The days of the classic traditional Gentleman are gone – or at least if they’re not then they are effectively dinosaurs dying off one by one…slowly becoming extinct as metaphorical asteroids come smashing towards the ground in a fiery mess. You see as gender roles and attitudes shift, so does the old framework under which the Gentleman etiquette once operated.
Now personally I like to treat everyone with kindness and respect – well you know; most of the time (aka…if I’ve had coffee) but I am not sure whether this makes me a Gentleman, or just a gentle man. The jury is out on that one…I must admit I’m still a little confused…
But whatever the verdict – I have found this issue on my mind a lot recently, largely thanks to something coming up in my kindergarten class which I didn’t quite expect. You see during “snack time” there is a small window in which I have to try and cram all the various rules around politeness, manners, and etiquette…into six year olds…who don’t even speak English…and would much rather have a discussion about which animal does the biggest poops. Naturally it’s a tough learning curve, and can be quite a challenge, especially as such rules differ from country to country, and from culture to culture…
Ah, and if you’re curious about the aforementioned poo-size rankings, they assure me it goes; 1.Elephant, 2.Giraffe, 3.Horse.
But this time around as the two boisterous boys madly scrabbled in a rush to grab the biggest banana I found myself commanding: “ah-ah-ahhh! Ladies first!” in some kind of involuntary reflex. To which they spun around, and queried “why?”
I was a little lost for words…after all, I didn’t want to instruct them that girls are weaker, or need help because they’re hands are just for show, or whatever else…that would be way off, so…erm…errrr…I wracked my brain frenetically for something usable – but it was just like a submarine radar…beep-beep-beep, but picking up absolutely nothing.
“You should be a gentleman!” I announced suddenly in a (possibly) unsure tone to which the two young boys stared back in confusion. This was what was always said to me as a kid, and it makes sense…I mean who doesn’t want to be seen as a gentleman?! It’s the epitome of class, and sophistication!
Was that the right thing to say? It’s hard to know these days…you have to be extra careful, because every little thing offends every little person. And yeah, I’m probably reinforcing gender stereotypes, and all that jazz…
But my wiring is of a rather traditional nature I suppose, at least when you consider the attitudes of other people who are in the 20s age group along with me; I remember my Ps & Qs (no one says that anymore, do they?), I hold the door open for people, pay for dates/meetings that I suggested, and always urinate on the toilet seat. Well you know, no one’s perfect.
But yeah help me out – what do you think? Do ladies go first?