INTRODUCTION FRANK C. HAWKINS
There are people who claim they understand the dos and don'ts of social behavior. Not you or me, obviously, but prim and proper people, expert in those sorts of things, who spend their lives considering under what circumstances it's okay to eat French fries with your fingers.
Then there are the rest of us. While not the experts, we each have opinions of what is and isn't socially acceptable. If you don't believe me, just ask any two people you know whether it's okay to spit on the sidewalk. You'll get an answer for sure- probably conflicting- but you'll get one nonetheless. Regrettably, people don't agree. Not even the experts.
So, what is a bad habit you ask? Let's start with the word bad, which means "unwelcome or unpleasant." Next, the word habit, which means a "regular practice or tendency." A bad habit, then, would be the regular practice or tendency of saying or doing something unwelcome or unpleasant.
That definition seems straightforward enough. But, on further examination, it's anything but. The difficulty comes when we try to distinguish regular from irregular, welcome from unwelcome. If your action offends or puts the health and welfare of you or someone else at risk, it likely will be judged as unwelcome and out of the norm-bad, that is. Farting in the elevator is offensive, but it's not going to harm anyone. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, however, is another story. Both are bad habit.
Spme bad habits make people laugh. Belching the ABCs for your friends is funny because it breaks- or at least bends- the rules of acceptable social behavior. It's good to remember, though, that every action has consequences good and bad. Belching for your friends and belching in a job interview are not the same- unless your auditioning for a spot in an antacid commercial. You need to know when and where society draws the line between what's acceptable and what's not.
That's where this book come in. It may come as a surprise, but we're not going to tell you to stop all your bad habit. Some are too fundamentally satisfying to be stopped altogether even though they might annoy someone. On the other side of that coin are those habits that can hurt someone or make them sick. You should stop them for the benefit of society as a whole.
Now, let's take a look at a few of our bad habits- the things we do that are at once appealing and repulsive, satisfying and disgusting, celebrated and reviled.
PICKING YOUR NOSE
Nose picking is the art of digging boogers from your nose. Sequipedalians (persons given to using long words) call people who pick their noses rhinotillexomaniacs: from the Greek rhinos, "the nose" + tillexis, "the habit of picking" + mania, "obsession with something."
No one knows who the first person to pick his nose was. That's because it happened before people could write. Popular accounts say that the first record of nose picking appeared around 1330 B.C. in ancient Egypt. Apparently, an archaeologist by the name of Dr. Wilbur Leakey found a papyrus scroll that detailed the payment of three heads of cattle and food and lodging to Tutankhamun's personal nose picker.