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“Hey, kid, pass the fuckin’ mustard.” With this classic quote from one George Herman Ruth, literary critic Mark Caldwell kicks off his new social diatribe, A Short History of Rudeness: Manners, Morals, and Misbehavior in Modern America. Unfortunately—for dolts like me, that is—Caldwell abandons the Babe fairly early and gets increasingly scholarly (read: huh?) in detailing the decline of manners since the days of Emily Post. You see, what I need is a book that explains how to politely inform my neighbors that their dog keeps crapping on my front stoop. I usually remember to leap the heap each morning, but sometimes, on those particularly groggy days—gorp!—I step right in the stuff and go sliding off to work. I don’t want to fly off the handle here, but, you know, I’m running out of shoes. Anyway, ask Caldwell to please pass the Grey Poupon at noon at the National Archives, in Room 105, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. For reservations call (202) 208-7345. (Sean Daly)