Reading about the whole Obama / "You lie!" blurt of yesterday, my mind gets on the subject of manners.
Raised in France, manners were added to my baby bottle pretty much from birth. Keep your elbows off the table, make sure you say please and thank you, give your seat to older people, sit up straight, make sure you ask before taking the last piece of anything, let grown ups talk etc ... etc... (lots of etc...)
I found it ludicrous and did not like it much when my grandmother pinched my arm when I chewed a little loudly.
By the time I was ten, there was no turning back. "Good" manners (esp. table manners) were in my blood, for better or for worse.
And now, here I am. I hear myself ask my kids for what I consider good table manners. I am turned off when I see an adult slouched over his plate or even worse, chewing with her mouth open.
"What does it matter?" my kids ask. Just as I used to.
And really, does it matter? Who decided that slurping our soup was less ... something ... than gingerly spooning it in our mouths?
But ... I reply to my kids - and to my own occasional doubts: "It really does."