I was in a room the other day when a man sneezed. That someone said "bless you" was a minor surprise. With the way things are going with civility these days, I'm surprised someone didn't scold him for being loud. Or worse yet, smack him upside the head.
That's where we're at, it seems. People popping off whenever, however they want. It's not about who has the best ideas, but who can be loudest in relaying those ideas. And you better not do or say anything that I disagree with. The economy may still be having its problems, but we've certainly seen no recession when it comes to boorish behavior.
Had a big run of it recently. From tennis stars behaving badly to U.S. representatives doing the same, America is all too happy to show its teeth. It doesn't matter whether you make a questionable line call or a speech that isn't universally accepted, prepare to be yelled at or shouted down.
Tennis star Serena Williams, she of the cutesy Oreo racing league ads, got in on it this weekend at the U.S. Open. Called for a foot fault, she went into a tirade against a line judge. In addition to questioning the call, Serena told said judge that she was going to shove the ball down her (expletive deleted) throat. What, no Oreos?
Must have been something in the air in New York City - actually, I'm sure there always is - because there were more problems in the men's championship match. Roger Federer, a usually genteel Swiss champion, voiced his displeasure at a call like some sort of junior John McEnroe. So much for neutrality.
But sports is hardly the only arena for our behavioral decay. Even if you've never watched MTV, by now you've heard about hip-hop artist Kanye West interrupting country singer Taylor Swift's acceptance speech after she won an award during the Video Music Awards broadcast.
As a shocked Swift looked on, Kanye took the mic from her and proceeded to tell the audience that Beyonce had the better video and should have won. It was hard to tell who was more surprised - Beyonce or Taylor Swift. Later in the program, after Beyonce won an award, she graciously allowed Taylor Swift to finish her speech.
But that class act couldn't make up for the behavior of Kanye, who went on "The Jay Leno Show" Monday night and said: "It was rude, period." Thank you for clearing that up, Kanye. Now let me go back to daydreaming that it was Eminem you interrupted instead.
Then again, how can we hold our musical artists to higher standards than our elected representatives? No matter your politics, we should be able to agree that the office of the president of the United States deserves more respect than that of either hip-hop or country artist.
But that didn't stop Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina from interrupting Barack Obama's speech on healthcare with the now infamous shout of "You lie!"
You don't like Obamacare? Fine, write an op/ed, update your blog or go on CNN to espouse those views. But Wilson's outburst was so sophomoric, you wonder if it was between that and replicating the coughing scene from "Animal House."
"People need to stop being afraid and not bite their tongues," Wilson told the Congressional newspaper, The Hill.
If only someone could have interrupted him. Or Serena. Or Kanye. Or the guy who cut me off in traffic the other day. And said: Can't we all just behave?
E-mail Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.