Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Reader Asks: Which Side Should He Take?




Dear Lily,
                  my boyfriend and I have moved into a new neighbourhood and have started taking walks in the evening. The area is full of coffee shops, parks and tons of places to stop and browse. Since we have started walking, I noticed that he always walks on the side closer to the stores, away from the side of the road. I mentioned to him that I remembered my dad always made a point of walking on the side closer to the street when he was out with my mom and us to be polite. He said he had never heard of that and didn't know what difference it makes. Am I wrong in thinking that is what the man is supposed to do?

Thanks,
K

Dear K,
             the habit of men walking on the sidewalk path closer to the street dates back to when our roads were mostly made out of dirt and cobblestone. Men walked on that side so that if a passing horse drawn cart, and later car, came along on a muddy or dirty road, any flying debris would hit the man first, shielding the woman and her clothes from getting soiled. This practice continued into the mid 20th century, even when our roads were mostly paved but for some reason fell out of favor with the general public after that time (probably because we stopped teaching it to our children around that time so we shouldn't fault your boyfriend too much for never having heard of this).

I would consider how important it really is to you.  Are you being nostalgic about the ways of dear old dad? Fear that a runaway horse buggy will drive through a mud puddle and ruin your outfit? (insert laughter here!)? Think that your boyfriend should do it because you told him so? Or is it simply a matter of you wanting your fella to show you a little chivalry and kindness? If it matters so much, tell him why. He might see it in a different light if you explain the importance to you. It would be a shame for something to take away from the lovely evenings spent enjoying your new neighbourhood, a little fresh air and most importantly, the time spent together with your partner.

Does all this sound outdated and silly? Maybe a little but when remembered, I like to think that it is just another subtle way we show consideration to one another (and quite honestly, I think it has an air of romance to it and we all need a little of that every once in awhile, don't we?). Think of all the ways we used to show consideration to each other and don't anymore. Holding the door open for someone, saying 'excuse me' when we interrupt someone's conversation or simply wishing a person to 'have a good day'. Life can and will go on without any of these things but if something so small can make our world a little nicer if only for a moment, why not strive for that?

Regards,




Check back each and every Wednesday for 'A Reader Asks'.
Have a question on proper etiquette, good manners or social civility you need answered?
Email your questions to asklily@lilylemontree.com!



5 comments:

Suburban Princess said...

This comes from the middle ages when people would empty their chamber pots out the window...if you can imagine walking through an arch that has been cut out at the top...the woman would be protected by the overhang and the man would take the brunt of the 'shower'.

If our young lady wants her boyfriend to do this, she should calmly let him know. If he doesnt want to do it then she has the option to find someone who does.

Anonymous said...

Awww. I love this story!! I had a date with a guy recently and although it didn't work out, the fact that he kept moving to the "road side" touched me deeply. I'm old fashion, so I appreciate old fashion manners that are lost to most of this "new generation" - sadly. I love a man holding out his hand when I get out of the car, pulling chairs out, opening doors, etc. I always let a man know when he does these things how much I appreciate it. I think it's important to validate and honor a man when he shows respect and has good manners. It makes him want to continue to please if he gets kindness in return. :) Thanks for the great post!!

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I agree with the Suburban Princess...
thankfully today we can walk without risk of this kind of shower!

Rachael said...

Aw see to me I do actually like it when a man should always walk by the side of the road - and i'm lucky enough that Joe takes that side naturally. that's not to say we always have to do it that way but most of the time - like he always leads the way if we're walking through crowds.

Annabel Manners said...

Well put, Miss Lily. I think of lot of us appreciate a little chivalry every now and then...

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