Etiquette 101: “Men walk on the outside”

Etiquette  is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. 

When I was about 17 years old, I was walking down the street with a woman. She was a older woman, of which I had a massive crush on. We were not dating or anything, I wish, but she gave me something that I never forget. We were walking and she didn’t ask, inform, plead, or suggest, she told me, “Men walk on the outside”. I didn’t understand what she was saying at first. I looked at my feet then I looked at her feet, and continued to walk. She then motioned with her hand saying, “Men, pointing at me, WALK on the OUTSIDE, pointing to the other side of her body.” Oooh! ok, so I walked on the outside of her, (the closest to the curb). I felt dumb for not asking what she meant the first time she said it, so I didn’t hesitate to ask the question, “Why?”

Trying to be funny and make her laugh, I said, “Is it because the man gets hit by the car first?” That was dumb, any chances of a kiss went out the door with that immature joke. No, she responded.

She informed me that decades ago people use to throw their garbage out of the window. They didn’t have garbage trucks back then, so at the end of the day, they would wash the streets down with all the garbage running down the sewer. Men also wore a top coat and hat to shield his clothing from any garbage hitting him. I also think that’s why some women, when alone, carried an umbrella. I’m not sure about that so don’t quote me. I performed some searches and found that there was other believable reasons. On a pavement the man walked on the outside to protect the lady from mud splashes from carriages. I’ve also heard that when a man is on the inside, there’s a perception that woman is for sale, and he’s her pimp. On other occasions the man walked on the right so as to leave his sword arm free, and to have space to use it. The sword was worn on the man’s left, but unsheathed with the right hand. Also, this allows your lady to be farther from the traffic. This way, if someone is going to be splashed, it will be you, not her. Yeah it’s kinda messed up but I would have gladly taken a plunge of muddy water for that woman. All in the name of being a gentlemen. In modern times, we can just say, it makes it easier for the woman to window shop. LOL Yeah we don’t carry swords anymore, or drive carriages but etiquette goes a long way.

Lastly, I get the most compliments on something that comes from the instruction of a woman. I’m not saying that men haven’t taught me many useful things, but when I get compliments about something I’ve done correctly or different than other men, usually a woman told me to do it. It’s just like when I get my haircut, I usually go to the only female barber in Walls barbershop in DC. She cuts my hair the way she likes it, she’s a woman so I would safely bet that other women might like the way it looks. Similar to when your mother gives you fashion tips, you might want to listen to her rather than your boys. I’m getting off topic, just walk on the outside!


“Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back”

— Thomas Sowell

“Etiquette is the fine tuning of education”

— Nadine Daher

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