Two books from my childhood (though written 11 yrs before I was born) were “What Do You Do, Dear?” and “What Do You Say, Dear?” by Sesyle Joslin.
The books offer a funny approach to manners. For instance, if a lady, captive on a pirate ship, drops her handkerchief while walking the plank, “What do you do, Dear?” Or, if a nice gentleman introduces you to a baby elephant, “What do you say, Dear?”
The titles of the books came to my mind recently, after reading an email from my nephew.
As I have said in previous posts, I have five siblings. All of my siblings have kids, which means I have many nieces and nephews. Rather than exchanging Christmas gifts with everyone in our family, the aunts and uncles only give gifts to the nieces and nephews. We put all the names of our nieces and nephews in a hat, and we draw names to see who is giving a gift to whom. This year, my husband and I picked two of my nephews, and one of the nephews is an atheist.
Dun dun DUN
“Are you going to get all religious with your readers?”
“What do you mean ‘get all religious’?”
“Are you getting ready to preach? You know some folks don’t take too kindly to preaching.”
“No, I’m not getting ready to preach about religion. Though, this here is my blog, and if I wanted to preach, I’d preach. For the record, one can preach about things other than religion.”
“Seems I hit a nerve.”
“Maybe. But mostly, you’ve intruded into my post without an invitation.”
“Oh wait, I’ve got a good one … ‘One of your personalities interrupts your train of thought while writing, ‘What do you do, Dear?”
Shortly after picking the names of my nephews, I sent my atheist nephew an email, asking him what he wanted for Christmas. I wrote, “So, whatcha want? Books, movies, a Bible?!”
“Hahahahahaha! I get it! You asked your atheist nephew if he wanted a Bible! Oh, Lenore, you are a HOOT!”
“I know! I love me! But seriously, let me continue.”
My nephew is a great sport. He is not much of a talker, but he will engage in a discussion with me regarding his non-religious views and my religious views. Then again, he may just sit quietly, while I engage in a dialogue with him about my religious views.
No, he’ll talk with me. Once he spoke up and told me he had to go meet friends at the movie theater. That counts as dialogue, right?
“Well, I’m not -”
“HUSH! That was a rhetorical question! I had no intention of having a conversation with you today. Please. Just be quiet.”
My nephew responded to my email. He wrote, “Oh boy, I’ve mostly got books for infidels on my list…” (He gets his sense of humor from me.)
My nephew is not subtle, and I laughed out loud when I read his list of books. He included The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer, by Christopher Hitchens and The End of Faith, by Sam Harris.
Don’t you find that funny? I find it funny; in fact, I find it hilarious. Don’t you?
“Hello?! Are you there? Don’t you find it funny?”
“Oh, you’re talking to me again? I didn’t see any quotations, and you snapped at me to hush. Are you PMSing?”
“Well, maybe you need to re-read those books. Seems you need a refresher course on manners.”
“You’re right. I apologize. I hate it when we fight.”
“Me, too. Now, focus on your nephew. What are you going to get your nephew?”
“That’s the question which inspired this post: What do you do, dear? I’ll probably buy him a cookbook. In fact, I could buy him the cookbook Amy mentioned in her post, “It’s a cookbook! A cookbook!” I think my nephew would love it.”
“Yeah, that will certainly change his view of religion.”