My father passed away this past Sunday. That may seem like an odd way to start a blog post about chivalry but I hope you'll stay with me.
This was a man who was born in Poland, trained for the Royal Air Force in England during World War II after his homeland had been invaded and devastated, had married in London and then immigrated to the United States where he built a successful career as a professional electrical engineer, fathered three boys and two girls and lived a life of class and style.
When he was with women you could see there was an enjoyment of the grace and style that exuded class. Once of the specific things I recall to this day is that at the end of dinner parties in our home, as he was saying goodbye to the guests, each woman got her hand kissed. That moment always stood out as something special, and it was one of the things that set him apart.
The women always seemed to respond with the same kind of grace, and it gave each party a beautiful and memorable finishing touch of elegance.
That class and elegance were something you could see mattered to him. It extended to the ballroom dancing he would do when attending a formal Polish ball, dressed to the nines. The way he danced with my mother on the dance floor was always a loving pairing. Yet it also extended to when he would dance with other women at the dances, including the young woman I escorted to some of these formal balls, his future daughter-in-law, my wife Luisa.
All those little touches made him stand out. He was a model of classy behavior and could always be counted upon to make sure things were done as properly as can be. I am grateful to have been able to see his focus on how to interact in public, something I am sure had to do with a European upbringing as well as coming to the U.S. in need of being able to succeed.
Chivalry isn't a stand-alone action, something separate from what defines a man, It's a choice and an extension of how he chooses to live his life. How he chooses to treat others. And as such how he chooses to feel about himself. It adds class and elegance to one's comportment and leaves a mark that's memorable.
Thanks, Tatuś, for instilling in me even a fraction of the strong character with which you lived.
If you're into sports, you've likely heard the term "short-arming the ball." If not, what it means is not using a full extension of your arm when you are making a pitch, throwing a football etc. The reason athletes want to avoid "short-arming" the ball is that it causes a loss in distance and velocity. It's less effective. Coaches will work with those athletes to help them get more extension and a greater range of motion in their throwing attempts, so they attain more speed and accuracy.
There's an equivalent to short-arming when it comes to chivalry. For some guys there's a degree of uncertainty. Do they really want to do it? Does she really want it? Do I look too formal or out-of-place? What ends up happening for some men is that they pull back and offer something that looks chivalrous but isn't fully extended. That results in a gesture that looks awkward or not elegant, and it renders the act less effective.
The date. You have a lot riding on it. Maybe it’s early in a new relationship and you want to really stand out and impress her, let her know you’re not a run-of-the mill guy. Or maybe you’re a couple, always busy between work, kids, the house, and it’s one of those all too rare nights out to enjoy together. Whatever your personal case it matters for the date to go well.
Think of how many dates you go on during your life. If it’s just 10 a year, that’s anywhere from 400 to 600 dates. Hopefully more. Let’s say each one costs $100 on average, some more, some less. That’s $40,000! Of course, if some of those dates turn into "the real thing" they can become priceless.
Realize that if you're married the dating doesn't stop. Great dates can keep the relationship better and make you both a touch happier so you stay together. So those dates become worth however much a breakup and divorce could cost you.
Among all those dates, how many of them turn into simply another 'fine' but quickly forgotten time? How many leave her feeling like the place was nice, the food was good but nothing stood out as memorable?
If the date isn’t memorable, how will you be?
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Single men are always wondering how to get the attention of women they'd like to meet. Many sites offer all sorts of "magic" pick-up lines or "secret" seduction techniques. They prey on the hopes of young guys (well, not always just young ones) who are often a bit shy and/or not necessarily blessed with model looks or a bodybuilder's physique. What if the answer were simpler?
Last night I took my wife out for a drink after we'd had dinner with some friends. I felt like going to The Tilted Kilt to check it out. It was a lively and loud Irish pub filled largely with young people. Many men and some groups of women too. The waitresses are dressed in kilts and tops that accentuate their figures (busboys wear kilts too). We were treated by a very pretty and young waitress named Melissa who had a sweet smile and a great attitude.
As we were leaving I helped my wife off her chair (we were sitting at a high-top) and then helped her on with her coat. Melissa walked back over to us to tell us we looked "adorable." She said it's so rare to see couples treating each other the way my wife and I did.
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It's always nice to get some reassurance that you're being noticed and appreciated. I am happily married for more than 23 years and plan for many more; yet it's still a great feeling when you can place a smile on the face of any woman. I've consistently seen this happen when practicing chivalry toward women I meet as well as when they see me being chivalrous with my wife.
Afterward I thought to myself 'how many of the young single men in this place would like to capture the attention of this young woman?' Or some other woman they'd like to meet?