I’m at the bank. I’m standing in a line that is one hundred miles long. I’m in the rear. The line is not moving.
I would rather have open heart surgery administered by Howdy Doody than wait in line.
Through the doors, I see a woman, walking across the parking lot. I’m trotting toward the door to open it for her.
This is because I was raised by women. Polite behavior was beaten into me with hairbrushes and unabridged King James Bibles. I believe in opening doors for anyone you’d refer to as ma’am, miss, or Mama.
But someone beats me to the door.
A boy in line. He is twelve, thirteen maybe. He’s here with his mother. He swings it open.
“Thank you,” the woman says, grinning.
Two more women are strolling through the parking lot. The boy flies into action. He opens the door.
They thank him. They even call him “sir.”
He likes this.
Here comes another. She’s waltzing toward the door, talking on her phone. You ought to see the surprise on her face when the kid pulls the Open Sesame trick.
She giggles. “Aren’t you sweet?”
Yes, he is.
And I remember a time when most men were. “Gentleman,” my granddaddy would’ve called them. “Polite,” Mama would’ve called it.
I call it being considerate. And I believe in it.
Long ago, we had men who raced to the door to prove that their mothers had raised them right. They were men who wouldn’t use a four-letter word in the presence of long eyelashes, not even if you threatened them with soap operas.
But those days are evaporating. And I don’t like saying it, but the world has changed.
Even so, some of us still remember our Mama, reminding us to treat every girl, woman, and granny better than the Queen of England.
I asked the boy’s mother how her son became such a knight in shining blue jeans.
“Oh,” she said. “Probably ‘cause he lives with a bunch’a women.”
I get it. The boy is in a house full of estrogen. All he knows is Mama, Granny, and sisters. I grew up the same way.
“His nana’s taught him good,” says the woman. “She’s got him standing whenever a girl walks in a room, taking his hat off in buildings, offering his chair…”
Good old Nana.
While we talk, the kid darts toward the door. He opens it for a woman with silver hair. When she sees him, she’s four decades younger.
I like this kid.
I like him because I want to be him. I like him because I was reared by soft hands. My childhood home was nothing but scented candles, throw pillows, and Guideposts magazines.
I believe in women. Just as much as I believe in heaven. And in love.
I believe they are magnificent. I believe they deserve more than what they get. I believe that no matter what their height, weight, hair-color, or dress size, they are precious.
And I believe we ought to demonstrate it. I believe in holding the door.
This little boy. You ought to see him hold the door with his puny arm. He’s young. And he’s blissfully unaware of what he’s doing.
He’s not just being a man. He’s showing us all how to be one.
God bless that kid’s nana.
And God bless my mama.
lavenderlady - January 11, 2018 7:41 am
Pamela McEachern - January 11, 2018 8:20 am
I believe every word you have written in this story. A young boy always needs a man in his life but the women in his life, they hold the mold. A woman’s touch will take a young man soundly into a what every man needs to know in life. How to treat a lady. No matter who she may be.
Peace and Love from Birimgham
Linda - January 11, 2018 11:43 am
A beautiful one again today, Sean. And a lesson for all….
Matt - January 11, 2018 12:43 pm
About 20 years ago, I was at a county political debate in Virginia with a buddy of mine running for local office. It was standing room only. The incumbent was an older man known by pretty much everyone. My friend, the challenger, was a young whipper-snapper with nothing to show for himself except a distinguished military service record, and movie star good looks. The crowd was mostly older and more sympathetic to the incumbent. I looked around and noticed many ladies standing. I elbowed my buddy and informed him of this fact and he immediately knew what to do.
During the candidate introductions, the older incumbent welcomed everyone, said a few words about himself, and then sat down. Then my buddy stood up and went to the podium. He introduced himself and then said the following: “Gentlemen, before I say anything else, I can’t help noticing that there are a lot of women standing and a lot of you sitting. I know we live in an age of political-correctness and androgyny, but by gosh, we’re still Virginians. Would y’all please give your seats to the ladies?
All at once, several things happened. 1. Every man in the room stood up (way more than necessary). 2. Every woman in the room smiled– including those who were seated. and 3. My friend won the night …and the women’s vote, before the debate had even begun.
janiesjottings - January 11, 2018 1:00 pm
My husband is one of these men. He will not proceed me into a room, says he was taught that ladies go first. Thank you for this post!
ponder304 - January 11, 2018 1:11 pm
Wonderful and proud to say I raised a “gentleman”. He has learned the hard way there are many that have not been raised as ladies to appreciate his manners! Love living in the south, where there are still many who are ladies!
Beth Andrews - January 11, 2018 1:18 pm
I miss so much the days when men watched their mouths around women, but then again I know a lot of women whose mouths could use a good scrubbing with a bar of Lava soap. Good for this young man who is setting a high standard and good for his Nana who showed him how to be a real man.
Karen - January 11, 2018 1:24 pm
Yes, you are correct that the times have changed and those men who continue to demonstrate those polite and considerate gestures certainly do stand out now from the crowd. The pendulum shifts and maybe we are coming up on a time that we will see a return to old school manners and politeness. Love your article.
Dotti - January 11, 2018 1:54 pm
As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed more and more the times I have been treated well by others. Now when a “gentleman” holds a door for me and my walker to get thru, I tell him his mama would be proud. And she would! Just as you say, women mold the future men and I hope they did as a good a job as your (and that boy’s) mama did.
Larry Blumen - January 11, 2018 2:11 pm
Nice feel good post, but you know one of the ways the world has changed is that not every woman likes having doors opened for her. They open the door for me. Of course, I’m an old guy and not as fast as I used to be.
Brian Heinz - January 11, 2018 2:23 pm
All MOMS are the herons of all little boys and builders of men God knew what he was doing.
Roxanne - January 11, 2018 2:47 pm
Nice matters. Polite matters. Even when someone to whom we are being nice and polite doesn’t want it or believe in it or practice it. It always matters.
M - January 11, 2018 2:59 pm
Laura - January 11, 2018 3:09 pm
I love it when a boy or man opens the door for me or offers to help me get my 92 year old Mother into or out of the car. It makes me proud to live in the south where we still value these things. having travelled quite a lot, I can see the difference. It isn’t everyone, mind you, but I don’t see it as much outside the south. The other day, though, after a man held the door for me (I am one of the white-haired ladies), I thanked him and commented “I love living in the south where mamas raise their boys right”. He said “I was raised a yankee”, and I replied “well you saw the light and moved to join us, though, didn’t you?” e laughed and said “Yes, Ma’am!”
Marlene Willis - January 11, 2018 3:12 pm
Men and boys still open doors for me. Of course the fact that I am obviously an old woman with wrinkles and gray hair probably has something to do with it. I don’t know where the idea came from that having good manners was hypocritical. I guess it is just another incidence of common sense and humility going out of style in this modern world. I am a southern woman and I am proud of my South and Southern traditions. May they never cease.
Marty from Alabama - January 11, 2018 3:25 pm
There is a twelve year girl out there somewhere that will be treated like a queen when she meets this young gentleman. And this is as it should be. But that is only half the story. Because he is so good to her, she in turn will make him king of the castle. It is called a win-win situation.
Ava - January 11, 2018 3:44 pm
I live in small town Alabama. I go to the service station every morning for a biscuit and I almost never have to open the door for myself. Old men, young men and young boys on their way to school hold the door while I sashay in. It’s a beautiful thing.
Brenda J Horn - January 11, 2018 3:53 pm
Your stories help set a good tone for me each day of reminding me
Of the good in the everyday person. Thank you
Jack Darnell - January 11, 2018 4:30 pm
Yep, good one again. I’m sorta partial to girls too!
Jack Quanstrum - January 11, 2018 4:46 pm
Love the Howdy Doody line. How many people do you think below the age of 45 even know about him. I didn’t miss your point. Yes the world is not the same.
muthahun - January 11, 2018 4:58 pm
Oh, bravo! And yes, Howdy Doody and “beaten into me with a hairbrush and an *unabridged* King James Bible” is lovely, smile-making stuff!
Linda Chipman - January 11, 2018 5:15 pm
My brother is this kind of man. He still calls women “mam” and when we go somewhere he opens the truck door for me to get in. He learned how to be a man from our Mama….and our Daddy.
Diana Williams - January 11, 2018 5:38 pm
Another great one, Sean! Keep them coming! Thank you for the daily “feel good reads”
Pat - January 11, 2018 9:09 pm
Beverly Pennell - January 11, 2018 9:18 pm
I’m married to a man who was raised this way. And I thank the good Lord every day for my sweet mother-in-law who raised him that way and my dear father-in-law who treated her the same way. And what a blessing to have some grandsons being raised this way! We live in a bubble.
Joan Williams - January 11, 2018 11:59 pm
God bless you too Sean…love reading your posts…just makes my day sweeter…
Paul click - January 12, 2018 2:05 am
Amen! If a fellow human being is worth dying for, and they were (John 3:16), then being considerate and kind to them is a small thing! Bless the young man and his raisin’ !
Belinda Stuart - January 12, 2018 4:06 am
“Manners make the man.”
Naomi Smith - January 12, 2018 8:22 am
As you say “those days are evaporating”. But occasionally I have proof they are not completely gone. One day last summer, another lady and I were approaching a convenience store from around the side. Coming to a corner we heard two men talking and something a bit off color was said just as we met at the corner. The man turned red and apologized to us. That restored my faith that some men are still around that were taught decency, manners, and respect for ‘older’ women.
Suzanne - January 12, 2018 1:25 pm
Marcia De Graaf - January 12, 2018 1:46 pm
Last night as I was getting out of my car to go to dinner with friends, I noticed a couple getting into their car next to me. He held the door open while she got in, closed her door, and walked around the car to get into the driver’s seat. I said to him, “It’s good to see a gentleman.” He smiled and said “Thank you”. I hope it made him feel good. Because it encouraged me that in this crazy world that has so many problems and that seems to be more and more for self, there is still a gentlemen who will hold the car door open for his wife. He made me smile, too.
Michael K. Doyle - January 12, 2018 8:15 pm
Sadly, many women ease you to the door so THEY can open it for themselves?? Go figure.
Jo Grogan - January 13, 2018 4:16 pm
Beautiful, Sean! This is what we need more of in this world! I’m a Southerner (North Floridian), who moved to DC and worked there for 26 years, retired, and moved back home. Home is where little boys and men rush to open a door for you. Home is the grin on the face of the boy or man, when you graciously say, “thank you,” or, “this is so nice!” Home, where we are cherished. Yes, home…
Judy - March 30, 2018 1:51 pm
I have a grandson just like the boy you saw while waiting in line. He is 13 and all young man…yet not too old to hold my hand. He opens doors for men and women alike, and looks for ways to serve others. He has red hair and bright blue eyes with a splash of freckles all over his face. His smile lights up a room. He has promised to take care of me when I am old, and I believe he will.
Doc - April 1, 2018 6:51 am
I was raised in a family where the gentlemen would not dare utter a four-letter word around any lady, regardless of her age…and I can remember getting out in the world and being appalled that some do! I’m thankful for good Southern manners, the gentlemen who still have and use them, and the ladies who still impart them!
Tim Bryant - April 25, 2022 12:19 pm
I knew a guy in high school who was raised in a house full of estrogen. For some reason, he was a wizard with the chicks, probably because of the estrogen. Yep.