I wish I had a little class.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to chomp my food with salsa dribbling down my chin – at least not intentionally. Neither do I chat loudly in a theater with those sitting next to me. And only occasionally does someone have to smack me for smacking my gum in public.

It’s just that there are some people who simply have it – class, that is. What can I say – they’re classy folks. I am reminded of the old cliché, “I can’t put my finger on it, but I know it when I see it.”

I wish I had it in me to be a classy dame, so much so that my tombstone would undoubtedly read, “Here lies a classy dame.”

So, I have been trying to figure out what makes these folks special.

First, it seems people of class are the same, day in and day out. They’re even-tempered and mild-mannered – predictable. That doesn’t mean they’re boring; on the contrary, it simply says that we can expect them to acknowledge our presence whether we’re a co-worker, the carry-out at the grocery store or the president of a major corporation. They like everyone and never consider themselves better than the rest of us.

That’s class.

Next, a classy person always has a handle on propriety, unlike Patty G. in my eighth-grade music class. We were getting settled for our daily run of do-re-mi exercises before our teacher Mr. T. arrived. Patty, always an attention-getter anyway, had grabbed the chalk and begun scrawling in four-foot-high letters, “Mr. T. has a big nose.” Well, he did, but it probably wasn’t appropriate, or classy, to point it out quite so blatantly.

Yes, classy folks plainly recognize what is and what isn’t appropriate. They’re quick to squelch a belch and other miscellaneous body noises, even when they’re not in mixed company. You wouldn’t catch them wearing slashed blue jeans to a wedding or sweats to a board meeting – although in today’s quarantine-filled days, that might just happen. They know you shouldn’t wear a beehive hairdo to the theater or a Stetson to church. Plus, they don’t open another’s mail, rummage through a desk without permission, gossip about a co-worker or bare every single detail about their lives on social media.

Finally, I love the way these individuals talk. They are good-humored, but seldom coarse, combative or profane. I think they have embraced the adage, “Profanity is for those who lack the intelligence and imagination to otherwise adequately express themselves.” Or as linguist David Keuck put it, “Profanity is the common crutch of the conversational cripple.”

The point is, you don’t often hear classy people use poor language – they know their grammar and have a great vocabulary. More than that, they truly avoid speaking ill of others. Like Thumper, the Bunny in the movie Bambi, they believe, “If you can’t say sumthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

I suppose what I really want is to arrive at the place Greek philosopher Plato (429?–347 B.C.E.) spoke about when he advised, “When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them.”

Hmmmm … I think I may have a long way to go.

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