Sitting on the piazza of a grand Charleston house yesterday, the beauty and bliss of a perfect early evening was tainted by a disturbing story relayed by a friend regarding her 16 year old son and one of his friends. Yes this story takes place within the confines of the Holy City, but in an even rarer world referred to as “The Peninsula” by those who were born, schooled and stayed here. This is a tight coterie of families who grew up together, went to private schools together, socialize together and often refer to nearly everyone as “cousin” half the time, I believe, because they know they are related somehow but don’t remember the exact branch of the family tree at times.
This Charleston lady, let’s call her Mrs. Rutledge, was telling me she was awakened the night before by the sound of loud voices on her back porch around 3 in the morning. She walked down to discover her 16 year son, his friend and two girls drinking beer. Well, this was a problem for any mother and she furiously began to deal with the situation. She knew the other boy as a classmate of her son, but the girls were strangers to her. She asked their names to which the girls replied with fake names. Infuriating and disrespectful to say the least. She then asked the other boy, let’s call him Sebastian, if his parents knew where he was. Sebastian, who was lying insouciantly on the sofa, said that his parents did not care (which was probably another untruth) but this was not the most shocking part of the story. Mrs. Rutledge lowered her voice while leaning in and said. “And do you know that Sebastian just laid there, not even bothering to stand up?”
This is no prude mother. In fact, I have shared many a healthy libation with her and her husband at social events around town. She is open-minded and tolerant with the ways of teenagers and is under no illusions understanding that teens will be teens and they will find their way into trouble. But to stand on her own porch with a friend of her son’s lying on her sofa at 3 in the morning NOT standing when she entered the space was the ultimate insult. Granted, this kid is “From off” as Charlestonians say about people who move here, but From off or not, this kid has now been marked as someone with no respect for his elders or women and that is a serious blow from which his reputation will not recover.
Boys, guys, bros, young men let me be clear. This is a place you do not want to be. Article One in Bill of Rites for the American Man is A Man Stands. There is a reason this act is first in the book of rules on civilized behavior for men. It is the first thing civilized people notice and it says loads about your character. To review, here is an except from the book:
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