I think we can all agree with having the door be opened for us or having a guy help us put our coat on is very nice indeed, but it doesn’t constitute truly gentlemanly behavior.
But what is a modern gentleman? What does he do? How does he act? Especially on a date? Truthfully, it had been so long – if ever – that I had encountered one, that I really didn’t know until after the fact. I will get to that in a moment.
The most recent example of a date (about a year ago — it’s been a dating desert lately) when I felt like I was treated like a “lady” was when I was kissing a guy and he asked permission to put his hand up my skirt. “No,” I responded. Permission denied. Later, I thanked him for asking without simply doing it — and he responded, “Well, you’re a lady.”
But I’ve let my standards slide pretty low when I ooh and ahh over someone pulling the chair away from the table for me and doing the courtesy of asking before he went from first base, skipped second base entirely, and slid right into third.
I didn’t even know what a gentleman was until a few weeks after a date I didn’t particularly enjoy and after which – to my chagrin – I gently mocked the guy afterwards when I recounted the dating experience to my sister the next day.
It was a match.com thing — or eharmony. Who the heck knows anymore? The guy was studying to be a paralegal, I believe it was, and was flat broke. So we had to go dutch on a first date, which was pretty depressing, but was definitely fair.
After dinner, we went to go see the Joan Rivers documentary that came out (I think this was about two years ago) and was playing at the Rafael theater. He had the most amazingly weird laugh. For instance, in contrast to whatever laugh-sound people normal make, he actually just said, “Ha, ha, ha!” As in those exact words: as written. So as I was cracking my dumb little jokes during dinner, I thought he was reacting with polite, if slightly sarcastic laughter. I admit, combined with having to pay for my own dinner, we weren’t off to a good start.
But Joan Rivers was genuinely funny — and so when I heard him laugh at her jokes in the same, “Ha, ha, ha!” style, I realized that this was simply the way he laughed. And it was pretty annoying, though if it was some sort of deal-breaker, I would be petty indeed.
The actual deal breaker was that we didn’t really have any chemistry or much in common — and, as I have recently come to appreciate as super-important — our religious beliefs did not match up.
Still, he was cute and not to my credit, I probably would have kissed him afterwards if he was game for it. But instead, after walking me to my car – truly gentlemanly behavior – we made our goodbyes and instead of even trying to hug me, he simply extended his hand.
It was so quaint, and so formal, I am almost positive that due to my surprise, I suppressed a giggle, and thank goodness! Because he didn’t merit that reaction.
I saved my giggles for later when I attended the Sonoma-Marin fair with my sister — that was my birthday, June 28th. Thus, the handshake date must have been June 27th… the year, I guess, was 2010? I snickered at the handshake, now that he was nowhere in sight.
Meanwhile, I kept looking around hopefully for a certain guy who lived in the Sonoma area and could have hypothetically been at the fair, but who had tried to make some unwanted advances on me during a date. Why wasn’t I snickering at THAT loser?
It wasn’t until later that I realized that a handshake after a first date wasn’t something to be mocked: it was to be appreciated. I had been so used to a tongue being shoved in my mouth, that truly courteous, gentlemanly behavior had become unrecognizable to me.
I will close by saying I don’t know if anyone is really reading this at all — but if any guys are, at the end of the date, if you want to make a good impression and set a good precedent, I would go with the handshake. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if during this handshake, you invite her for a future date, perhaps coyly suggesting that next time maybe you’d get to peck her on the cheek. 🙂