Chapter 29: The Modern Southern Gentleman

I will start this post by admitting I know I am sometimes viewed as an anachronism.

I was born, raised and educated to be a Gentleman.  That was a primary part of my life education from Birth to about age 22.

I am from an old Virginia family, on one side, allegedly from FFV  (First Family of Virginia) stock.  And I went to Washington and Lee University–a school that focused on turning out educated Gentlemen during my time there- and I spent my time there mainly with Ladies at Sweet Briar College but also with Ladies at Randolph-Macon Women’s College, Mary Baldwin College and Hollins College.  And the occasional weekends at the University of Virginia, which was then also an intellectual finishing school, like the others mentioned herein.

It was an era when Ladies and Gentlemen were not dirty words.

We were raised to be Gentlemen and Ladies.  It was that simple.  We had manners and knew how to behave in public.

We were not SJI’s (Slack Jawed Idiots), as I fondly call them, as so many children and young adults are today.

Today, it seems, kids are raised to think anything and everything is “okay” as long as they are safe and comfortable.  They are taught they are the exact center of the universe.  That is not good for society as a whole.

I’m sorry, but it’s not a safe and comfortable world.  You have to have standards and recognize threats.  Otherwise, you live in and propagate the chaos that is modern America.

This slackness is rapidly turning America into a third world country.  Other countries, on the rise, realize standards matter.

I will not go quietly into the light…

And I offer no apologies.

Being a Gentleman is not really an anachronism, if viewed correctly.

Let me tell you what I was raised and educated to think a Gentleman was-along with a few revelations I had along the way:

  1. A Gentleman always dresses appropriately to the affair he is attending.  That means a Tux for an evening wedding.  Now you may wear that Tux to bail people out of jail or sleep in it, as I have admittedly done, but still, one starts off the evening correctly attired.
  2. A Gentleman only hears what he is supposed to hear.  He never hears indiscretions.  No matter how scandalous the topic, if a Gentleman is not supposed to hear it, he doesn’t.  And then he only tells his closest friends in the strictest of confidences.
  3. A Gentleman understands nothing is more important than making his guests and friends feel comfortable.  If they don’t know or abide by all the arcane rules he lives by, so be it.  We know they really meant well and we give them the benefit of the doubt.
  4. A Gentleman understands Quality.  For us, Polyester does not exist.  Nor pleated pants.  Nor flip-flops.  Nor tank tops.  I could go on….
  5. A Gentleman would never give a party with paper plates and plastic utensils.  We understand what it means to hold a sterling silver knife and fork in our hands.  We compromise with Stainless Steel flatware and plain white plates for large parties.  That is an evolutionary adjustment.  But we never judge those who chose to do otherwise…
  6. A Gentleman is at home anywhere.  As I have frequently said, I have been everywhere from the gutters of Pittsylvania County Virginia to the White House and behaved the same in both places.  And it worked beautifully.
  7. Gentlemen love to polish Silver. Preferably  Sterling.  We appreciate the fineness and history.  Even if we never actually use it…
  8. A Gentleman always opens doors for a Lady and let’s a Lady exit an Elevator first.  Even if she is transgendered or his boss.  We just do that.  It’s not a sexist thing.  Based on experience, this can really cause problems in New York office buildings….
  9. We keep Brooks Brothers in business.  Since there are so few local, quality Men’s Stores we live for Brooks Brothers and, to a lesser degree,  Joseph A Banks, J Crew and Polo/Ralph Lauren.
  10. A Gentleman knows the old saying “no party is a success until someone leaves in tears, someone passes out, someone breaks something or the cops come” is not necessarily true, but…
  11. A Gentleman always has an open mind and an open heart.
  12. A Gentleman knows class is not about money, family background, national origin or race.  It’s about the individual and where they are coming from intellectually, how good their heart is and how they see the world.
  13. A Gentleman recognizes quality is based on personal, not monetary, substance.  You can be dirt poor, but still be a Gentleman.  You can also be filthy rich and still be White Trash.
  14. A Gentleman always tries to make other people comfortable even if it makes him uncomfortable.
  15. A Gentleman is never forgives someone for being intentionally rude or unkind.  Those are the truly unforgivable sins.
  16. A Gentleman has his standards, but doesn’t really expect everyone else to live up to them 100% of the time.  Percentages are adjustable based on the amount of good will behind the offender’s actions.
  17. A Gentleman knows he should always try to give back to Society.
  18. A Gentleman enjoys an honest, fact based debate.
  19. A Gentleman has no patience with dogma or willful ignorance.
  20. A Gentleman believes religion- or the lack there of- is an intensely personal subject only to be discussed with his closest friends or on his blog.
  21. A Gentleman believes any public display is tacky, unless driven to it by political circumstances beyond his control.  He understands there is a “time and a place”…
  22. A Gentleman believes it is okay to  agree to disagree, but still love each other as the closest of friends.
  23. A Gentleman believes class, as previously described, will tell, but the lack of it even sooner.
  24. Gentleman stands by his friends regardless of the situation.
  25. A Gentleman understands that crazy is okay.  And crazy people should be treated with the appropriate respect.
  26. A Gentleman realizes he is stuck with his birth family and must do his duty even if they are all crazy.
  27. A Gentleman never forms opinions without true facts.
  28. A Gentleman does not judge others unless he has walked in their shoes and thus has a basis of experience on which to make his judgements.
  29. A Gentleman always takes the appropriate stand if the facts in a situation point toward injustice.  He never stands silently by…
  30. A Gentleman is fearless even if he is afraid.
  31. A Gentleman may curse like  sailor, but only in appropriate company, at the appropriate time.
  32. A Gentleman treats all women as Ladies.  Regardless of their sexuality or if they were originally born female.  Period.  No exceptions.
  33. A Gentleman tolerates children, if he must.
  34. A Gentleman is flexible and adjusts to the times in which he is living with as much grace as possible.  No matter how hard the struggle.
  35. A Gentleman is always open to change as long as it is positive.
  36. A Gentleman believes “honor” is not an outdated concept.

But my point is:  A Gentleman is still someone we should all aspire to be.  I continue to try to live up to these rules.

It’s not a bad thing.  It’s not an outdated, Old South concept.  I think the world would actually be better if there were more of us…

Just my thoughts….

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This is a slight reworking of an earlier post on my other blog.  As I continue to consolidate my writing on this blog, I will have some re-runs!

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One Response to Chapter 29: The Modern Southern Gentleman

  1. Pingback: The Modern Southern Gentleman | My Southern Gothic Life

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