Ten Civility Offenses.

After that, Miss Palmer will show How Penmanship Telegraphs Your Core Inadequacies. 

Next comes a Brief History of Handwriting and its role in American education.

Then, Miss Palmer will lead you in a number of Penmanship Drills.

And finally, Miss Palmer will proctor a Final Exam, in which you will demonstrate the skills necessary to transform yourselves into upstanding citizens capable of dining in public and debating national policy without foaming at the mouth.

Here we are then: The Top Ten Civility Offenses.

#10: Confusing Freedom with Entitlement.

Yes, America stands for freedom, but insisting that it is your right to ignore requests to turn off phones or refrain from texting because you live in a “free country” makes those around you want to kick your selfish behind all the way to Islamabad.

#9: Allowing your animal to relieve itself beyond the perimeter of your own property.

That’s littering.  The world is not your garbage can.

#8. Making a customer grub around for the penny they owe at the cash register.

“If I did that for everybody, where would we be?” is not a good comeback. It begs the answer, “In a kinder world, maybe?”

#7. Attempting to establish false camaraderie by using a person’s first name without permission.

Whatever seminar guru told you that this is an effective sales technique owes you a refund.

#6. Smoking in a public place or lighting up without first asking.

Do I mind if you smoke? Only if you don’t mind if I spit in your mouth.

#5. Disregarding safety precautions on an airplane.

If this plane takes a nose dive, I can think of another hole you might want to plug with those earbuds.

#4. Parking in spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

Ever hear of karma?

#3. Using your alpha status as a weapon.

Despite what you may have observed in business, politics, or on the playground, discrimination, bullying and other acts of intentional cruelty are not leadership qualities.

#2. Believing your windshield or computer screen gives you permission to endanger, demean or deceive another person.

You are not A-nonymous. You are an A-hole.

And the number one civility offense is:

Ignoring, avoiding or refusing to see the people around you.

“Keeps to himself” is not a compliment.

Feel free to inform me of any offenses I may overlooked in the Comment section below. Until next time, I'm Miss Vidalia Palmer reminding you to practice your letters, and be kind to service providers, even telemarketers.


  1. I'm hooked, and I want to read more!

    (Loved it all, with one exception: I'd urge you to reconsider the 'probably raped' line. It could suck the air out of the room.)

    You're seeing my mother today? (Yesterday, tomorrow?) Great! Let me know how she's doing. I left DeLand a few hours after my father's memorial service (thank you again for coming) and have been 'stuck' in Europe ever since.

  2. I'm seeing your mom June 27 for lunch. Looking forward to it.

    Re your comment, is "shanked" better?

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