Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
[Before getting on with this post, I’m afraid that the Well-Groomed Gentleman, our tie-expert, due to some personal matters, will no longer be joining us. We wish him well and all good, and perhaps one day he'll find he's able to rejoin our Gentleman’s Club for Gentlemen.]
So, you fancy yourself quite the gent, a veritable preux chevalier! You hold doors open for women and children; you don’t smite lumbering, side-walk blocking people with your umbrella, though you are sorely tempted to do so; you’ve a kind word for all, and you scatter sunshine, patience and kindness hither and yon. You've never burned down an orphanage either, nor thrown a brick at a cat. And the store window reflects back at you the visage of the proverbial "man about town!"
And then you get home. The gentlemanly semblance of hours' past dissipates like the morning dew and you find yourself being short with your wife and kids; getting angry at some trivial nonsense; interrupting people whilst they're speaking; and even, yes, slurping your soup and putting your elbows on the table! Good gracious man, what has become of you!?
Behold, gentlemen! This is where we gain a purer vision of how much the gentleman we really are—in truth, and not in our own fond fantasies. This is not an easy measurement to take. It's tough to see that in very truth we treat those we love as we wouldn't treat, for example, an annoying close-talker who won't leave us in peace.
I say "we" because I'm in the same boat. But this isn't about despair--when we know the truth, THEN we can really start to make something of ourselves, first in our families, with the people that we owe the best of what we can give rather than the remains of the day.
The real gentleman isn't perfect, actually--but he never stops working at it, humbly admitting his wrongs, and trying every day to do a good bit better.
As St. Francis De Sales said, "Have patience with everything, especially with yourself."
And if we meet on the sidewalk one day and you're blocking my way, watch for my umbrella.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
It’s fair to guess that if you asked your average, modern day kid, “What on earth has happened to bowing?” they would look at you with that particular look so many of them have perfected, that look which says, with all the eloquence and subtlety they can muster, “Are you talking to me? What weird, old-person stuff are you pestering me with this time?”
These are the same people that have grown up in a world that greets any other human being—including the Queen of England—with “Hey.”
A bow and a tip of the hat (if a gentleman is wearing a hat)/"hey." One can see immediately that there is a world of difference between the two. Is it merely a difference between a former time and the current time, like the difference between bell-bottom pants constructed of unnatural colors and alien materials as opposed to a handmade Kiton suit, circa 2009? No, no, there's something more to it, me thinks, ( as Shakespeare said to Othello).
Consider bowing: Bowing has always been, in essence, an outward sign of a deep recognition that one is confronted with a fellow human being. We are each absolutely unique and absolutely unrepeatable. To be confronted with another human being is an astonishing thing, each person requiring immense respect and honor. From this recognition proceeds the bow.
Compare this to, “Hey.” Commentary isn't really required to see the utter difference between the two. I'm not saying "hey" doesn't have a place; it works just fine between family and close friends. But in other circs, the nonchalance of this greeting is a bit like walking into an acquaintance's house uninvited--unless one lives in the house, or is staying there as a guest, one has no right to such intimacy.
But even amongst close friends a case can be made for the good old bow, because however close a friend that person may be they still fall under the heading of, "absolutely unique and absolutely unrepeatable."
The bow is a deeply respectful, elegant, gentlemanly greeting. And friends may be just the place to begin anew this tradition that has fallen by the wayside. Imagine walking down the street to your favorite cafe, and you see a lad give a slight bow in greeting to another lad, or to a friend who happens to be a human being of the female variety. That would be grand, truly grand!