Last Days of Chivalry

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

One of the not so pleasant joys of approaching middle age (I’m 83 and believe me, 166 won’t be long in coming) is the years slip by at an alarming rate. Suddenly it’s fall or close to it. Just yesterday it was spring. Wasn’t there supposed to be a summer in there someplace?       

As a Star Trek aficionado it seems fairly obvious to me that Earth is in some sort of time warp. I’m sure Stephen Hawking could have explained a scientific theory on why everything seems to go by so quickly but I can’t. Well I can’t at the moment. I’m sure that halfway through a bottle of 12-year old The Balvenie DoubleWood scotch I could do a decent job of it, but it is 6 in the morning and as everyone knows it will be at least an hour before a civilized gentleman gets into the good stuff. Which brings me (finally) into today’s topic (I do run on). What is a gentleman in 2020 anyway and where have all the good ones gone?

As I fear you ladies already know, gentlemen are few and far between these days. Other than one other guy who passed away recently, and me of course, that’s about all that’s left. His was a tragic death. He had spread his cloak over a puddle for a young lady. Unfortunately he didn’t realise the puddle was over an open manhole he was dragged in after her. She didn’t even say thank you.

No one opens the door for you gals anymore. You have to yank it open yourself and before you can make it through, two jerks (both males) barge by you – and probably pass gas while they were doing it. When was the last time you dropped your monogrammed handkerchief in front of a stripper bar and a handsome swain scooped it up, had it laundered, and returned it to you along with a red, red rose and a proposal of marriage? Not for weeks I imagine. 

No dear ladies, most of the world’s gentlemen have passed on and have been replaced by some dough-head with his crotch down to his knees and a plumber’s crack.

The last first class gentleman I remember (except for looking in a mirror on any given morning) was Col. Pickering. That’s right, the colonel in the movie My Fair Lady. Col. Hugh Pickering, played by Wilfrid Hyde-White, is the epitome of the classic English gentlemen. As a matter of fact he may have been the last one over there since they are all soccer hooligans now.

I saw Wilfrid in a play at the O’Keefe Centre a lifetime ago. He no sooner walked on the stage and the audience gave him a standing ovation. That happened to me once. I blew a line in Witness for the Prosecution and the audience stood. Threw a few things from the Farmers’ Market as I recall, nevertheless it was a standing ovation.

I don’t know what made me think of Wilfrid. Maybe I was dreaming of Audrey Hepburn and he was in the movie with her. I always thought Eliza (Audrey) should have shacked up with Pickering instead of ‘enry ‘iggins’.  He was far nicer than Rex Harrison (‘enry) and treated her like a lady from the moment he first saw her. Not only that, the colonel was over eighty and wasn’t likely to bother her half the night. If only he didn’t wear spats.

But, I believe I was describing a gentleman. It’s a minor thing I suppose, but when did men stop walking on the outside when they were with a woman? Granted a suit may cost 900 bucks now and getting splashed by some jerk driving 100 kilopascals an hour through a puddle adds a cleaning bill that will knock a man’s soaking wet socks off, but that is still the thing a gentleman must do.

Granted it isn’t as easy as it used to be. It’s hard to tip your hat when it’s on backwards and hasn’t been off one’s head since the last shower – and maybe not even then. If I was a woman and some bozo sat across from me in a fine restaurant wearing a flippin’ ball cap. I’d stick my fork into it.

I know, I know, some feminists rebel at a man opening the door and doing other little things because she is a lady. They want to be treated as equals. Of course they are, but what’s wrong with being treated a little better than that?

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