In My Own Little World: Be chivalrous, be polite
You hear it all the time. On a bus, in a plane, outside a garage, under a canopy, people are whispering it to each other in a creepy tone of voice. “Chivalry is dead,” they say. And you agree with them. You say “Yeah, I haven’t seen an act of chivalry since the Great Depression, and I wasn’t even alive then!”
But for all the talk of chivalry’s untimely demise, I have a feeling it’s only in a coma, ready to spring back to life if enough people will buy in and resurrect it.
The purpose of this column is to give practical tips to wake up chivalry for both men and women so that we can live in a society where women never have to scoot in their own chairs, open their own doors, write their own research paper or hold their own purses while they peruse every store in the mall. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the picture.
But first I must delve into the deep and complicated history of chivalry. You see, one day long ago in the middle ages, a man named Chival decided to open the very first castle door so that a fair maiden named Renee could go through. He then pushed her chair in for her at the annual medieval community banquet, and held her satchel as she used the powder room. Thus, a legend was born. Eventually, King Arthur and his knights started picking up on this way to treat a lady, and they would say “you’re so much like Chival, it’s almost chivalrous!” (I believe it was actually a lesser known knight who coined the phrase, but I’m almost sure Lancelot took credit for it. Also, none of this is true).
Fast forward a few centuries and Medieval Times gave way to the Age of Enlightenment, and that gave way to me falling asleep in World History class, and by the time I woke up we were already in the present, and no one does chivalrous things anymore.
The cause of death for chivalry is still unclear. Men blame women for wanting to be independent and thus refusing their acts of kindness. Women blame men for being complete morons. Animals don’t blame anybody, but they could really benefit from learning how to open doors for themselves.
So what is the conclusion? Be chivalrous, and chivalry will come to you.
Men, open doors for ladies, and not begrudgingly. Give them the respect they deserve without being chauvinistic or looking down on them. Treat them like a lady, whether they’re your date that particular week or not. Hold their purse with pride, knowing you’re making it easier for them to pick out various consumer goods from the mall. Push their seat in not because they can’t do it for themselves, but because it makes it easier and less of the awkward “pull my seat toward the table” scenario. Just be a gentleman, goshdarnit!
Ladies, you’re not off the hook here. You need to realize that when a guy holds a door open for you, he doesn’t think you’re weak or less of a person, he’s just trying to be nice. Shoot him a smile and a “thank you” to support his behavior. Give men opportunities to be chivalrous. If they don’t take them, fine, they’re jerks, but if they do, you’ve helped create a society where men are gentleman and ladies don’t have to feel inferior because of it.
I know not everyone believes in chivalry anymore, and it’s a more complicated issue with gender identification these days, but I’m an old fashioned kind of guy.
And like that guy from Monty Python, Chivalry is crying out “I’m not dead yet!”
With a little effort, we could make this world a better place. Or we could just plant some trees and call it a day…
The random thought of the week is this: If you took all the plastic bottles in all the landfills in the world and put them in Florida, do you think anyone would notice?
Stay suave, party people.