I was reminded last night that I’m not so old fashion as I thought and definitely not as well-mannered as my father’s generation was before me. Some things that I realized we have lost in a matter of a generation:
1) We don’t open doors for women any more. This was one of the first things that my mother insisted the males in our home did no matter what the circumstances. ‘Why do I need to open a door for a woman?’ I would ask. They have arms and hands too. The response was simple even if it didn’t answer my question – because it’s what gentlemen do. The fact that I rarely see this happening anymore is sad. The fact that many women don’t want us to open doors for them or that they are surprised when we actually do it says a lot about how much we men have lost our desire to be courteous. Whether it’s the car door or a door to the department store, any door you open will open her heart.
2) We don’t stand up when a woman excuses herself from the dinner table. This one is really old school because the only time I ever stood up from the dinner table is when I was done and needed to clear my plate before hurrying off to play/read/sleep/use the restroom. Did we just get too lazy to observe this formality? I mean, it is a pain in the gluteus maximus and a workout on the thighs when you’re forced to stand up every time a woman needs to visit the powder room but there is an enormous show of respect in the act and I think it’s something that we need to revive in our culture if only to show that we acknowledge the fact that most of the elegance just left the room when the ladies depart.
3) We don’t admire beauty anymore – at least not in the genteel way our fathers did. We don’t compliment a woman unless it is in hushed, secretive tones and in words that would embarrass a truck driver. We don’t tell her that she is stunning seven days a week but reserve our praise for the days when it is obvious that she’s upset because we haven’t noticed. Every woman deserves to be treated like royalty, not like an object. Today’s form of admiration looks a bit more like ogling and sounds a lot more like lewdness. My mother’s generation would have flushed and died of embarrassment at our way of appreciating beauty. It’s time we taught our sons (if we haven’t already) that this form of flattery is unacceptable and offensive.
4) There are no more knights in shining armor – only nights with shiny apparel. When a woman is in need we call a specialist. Leaky faucet? Call a plumber. Flat tire? Call road-side assistance. She’s stuck somewhere and needs a ride? I’ll call a cab. Some guys call this, ‘being resourceful’. I like to call this ‘eternal bachelorhood’. If your lady friend (or any woman in your life) can’t depend on you for help, comfort and support there’s a phrase for that too – Break Up! Too many times I have seen guys act like they are the prima donna in the relationship and the women in their life need them not the other way around. The truth as I have learned over the lonely years of being a jerk is that women are much more resourceful and independent than we think and you only need to underappreciate her once before she goes off in search of a man who does appreciate her. So protect her heart, her trust and feelings like a real man should.
5) We think the word ‘Escort’ only refers to paid companionship. Its prom season at your local high school but if you sit back and watch these young couples head off to their night of fun you’ll notice that the only way you can tell that couples are enjoying the evening together is by their matching outfits and their color of choice. You rarely see a young man offer his arm, assist her with her chair, offer her his coat when there is a chill in the air or at the very least, listen to and respond to her questions. I have uncles who have done those things for my aunties every single day that they have been married and probably ever since they were dating. There are senior couples in my neighborhood who do these types of things all the time out of habit and respect for each other and that is what it means when you escort your companion in public – it is a sign that you cherish, love and respect another person enough to let the world know.
6) Be courteous to others is a way of being courteous to each other. My wife gets absolutely embarrassed, sometimes downright mortified when I am aggravated with the wait staff at a restaurant or even with the poor high school girl dishing our popcorn at the movie theater. I’m still working on that unfortunately but I’ve at least come to the realization that when I do fly off the handle I am not only disrespecting someone else, I’m also showing little to no regard and esteem for my wife’s feelings. If I can’t treat a stranger with regard and dignity, what am I communicating to others about my own relationships with the people that I supposedly love?
There are dozens of examples of things that we no longer do as a society because it is considered old-fashioned, its blasé and we can’t be bothered. There was a feeling of refinement that we decided at some point in our history is dated, confining even chauvinistic. The truth is by losing our gentility we have become jaded to courtesy and opposed to civility and elegance. I for one believe that there is a need more than ever for class and gallantry in our society where complacency, annoyance and insolence are the norm.
We need men with panache. We need men with class.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me what’s on your mind.