On the way to American University this afternoon I listened to Kojo Nnamdi discuss manners and etiquette on NPR. They opened with the definition of 'boorish' as someone who only thinks of themselves and never of anyone else and then went into rules about things like, what to do when someone asks you to pass the salt? You pass the salt AND pepper, of course. Why? Because you are anticipating their future needs and being courteous in considering them. One of the guests later suggested that violence in the work place largely stemmed from bad manners and poor etiquette, because people aren't considerate of one another and only think of themselves. The guests scope of "violence" in this scenario spanned from shoving someone to the severe end of shooting someone and in looking back on all of the places I've ever worked, I can see how poor manners or thoughtlessness have indeed led to ever escalating trouble.

All of this talk of manners got me thinking about something Chris and I discussed recently. When we are out in public and Chris accidently steps in front of someone, fails to let them pass or bumps into them I automatically turn to them and apologize. He hates this. He says if I would only give him half a chance he would apologize on his own and that he feels like I think he's some kind of oaf. I probably blushed a little because I know that it bothers him when I do this, and I realize it even as I'm doing it, but I can't seem to help myself. Why is that?

I told Chris that I did it automatically and that I couldn't help it. My instinct is to apologize even if I'm not the one that cut the person off. As I was listening to the Kojo Nnamdi show, however, I realized it was more than that. Manners aren't an explanation for it, though they are a component because I am, afterall, apologizing for behavior I feel was inconsiderate to some degree. I don't think it stops there because I don't demonstrate this instinctive apology behavior with anyone else. When out with close friends and family members I am more likely to stare at them and call them on their behavior than to actually apologize to the person. Although I will usually give a half smile and look of sympathy if eye contact is made with the victim. No, I've realized that the reason apologizing is an automatic when I am with Chris is because it's an automatic for my own behavior. Even the casual bumping into someone's bag or hand as I pass them is something I stop and apologize for, even if they've continued on and haven't noticed.

Because Chris and I are emotionally bonded I view his actions, on some level, as an extension of my own. At least when we are together. And when Chris cuts someone off and we are hand in hand it is as though I have cut them off..even when he is leading and I am trailing behind. I find this delightful for some reason. Not that I think he'll find me apologizing for his misdeed any more enjoyable, and not that I think the realization will allow me to stop doing it. I think it's delightful because it's just another demonstration of how close we are as a couple.

At least that's the way I see it.