One bad apple ruins it for the whole bunch. In this case, two.
There is a lot of truth in that popular saying. It only takes one person to act rude or make a show, and in mere moments they’ve ruined it for everyone. Yes, the light bulb is on and you’re thinking of one of those times at this very moment. Whoops! It seems that people are still forgetting that manners are fashionable. I love fashion. Clothes, trends, and image are some of my hobbies. However, what really pulls off a great look is the innate ability to let manners be your best feature. If you look great, you need to act great, too. They go hand in hand. You cannot look your best without manners and you cannot have manners without looking your best. Insert self-exploring techniques here.
Last night, Billy and I went on a walk in a nearby neighborhood. At the same time we were walking by a home with a woman and two kids in the yard, her husband was just getting home from work. Upon getting out of the car, the husband made no effort to come over to greet his wife or kids. He just stood at the end of their sidewalk. She kindly greeted him, and asked if he wanted to go out for a drive. Hands on hips, his “WHY,” remark was much louder and more sarcastic than necessary. Sure, I understand he might have had an awful day. However, in his action to her, he has clearly overlooked what SHOULD be his top priority and solace. Hello, sir, how about you leave those feelings in the car and honor your wife who has been taking care of your children all day long? She might want to spend some time with you, buddy! Upon our return loop through the neighborhood, we noticed the man was still outside on the phone, with the woman inside. I guess that fun night on the town didn't work out. There are always those “two sides to every story,” as we all know. Still, a clear focus on our TRUE priorities is far more important than work. Men and women, take note.
Later, while I was cooking some soup, I realized that I did not have any beans in the pantry. Thus, this Julia Child want to-be made a quick trip down the street to grab two cans. While in line, the cashier gestured to me and said, “Do you see that girl over there at customer service? She will help you.” Obviously, I made my way around the woman paying and over to the counter. Out of the corner of my eye, what do I see but a younger man LITERALLY, NO JOKE, WISH I WERE LYING RUNNING to get in front of me with his cart full? Immediately, I felt embarrassed for him. I had a diva moment and a brief swoon of the etiquette expert woes. The girl at the counter went ahead and helped him, yet, when it was my turn, she was extremely apologetic. After he left, “Chivalry is dead,” came out of her mouth. Ouch.
Women are often so hard on men that their inner manly woes often ruin it for the good ones. “My man did this,” and “Can you believe he did that,” are uttered at every girl’s night. We’ve heard it all. Innately, women are more docile. Even so, how impressive is it to see a man do something kind for a woman, out of pure chivalry? I assure you, a breath of fresh air. Although we’ve got those naysayers who, “might not care,” or are “in a big hurry,” is life really too rushed for politeness?
It is a common Marine Corp saying, “The Few. The Proud.” Well, along those lines, the few tenderhearted, polite, dapper, REAL men that I know do make me proud. They open doors for women, give them their seats, and certainly let them go ahead in the grocery line. They are never too rushed to make a woman feel special. Above all, they are mature enough to treat their woman well, while treating other women well, too. For example, if the wife is in the front seat and her friend is in the backseat, he’s got two arms and opens both doors. I love these men. They are each a Prince Charming in their own unique way. Thank goodness I've got one! He is still opening car doors for me and we've been dating for eight years. It is refreshing and lovely after all this time. These kind things make me love him more each time they happen and I am so thankful. It eats me up to see people act horribly and then wonder why happiness will not come their way. Hello? Are you on the other line? How are you treating your other? How are they treating you? Do you need to step it up, work it out, or even get out? Even if you’ve been burned once, twice, or ten times, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good ones left.
Why do I find myself venting on this topic repeatedly? Because I want to see more of it, of course! Last week, I taught etiquette seminars for UNA’s business school. As I teach, I speak to the issue of society becoming more and more gender neutral. Women in today’s business world want to be seen as a man’s equal, and for the most part, frequently do not expect chivalry at work. I, however, disagree. At a business luncheon, I would love it if a man pulled out my chair for me, or helped me with my coat. These things are not flirty. They are simple, memorable, and perfect. The heart of the problem stems from society’s fear that the act of these things is too forward. In my seminars, I discuss both sides, and encourage feedback. I give tips, which like anything I say or write are just my two-cents worth. This is an ongoing issue. It is fought out in magazines, talk shows, and households all over the world. After some soul searching, you might conclude that it is a matter of personal preference. Much is, but, better safe than sorry, eh? I do not want chivalry to be dead. I want it to rise up out of the grave, and thrive in society stronger than ever. I want men to treat women better, women to treat men better, and alarming statistics on violence and abuse to go down.
A lot of my care and concern on this issue comes from bad experience. I have a parent who has never valued women and I’m not afraid to use that hardship for the betterment of others. Because of this, I expect more out of people who know better. You don’t know what you don’t know. I'm getting off my soapbox. Thus, here are a few obvious yet forgotten suggestions:
1.) Never walk in front of a woman. When taking her to dinner, around the mall, or at the park, never leave her behind. She is with you. She isn’t there to follow you around like a puppy.
2.) Pull out the chair, anytime, anywhere.
3.) Give up your seat. On the train, in a packed lobby, at a party, the man should always stand up. I see this all the time. Let any woman have it, elders first and then on down the line.
4.) Have an open door policy. Hold the door open for a woman when she enters and exits a car, building, wherever.
5.) Offer your hand or arm. A woman in four-inch heels might need help getting down stairs, out of a car, or down the aisle at an event. Flex those muscles and show her what you've got. Oh yes, love it that you did two-hundred push ups last night.
6.) Don’t be embarrassed. Although you might feel a little nervous doing some of these things, PLEASE do not. Whether your married or single, you’ll feel rewarded for the things you do than for the opportunities that you let slip away. I promise!
7.) Treat your other better than you. If you are taken or when you will be, show your significant other that you value them more than anything. Who cares if you’ve been married thirty years? Doesn’t your soul mate still deserve the best of the best?