So, when I was in seventh and eighth grade, there were these classes offered by an local lady, whose name escapes me. The class was called Promenade and was six or eight weeks where we learned to be mannerly and dance a few basic ballroom steps. Sadly, the only thing I retained of the latter was The Charleston. And don't you know I'm whipping that one out all the damn time at weddings?
|Can I pencil you in for a delicious Redowa?|
So the manners things were all good basic skills to have - how to introduce people, how to know what fork to use.
I remember though, that she had the boys in the class escort their girl partner from the last dance out of the class - which was held at the Roswell Mall in a room that would later serve as the site of my first blood donation to the Red Cross.
Mrs. Hutchinson! That was her name! Good to know I can still pry minutiae out of the gray matter as needed.
Anyway, so Mrs. H had the boys take our arm and walk us out into the general mall area.
And I hated that. Not just because it was so clear that every guy looked like they'd rather be dead than walking out of class with me. But because as a feminist, even at the age of twelve, I felt I didn't need to be escorted. I opened my own doors, I asked both of my dates to prom, asked two guys to Homecoming (one consented, the other turned me down to go deer hunting - which was DEVASTATING). I could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan...
It really was about a decade after Promenade that I realized that those little gestures, when they're sincere, are quite charming. And that's a word I use without irony.
About a year out of college, I was in Athens visiting the guy I was dating. He was at a baseball game with a friend, so another mutual friend of ours, Ted, invited me to go to dinner. I liked Ted, and I liked his fiancee Maggie, too - they were a sweet couple, and I admired the way he courted her - they were a couple I would have wanted to emulate. My boyfriend had other ideas, and ultimately, we broke up. But that night, I was having dinner with Ted. And he opened my car door for me. And I kind of mentally swooned. Now, I realize that's gone out of fashion, and it's fine. But it was a tiny gesture that said, "I value you as a person and feel that you deserve to be shown that." I dug it.
About two years ago, I met Matt for lunch with several of his co-workers, all male. When I got to the table, they all stood. I blushed. Because even though I knew they'd planned it, and it was silly - I loved it. I told Matt later that I knew it was an affectation, but it made me feel like a million bucks and that he should thank the guys for me.
The other night, my friend James dropped me off at the house and waited to see that I got in before driving off. When I thanked him the next morning, he was surprised that I mentioned it - because that's just what you do, right?
Well, yeah - but here's the thing. If someone is mannerly to you, shouldn't you be mannerly enough to be aware of it and thank them?
We have another friend named Brian. I see out from time to time - he's from this area, about 5 years my junior, but his momma raised him right. He's a gentleman - always offers to bring me a drink from the bar, is just aware of the people he is with and strives to put them at ease. Example - today is his birthday, and for everyone who has offered a birthday greeting to him, he read and "liked" it. The other night, we walked into the bar together from our cars and he admitted he was glad to not have to walk into the bar alone. Now, this kid is nice looking and pulled together - he commands attention when he walks into the bar. But even if he's aware of that, he's modest enough to not walk in like he owns the place. If I had a son, that's the kind of man I'd want him to be.
Now, here's the irony of it. I'm definitely about as crass as they come. I drop f bombs like some people say "um". I tell dirty jokes, I laugh too loud and I drink too fast. I'm not at all ladylike.
Except when I am.
I don't call adults by their first name until asked. I am very polite to waiters, and I have excellent phone manners. Really, Allison? That's all you have? Nice. Good job. I'm sure your parents are kvelling!
I wish I could really be more of a lady.
Sometimes. And then other times, I think men have it so much easier.
Plus, they have that whole pee standing up thing, and let's face it - that would be awesome.