Love & Sex
I heard an explosive sound when I was walking my dog the other day. I turned and looked. A couple walked towards me in the middle of an intense discussion. All of a sudden they were standing RIGHT THERE and it was me and them and our dogs and I thought my presence would have shut them up but on they went, without giving a damn.
"Sorry about this," the woman said to me when they stopped to let our dogs play.
I blushed and pretended not to notice. The dogs frolicked and I observed that the caramel terrier behaved much more politely than its owners.
Finally the couple simmered and we did the predictable chitchat about our animals. How old? What breed? Has it graduated from puppy school? I replied with longwinded answers to keep them distracted from each other.
The man sighed loudly in the middle of the convo and the woman turned on him like an angry pit bull.
"What?" she hissed.
I blushed again and started talking to my dog.
This modern manners is about public displays of affection, or PDA, as we fondly call it. What I have just mentioned is the opposite of watching a couple cosy up, but it has the same effect on the innocent bystander. It makes us blush and cringe and want to be swallowed up by the earth. There are times and places.
Times when it is appropriate to PDA: Your wedding. Your deathbed. Maybe airports.
Times when it is appropriate to argue in public with a partner: Umm.
According to urbandictionary.com: "Public displays of affection can be seen in the form of kissing, touching, groping, licking, nuzzling, cuddling, crossing hands into each other's opposite back pockets, etc. Usually spotted among new couples, frisky teenagers, and occasionally the ‘young at heart' (god help us)."
Touching, of course, is a grey area. I'm a fan of seeing hand-holding couples, especially older ones. It shows there's still a spark. A quick kiss is fine, too, when one is coming or going. But we've all seen couples in bars, or on public transport, or on the street who have been so intertwined in one another in such an entirely inappropriate way that there is no response but to yell GROSS! or GET A ROOM! or PUT IT AWAY! If you're brave enough to yell it loud enough so that they can hear, it usually doesn't bother them. Remember, these people are in public, so chances are they are well aware that someone will, you know, see them.
A few years ago there was a court case about a couple having sex in a Hamilton park. I live across the road from that same park and would have been beyond mortified if I had happened upon them on my daily dog walk. Give me the caramel dog-owning couple who fights in public any day.
Got a suggestion for the Modern Manners team? Email features editor Deborah Sloan on firstname.lastname@example.org or write her c/- The Waikato Times, Private Bag 3086, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240.
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