I’m not sure where the idea of ‘ladies first’ first came from, but from the time I was a little boy, my family always drilled manners into me… one of the golden rules of etiquette was always letting ladies go first. Men open doors, pull chairs out, and just generally let ladies go first.
I’m not sure if this ideal has diminished, but apparently none of the sprouts in my class have ever heard of it. Today at bus time, when there was a disagreement about who should be first in a particular bus line, I turned to Nicole and Luther and said, “Hey, Luther, how about ladies first?”
He looked at me like I had ten heads. Ladies first? Huh?
“You know what a lady is right?” I asked, thinking maybe this was part of the problem.
“A girl,” he replied.
“Right, a girl or a woman – they can all be called ‘ladies,’” I explained.
“So what?” he quipped.
“Haven’t you ever heard the saying ‘ladies first’?” I wondered.
“You notice how Mr. A. holds the door for me or often lets me go first when we’re playing a game, right?” Mrs. D. asked. Was all this respectful modeling going unnoticed?
“In my house it’s boys first!” He replied.
“Has anyone heard of letting ladies go first?” I asked the remaining sprouts.
A chorus of ‘no’s’ from everyone shattered my hopes.
“Well, in our class, it’s respectful to let ladies go first sometimes,” I finished, allowing Nicole to the front of the line.
A gentleman’s work is never done.
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