There is no such thing as being a gentleman at important moments; it is at unimportant moments that a man is a gentleman. At important moments he ought to be something better. – G.K.Chesterton
You see, being a gentleman doesn’t just mean wearing polished shoes. It means living by a set of rules and philosophies. As I go about trying to decode, what it means to be a gentleman, I would request the ladies to hang around for a bit. I have something for you, as I wind down this post.
Rules of dating
Several websites and magazines will tell you what are “acceptable” actions when you pursue your main squeeze. However, that is merely the lowest benchmark. Gentlemen do not settle with “Acceptable”, no sir. Show a woman what she is worth by treating her extremely well. My best guess is, you will still fall short of what she truly deserves. But it is a good place to begin.
Stretch out that arm – It is old fashioned, yes. But regardless of you driving or walking it up to your destination you should stick out that elbow for her to hold on to. Don’t try one of those stretches while watching a movie to get your arm around her shoulder. That is lame. Extend your arm (like a curled elbow for instance) as you walk. She might not grab on to it right away, but the point is you tried. When guiding your date through a crowd or into the date venue, place your hand (ever so gently) at the small of her back. I am assuming, of course, there is that much physical comfort from earlier interactions.
Pull out that chair – When you arrive at your restaurant or coffee shop, you should ensure you slide out the chair for the date to sit on. If you think that is going too far or have already gotten to your side of the table as she pulls out her chair, then wait for her to sit before you do so. Ensure she has the best seat. If not the best in the restaurant, then at least the best seat at your table. It also help focus on the date if you have a seat facing the wall. I have been caught off guard several times, either staring at the food at the table behind my date or an alluring woman who would have walked in to the café. Not a good place to be, gentlemen.
When the meal has arrived – It is common sense really but I will say it anyway. When your coffee or meal arrives, you should wait for your date to take a bite of her order before you dig in. In fact, wait even if it’s your beer buddies. I personally tend to gobble up my food as soon as it arrives. Speaks volumes for why I have been single for the longest time, till my current (extremely patient) lady decided to love me for the cave man that I am.
Also, please do not Instagram your food! Not yet.
While I have broached the topic of smart phones let me also tell you, keep your phone on silent and away from plain sight. There is nothing more deserving of your attention, when you are with your lady. If you are expecting an extremely important call, let the lady know in advance and excuse yourself when you take it. Away from the table.
Be the puddle buster – When you walk with your lady, make sure she is on the inside. You must protect her from any potential threat. Be it passing vehicles or projectile paan/slush spurts.
When the bill arrives – My mama always told me it was gentlemanly to pick the tab at the end of the meal. On hindsight, I think she told me this to keep me from going on any dates considering the dismal allowance I would get. Anyway, things are a lot different now. Women work jobs as much as men do. The lucky few, are even asked out by women occasionally. To simplify things, here are the ground rules.
If you asked her out, you pay without a doubt and any excuses. If she has asked you out, you offer to pay. If she insists, you let her do her thing. The last thing you want to do is play tug of war with the check. Splitting the tab is worse. You would rather offer to take her out for a drink in exchange. This is a good way to ensure there is a second date, if this is your first.
How you communicate:
Communication is not just the way you speak and the language you use. It also involves listening. Abstain from gossip and mud-slinging and if you have nothing pleasant to say, you might as well keep it to yourself.
A gentleman isn’t plagued with verbal diarrhea. Secrets are kept without excuses and conversations are limited to acceptable topics. There is no bitching or backbiting, let alone arguing or demeaning people with your speech. Avoid talking about politics, debating on religion or speaking of money. Sex is a tricky area to navigate and I would generally recommend tip toeing over it.
Other tips to remember
Be kind to elders, children and women. Always.
Hold the door open for others if you see them walking towards it, instead of slamming it in their face.
Offer your seat to a lady regardless of her age and to elders. This could be in a bus, train, at a party, just about anywhere.
Smile as you go about your day. It is free and has the ability to cheer people up. Its common practice in Europe, rightfully so the Brits are so gentlemanly. Smile, more so when you make eye contact.
Offer a helping hand. To someone struggling with anything as basic as heavy grocery bags or complex like starting a bike/car. Even if you are running late for the previews before the movie you are about to watch.
Reading this post will not make you a gentleman. Acting on it, however, will get you started on the path for starters. It isn’t something that you can generate within yourself overnight. It takes time and a conscious effort. Writing this post has made me realize it has potential for a sequel. So like all good things, there will be one coming soon.
And now, to go over to the ladies who ever so patiently read through this post.
You might realize that being a gentleman is harder than it appears. Men are conditioned to be slow learners when it comes to habitual changes. And to make things worse, we will be discouraged quite easily if people were to laugh off our efforts.
All I would say to you is, be kind and if you see gentlemanly acts from a man, appreciate his efforts. After all, it is for you fine beings that we continue to groom ourselves and your nod of approval is all the reward we seek. Ahem, and a little extra on the side as well.
***Tip toe over the sex talk, Al***