Sunday, November 08, 2009
Men, Women and Etiquette
I grew up in Mobile, Al on the Gulf Coast. Being a southerner, I was taught by my parents that gentleman are expected to treat women a certain way. For example, you always opened doors for women. But that was down south. The first time I opened a door for a woman when I was a freshman at Notre Dame in northern Indiana, the woman glared at me and said in a very irritated voice, “I can open the door for myself” and slammed the door behind her as I stood there, confused.
These are confusing times for men. For this reason, I was happy to recently come upon an article by Amy Bickers in Southern Living magazine, called “15 Ways to Charm Her” (July, 2009) —a guide as to what southern women expect of men. Fellas, I read this article for your benefit. Women, see if you agree.
Here’s what Ms. Bickers says:
Want to impress a Southern girl? Just think "What would my grandfather have done?"
Number one: We still expect you to give up your seat for a lady. On a bus, at a bar, on a train. . . we don't care where you are. Unless you are at a restaurant and the only lady in sight is the one taking your order, stand up. Now.
On a recent Friday night at a bustling restaurant bar, two friends and I waited for our table to be called. The bar stools were occupied so we stood patiently, sipping wine and chatting about the workweek. When a couple nearby stood up, another woman - who had been there less time than we had - swooped in, reaching across us to put her purse on the stool. This isn't the worst part. It's what happened next: Her male companion then slid onto the other bar stool.
Hang on while I do a geography check. Are we not in the South? If ladies are waiting for a seat and you have a Y chromosome, do you sit down? No, sir. No, you do not.
We know modern life is confusing. The roles of men and women have evolved over the years.
But come on, let's keep some things old-school. My late grandfather- he of the East Texas upbringing, U.S. Navy captain status, and Cary Grant good looks - would never have allowed a woman to stand while he sat. And if you want a Southern woman to love you, neither will you. So, men, here's a short list of things Southern girls still expect from you.
We still expect you to...
 STAND UP FOR A LADY.
 Know that the sec has the best football TEAMS IN THE NATION. Big 12 fan? Hmm, perhaps you should keep walking.
 KILL BUGS. Enough said.
 Hold doors open.
 FIX THINGS OR BUILD STUFF. I once watched in awe as my stepfather built a front porch on the house he shares with my mother. He knew just what to do, cutting every notch, hammering every nail. The project was complete by sunset.
 WEAR BOOTS OCCASIONALLY. Not the fancy, l-paid-$l,000-for-these kind. We're talking about slightly mud-crusted, I-could-have-just-come-in-from-the-field boots.
 Take off your hat inside.
 Grill stuff.
[10:] CALL US. If you want to ask us out, don't text and don't e-mail. Pick up the phone and use your voice.
 Stand when we come back to the dinner TABLE. "Just a little half-stand is enough to make me melt," my friend Stephanie says.
 PULL OUT OUR CHAIRS. Wait, that's not all. Scoot them back in before we hit the floor.
 Pay the tab on the first few DATES. "If you ask me out, you pay," Stephanie says. "If I ask you out, you should still pay." Listen, guys, it's just simpler this way.
 NEVER GET IN BAR FIGHTS. Patrick Swayze might look cool in Road House, but in reality, bar fights are stupid and embarrassing. You don't look tough. You look like an idiot.
 Don't show up in a wrinkled, un-tucked SHIRT. Care about your appearance but not too much. Don't smell better than we do. Don't use mousse or gel. You shouldn't look like you spend more time in front of the mirror than we do.
So says Ms. Bickers from Southern Living.
Gentlemen, all joking aside, the truth is if you treat women with respect, if you listen to them and not talk incessantly about yourself, if you avoid playing the game we men often play with each other (which is to top someone else’s story with a story of your own that is even better), if you give them your genuine attention, you will be well on your way to a good relationship. My wife would add one more bit of advice: if you’re watching TV together, put DOWN the remote control. Men may like watching 2-3 shows at once. Women do not.