I open car doors whenever possible, I hold doorways open for whoever might be in front or behind, and I occasionally even manage to tip my hat. I try (and usually fail mightily) to keep a civil tongue in my head, and I try to be discreet at all times, on all matters.
Again, take this all with the caveat that it's a lot harder to be a gentleman, both in thoughts and deeds than I ever gave it credit for, and the modern times do not help either. It's not epected anymore, you see. I have witnessed major league baseball players stand around on the field during the singing of the national anthem with their ball caps still jauntily on their heads. Men curse, belch, fart, and otherwise debase themselves in front of women, children, and ministers. Common courtesy was left for dead four decades ago. There is a loss of gentility in men these days that utterly saddens me, and if fathers do not teach their sons how to be gentlemen they will grow up to be, at best, ruffians and scoundrels. Or at least, naive, raw little jerks.
I did find something that has helped me in my own quest to be a better man, though. And even though it is against one of the book's teachings (A gentleman never suggests a book to someone else, it's crass) I will suggest that any male readers who happen through should pick up a copy and read it cover to cover. A few times.
It's entitled "The Modern Gentleman: A Guide To Essental Manners, Savy, and Vice," by Messers Mollod and Tesauro, and it is one of the essential pieces of armament in the gentleman's arsenal. I'll say no more.
On Being A Child
It's Ray Bradbury's birthday today. For those of you who haven't caught the references, Mr. Bradbury has to be hands down my favourite author, and that's saying something. If pressed to the choice, Mr. B. would be the top pick every time. His writing style and mannerisms have influenced me in countless ways, including affecting my own writing style, and his voice has lead me on adventures that range through all the genres there are.
It was related somewhere that when he was a young boy, Mr. Bradbury was at a travelling circus in his hometown of Illinois, and he met a Mr. Electro, a circus performer who did tricks with Tesla coils and static electricity. It's said that Mr. Electro touched the young Bradbury on his shoulder with a sparking, static-charged rod and intoned "You will live forever," and apparently some part of the young boy believed him. The young boy that lives in all men has never been silenced by the steady snowfall of his advanced years, and I like to think that some part of that little boy in Mr. Bradbury has kept awake the little boy in me. I have never gotten tired of playing Fort, still have the sense of wonderment of a child when I catch a fish, and can still ooh and aah over bugs, butterflies, and birds.
You see, I quite like that little boy in me. He refuses, Pan-like, to grow up, but without the coarseness that has always offended me in little boys. He is the spirit of wonderment and awe, the child that can gape openly at fireworks displays and still get a heart-swell of emotion when a loud exhaust pipe passes. There are many times, I will openly admit, when my own external cynicism and anger with the status quo silences his voice, or at least over-shouts it, but that little voice keeps on talking, keeps up a valuable, irreplacable narration that keeps my feet wanting to be bare and my eyes to be open to what gems (and frogs and bugs) lie begging to be found.