Defer and Deliver: An Encouraging Word on the State of Modern Manners

By Alexa Day
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on Passionate Reads in which I fretted that the modern state of gender relations had destroyed seduction. Even now, as I write this, I’m a little worried about that. Seduction against a backdrop of gender equity is a very stimulating game and very different from its forefathers, but the players must come to the table with equal levels of skill.
That’s not really what I came here to talk about today. It’s still kind of interesting, but no, not what I’m talking about.
Not long after I started to worry about whether seduction was dead, something interesting happened to me. I was on the elevator at my day job, the only woman on the elevator with five men. We were all going to the same place, and when the door opened, no one moved until I did. Later that week, a man offered me the last chair in a crowded room. (I was grateful, since I was tired and not looking forward to sitting on the credenza, which was where he ended up.)
And then over the holiday, on my way out of the 7-Eleven with a can of Arizona Grape Lime Rickey, an inbound gentleman opened the door and stood out of the way to let me pass. I looked him in the eye as I went by and thanked him.
“Absolutely,” he said. Then he added, “Absolutely! This is Virginia! That’s how we act!”
In that moment, I shared his pride. “That’s right! That’s how we roll!”
And he nodded emphatically at me, the ridiculous, shabbily dressed woman with the giant can of weird soda who was acting so surprised that a man would hold the door open for her.
I took the soda home and thought about all this. Why was I so surprised that my home here in the South is populated with well-mannered men? Was it like this everywhere? And what could I mix with this deliciously intriguing soda?
Honestly, I don’t know how these things work in other places. I’ve never really lived any farther north than Virginia, and apparently the men here still open doors and offer chairs and wait for us to stop gawking and get off the elevator, and they don’t much like it when we act all shocked about it.
Let’s be clear. I absolutely believe men should hold the door, surrender the chair, and let me precede them when the elevator stops. I love it when they rise as I approach the table. I think it’s hot when they light my cigar. I titter when they kiss my hand. I was taught that gentlemen should defer to women in this way. Certainly I could do most of this myself (and yes, I have jumped back, James Brown-like, and kissed myself), but I infinitely prefer having all of it done for me. For just a second, in the doorway or a crowded room or wherever, it’s nice to be treated like a queen.
Still, I worry that one day, gentlemen are going to stop doing it. I worry that they’ve gotten the idea that most women are not into it. I worry that they think it’s outdated. Most importantly, I worry that women are taking all this for granted, loudly criticizing them for it, or maybe doing both, with the result that gentlemen are just going to throw in the towel.
But maybe I shouldn’t worry. This is one of those places where the real world brushes against fiction. Well-mannered gentlemen don’t quit. They don’t give up. They stand up and give way because it’s the right thing to do. That gives me hope.
Enough hope to jump back and kiss myself.
I’m still working on beverage options for that soda, by the way. I’ll let you know how that’s coming along.
**Alexa Day thinks old-world manners are hot. You can catch her here talking about other hot things on the first Wednesday of the month, on Passionate Reads on the second Monday of the month, and on Facebook in the meantime. You might also pick up her debut novel, Illicit Impulse, where the sexiness is not quite so demure.

8 thoughts on “Defer and Deliver: An Encouraging Word on the State of Modern Manners

  1. Hi, Alexa! I'm right there with you, dear. In fact, I made a point of telling my DH that I loved it when he opened the car door for me to get in and he surprises me with that every once and a while. No, I don't sit in the car and wait for him to hustle around it to open the door so I can climb out. That feels odd to me, but then again, if I was dressed to the nines, it would be fabu to be handed out like a star on the red carpet. Anyway, TG Chivalry is not dead in the South or even in other parts of the nation and I hope mamas are still teaching their little boys to be gentlemen.

  2. Oh, I wait in the car. I take my purse off the floorboard and make sure my phone is off and check my makeup. By that time, my date is either opening the door, or he's looking over his shoulder at me, wondering what I'm doing.

    Still, I had to learn that the hard way. I opened my own door just by reflex at junior prom. When I got out, my date was coming around the back corner of the car to let me out. He looked at me, wide-eyed and horrified, and yelled, “GET BACK IN THE CAR! GET BACK IN THE CAR!”

    I got back in the car and waited. My bad. 🙂

  3. Oh dear…this might be one of those North/South things. As a native northerner, I was raised without anyone opening doors for me. I've never expected it and feel odd when men do for me down here. In fact, one man complained to me one day when I opened the door for myself, “You women won't let us be gentlemen, will you?” Now I don't know what to do when a man and I approach a door at the same time. Do I step back in expectation of him opening the door, while inside I'm screaming at myself to stop being so freakin' rude? This is a pickle!

  4. There is something of an art to it, I think, but I start to drop behind the man as we approach the door. Not way back. Just behind him, so that I don't beat him to the door. It makes things just a little easier.

    A lot of men from around here do get a little put out if women don't let them defer and deliver. I tried to pick up half of the check once and received a frosty glare for my pains.

  5. I don't care how old I get, I love to flirt! I look them all in the eye too, Alexa, and let them know they are appreciated. That's all any man wants anyway – appreciation. I can take any male, of any age (even two year olds) and start talking about how wonderful they are, and watch them relax and enjoy it.
    Loved this blog Alexa

  6. I agree, ladies. Maybe it's the town I'm in (Fredericksburg) but I get doors opened for me often. And I always look them in the eye and give them a big smile and say “Thank you.” Because I appreciate it and I want to encourage them to continue doing it.

    Unfortunately, I think the younger generation doesn't do it as often. Depends on who is raising them. With children raising children, manners of yesteryear are fading. *sigh*

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