Manners for the manly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Just the other day I was faced with an interesting dilemma.

I was at a local gathering that filled-up rather quickly and, as I gazed about, noticed several women standing.

Being a son of the South, I immediately gave up my seat to the nearest member of the fairer sex (even though my mother was several miles away, I know she'd have found out if I didn't).

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As I made my way to the back, I noticed several other younger males still taking up space.

I know that this is supposedly an enlightened' and liberated' society, but manners never should go out of style.

I grew up in a house of women.

I can't ever remember going through a door without a little wait, and have seen my grandmother impatiently wait for me to come around to open a car door. Manners are not just the act of courtesy, but also of civility.

I was taught young that if the last word out of my mouth was ma-am' or sir'

then all was right with the world and no raised an eyebrow or lighting quick hand followed.

I still have a house full of women.

Angel and Savannah will tell you that they like being seated and doors opened and heavy boxes carried and being let out in front of a business and all the other things that used to be a common courtesy.

Seeing those young fellows keeping their seat the other day just brought back all these thoughts to me.

Before all you feminists get up in arms, this isn't about the (perceived) mistreatment of the female.

Like Jerry Clower's wife said, &uot;I don't want to be liberated.&uot;

I'm not talking about liberation.

I'm talking about common courtesy, and manners, and good raising.

I'm talking about deference to our elders, and politeness, and all the other tendencies that used to be especially Southern.

We're fortunate around here to have a large group of very wise and older folks.

I personally enjoy any type of pleasantry that will reward me with a smile, or, even better, a touch or a hug. It's hard for a stranger to keep an ill look on their face after a &uot;how you doing?&uot; or &uot;good day, ma'am.&uot;

I'm not setting myself up to be the king of chivalry.

I just wonder how many folks just assume that good manners are no longer in vogue.

Trust me, in my family, good manners were taught the old fashioned way: they were pounded into me, over and over, day by day.

You know what? They stuck!!!

I plan on making a concerted effort to renew this sense of Southern Chivalry.

Male or female, young or old, black or white: it doesn't matter who, but that the fact that the courtesy is extended. I'm going to start looking for doors to hold and chances to speak and people to greet and places to be nice and lines to step aside and little ways to help.

Maybe the old maxim about leading by example will come into play.

That's a whole lot kinder.