Now, I know what you’re saying:
Ella, it is still 2014; why are you worried about 2015?
Ella, chivalry is DEAD.
But to all of that, I say: It’s never too early to start caring about the next year (#resolutions), and chivalry, though very weakened and possibly awaiting some sort of magical superhero-like revival, is not dead. It’s just, you know, in need of a little update.
Because a modern gentleman is evolved — to the point where he has a fancy phone with all its gadgets and amenities, but doesn’t check his phone while in a meeting or out on a date. (Those texts and game scores will wait until your date goes to the bathroom.) He is aware of all the social mores and protocol that exist on social media, but he doesn’t use and abuse these so as to appear little more than all pixels, no substance. He remembers that there is an app on his phone that actually — yes, really! — can make a phone call to another person (hence the title, phone) and that his likelihood for having a date accepted increase a thousandfold just by using this app. And even if the object of his hopeful Friday night says no, he can gracefully hang up and respect that answer for what it is.
A modern gentleman opens and holds the door for people he’s with, but doesn’t keep it open too long so as to become a doormat. (A good rule of thumb here is to hold it open for one person beyond your date, maybe, and then it’s up to the next party to take over doormanship duties.) But the modern gentleman also knows that opening a taxi door for a woman and waiting for her to slide in first has never been the rule — really. Slide in first, and thus give her less sweaty leather to have to scramble over.
A modern gentleman will see the possibility in making a dirty joke in the previous sentence, but abstains for decorum’s sake.
He is not defined by what he does — and never talks about himself in the third person — but rather who he is. He leaves his job in the office unless absolutely necessary and commits to every moment as he is in it. He is aware of the world around him: he reads books, he watches movies, he keeps up with the news. This is never done in an effort to assert his opinion as being more right than anyone else’s, but to at least have a basic grasp of what is going on in the world so as to not make boneheaded comments when someone brings up a current event. And even if he has no clue what his date is talking about, he knows how to nod politely and consider that opinion for what it’s worth. This is an especially good exercise, because it attunes you to realizing when you’re the one talking about a topic no one else knows (or cares) about, and teaches you how to segue out of it gracefully.
A modern gentleman knows the difference between a compliment and being creepy. For example, the person you’re on a date with — because a modern gentleman actually dates, and doesn’t just hang out – probably put effort into how she looks expressly for you. It is, therefore, in the modern gentleman’s best interest to say something. The random woman on the street, however, who does not know you from a hole in a wall, did not put effort into how she looked expressly for you. How do you prove to her that you are, in fact, a card-carrying member of the Modern Gentleman’s club? Easy. Don’t say anything. Respect her space. Acknowledge the fact that she does not need your approval to go on living her life. And be fine with that. (In sum, the 2015 edition of a gentleman does not cat call.)
He knows how and when to make toasts, how to tell a good story, and how to impress parents if need be. He is supportive, tries to be understanding when he can — and also understands that sometimes, being understanding of certain situations is just impossible, so all that’s left is being sympathetic and nodding along — and respects that not everyone is always going to appreciate his efforts in being a gentleman. That’s fine, because the people who do appreciate it will more than make up for the ones who don’t. A modern gentleman’s validation comes from within, and he doesn’t need anyone’s reaction to either confirm or deny it. This is called having a strong sense of self.
And he understands the power of the details — from dressing well (nobody ever hated anyone who wore a really well-tailored suit; it’s just a fact of life) to washing his sheets regularly to taking care of that ingrown hair that popped up when he decided to try out a beard. He has a strong stance on pocket squares, ties, tie bars, and shoes — of which, he appreciates sneakers and dress shoes alike, but never square toes or mandals. He keeps himself in shape for his own health, and has a regular appointment with his barber. He has a signature watch, a singular style, and the kind of cologne that sets him apart from the herd. Because he also knows that it’s the little things that make him a man worth remembering, up to and including when someone smells a familiar fragrance on the subway or in a restaurant and thinks of him. And he knows that it’s up to him to ensure that those memories are good.
This post brought to you by Stetson Caliber.