Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as “empty,” “meaningless,” or “dishonest,” and scorn to use them. No matter how “pure” their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.
Robert A. Heinlein
Betcha you thought I was going to talk about KY Jelly and other substitutes, right? Tsk, tsk, where do you keep your mind? (Which reminds me of the old ripost: Get out of the gutter! You’re spoiling my view!)
However, I happen to think that all lubricants are vital, including the social kind…especially the social kind.
I’m lucky to live in one of the most polite countries in the world – but it wasn’t always so, and I’ve done my share of traveling, too. However, even here where I live, while politeness towards strangers and while you’re out in public really is common, the politeness that I consider the more vital one – politeness towards family – sometimes gets overlooked.
Yet this form of kindness and consideration is one of the easiest to jettison – especially between couples. As a couple become more familiar with each other, assumptions are made. “He’ll know what I mean.” “She knows I love her, even if I’m grumpy in the mornings.”
If politeness is a lubricant that helps constantly rubbing parts avoid wear, then surely the politeness between couples is one of the more critical types, for couples are constantly rubbing together (and sometimes in the literal sense, too!).