Those Damn Double Doors

At about 6:00 this morning, I was walking into the gym to do some morning cardio—my typical Monday morning routine. When I was a few feet from the front door a man’s voice yelled from behind me, “I’ll get the door!” I turned around to see a young man, maybe early 20’s, jogging across the parking lot toward me. I stopped and waited, pleasantly surprised, and thanked him when he opened the door for me. In a Southern accent, he said “you’re welcome.” Then I walked through the doors and dammit if I wasn’t stumped once again by the double door. I never know what to do! In this instance, he had put so much effort into getting the first door for me that I stopped and waited, allowing him to get the second door too. If I had gotten the second door for myself, I ran the risk of being unappreciative of his chivalry. But if I don’t, I might look lazy or seem to have a sense of entitlement. I have always just relied on a genuine ‘thank you’ with eye contact and a smile to redeem myself for any mistakes I might be making.

But it gets even more complicated than that. Does the polite thing to do change depending on if it’s a stranger or your date? What if it’s a first date versus a date with your long-time significant other? What if the gentleman holding the door is older, from a previous generation where chivalry was the norm? Do you respond differently then?

I realize that there are a lot more rules for men to know than women… assuming the man wants to be chivalrous. He needs to worry about the rules surrounding opening car doors, which side of her he should be on when walking down the sidewalk, whether to be in front of her or behind her on the stairs, whether to let her go first through a revolving door or to go ahead of her and do the work for her. He needs to walk the delicate balance between offering to pick her up for a date versus respecting the fact that she may not want to divulge her address. He needs to know when to put his jacket around her shoulders and when to refrain because she isn’t cold enough yet to cover up her cute outfit. He has to worry about offending her by treating her as if she’s incapable. (If only we all wore signs, announcing where we fall on the feminist rating scale.) Lastly, but certainly not least, is the issue of picking up the check. This one stumps women, too, btw.

I’ll shed some light, from one woman’s perspective, on what is appreciated. It can be summed up quite simply:

I like it all! There’s no such thing as too chivalrous in my book, as long as you’re not making a show of it. I love having doors held for me. I love it when a guy offers to pick me up for a date, opens the car door (all the time, not just on a date), pulls out my chair at dinner, puts his jacket around me when I’m cold. I like it when he walks me to my door after a date, or at least checks to see that I made it home safely. I love it when I feel a hand on my lower back to guide me, even though I’m perfectly capable of finding my own way through a door. I like it when a man pulls me to the other side of him to make sure he’s closer to the street when we’re walking down a sidewalk. None of it goes unnoticed, and none of it goes unappreciated. It reminds me that I am a woman, and more importantly, that he is a man.

So now that you have the female perspective, I’d love to hear the man’s perspective. At what point do you feel that a woman is being presumptuous? If you hold the first door of a set of two, what do you expect her to do for the second door? When the check comes, do you want her to offer to pay or not? Does it make a difference whether it’s a first date, or who asked who to dinner? If you pay for dinner, do you want her to offer to pay for the dessert/drink/movie that follows, or is she taking something away from you by doing that?

Let’s help each other out here. Chivalry is not dead. It’s just muddled. I, for one, would like to know how to leave a good impression.

Signed,

Modern woman with an old soul

I Am Woman

Some days I am reminded that I am a woman; for instance, when my nephew stretches his little arms up to be held, and I reach down to bring him close to me. Something inside me as old as time tells me how to hold him, how to comfort him, how to love him. I wrap the child up in my arms and hold his hand in mine, pressed against my chest, swaying slightly. When he lays his head on my shoulder, and I lay my face against his forehead, something feels so perfectly natural, that I can imagine no better feeling. On those days, I am so thankful to be a woman.

Some days I am reminded that I am a woman; for instance, when I am in the company of a man, and our attention is focused on one another. He unlocks and opens my car door for me and makes sure my limbs, fingers, and clothes are clear of the door before closing it. He walks next to me and places his hand on my lower back as he leads me through a crowd. He hugs me and I am engulfed in his arms, swallowed by his embrace. He holds my face in his hands while he kisses me. He makes me feel small, but at the same time, safe. On those days, I am so thankful to be a woman.

Some days I am reminded that I am a woman; for instance, when I have a special occasion to get dressed up for. I can spend weeks preparing for it, shopping for a new outfit, toiling away in the gym to get toned, laying out in the sun to get tanned. I can get my nails done and my hair done. I can pamper myself with crèmes and lotions and perfume. I can slip into a perfectly fitted dress and pull my hair up with clips decorated in jewels, pulling strands of hair out to fall in curls around my face. I can wear earrings and necklaces and bracelets and rings. I can slip freshly manicured toes into high heeled shoes. I can bring all the details of my femininity together for one important night, such that all the details and lines and curves flow together into one graceful, feminine picture of a woman. On those days, I am so thankful to be a woman.

Some days I am reminded that I am a woman; for instance, when I feel as if I’ve been kicked in the abdomen by a mule, and the pain goes straight through me to my lower back, and then shoots upward to my head. I find myself with no patience, feeling as if it’s completely unfair that I have to work for a living. Tears stream down my face for no reason whatsoever, ruining my makeup and turning my eyes red. I get angry at the fact that I’m crying, and the last person to speak to me before I started crying becomes the recipient of my fury. If I’m single, I am convinced that I’ll be single forever. If I’m not single, I am convinced that my boyfriend/husband no longer loves me because of the tone in his voice or his poor choice of words that day. I want nothing more than for someone to bring me a handful of Advil, a carton of ice cream, and a trashy tabloid magazine while I lie on my couch feeling sorry for myself. Then I will eat the entire carton of ice cream while I flip through the tabloid, hating all those bitches for being skinny. On those days, I think being a woman must be a cruel joke God played on me… or ongoing payment for that extra rib.

I Am Woman. Hear Me Roar…

(…and please forgive me for anything I might say or do for the next 48 to 72 hours.)