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Jodi O'Brien, chairwoman of the sociology department at Seattle University, applies sociological jargon to the interactions she sees every day.Seattle's "social script," she says, can ultimately lead to "alienation" and "isolation." "Politeness is a poor substitute for intimacy and genuine friendship."Now, after penetrating a circle of friends made up mostly of fellow transplants, Katz observes that Seattle's rules of engagement are opposite those of her suburban Jersey hometown.Another has it that the Seattle Nice/Ice phenomenon is rooted in a historic intersection of Nordic-Asian reserve.
When she arrived from Orange County, potential-friend types would say, "Hey, let's do something sometime." And she thought they meant it. "People would seem shocked; I was seen as aggressive for asking people to do a specific thing at a specific time." Finally, she has "cultivated" — she uses that word to underscore that this wasn't, after all, some natural process — a circle of friends, including some she met on Craig's List, an online bulletin board.
She instructs that it’s impolite to discuss religion, politics or the war in general social settings. But getting beyond mere social graces is harder here. De Groot's Wallingford Charm School, children learn which forks to use when, and that one must always pass the salt and pepper together.
Polite she can teach: "Being polite is a social grace that doesn't need to go any farther," she says. Just the other day I was loading my car at Costco and a nice man said to me, 'May I take your cart back for you?
They especially appreciate our smiley wait staff and cheerful salespeople. "I think it's good to be polite but reserved in your emotions," she says.
"It's quite lovely to say no thank you, very kindly, and be on your way."You don't want to be perceived as flamboyant here," he says. Pam Tate and her Pomeranian-Schipperke mix Jett see the same people each week at the Magnuson Park off-leash area.