Before I go on another date, I want to know up front the answer to a important question that can mean the difference between a good relationship and one that shows up on Jerry Springer: Am I expected to open doors for her or not? You wouldn't think that would be much of a mystery. You'd be wrong.
Let me explain by first taking a brief look at chivalry. Many people think chivalry is dead. Many people also voted for Al Gore. You can't trust many people.
Anyway, chivalry started in the days of the knights. It was easy to be chivalrous then. The ladies were dressed in heavy, billowing gowns, and the men were dressed in heavy, shiny armor. Since it typically took both men and women two hours to get dressed, neither sex was all that excited about taking anything off. Not to mention that the weight of their clothes and armor tended to put a strain on the back and thus the ardor. So ladies and knights went around sighing with unspoken love and swooning with passion or sometimes sunstroke.
Ever so often, a lady would give her knight an article of her clothing -- usually a perfumed handkerchief. The knight would then place it in his gauntlet and sniff it now and then. (This was, of course, before the invention of hair-spray and glue, two products that would sweep the sniffing market by storm in the 15th century.)
He sniffed for two reasons: one, to remind him of his lady-love, and two, they didn't have deodorant then. After a hard day knighting in that hot armor, a knight smelled pretty rank. (Their odor explains why some knights could kill several men with one blow. The knights had to lift their arms to swing their swords. With a good wind behind them, they could wipe out a whole troop.)
All that sighing, swooning, knighting and sniffing left little time for loving. As a result, the knights and their ladies died out. Fortunately, enough commoners and serfs existed to keep humanity going.
As you can tell, chivalry was easy then. All the ladies had to do was be beautiful and lay in a large supply of handkerchiefs, and all the men had to do was kill a few dragons and bully some serfs. What could be simpler?
Times have changed since then. For one thing, it's practically impossible to find a serf, even for Republicans. For another, women have struggled to win an equal place in society, and some of them feel that chivalry is just a way to keep women downtrodden.
A couple of days back, I took a woman to dinner. At the restaurant, I jumped out of my car and went over to her side to open the door. She reached for her purse and opened her door at the same time. The door struck me directly on my knees, pinning me against the truck parked beside us.
Still not looking up, she decided the door was caught on something (she thought it might have been her seatbelt, she told me later) and pushed harder. I would have yelled but couldn't draw in enough air to breathe. She even closed the door and opened it a couple more times, baffled by its refusal to swing wide. Less you think I was enjoying becoming a decal on the truck, I must explain that I couldn't walk and would have fallen except for the truck's mirror, which luckily was buried in my kidneys and holding me up.
She finally got out of the car and asked, "What were you doing?"
"I was opening the door for you," I said through teeth gritted with pain.
"Why?" she asked.
"It's how a man shows a woman he's dating that he respects her," I said.
"It sounds like you think women are weaklings that need to be taken care of and kept in the kitchen," she said. "I can open my own doors, thank you very much, and I can make my way in the world without a man to guide me!"
"So does that mean that you want to pick up the check or should we just share it?" I asked.
"Does that mean you don’t want to kiss me goodnight?" she snapped.
We'll close the curtain on that date other than to mention that she really knew how to fight and I was lucky to get away with most of my hair. Anyway, my point -- at least I think it was my point -- is that chivalry isn't dead; it just has fallen and can't get up.
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