Saturday, October 24, 2009

The charm school

posted Sat, 23 Oct 2004

Harpo is upset because I have been writing about old boyfriends. Harpo – they are nothing but material. That’s it!

He also is a bit upset that I wrote about how good one birthday was in the past. “I was going to do something for your birthday, but then I had to go to my mom’s,” he said.

Women want men who treat them nicely.

Like I am going to complain because my boyfriend visits his sick, maybe dying, mother instead of spending my birthday with me? Besides, as I told him, he can still do whatever it is he was planning. Don’t tell me what you were going to do, I told him. Just do it. I love it when Harpo plans our outings.

The best time I’ve ever had with him was his nephew Adam’s wedding. I didn’t have to do a thing. Everything was completely out of my control. Almost every trip I have ever taken with someone else, I have organized. It’s a lot of work. I have never had the luxury of being the passenger before and let me tell you, it’s nice. I loved it.

The thing that makes a birthday special is that someone you love puts thought into it. Not money. Thought. Harpo always finds wonderful presents for me – things I would never think I wanted but then realize I do, like a belt sander or a hedge clippers or an antique Mexican tapestry. (And two pounds of See’s chocolates for my birthday this year – yummy!)

My brother is equally gifted that way – or maybe it’s just that he takes the time to think about the other person. Last year for my 40th birthday, Greg sent me three pounds of Godiva chocolate. He even arranged for Sunday delivery (as my birthday fell on a Sunday that year). I would have been as thrilled with one Godiva chocolate bar (well, maybe a teensy bit less thrilled than I was with the three pounds). But what really impressed me was that he had put some thought into what I might like.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Greg has always been very good at picking the perfect gift, which makes it so ironic that he pooh-poohs the idea of holding doors open and taking flowers and candy for his dates. I have tried to convince him that women like that stuff, but he says they will think he is a dork.

No, they won’t. And if a woman does think you are dumb for treating her with respect, then she is not the woman for you. Don’t you want a woman who admires you when you treat her like a lady? Don’t you want the mother of your children to teach your son that women should be treated like ladies and to teach your daughter that men should be respected when they treat women well?

Harpo carries bags for me. He pumps gas for me. He holds the doors open for me. I can do these things myself, but it’s nice that Harpo wants to treat me as something special.

In general, that is how things are done here in the South. The men hold the doors open for the women (and we do not need you northern women ruining that for us, thank you very much), men pay for the dates, even the blind ones, which I think is carrying it a bit far (Leigh was shocked when I thought that a woman should pay her own way on a blind date: “But we’re in the South!"), and men carry the heavy things – and the light things. It’s just the way things are.

The CEO was here from New York a few years ago. I was stuck in the elevator with him and his aide, a big guy about 6’4” and 240 pounds. I managed to keep my mouth shut (career strategy) as the three of us rode up, but my jaw dropped when the door opened and not only did the big guy not let me get off first, which I have come to expect by virtue of being a woman but which he should have done by virtue of my being closest to the door!, but he almost knocked me over as he strode past me. I could not conceal my shock from the CEO, who had lived in M’town for many years and has some manners. He gestured that I should precede him, then followed me out. I hope that aide got in big trouble. It might be OK to be rude in New York, but it’s not OK here.

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