Not everybody realizes how important it is to follow protocol. Many Philistines in our society do things so haphazardly that it is a real affront to those of us who know better. There should be a law forbidding such perfunctory behavior. We have a law for everything else, why not this? Plus, it would better serve our country and help maintain civilized behavior among our citizens.

I will be the first to admit that, throughout my lifetime, I have not always been committed to civilized behavior. It took me a long time to realize what civilized behavior really was. Before I got married, I had an idea of what I thought civilized behavior was. Unbeknownst to me I had wandered about in sheer ignorance.

Looking back, I think of those times and know why somebody said, “Ignorance is bliss.” And to be sure, I was very blissful. In fact, I did not know how very blissful I was.

Then came the time when I was willing to throw away all that bliss for the, “I do,” of a certain young lady I chanced to meet. It was then that my idea of bliss radically changed forever.

After getting married I realized just how uncivilized my behavior had been up to this point. Fortunately, for me, my bride was more than willing to take up the challenge of nurturing me to a more civilized behavior.

I would not say that she has been overwhelmingly successful in this attempt, however. I am a lot more civilized today than I was prior, which has to count for something.

One of the things that she attributes to civilized behavior has to do with cleanliness, in particular, clean clothes. For some reason she has a fetish that everything has to be cleaned. In my uncivilized days, I had more of a fetish about saving water. Through the years, her persistence has paid off and I have come to the place that I really appreciate clean clothes.

Of course, there is a discrepancy in what each of us deem as clean.

For me, clean is when it passes the sniff test. As long as I cannot smell anything on my shirt, I consider it clean. My wife, on the other hand, believes that if you wear a piece of clothing one time it ceases to be clean.

Then there are spots. If a spot is on my shirt where nobody else can see it, I consider the shirt clean. After all, appearance is what really counts. However, my wife believes any and every spot renders a shirt unclean.

This brings me to the subject at hand. That is, the proper etiquette for eating an ice cream sundae. It appears, so I am told, that the correct way to eat an ice cream sundae is not to get any on your shirt.

My favorite ice cream sundae is hot fudge, which is humanly impossible to eat without getting something on your shirt. No matter how careful, I always drip hot fudge on my shirt. The cleaner the shirt, the bigger the smudge.

It is for this reason that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has laid down some very strict rules when it comes to ice cream sundaes. No ice cream sundaes!

Period! For the most part, I do not let her catch me eating an ice cream sundae.

I have tried everything under the sun to master the etiquette of properly eating an ice cream sundae. No matter what I do or try, the result is always the same. Some little smidgen of fudge on my clothing somewhere.

I recently came to a milestone in my pursuit of ice cream sundaes. At first, I thought it was an ingenious plan. In the beginning, it looked promising. It went simply like this. Since a hot fudge sundae usually drips on my shirt evidencing the fact that I indulged in the forbidden delicacy, I switched to strawberry sundaes where there is absolutely no chance of smearing your shirt with fudge.

This plan of mine worked for several months but came crashing down this past week. I had indulged in a very delicious strawberry sundae and thought I had gotten away with it. When I got home my wife looked at me and then said, “What is that stain on your shirt?”

Knowing that if I confess I had an ice cream sundae I would be in deep trouble the thought occurred to me until I took my chance.

“I think it’s lipstick,” I said with a smile on my face.

“Oh, I thought it was strawberry syrup,” she said.

I am not sure what that means but I did not want to pursue the subject at the time.

I am learning that some things are not worth the effort. The apostle Paul thought this too.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23 KJV).

There is a proper way of doing everything and some things are not worth doing at all.


Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Fla. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at (866) 552-2543 or e-mail His web site is

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