The Southern Gentleman – Lost Tradition or a Needed Revival

Filed Under (First Impressions) by Don on 11-08-2011

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This post is a little off my usual topics but I think you will recognize it’s value.  I remember my mother handing me Amy Vanderbilt’s Book of Etquette and told me to learn it if I wanted to present myself as a polished young man when I went out into the world.  I always considered good manners to be ‘expected’ of me as I grew up and I still expect them even though they have nearly disappeared in today’s baggy pants society.  What makes up the classic southern gentleman?  His attire for one thing, but let’s go past those specifics and think about some other traits that are nearly lost.

As a fan of the attire worn back in the 1930′s and ’40′s I wish the hat style of that period were back in vogue.  A man never left his office or home without his hat on.  He didn’t wear it backwards or sideways and it was always neat and matched his suit.  His clothes were always properly pressed and perfectly fit.  He would always tip his hat to the ladies with a polite “Howdy” or “Morning, ma’am.” He would always open the door for the lady and kept her on the far side of the sidewalk when they were out so she wouldn’t be the first to get hit by a vehicle. The gentleman would pull out the chair for the lady to sit and would always stand up if seated when a lady approached the table or his desk.  He was well mannered while eating never opening his mouth when full of food or talking with his mouth full.  His napkin was always properly fashioned in his lap and no matter how bad the meal was he was always complimentary to the lady and cook.  The southern gentleman would offer to carry parcels and packages for the lady and would always, always greet and thank her with a smile.  The southern gentleman is a shameless flirt at all times yet always charming, never demeaning or crude.  The southern lady never took the flirting wrongly and with class and dignity knew how to be gracious but firm.  He knew how and when to send flowers to his lady or his office assistant, or even his client and make the right impression.  The southern gentleman always said thank you…always. 

Why can’t we practice this practical form of good manners today? Do you think people today will think you old fashioned or silly?  Or, do you think you will make a valuable first impression?  Remember, you don’t get a second chance a first impressions.  Perhaps it’s time to remember our southern heritage or perhaps adopt a little southern charm to your own daily practices.  It’s simple things like this that make lasting impressions.  Yes, I still open the door for the ladies and I do send flowers.  (My hobby used to be growing roses) I have walked across the parking lot to help a lady put her purchases in her car and my wife will tell you that I am a shameless flirt.  I love the south!

The last word:  “If you could get up enough courage to begin, you have the courage to succeed.”– David Viscott