Monday, 23 April 2012

To Be A Knight In Shining Armour...Or A Knight In A Shining Car.

So much for chivalry.

I know I'm not the only girl who likes romantic gestures and all that, but it really depends on what type of gestures we're talking about. Take for instance the age-old (now dying) tradition of opening a door for a lady. Men claim that when they don't open the door, women get all huffed up about not being gentlemanly. When they do, women (feminists, mostly) say that they don't need a guy to do it for them. I am one of the latter, though with valid reason.

I like it when guys open the door for women. It shows a measure of respect and it's romantic. I like romance. My sentiments were echoed by this speaker who was lecturing us one week in CF on Christian dating, and he told the story of a couple, friends of his, where the man, who is now rather ahead in age, opens the car door for the wife every single time. The speaker was impressed, and he found out that the man had been doing it for 30 years now.

So I retold the whole story to this guy pal, who scoffed at it. "It's not practical to do that nowadays." Dear readers, please keep in mind that in this case, practicality is key to this friend of mine. We will see evidence of it in a bit.

Okay, he doesn't agree. Fine, we can't force people.

Every morning I head to a shop near my housing area in uni to pick up the newspaper. Usually I get them when someone picks me up and makes a short detour on the way to uni. This sem, it's mostly my classmates, who are so patient and don't complain (bless them) though it's also probably since they do read my papers as well.

In certain cases, it's that friend of mine mentioned above that drives me around.

So here we are, driving to the shop, I dash out, grab the newspaper off the stand, pay the shopkeeper and dash back into the car. Now is where "chivalry" comes into play.

This friend of mine waits for me in the car, seatbelt still strapped on, and I've noticed that whenever he sees me coming back in, he leans over, still restrained by the belt, lifts the door handle and pushes the passenger door a fraction of an inch open. The first couple times, I was understandably bemused. The next few times, the moment I got into the car, "Thanks, but you didn't have to do that."

His answer? "You're holding the papers, scared you can't open the door, so I open for you." Or something like that.

Now, at this point, you'd be screaming at me for being such a stuck-up feminist who can't tell when someone's going out of his way to be helpful, and at the same time you'd be stroking the ego of my friend for being such a gentleman, and bashing me at the same time for not appreciating him.

But there are two sides to every story.

Let's check it out from his perspective: she's got something in her hands, so I open the door to let her in. By doing this I'm helping her out as well as showing her I'm being a gentleman. The proper reaction would be a beaming smile and a "Thanks so much, such a gentleman." My ego is stroked and I am the man.

From my perspective: You are restrained in your seat. You lean over, but you are still restrained in your seat. The belt is tugging you back. You reach out, open the door, and push it with your fingertips because you can't reach that far and you are still restrained in your seat. The door opens slightly, and falls back into that semi-open, semi-closed position which happens if you don't close the door properly. You lean back, smiling because you "opened" the door for me. But to me, it makes no difference because as everyone knows, the door is still partially hooked, so that means I still have to open the door myself. And you expect me to praise you on being "gentlemanly".

At least all I had in my hands was the day's newspaper. Can you imagine if I had a bunch of stuff in my hands, and this is the situation where I desperately wish that for once, all notions of romance disregarded, that you get out of the car, come over to my side and (I'm not even asking you to relieve me of my burden) open the door for me, and all you did was lean over, and did that half-open, half-closed door thing? I would have thrown the entire stack of stuff at you.

Don't get me wrong; chivalry is good, it's great to use anytime (not just during special occasions like dates and whatnot), but, as in the case study above, when you opening the door for me doesn't deviate much from you not opening the door for me (unless you suddenly developed super strength and blasted the door off its hinges, in which case I thank you and sympathise at the loss of your car door, which totally has nothing whatsoever to do with me, by the way) I'd much rather do it myself.

And please. Getting out of the car, coming over to the passenger side to open the door is not practical, but doing something that has such poor results you might as well not have done it is?

I just don't get it.

1 comment:

Topher said...

Oh hold your horses dear knight(or horse, singular?), when that friend of yours does that "half opening the door but not exactly opening the door" thing, he could very well be doing a little less dramatised version of the Knight in the Shining Car coming out, running around the front end of the car then opening the door for you, letting you get in and then closing the door (gently because he's a gentleman) behind you, wait he's not done yet, running back to the driver's side and getting back in the car, putting his safety belt on, before moving off.

Of course, there are times when it calls for exactly that - when you literally carry your whole bedroom into the car - but in that case it may be that he was more keen on the essence of time that you also care quite a lot about? I'm guessing that he has owned that car for quite a while now to know how much more of a hassle it is to pull on the door handle to just get the door unlocked than pulling the door open on it's hinges (yes, it is a heavy door. But it keeps you safe, air-bag and all, something your mum approves).