Etiquette: is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group.
This subject may not be, at its core, an etiquette subject but definitely a derivative. Our young men are slowly losing the masculine identity that I grew up inheriting from my role models. There a subtle traits that pour into a young man as he matures. You absorb them from your positive influences, an incorporate them into you own composite. These traits are your behavioral footprint. As a man, there are behaviors that isolate you from the pack. Hopefully they are good behaviors, I don’t need to even discuss the bad behaviors. Even if I did have enough time, why discuss them?! There are enough bad influences out there that shadow the positive people of color. Some men don’t know how to be a gentlemen or exercise some level of etiquette. They think is cool to be thuggish, uncultured, or ultra-masculine without any feelings because feelings make them weak. Well…that’s ignorant, it’s stupid and asinine. Regular people dress up for the occasion; church, weddings, proms…we dress up. If you want to be cool and you’re uncomfortable dressing up, don’t come to the function, stay your behind home. Don’t embarrass me with your ignorance or disrespect of the occasion. Yes you have the freedom to dress the way you want, but I have the freedom not to invite you next time.
Sorry…kinda trailed off into a rant there.
Being a gentleman is something that I picked up from all the males in my family and friends. Honestly, probably more from the women in my family I picked up instruction. Females usually instructed me, but I witnessed male behavior. The statements from my mother, aunts, or grandmother started out like, “A man is supposed to…” After I heard that, that’s what I did. Period. Any person, man or woman, has habits that they pick up from others. These habits or nuances of their persona that make them unique. There are people who feel safe being like everyone else, but that’s typical and boring. I want all of you to be gentlemen, and unique in your own definition.
I want to share some trait examples of what I’ve seen and possibly helped me create my own identity as a gentleman. I don’t have sole rights to any habit or characteristic but I’ve incorporated them into my own definition.
One of my “things” is… I don’t let the woman, any woman for that matter, touch a door. Getting in the car, getting out the car, I open the door. Walking in a restaurant, walking out of restaurant, I get the door. Walking in or out of the movie theater…I get the door. Getting on a roller coaster, carnival ride, photo booth…I GOT THE DOOR. I’m not trying to be special, I just want the woman who I’m with to feel special. She’s not just ‘with’ me…we’re together.
Years ago, my uncle Thurman, was dancing with my aunt Cheryl at their wedding on a cruise ship in New York. It was their first dance as husband and wife. My uncle Rusty and I were watching them dance and I noticed something weird. My uncle wasn’t touching my aunt with his fingers. I know, sounds funny but he was holding her with his palms, almost guiding her. I asked my uncle standing next to me about it. He said, “That’s old school, back in the day a man didn’t touch a woman with his fingers, it was seen as disrespectful.” I was blown. Watching my uncle guide and hold his new wife with his palms. That was the first time I saw it and I vowed the next time I would see it was when I was getting married.
Something similar, one time I was walking with a woman, holding her right hand with my left hand. We were walking to the car and a fight broke out to my right. As we continued to walk to the car, I kept my eyes on what was happening and put her in the car. I didn’t give it much thought until we were in the car and driving away. She said, “I feel protected when I’m with you.” I said, “Huh…where’d that come from?” She said, “The entire time the disturbance was going on, you were squeezing my hand.” She continued saying, “You kept yourself between me and the fight, you wouldn’t even let me see what was happening, and you never stop squeezing my hand and shielding me. I felt safe, protected.” I didn’t really know what I was doing, it came natural as her boyfriend. For some reason, we broke up later that year, but we remained friends, not close friends but we had an extended circle of friends. She called me and told me that she misses that in other men she’s dated, “feeling protected”. It was a compliment, I felt that I was doing something right, I felt like a gentlemen.
I’ll give you another example, from a another perspective. I had always attended cookouts or eating venues with girlfriends or a female companion. One time, I was at a cookout with a woman I was dating and she didn’t get me a plate of food. I never thought of it, I never knew I expected to receive a plate from my girlfriend but I know I didn’t like it. I thought it was disrespectful. I watched other women get their men a plate, and I sat there with a dry mouth. I was quite perturbed. We had a discussion about it on the way to her house, she was dismissive and flippant. Let’s just say, that was the last time I dropped her off…anywhere.
I started off this blog about our young men losing true masculinity to ignorance. Our young men don’t know how to be men. My mother always said, “If a person, doesn’t know, you can’t blame them.” So I write this blog to address an ignorance that seems to prevail with our young men. They are NOT being taught how to be gentlemen and that’s truly unfortunate.
“A gentleman is someone who does not what he wants to do, but what he should do.”
― Haruki Murakami