Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"I need a crash cart, Chivalry is dying!"

Is chivalry really dead?  Well...I know I'll get a lot of comments to the contrary, citing specific things people's significant others have said or done that could be considered chivalrous...giving you his coat when a cold wind blows, opening the car door for you, walking on the outside of the sidewalk (do you know where that tradition comes from? When people used to throw their, uh, waste out of top floor windows way back, men would walk on the outside of the sidewalk so that the women didn't get covered in yuckiness.)  So, okay, not dead, is it on it's last legs?  Are there any gentlemen left out there anymore or is it all just a race and the one with the most notches in his bedpost wins?

I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend last night, after which I announced, "This is great blog material."  She agreed and since I've been running short on things that are blog acceptable or appropriate in my own life (believe me, I have my own "blog material" happenings right now, but I'm being censored.  Well, I'm censoring myself...urgh.  It's so frustrating.  Anyway.), I thought I'd cast the net of our conversation out there to you all, my ever-opinionated, ever-encouraging favorite people.

This wonderful, beautiful and happily married friend of mine happened to be sitting at one of her favorite restaurants last night, minding her own business, enjoying dinner and a good book.  Sidenote:  that's one of the many good things about books.  In public places, they are handy little devices for "minding your own business," when you want to avoid eye contact with potential creepers.  Even if you're not actually reading it, you can do the "This book is so good, I can hardly pull my eyes away to greet you when you speak to me, so leave me alone" thing.  However, this did not work for my friend.  Back to the story.  My friend was quickly approached by a young man, who took the liberty of sitting at her table, interrupted her, apologized for his interruption and commenced to tell her that he'd been looking at her from across the restaurant and wanted to just come over and tell her how pretty she is.  This only moderately hints at inappropriate, borders more on just a little uncomfortable and is completely something any modern day woman can handle.

Just as her mother taught her, my friend thanked the man for his courteous compliment, blatantly flashed the hunks of diamonds on her left hand and ended the conversation.  The man left her table, but seemed to linger close by.  In an attempt to reinforce her lack of interest, she called her husband.  This is where us Singletons would have texted a random friend for an emergency call or pretended our phone was on vibrate, "answered" it and said things into the dead receiver end like "Oh, I'll be home in just a minute....I can't wait to see you, too" followed by a school-girl-like giggle.  Just to seal the deal.

Unthrwarted by her obvious retreats, this man and his friend approached her again at the refill station, passed her a note with his name, phone number and facebook contact information (weird?) followed by the line "Just as friends" at the bottom.  Go ahead...express your opinion.  Because here comes mine.

We don't live in a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie, people.  Stunts like this only end in "happily ever after" on the big screen.  I don't buy for one second that this guy really wanted to be "friends."  Anyone with the beach balls enough to pull something like plopping yourself at a complete stranger's table to admire their beauty isn't going around looking for a buddy to go see a movie with.  Had this truly been the case, he would have started an actual, real conversation with her (although I'm beginning to forget what those are like), at which point, she could have conversed and politely informed him of her nuptial vows to someone else in passing.  I also don't understand how some guys don't realize just how high their creepy factor can go.  By constantly coming at someone like this, despite polite refusals, you spark within us every defense mechanism God and our mothers gave us.  Even if you had a chance to begin with, the higher your creepy factor goes, the less likely you're getting anything out of this situation other than a view of us quickly jaunting to our car.  But, back to my "chivalry: dead or alive?" concern above, why did this guy automatically assume that, even though my friend is married, she would want to carouse with him extracurricularly?  Since when did it become acceptable to approach married people as dating potentials?  Had this man politely apologized for his advances when he noticed her ring (you can't not notice it...my friend worked long and hard for that thing, and like most women our age, wears it like a first prize blue ribbon), continued his appreciation for her appearance and backed-off, I would have been referring to him as a "gentleman" throughout this post.  And honestly, this post probably wouldn't have even existed.  But, instead, my friend went home completely creeped out and feeling like she'd gotten slimed.

You know how I like to look at things from both angles.  Maybe it's not about chivalry, but a dying breed of those of us who expect a little bit more.  Could expectations have been so lowered that this behavior is just the norm?  As I told Mr. Too Many Words, I'm looking for a gentleman, who still likes to have fun, but someone who doesn't cut to the chase within the first two minutes of knowing me.  I don't think this is asking too much, so I'm holding out and holding onto hope.


  1. I was talking to my sister last night (largely about my own dating woes), and she made a good point - men of our generation have never been properly socialized (ok, ok, many men, not all men - but for huge numbers of our generation, this is a valid observation). When these guys should have been out getting to know other people (including girls), pursuing hobbies, preparing for careers, etc, they sat in their rooms playing video games. Things that seem so basic - ie, how to have a conversation - totally escape them. I have to think the creepiness is part of the same issue. They honestly just don't know how to interact normally, so they either withdraw, or kick it up to an inappropriate level. Of course, all of this is encouraged by a society that for some reason still excuses boys/men for just about anything with the old "boys will be boys" line - and holds women accountable for boys/men's failings ("if women weren't so bitchy/clingy/etc, men would behave better"). Guys of our generation lack social skills because, for the most part, they can get away with it.

  2. I like it when guys have good manners; it's nice when they open the door for me or help me with my coat. On the other hand, that guy who hit on your friend had a lot of nerve; he just couldn't take a hint. A similar thing happened to me once; a guy sat down with me out of the blue and we started talking, and I made the mistake of agreeing to go out wit him. It turned out to be an AWFUL date. NEVER AGAIN!

  3. While I wholeheartedly agree that the guy was a total creep who displayed a complete disregard for the woman who was approached in the article, I do want to comment on what Anonymous said.

    While men (boys) like the above example show a fine example of a BAD guy, to say that many men of our generation have not been properly socialized to court women seems to be only one side of the coin. Where does it come from? Apparently according to Anonymous we should blame video games. The generation before us would have blamed D&D or comic books for society’s woes, but whatever. We certainly can’t blame BAD PARENTING.

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

    Bad parenting doesn’t affect just the men either. I’ve seen it affect plenty of women out there as well. How many of us have seen how a bad parent affects a child. How cliché is it to see a little girl who was abused seek out relationships with men that continue to abuse her as a woman. This certainly isn’t always the case, I believe that people make their own choices, but it is so much more difficult if children are not given the proper tools to begin with.

    But let’s continue…

    As a man, I have seen quite a few woman behave horribly to a guy who approached them. Are most little girls taught how to politely decline an invitation from a guy? Not according to my limited observations. I do know that a lot of men feel that it is increasingly difficult to approach a woman and live up to their expectations.

    What is the right way for a guy to initiate a conversation? We can all certainly agree that it’s not the way that the schmuck in the above article acted. Figuring out how to interact with the world and those around you is called maturity. A certain part of courtship can be described as tactical maneuvering. It’s a part of life, hell, it’s a part of nature. But maybe, just maybe, if BOTH sexes were willing to be a little more understanding and flexible the world would be a much happier place.

  4. This, my friends, is why I blog. I would have never thought to look at this from any of these perspectives. To Nice Guy, I think Neurotic makes a good point too. Part of the thing that women and men both need to take lessons on, in my opinion, is the fine line between nerve and confidence. Both genders find confidence attractive, but being over-nervy can land you where the guy in today's post did. And I do agree, there are just as many women out there that don't get it, too, I'm sure. I'd love to add you as a contributing writer, because I know that this blog is heavily weighted in the female's favor from my very gender-specific experiences. We aren't necessarily taught how to interact with courtship, but we are taught to pay attention to those creepy alerts we get internally. And Lifetime movies and the 10:00 News only further add to the sensitivity of that alert being triggered. So, to be approached like this has to be done with finesse, confidence and consideration that the female, in our "Protect ourselves" frame of mind, could be on alert at the moment. But, don't get me wrong, we'd all probably love to have that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie moment!

  5. I think both sexes need alot of help. If you watch almost any TV show now, people just have sex. There is no dating, no conversations, no chivarly, no relationships, it's all about sex! People now fall in and out of love quicker than I will agree to go on a date. Maybe people should slow down and get to know one another first.
    Also I think women now don't really know how to take chivarly. We don't know if it's for real or just an act. But there are still good men out there, you just have to be careful where you look.

  6. The first anonymous here again:

    NiceGuy, you're absolutely right. It's disingenuous to blame everything on video games (and when I assigned the blame thus, I meant it in a light-hearted, comment-on-a-blog way, in line with the tone of this (wonderful!) blog, not as a serious analysis of modern gender issues). Bad parenting, of both genders, certainly deserves analysis. Girls, as well as guys, fail to learn social conventions - and guys, as well as girls, certainly succeed socially.

    I think your analysis of lack of tact as to blame for lack of civility, however, provides support for my comment that in this boys-will-be-boys world, girls still get the blame for poor behavior by guys. I would suggest that, while certainly girls could be taught (and could learn) to be more graceful in turning down men, much of the gracelessness is learned in encounters like the one in this blog post. All too often, graceful, tactful, respectful rejections are ignored, and met with increasing aggressiveness on the part of the man. Enough of these encounters, and girl learns to be more blunt and aggressive herself. Now, do some women knee-jerk to bad behavior because they've been led (by the media, etc, as Melanie suggests) to believe that's the proper course of action, or, more maliciously, because they enjoy the power? Sure. But a lot of the bad behavior is conditioned through interactions with enough men who were also on their bad behavior.

    As for your question about the right way for a guy to initiate a conversation - the answer is, with respect. Like every other human interaction. I think if guys (and girls - this one's gender neutral) did a lot less "tactical maneuvering" and a little more respecting, there would be a lot fewer issues.

  7. You're a very interesting writer. I love your blog and topic. I'm saving you as a favorite. YOUGO Gurl.


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