'Chivalry is Dead and You Killed it, Ladies'
Janelle Harris, a contributor to Yahoo's "The Stir" Website, bemoans the death of manners:
I spied a young couple out on a date. He cracked a wry joke, she giggled daintily, and they held hands as they strolled up a block in the heart of downtown D.C. How in-the-honeymoon period adorable are they? I thought. But when Cute Couple paused to enter a restaurant, my foot almost slipped off the brake: he all but broke his neck to get in ahead of her and let the door slam—I mean, physically slonk her—on her shoulder.I sent her a telepathic message to turn tail, hail a cab, and end that date immediately. But she didn’t. She grimaced and limped in after him. And that’s one of the reasons why chivalry is dying a slow, brutal death.
I’m not shy about telling y’all that I passionately believe manners are the glue of society, the thin line that keeps us all from going ape you-know-what on each other in social settings and public arenas. Not that that line isn’t fraying. If you’ve stood in line at Walmart for any length of time or taken a ride on public transportation, it’s like being on the frontlines of how dismally bad manners have really gotten.
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I’m as hip and trendy as the next fun-loving gal, but I’m super old-school when it comes to the application of manners. Feminist agenda be darned: I believe that men should walk on the side closest to the street when we’re out on the town, that they should pull out women’s chairs when we sit down at tables, and — for the love of all that’s even remotely cool — that they shouldn’t let the doggone door crush any part of our persons as they scurry in to slosh back their weight in nachos and beer at a local eatery.
This paragraph is the tell:
For some reason — I don’t know if it’s global warming or residuals from the Bush administration or the pull of the moon or what it is — but people have absolutely abandoned good, sound, traditional act-rightness. And that lack of decorum has bungled the dating scene. Like it wasn’t already like walking through a dog park with no clean-up laws in the first place. [Emphasis mine -- Ed]
"I don't know what it is" -- so let's blame Bush and global warming -- and let's write an article decrying a loss of manners, while using scatological metaphors.
But Harris's article is the textual equivalent of one of those interviews that Woody Allen gives whenever he makes a movie set in the 1930s or '40s, and then wonders aloud why New York doesn't look as sleek and glamorous as it did in the past.
The boomers shot traditional glamor, civility and manners dead in the 1960s. In 1963, as they were preparing for high-profile tours of first England, and then the States, Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, demanded that his act ditch the Marlon Brando-style leather jackets, T-shirts and jeans they wore during their salad days in small clubs in post-war Hamburg for matching Pierre Cardin suits and ties.
In 1968, John and Yoko posed naked for the cover of their first album. (Photo on its Wikipedia page not safe for work or sanity. You were warned.)
What is TV's Mad Men but a victory lap for the boomers' destruction of civility and traditional manners?