OK, here are the rules:
1. If there's a line, you get at the end of the line and you wait your turn.
2. You own ONE place in the line. You do NOT have the right to invite friends to join you in the line. This is rude to the people behind you, who got there before your friends and will now have to wait longer. If you want to be with your friends, you can join them at the back of the line. And, no, it's not enough to ask the person immediately behind you if it's OK for your friends to butt in. This person does not speak for the entire line. Also this person pretty much has to say yes, but only because he or she, being less rude than you, wants to avoid confrontation.
EXCEPTION: You may invite an immediate family member such as your spouse or child to join you in the line. There are no other exceptions.
EXCEPTION: Halle Berry.
3. If you're one of those people who go directly to the front of the line and either pretend you don't see the line or act as though you somehow KNOW that your situation is more urgent than that of anybody else waiting, and somebody in line objects and you make some vague apology but remain at the front of the line, you will rot in hell. Also the cashier will hate you, although generally he or she will say nothing, as cashiers don't get paid enough to argue with jerks.
4. If you're in a supermarket checkout line and you realize that you forgot an item, you're allowed to go get it, provided that (1) you apologize to the people behind you, (2) you know exactly where the item is, and (3) you hurry. If you forgot TWO items, take your cart out of line. You are NOT allowed to leave your cart blocking the line while you wander the aisles trying to recall the ingredients for Beef Tongue Flambeau.
NOTE: Before you serve beef tongue to innocent people, you should think about the kinds of things that cows lick.
5. If you're in the express lane, and the sign says 10 ITEMS OR LESS, then you should have no more than ... OK, we'll allow 12 items. We're not Nazis here.
EXCEPTION: Halle Berry can have as many items as she wants.
6. At a movie theater, you may save seats for a few people if the theater is not crowded. If the theater is crowded, you may save seats only if the people you're saving them for are on the premises, defined as "in the building or the parking lot." If the previews of coming attractions have started and the theater is filling up and you're still defending seats for theoretical people who have not yet arrived and an actual, physical person attempts to sit down and you hiss "That's saved" and the person "accidentally" trips and spills that stanky movie-theater nacho cheese all over your hair and you press assault charges and we get selected to serve on the jury, we're voting for acquittal.
7. Do not talk during the movie unless you have something important to say. (Example: "My water just broke.") You may talk quietly during the previews of coming attractions.
EXCEPTION: Halle Berry.
8. At class plays, music recitals, graduations, etc., you may save a few seats for your IMMEDIATE FAMILY and then only for a reasonable time. You may not arrive an hour early and squat at the end of a row, or even two rows, and save large blocs of seats for relatives so distant that some of them are not even vertebrates.
NOTE: This rule applies even if you have turned the seating area into an indoor yard sale by marking each "saved" seat with a personal item such as a sweater, purse, sock, brassiere, etc.
EXCEPTION: If we see a seat marked by dentures, we're sitting somewhere else.
9. If you're talking on your cell phone in public and people keep glancing at you, it's not because they're impressed by the fact that you are a busy, productive person. It's because YOU'RE TALKING TOO LOUD.
10. (This rule was suggested by our Research Department, Judi Smith, who one day will open fire with a machine gun in a public restroom): If you're a woman using a toilet and, because you are dainty and fastidious, you elect not to sit on the seat, but instead hover over it like a UFO from the Planet Weewee, and as a result you spatter the seat, do NOT just leave your mess, as if no human will ever use this toilet again. CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF.
EXCEPTION: Sorry, Halle. Judi says you, too.
- Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.