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.