Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The dangers of chivalry

      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.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


Jean said...

Easy answer to me, "Whatever gave you the idea I'd even consider kissing you good-night?"

This sounded like a perfect evening for separate checks. If all she wanted was a free meal, you didn't miss much.

And opening doors is a thoughtful gesture, but we women are caught by surprise by anyone who does it for us. Many times, we'd never make it out of a vehicle or into a building if we waited for our accompanying gentlemen to do that.

Keep looking, TECH. Someone's out there.

FrenziedFeline said...


My question is, did you open the door for her when she got into the car? You show your first clue that you're a gentleman at the time your date gets into the car. I'm going to assume you didn't pull up to the curb and honk. (If you did, I'll have to come over and slap you.) When you pick her up at her door, walk her to the car, and open the door for her, hopefully she's not clueless and will wait for you to come around and open it once you've arrived at your destination.

But, hey, if you're still having problems with too-independent women, I've got a sister, who appreciates chivalry, who's available. :)

Michelle said...

Hmm. I, for one, appreciate it. Although, I don't expect it.

But, then again, my list of expectations has been revised over and over again. If they are clean, have nice teeth and somewhat of a respectable past, I am good. :P

Seriously...I think she has some issues. The right girl would have given you a sweet smile and gracious Thank You.

jaime said...

I agree with Michelle. If she can't appreciate someone doing something nice for her, she's way too uptight and probably no fun to be around anyway!

My father-in-law opens and closes car doors for my mother-in-law. I thought it was the strangest thing when I first met them cuz I'd never seen anyone do that on a consistent basis before!

Erudite Redneck said...

Cjivalry evolves. Dr. ER, for example, doesn't expect me to open doors for her, although I automatically do when it seems appropriate. That's the deal, I think. Don't belabor ir. If a little act of kindness flows naturally, that's one thing. But I can see how it would annoying to have someone rush or hurry to get into position to execute some routine or behavior from the past, even from the generation before us. On the other hand, Dr. DR DOES appreciate it when we're going to a store or somewhere and I'm driving if I pull up to the door and let her out, then as we leave, if I go get the truck and come pick her up at the door, especially of the weather or rainy or windy or coldy. So, I do, until I forget, then she "reminds" me. :-)

Gloria Williams said...

LOL! So very funny!

My husband opened doors for me, but I had to "train" him. Men need a little training usually. :)

Texas Susan said...

LOL!!! My hubby has to read this!!! I love the hard day knighting!!! I didn't even know you were a Beatles fan!!! :) :0 :)

FrenziedFeline said...

If nothing else, you HAVE TO submit some of your humor for publication somewhere!

I'm going to create my very own personal book of your humor writing. I just can't let it go off into cyberland to be forgotten. Perhaps you can autograph it one day for me. :)

Ya' know, might be an interesting jump from humor writing to fantasy. Heck, John Grisham wrote a great funny little book called Skipping Christmas that was made into a major motion picture. Think about it. :)

Trixie said...

I'm glad you've kept your humor about it. A considerate man is hard to find these days, so it's no wonder some women get thrown off track when one comes along! I like a door-opener myself, as long as it's a genuine, easy-going kind of thing. It drives me nuts for a man to make a big deal of it. But this sort of kindness is especially appreciated when I try to board particularly large vehicles like vans, trucks and SUVs, which seem to have replaced white horses for today's shining knights. Some days I think I need to bring my own stepladder just to get in the car to start with!

AmberClear said...

I ALWAYS smile and say "thank you" to a man that opens a door for me. My husband does it most of the time, although not when we get out of the car so much. It's rude for a woman to automatically assume a man thinks she is "helpless" just because he opens doors for her. I feel sorry for the guys who try to be polite and are shot down by "feministic" attitudes. Speaking of which. Saw a bumper sticker that read, "So, you're a feminist? Isn't that cute?" I died laughing! Keep on being polite, guys. There are still a lot of us out there who appreciate it.

P.S. That woman you went to dinner with would fit with the guy driving the truck with the sticker reading, "My other toy has t**s."

Lori said...

What a coincidence! It wasn't that long ago that I addressed this issue myself - from the other side. Woohoo! I'm really NOT the only one that’s confused. ;) Euh, sorry to quote myself, but it fits:

"One can actually sense the gears turning in these poor men’s heads. 'If she likes the old-fashioned, gentleman ideal, I should probably open the door for her. On the other hand, if she’s one of those, she might just slap my face off.' Decisions, decisions.

Well, how should he know that while I’m perfectly capable of opening doors myself, I’d just as soon not? Not only are some of them pretty heavy, but I happen to think it’s a very nice gesture when a man does it for me. The older I get, though, the more I find myself thinking, 'Oh, to hell with it. Whoever gets there first.'"

Maybe if you put a little distance between you and the door, just to be on the safe side. ;) Or better yet, open a car door on entry only. (It feels a little awkward for us to sit and wait for you guys to go all the way around to the other side.) Or...

Meh, if she's smart, she'll appreciate any consideration given her. ;)

CrystalDiggory said...

I thought of this blog today. I was in my Jeep at Wal-Mart and I was counting my money in my purse -- to make sure I had enough to give them -- and I guess I was taking my time. My teenage son walked around and opened my door and said, "Are you coming, or what?"