During a bitch session with some girlfriends, the subject of manners was raised.  Or rather specifically, men’s manners and the absence thereof.   The ladies gathered around the table were complaining that contemporary men lack not only finesse, but common social graces.  Someone suggested that the ‘gentleman’ was going the way of Vista. . . down the toilet in short order. 

My own father was very attentive to courtly mannerisms.  He always held the door for my mother, helped her into her chair and on with her coat.  He knew how to dance, which fork was used for the seafood course and how to engage people in conversation.  He rarely talked about himself, unless he had a few too many martinis, and always deferred to the other party.  In short, a real gentleman although he was almost completely self-taught.

Which brings me to the point.  If man like that can pull himself up by the bootstraps and transform from country bumpkin to polished gentleman, what’s preventing today’s men from doing the same?

Might I suggest motivation as being a factor?  There’s no real incentive for men to be gracious.  On the job, they are hired for bottom line ability and not elegance.  It is, however, somewhat disquieting to watch an otherwise adept man behave like a boor at luncheon, especially when he is entertaining clients.  The only entertainment value would be the colorful display of food agitating in his mouth.  It’s strange that, in the interest of business, one has to overlook these offenses.  After all, raised pinkies have nothing to do with job performance.

Or off-the-job performance for that matter.   It’s become a buyer’s market for men.  They are not held to the same standards as their fathers because nobody demands it.  Why should a man court a woman when there is another willing to lie down with him for nothing?  If all he wants is a port in a storm, then any random female will suffice.  It’s not her character that interests him. 

However, I would argue that slovenliness and ill-bred behavior are an affront.  If he hasn’t the decency to behave with decorum at the table or in the bedroom, what guarantee do you have that he will do so away from it? 

I once read that there are two things in life that, if not performed properly, will be held against you but never openly discussed:  grammar and manners.  Unbeknownst to IT specialists, business majors, corporate lackeys, contractors, hip-hop wannabees and self-styled players, their behavior is being examined and judged whether they like it or not.  It doesn’t matter if you are a genius in your field, if you behave like a slob, you will be labeled.    

It may come as a surprise to some, but culture and liberal education do have a viable place in society.  That it’s not patronized as it should is an indication of how poorly it is regarded.  Yes, we must be industrious and work for a living, but so do all creatures.  If we’re no better than animals foraging and rutting, then we should dispense with the pretense.  There’s no shame living like a knuckle-dragger; more and more people do it everyday.


3 Responses to “CHARM SCHOOL”

  1. That’s a great post. It is difficult raising boys in this day and age. I am trying to raise my sons as gentlemen but the way a lot of girls behave these days that is difficult. Women don’t help the cause…at least that’s how I see it. Girls don’t expect to be treated with respect much anymore. So, guys don’t treat them with it! It’s a catch 22 really!

  2. Wow! I really like this entry. I have not gotten to this subject on my blog just yet, but as a woman who’s social life is null and void because the men that I run into have NO home training, it won’t be long. Good job!

    Merry Christmas!


  3. I can see the lack of upbringing my pupils have at school. Where they used to hold open a door for you, now it even seems that it’s all the fashion to let it close in front of your face. I think it’s the parents that are to blame, but aren’t the parents people of our generation?

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