Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Chivalry

OK, cards on the table, here.  I'm not a girly girl.  (I'm also not Shifter, in case you were confused.)  I try really hard to be one--I have, over the past few years, learned to wear skirts and even low heels.  I paint my toenails.  I blow-dry my hair.  I don't camp.  I'm plenty high-maintenance--far more high-maintenance than I would like. 
But I'm still kind of a gallumphing, mismatched creature.  I wear the heels, but I walk the same way I walk in my Chuck Taylors, resulting in a hefty, horse-like sound rather than the dainty rhythmic clicking that is normally associated with a heeled member of my gender.  (One pair of shoes has some kind of heel issue that is invisible to the naked eye but quite audible--when I wear those shoes, I sound like a horse that's thrown a shoe.)  My nails are short (I type all day, and I'm not crazy about those digital gymnastics women have to do to hit the right key with long nails) and my cuticles are bitten.  I forget to wear makeup so often that I sometimes wonder why I own it.  I just seem to have missed out on a bunch of the stuff that "girly girls" take for granted.
This leads to no end of embarrassing situations.  Chivalry throws me an awful lot of curve balls.  Actually, that's a bad metaphor--they're straight-over-the-plate gifts to any reasonably coordinated little leaguer, but to me they may as well be World-Series-quality fastballs. 
For example, there's a certain kind of man who holds doors open for women.  It's a sweet gesture, and I'm not really the type of woman to be insulted by it--but I do often get in his way.  If a guy (any guy--your boss, your cable guy, your janitor, whoever) is carrying a bunch of stuff, especially if that stuff includes hot coffee balanced precariously on top of something, or an open laptop, or (God forbid) hot coffee balanced precariously on top of an open laptop, my calculation of the greater good says that whoever is nearby opens the door for that guy, even if the person nearby is a woman.  I act accordingly.  If the guy carrying the coffee is a chivalrous guy, a lot of the time there's a super long pause before he goes through it, which is sort of discombobulating, but generally it turns out okay.
Well, this morning there was a minor chivalry pileup in my office.  I was walking with an exceptionally chivalrous example of the "chivalrous guy" species--we'll call him Captain Chivalry.  We came to a couple of glass doors, through which we could see a gentleman carrying a Dr. Seuss-like teetering pile of breakfast-related objects, including hot coffee.  Naturally, Captain Chivalry is already in front of me as we get to the door, on his mission to open every door in my path.  Again, I'm not complaining--I'm even quite enjoying the novelty.  God knows, after two years of dating in New York, I deserve to be compensated for my various disappointments.  I'm willing to accept whatever payment the male gender can fish out of its linty pockets--I'm just finding it hard to get used to this kind of daily or even hourly respect, and my reaction often leaves a lot to be desired.
So here we are in this situation, and I assume that Captain Chivalry has this door-opening issue covered and I consider myself relieved of the responsibility of opening the door for the dude with the teetering collection of breakfast foods--whew!  What a guy!  But instead of opening the door and walking through it to make room for the breakfast-laden dude on the other side, Captain Chivalry stands on my side of the door and levers both doors open (evidently Dr. Seuss and I are on equal footing according to the laws of chivalry), and then, not to be outdone, Dr. Seuss waits patiently, so now both dudes are waiting for me to walk through the door.  (Whereupon I actually run into Captain Chivalry, because clearly our moral calculus equations weren't in synch and the laws of physics--which don't care nearly as much as we do whether we're male or female, apart from some basics to do with center of gravity and body mass--operated flawlessly.) 
If this doesn't demonstrate why I shouldn't play sports, I don't know what does.  If you can't manage to get through a door with the assistance of two people, you probably don't need to take up soccer.  I'm just saying.

1 comment:

Shifter said...

What really would have been bad, or funny, or both is if you ran into both of them and the coffee spilled everywhere and then Captain Chivalry had to run get something to clean it up with. That woulda been just awesome. Or, errr, not.