I know I left it around here somewhere. Oh well, it will show up. I guess I really don’t need it to talk about chivalry.
Chivalry. I could give you the historical background of chivalry, the knight’s code and all of that. Its origins in medieval France, and the many aspects of chivalry. Naw … let’s just go for romantic chivalry. Not the romantic chivalry of college professor’s lectures either with all the poems and literature written in English (or so the experts say, I’ve never heard anyone speak like that). Nope. I am going to talk about opening doors and all that, well not all of that but I am going to start our conversation and then let you take from there.
First though a word about chivalry and feminism. I am not going to spend much time on this, we all have enough negativism in our lives and feminist are usually very negative on chivalry.
First to the feminist, despite what Katie Roiphe or some of her peers think, not all men are potential rapists. Some men may even find you repugnant or they may even be gay, but they opened the door for you because they were there first. Be kind (there is not enough kindness in the world). After you enter the door tell the man you appreciate his courtesy, but you prefer to get your own doors, you can even tell him you are a feminist if you want. Also, chivalry IS about respect and it is not about manipulation. Is this true for every man, I do not know. But it is true for myself and every man I know. Every woman is an individual and unique in her own special way, and so are all men. It is just that some men, like some women, are not very nice people.
Once I had a woman who was remarkably rude. I entered before her, shut the door in her face, smiled at her through the glass door, and then I turned and walked away … humming a happy tune. Very rude of me, and I have not done that since. However, her response to the door standing open before her was enough to make this sailor blush at her language. Now when a woman responds in a rude manner I simply reply, “Yes, and the president can get his own “damn doors” too, but he doesn’t.”
Now on to chivalry.
First there are things I will do for every woman (opening doors is one, even if I have to wait for her for a few seconds). But there are other things I do only for the woman I am with. Chivalry is not about “I am better than you”, “I am stronger than you”, “I belong to the dominate sex” or any of that other rubbish. Chivalry is about respect … period. The knight’s code did not just dictate courtesy to ladies, but to gentlemen as well, including the king.
At one time all chivalric gestures were from men to women. But modern women are getting into the act too. And I applaud them for it. Guys women like to give too, and you know how great it makes you feel to treat women with respect, so we need to not be selfish and let them enjoy that good feeling too. I always appreciate it when a woman opens a door for me. I respond with direct eye contact, a sincere “Thank You”, and a smile (I learn this from you, ladies). Sometimes women want to treat you, and pick up the tab or split the tab. Let them, turn around is fair. Now I am not saying all women are like that or that they should be. But if your lady is like this, don’t be selfish, let her.
Ok, what are some of the other things we can do to bring back chivalry.
Pulling out chairs for your lady. But I do not recommend pushing it in. I had this happen to me at a very nice restaurant once. I was not expecting it, and the waiter almost dumped me on the floor when he pushed the chair in. Let her pull her own chair up. You are trying to be respectful, so don’t throw her off balance literally.
When walking up stairs or across a lawn or any rough terrain, offer her your hand. Not the first three fingers, your hand. You try walking across a lawn or up stairs (or down) in high heels and see how easy it is …. not. When she is “dressed to the nines”, that usually means those very thin, very long, high heels. So unless you are prepared to see this woman you adore (and all women are worthy of adoration, even the ones who aren’t), then give her your hand. Give her your whole hand, palm up so she can lean on your hand, retain her balance, grace, and dignity.
When I am at a restaurant, whether it is just the two of us, or if there are others in our party as well. If it is my invitation, that means I am the host. I place the order with the waiter, and if there is a problem I address the waiter and have it taken care of. Women at the table, men at the table, it does not matter I am the host. However, if someone prefers to do this for themself, I defer to them. Chivalry is about respect, not making people feel uncomfortable by forcing them to do things your way.
I always like those cars before they became all electronic. Something I always watched for was a lady reaching across to unlock my door. You know what I am talking about. You walk her to her side of the car, your car keys in hand, insert the key, unlock her door open it for her and wait until she is seated, and then you close her door and walk to your side of the car. As you walk across the front of the car you look at her to smile at her and she is reaching across to unlock your door for you. Ladies I don’t care if it was the date from hell. With this once small act of chivalry, you just got me to ask you out for a second date.
You see chivalry, at its very heart, is about kindness and respect. You make someone feel special, because to you they are special. Chivalry is about taking an extra effort that you do not have to take, but you want too. Chivalry is about showing deference to someone, not because you have to, not because you are superior, not because they are inferior, but because you want too. A chivalrous act should never become automatic. No matter how many doors you open for strangers, for that one moment in time, that one stranger is unique and special. Do not ruin it by keeping your eyes on your I-phone, look that man or woman in the eye and smile.
Have a chivalrous day!