Photo: Emily Long
In recent months there has been quite a bit of traffic on the wireless and in the newsreels dealing with young women lamenting the death of the gentleman. It seems that nary a day goes by without an indictment so scorching that it could melt the one-point-five ice cubes in my nightly Canadian Club. The porcine tendencies of Millennial men are apparently so repulsive that our entire generation is undateable. Young women are rushing to convents in droves just to escape the degradation that surely awaits them in the outside world.
Ok, maybe that last part isn’t exactly true. It does seem though that women are shocked that not every man is dueling for their honor or tossing his coat into a mud puddle so that they may pass, unsoiled, into an awaiting carriage/taxi. I understand where they are coming from. There are a lot of snakes in the dating Amazon, and Tinder doesn’t exactly sponsor cotillions. Yet, what these lovelorn lasses fail to realize is that the behavior of a gentleman has always been as rare a commodity as an original thought from a Kardashian.
I am sure it is easy, when under the influence of Prosecco and Turner Classic Movies, to rue the day when all men turned from Cary Grant into neanderthals, but you are only seeing half the picture. To be a gentleman among men may be a cracking ambition, but it’s a hell of a lot of work. Not to mention, dueling pistols aren’t cheap. Gilt-edged manners aren’t for everyone, and they never have been.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t gentleman out there walking the mean streets of modern life. Where are we, these modern day Lancelots, you ask? The same places we have always been: museums, cocktail parties, the DMV, and anywhere a damsel in distress might need a clean handkerchief or an electronic cigarette from a gold case. If the only two men you have interacted with lately are Ben and Jerry, it’s time to get out there and stop seeing the world through Bravo reality shows and jaded bloggers who have grown into their couches.
Where aren’t we? Anywhere with Jägerbombs. Please take a moment to think about what you did last weekend.
Now that you have done some soul-searching, you may need to disabuse yourself of a few notions about what a gentleman is. A gentleman, at least the kind that I am, is respectful, deferential, well-mannered and engaging. Just because I will hold doors and stand when you run to the restroom does not mean I want to talk about my feelings or attend a couples baby shower. I am not a pushover, I am not your chauffeur, and I am definitely not your meal plan. Also, cut us some slack. Real men know that women are more easily wooed by good manners than by margaritas, but every man knows that margaritas don’t hurt either.
Finally, as with most things, the street runs both ways. If you want the cream of the crop vying for a place on your dance card, it’s important to be a lady. Disney isn’t coming out with an animated feature called The Gentleman and the Tramp anytime soon.