Growing up in the Lowcountry gave kids like myself an opportunity to grow surrounded by Nature’s pure beauty and romance. First kisses happened not in parents’ basements, but hidden in the darkness of a vacant beach. Friendships were rooted much like the anchors we fought with to keep us safe from the shifting tides. Even heartbreak was allayed, as the southern sunsets always brought hope for brighter days.
Summers were spent living. We were taught how to back in boat trailers before we learned the basics of algebra. We were young, we were foolish, and we thought we were invincible. My first dose of mortality came the summer after freshman year in high school, when the inevitable combination of alcohol mixed with ignorance made me the losing opponent to an oyster bed. The scars I bare from that afternoon become visible every summer when I’m once again exposed to the seasonal surroundings of that day.
As an etiquette consultant, I try not to preach rules. If you know me, you know that I think rules are meant to be broken. Some rules are given to us with the choice of interpretation. A speed limit, for example, can be slightly ambiguous. Meanwhile, other rules are meant for strict reinforcement as running a red light could cause collateral damage far worse than a speeding ticket.
But, at what point does a societal rule become less of a mere suggestion and more a recommendation designed to reduce conflict and prevent collision? As summer heats up, let us keep in mind the importance of civility and safety. Respect mother nature’s temper, have courtesy for those around us, and show compassion for a community grounded in our common love for humanity and hospitality.