Friday, September 2, 2011

On a slight tip of the hat...

Notes on chivalry... are they just pipe dreams?

I'm an admitted Austen-ite, southern girl, with a yen for the Edwardian and enthusiast of things old. So it probably goes without saying I confess I adore, nay, ache for a man with sincere gentility. Such a man is hard to come by in this fast paced world. I suspect more skills exist than one can readily see on an average day. However, as things go, those special exertions have become routinely reserved for "specific" occasions like first dates, weddings or taking Mother to Sunday brunch. Sadly, the habitual use of such pleasantries has fallen all but extinct.
I long for the reserved gesture of the slight tip of a hat (but there are no more high hats). I yearn for a gloved helping hand as I take a step up a stair or into a carriage (but there are no gloves, nor is the hand even offered and the carriage? pish, only for tourists).
When did it become okay to disregard and all but eliminate those common courtesies? I know there are the occasional opened doors or chair assists but these are unacceptably not enough. I want it to be a natural inclination for gentlemen to perform these rituals not some cheesy, grand effort to be oohed and ahhed after. No, it should just be there. At the root they offer the undertone of both good breeding and respect. In kind, I can pledge my return of the same. A slight smile in response to the hat tip, a glance of appreciation after each gesture, kindly noted, as well as my highest esteem toward the character shown. I know it is a lot to expect but I still do.

That said, I must make clear that it should not to be a part of some implied salacious invitation of any kind from either party to exercise these niceties. They should simply be a mutual appreciation for the human connection. Common courtesy for it's own sake. A shared smile for no other gain, Simple, Selfless, Kind, No words necessary. We already have so much auditory stimuli in our daily round. I would find these silent gestures so refreshing. How nice would it feel to snap out of the nano-speeds-induced zombie states we perpetually reside in. Oh, but to feel an actual connection through a shared nuance with another human. Unfathomable. It would take restraint not to instantly gratify with a comment but to respond, in kind, silently, elegantly. What a singular treat it would be to share such a simple kindness.
A hint of such gestures can still be found in the deep south among older gentlemen and maybe other places, too, I dunno. But it's the true, real thing. Their authentic mannerly actions so rote they are done unawares, out of habit. Those authentic interactions alone can give me a charge unlike any other. A simple exchange of a dying cultural practice.

I beg you to bring it back. Hang on to civility, to gentility. Let us not lose regard for a sense of decency and modesty, propriety. Please teach your young ones these things. Exercise them yourself. It is a tragic loss if we don't make this effort. Perhaps, the creation of a new set of Austen era emoticons is necessary given the current culture. Such a thing could revolutionize Facebook and magically carry over into real life. Maybe they could even educate those unfortunate souls devoid and ignorant of the knowledge of such things. Just think, a movement of the past revived and gone viral... Ah, I sigh to imagine it. How incredibly delightful a movement it could be to see. Hat tips, smiles for nothing, thank you notes, easy, selfless gestures and all just to imply a wish for another soul to have a good day, in passing.

insert "no obligation" smile here

(consider yourself kindly greeted)

If my plea, alone, is not enough to entice you to the worthy endeavor. Perhaps, accept the advice of the following... and just do it to be cool. Hey, we'll take what we can get...very sincerely,

and with warm regards.


**Thank you, kindly, for the use of these pictures, none of which belong to me. -cmh

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