One more time, please excuse the repost from February, but I hope this will make new readers smile.
I KILLED CHIVALRY
This morning, this guy got up and offered me his seat on the subway.
That never happens. Truly, never. When I was pregnant with my twins, I remember having to foist my Bosu-ball sized belly into the face of the seated (who were pretending not to see my obscenely protrusive abdomen) and threaten to vomit on them in order to take a load off. As you might imagine, I was not at all shy about asking– just shocked at how often I had to.
So today, when the guy offered me his seat (without my asking) I said thanks and wedged myself in between the other two passengers. My emotions went in succession as follows:
4. completely horrified.
He must think I’m pregnant, I thought. Should I tell him I’m not? But what if he didn’t think I was and was just being nice? No way. Who the f**k is nice? Â He thinks I’m PREGNANT. Do I look pregnant? I must look pregnant. It’s the damn puffer coat! No, it’s my damn puffer tummy! I know: I’ll ask him if he thought I was pregnant, make a joke out of it, so he doesn’t think I’m a lunatic. Holy s**t! I AM a lunatic.
And on from there for at least two stops. God forbid I should take it as the lovely gesture of simple human kindness that it quite possibly was. Perhaps he was just a nice person who didn’t feel like sitting. Maybe he thought I looked tired (which I did, because I am, and because that’s just how I look now that I’m a Formerly.) Maybe he’s from the Deep South or some planet on which men are not afraid of women accusing them of paternalism for doing something that might be construed as sexist.
There are many possible explanations for his baffling behavior, but the first and only one that I thought of in the moment was that I looked as if my water was about to break.
In years past, I would have assumed he was about to hit on me, but that doesn’t happen with any frequency anymore either, and, well, he didn’t. The fact that I defaulted to the pregnancy panic place was…I don’t know, maybe 30 percent my own ridiculousness and 70 percent the fact that people rarely give up their seats except to pregnant women, and even then, it’s not a given.Â I’ve since decided, after looking at the skinny mirror at my office (the only mirror I now consider accurate) that he was just a nice guy.
Which is…kind of nice, actually. I’ve noticed that the older I get–I know, 42 isn’t old, but it’s oldER–the fewer ulterior motives people have in being decent. I hear that shifts again when you get really old and people start targeting you with scams to bilk you out of your Social Security.
But for now, I like being an adult tween, not old, and not young. And not to proud to pass up a seat on the subway.
Photo by Ed Yourdon CC
August 19, 2010 at 5:59 am
Ha! I love it. No, I don’t think you killed chivalry. I am from the south (not deep south, but the midwest kind of south) and we southerners will do what is right despite the scorn! You actually helped bring back the beauty of chivalry by talking the seat. Each time you accept such a gesture, you reinforce in the giver his (or her) sense of pride.
August 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm
I am such a fan since they dissed you on nytimes, which I read regularly. I got the sarcasm and then went on to see myself in you. I’m 33 and on my way out- its in my head most probably but whaddo you do abt it…anyway I was prigs an year back and wkd be shocked how almost no one got up to offer me a seat on the train! I thought it was because I’m brown… Anyways I found it offensive and applied some of the same tactics you mention! Now to my list of things I think ppl hold against me I can or shld add formerly hotness too…. But then I know a lot of times it wasn’t my color just as I shld know that my f.h. Status doesn’t really dictate a lotta callousness the world throws at me… Or even kindness. Like they say( usually men do) for pete’s sake stop thinking so much! Seriously do!
August 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm
That’s prigs not prigs
August 19, 2010 at 4:09 pm
So iPad tries to throw words in my mouth prigs is pregnant people!
August 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm
Love this site. I just encountered it. I am Southern and used to men who treat women like ladies. It is oh so rare these days. Glad to see chivalry is not dead.
August 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm
Funny, way back when I traveled a lot, I don’t know how many times I got into a subway with a bloody great backpack on and hauling a carry bag pulling my arms out of their sockets, and not once did any of those pretty young things get up and offer to help. Not once did any older woman do anything other than look on or away. It was always other men who helped, if there were any about.
Sometimes I would ask a ‘lady’ to shift a bit along a bench seat to free up enough space, and she’d do it then. But I always had to ask. Why couldn’t she just guess what I was thinking? Whatever happened to that thing where woman help men out? You know, the same as chivalry, only in reverse? I just can’t quite think of the word…Oh, just remembered. There’s no such thing! No need for such a word!
Imagine being a man for just one day.
The experience would be a little like what you felt when you realized you were now formerly hot – only a little more intense. Sort of like an atom bomb is more intense than a fire-cracker. A very small fire-cracker.
August 30, 2010 at 7:29 pm
“This morning, this guy got up and offered me his seat on the subway.”
“That never happens. Truly, never.”