Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just spray no

THE Health Protection Agency in Britain has warned football players that spitting could increase the risk of spreading swine flu.

About time too. I’ve always thought men who spit in public are a bunch of swines.

Athletes and sportspeople have some excuse – all that running around is bound to loosen the saliva glands. No-one wants to see a Premiership footballer choke to death for want of a throat-clear. It’s expected that they will expectorate.

But for some men the whole world is their spittoon. They walk 100 metres to the shop; they spit. They pull up at a red light: they spit out the car window. It’s not as if these lads have been down the mines and have the black lung. The most energetic thing they’ve done is switch stations on the car radio.

I’m reliably informed that urinal etiquette seems to require men to spit before they pee. What’s that all about? Does one release of bodily fluid help along another?
It’s in our genes, they’ll tell you. Yes, and if you happen to get in the way it’s on your jeans too. Sometimes walking down O’Connell Street is like being trapped in a repulsive computer game, dodging gobs and divebombing pigeons and stepping around trickles of urine coming from the alleyway. It’s as if man and bird are locked in some prehistoric battle to mark their territory.

Hawking up in the street is not a biological necessity. It’s a bad habit. You don’t see women gobbing in public even though we have mouths and fully functional saliva glands just like men. It’s not deemed ladylike. Yet there remains a cultural glitch which makes guys think spitting is what Real Men Do.

I’d love to see Dublin City Council taking notes from the Beijing mayor who banned spitting in the streets at the time of the Olympics. Spit spies now patrol the city ready to jump on offenders. Here in Dublin it’s almost like men think they’ll be fined if they DON’T swill out on the pavement.

We all know that spitting at someone is one of the worst insults. Why is spitting near someone’s shoes just for the heck of it not nearly as repugnant?

Real Men might spit but real gentlemen don’t. My granddad is a veteran throat-clearer but at least he uses a hanky. It might have something to do with living through the dark days of TB last century but he was definitely an early adopter of the Catch It, Kill It, Bin It brigade.

Unless you’re in the Wild West and chew tobacco or are a member of the Ming Dynasty with your own private gold spittoon, keep your mouth closed.
Men: just spray no.

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