Men, Manners And The Recession

Is it just me or are men getting a little bit more polite? Jaded New Yorker that I am, I tend to assume anyone close to me on the subway is trying to steal my wallet or feel me up. Though the “accidental” ass-grab still happens about once a week, it’s becoming less frequent. I choose to view the lack of groping phenomenon not as a sign of my decreasing desirability, but as a sign of increasing old fashioned manners. In my semi-scientific survey I have discovered that at least three other women agree that men these days are more likely to offer gals their seat on the bus, carry heavy bags, open doors and pay compliments, even when there is no hope of sex. I have a theory: the recession. Maybe I am just searching for the silver lining on the dreary financial cloud, but I do think the economic woes have made us slightly more civilized. Before I conclusively decide exactly what factor is making dudes walking examples of Emily Post etiquette, I will postulate my three main theories.

  • Reevaluation Of Morals: In this tough economic climate don’t you wish you could hearken back to the good old days when things were simple and there was only one version of “The Real Housewives”? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, but I do think there is a certain wistfulness for times past and the niceties that everyday folk observed. I think it’s fair to say that people are spending more quality time with friends and family and placing more value on relationships. No, we are not all reverting back to the “Little House on the Prairie” days, but gents are seeing the inherent value of being nice to one another, and how a few demonstrations of manners doesn’t exactly hurt with the ladies. I recently asked a jock-guy about this. I remarked that he had unusually good manners, the kind of manners reserved for ballrooms instead of a Beirut game. He actually asked me to dance, bought me drinks, held doors open, complimented my shoes, etcetea. He blushed when I mentioned how impressed I was, and muttered that his mother had always told him that if he treats every lady like a princess, she will treat him like a prince. Awww. Once I mentioned I had a boyfriend, however, he skedaddled before I could say “Prince Charming.”
  • More Free Time Equals Less Money, But More Manners: Not to be too cynical, but maybe guys just have more time to be polite these days. I have been pondering the possibility that in every man’s mind there is a charming bloke ready to sweep a girl off her feet, but he is too concerned with other things to do so. If a guy has more free time due to work troubles, his inner Mister Manners might finally get his chance to shine. It’s much easier to help a little old lady across the street if you are not rushing to an important meeting. As I said, this is could just be me being very cynical, or I could just be realizing that I am very rude when I am in a hurry.
  • Less Money Leads To Better Manners: A year or so ago I went out on a date with an investment banker. I thought it was nice that he picked up the tab, but I was more impressed by that fact that he pulled out my chair when I sat down, refrained from ogling any of the very attractive waitstaff and walked me home. As we walked down the street I told him this and he let out the first natural laugh of the evening. He said that most city girls expected to be taken out to super fancy dinners, dancing at an of-the-moment club and then taken home in a cab. He might have been an investment banker, but he was a young one with college debt. He was trying to woo women with manners instead of with cash, but he was doubtful that his approach would yield results. Always the banker, he was ahead of the trend. I don’t know if this is intentional, but I think that because men can’t be as showy and impress gals by flashing cash, they are impressing us with manners. I hope I am right, and that once the economy recovers men will continue to romance us with sweet nothings.