Monday, June 12, 2006

Ah, chivalry...

I was on a date this weekend and something happened that reminded me of our class (congratulations, Kirk-- you've made it into my social life!!). I was with this sweet southern fella and I noticed something that made me smile: every time we walked on the sidewalk, he would move to the side of me that was toward the road, so I was walking inside, away from traffic. He did this several times and I finally asked, "Are you doing that on purpose?" He said yes, and I asked him where he learned that little trick. He said his dad taught him to always keep the lady on the inside, away from danger and that men needed to bring back chivalry. I simled. Cute.

The term "chivalry" comes from the French word, "chevalier," meaning horseman or knight. It refers to a social system involving kingdoms, lords, knights and ladies, and lots of horses. The medieval era was not all too glamorous-- the people all probably smelled as bad as the horses did and there were obviously none of the modern conveniences we have today (electricity, plumbing, deodorant....). And this man wants to bring back chivalry?!
Of course, I knew what he meant. These days, chivalry is courtesy towards a woman: honoring and defending her, and treating her like a queen. Through the years, literature has come to romanticize this idea of courtly love from medieval times. I don't know any particulars on how TRUE medieval courtship worked, but I can guess there wasn't much street traffic to shield the women from.
Don't get me wrong, though... I'm not a cold-hearted girl. He definitely got brownie points for the gesture. I appreciated his thoughtfulness. Fellas, you should give it a try next time you're walking with your lady and see if she notices.
"Chivalry" in the LITERAL sense may be gone, but perhaps we can bring back the LITERARY (highy romanticized) ideals.


Blogger Matt Jacobs said...

I have always heard that the tradition of walking with the woman away from the street and the man closer to the street originated as a response to dirt. As I heard, in Great Britian a gentleman would walk closer to the street so that all of the grime and mud from the street would not hit the woman and get her dirty when coaches and horses went by. This same principle applied to the old west when a man would walk closer to the street because the streets were dirt and when horses or coaches went by dirt and dust would be kicked up. By keeping the woman away from the street, the dirt would hit the man and keep the woman's dress clean......

today the tradition serves no purpose so it is no longer a custom.

7:31 PM  

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