I hate labels. I think I’ve mentioned that previously.

I hate labels because they tend to pigeon-hole you into a place where it is then easy for others to make assumptions about who you are and how you think and feel, i.e. a “liberal.” A “conservative.” “An “Archie Bunker” type. A “realist.” An “idealist.” A “fashion plate.” A “slob.” Truth is, on any given day I might be any one of the above, but a mantle I proudly take up and a title I proudly wear is, “old school,” because old school is at the very fabric of my being.

I am old school about manners because it’s how I was raised. It was all about saying “please” and “thank you,” about common courtesy shown to others, especially elders, about writing thank-you notes when given a gift, about not interrupting, and about respecting the wishes, property, and opinions of others even if I didn’t share them. Manners are not and never were old-fashioned; being grateful, appreciative, and respectful never went out of style.

I am also very old school about dressing to show respect. While I have a large stash of leggings and other workout attire, I am nevertheless very strict about dressing for the theatre, attending a service at a church or synagogue, going out to dinner at other than a sports pub, and attending events. I still have trouble understanding why jeans that are pre-ripped and wildly expensive are considered “fashionable,” or why anyone feels they can wear them to a wedding, unless the ceremony is being held in a barn and you own the cow.

Old school to me also means voting in person, not sitting home, making some check marks, and dropping your sacred right as an American in a box. It’s also why I don’t buy prepared foods in a grocery store, even though they only require heating and serving. I like to cook from scratch with “The Settlement Cookbook” at the ready if I need it, but more from the old school of a pinch of this or that.

Old school to me is ice cream flavors that include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and maybe coffee or butter pecan. “Moose Tracks” are what I expect to see in the Maine woods, not in my cone. “Birthday Cake” is something I look forward to once a year. It has a candle in it to blow out and is not found atop a sugar cone, and “Cookie Dough” should be exactly that: a dough made of butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, and vanilla from which you will cut, shape, form, and bake cookies, not scoop into a waffle cone and load up with “mix-ins.”

Yes, old school may mean traditional or old-fashioned to some, but I consider it honoring and respecting certain tenets and ways of doing things. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person who believes and lives their life in this fashion is chronologically “old” per se, it just means they have a healthy respect for tradition, values, and the uncomplicated way life used to be.

I love many kinds of music, but I am partial to lyrics I can understand when sung. Lyrics that make sense. Lyrics that don’t try to “shock” me with every four-letter word or disgusting image they can conjure. Besides, nothing shocks me. I’ve been around too long, so if you’re going to write music, honor the art it is and has always been. I love baseball, but I can’t believe what’s happened to the players. So many of them are sloppy, unshaven, long, greasy-haired entitled asses. Must be those signing bonuses.

Although I live in a world of computers and email is one of my main means of communication, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — like an old-fashioned phone call. We have one with a California cousin once a month for upwards of an hour, and it becomes what a phone call used to be ... an old school visit across the miles.

Our friend, Betty, in New York, sends us letters. Handwritten in perfect script with no omgs and lols. She writes out every word, expresses every thought, and does it beautifully. Her correspondence is a pleasure to receive.

Isn’t it a shame that a phone call, a handwritten letter, or morals, values, honesty, loyalty, and hard work have to now be the exception and not the rule?

God, I miss my Royal typewriter!

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 19 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at six07co@att.net or 401-539-7762.

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