122. True Gentlemen

I have a friend named Socrates. (His name is actually Steven, but I’m obligated to call him Socrates because of this blog’s time-honored traditions.) Socrates and I met during our freshman year of college, and we became housemates in later years.

Socrates is a gentleman: a fedora-wearing, tea-drinking young man who looks good in a suit, knots neckties effortlessly and opens doors for ladies. He’s chivalrous, affable, old-fashioned and awesome.

The world needs more gentlemen.

I’m not speaking of outward appearances. It’s well enough for someone to look dapper in a suit, fedora or necktie, but anyone can wear nice clothes. I’m not referring to sophisticated tastes. Drinking tea is sometimes considered a sign of refinement, but anyone can sip hot liquid.

No, I’m speaking of the things that mark a true gentleman.

A true gentleman respects himself, taking pride in his personal appearance. A true gentleman respects other men, putting their needs before his own. A true gentleman respects ladies, listening patiently and serving humbly.

A true gentleman is a paradox: refined and sophisticated, yet humble and unpretentious; confident and assured, yet modest and gracious; patient and kind, yet strong and brave.

I know a number of true gentlemen. Most of them don’t fit the gentlemanly stereotype. Few wear nice clothes. (At least one gentleman of my acquaintance despises neckties.) Many play video games, watch Disney films and enjoy other unsophisticated pursuits. Some even dislike tea.

Their attitudes are what matters. They are gracious, sensible, kind, cheerful, chivalrous, humble and selfless. In the end, a fedora is just a hat, a necktie is just a noose and tea is just a hot beverage. Defying stereotypes and outward appearances, these men modestly serve those around them.

They are true gentlemen, and the world needs more like them.

2 thoughts on “122. True Gentlemen

  1. Agreed.

    I do think that chivalry is not a thing of the past, I believe it should live on. I have made an effort in doing what I can to be a gentleman (carry things for ladies or open doors for them) but sometimes I get resistance to this because they feel like I (or other men who are chivalrous) think they are too weak to do things on their own.

    While I think that this a foolish notion and a complete misunderstanding of what I am trying to do with my actions (be cordial, honoring and respectful to the lady); I have considered giving the women who think like this to have their way so that they know that I acknowledge their strength and that I can respect them as independent women. What are your thoughts?

    (By the way, thumbs up for the Layton image, I love the Layton games, great series)

    • I think you’re absolutely right. Being a true gentleman is a matter of putting others before oneself. If a lady doesn’t want a gentleman to open doors for her or carry her groceries, the gentlemanly thing for him to do is to honor her wishes over his own sense of chivalry. In the end, the defining mark of a true gentleman is that he serves others, not just himself.

      Professor Layton is one of my heroes. 🙂 The world needs more true gentlemen like him. And also more top hats.

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