Ladies and Germs

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 to 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 such things.

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 daytime television.

But those days are evaporating. And I don’t like saying it, but the world has changed. Still, some of us remember 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.”

Believe me, 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,” the woman goes on. “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‘M starting to really 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 women 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. I wish you could see this little boy 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, too.

God bless that kid’s nana.

And God bless Mama.


  1. oldlibrariansshelf - October 15, 2021 6:39 am

    God bless Sean for being a gentleman and making us aware that there are still a few out there.

  2. Georgia Johnson - October 15, 2021 6:49 am

    Ladies and Germs used to be a funny salutation. Maybe not so funny now? Too bad. What a wonderful young man. This column is going on to my grandsons (and their dads).

  3. June Pryor - October 15, 2021 8:44 am

    Another good one, Sean. Way to go, Nana.

  4. Stephanie Ann Manczuk - October 15, 2021 8:46 am

    I am 70. I grew up wanting to let men know that women were their equals. We are but you know what we had to prove. One of the things that went by the wayside was politeness. This is how I regard this sweet young man opening the door (and your desire to do the same). There is nothing wrong with politeness. What I never could do was wait for someone to open the car door for me(seriously I am supposed to sit there while he runs around the car??) nor do I care for someone (gender regardless) trying to help me sit at the table in a chair(just too darn awkward). For me what matters is that everyone, regardless of gender, is polite and helps others with doors, standing in lines, observing polite manners.

    • oldlibrariansshelf - October 15, 2021 11:55 am

      Yes, politeness. Some gestures are neither very practical nor time-efficient.

  5. Candace - October 15, 2021 9:51 am

    We could all use some gallantry these days. Very nice reminder. Thanks.

  6. pdjpop - October 15, 2021 10:42 am

    Yes, change is happening. I opened the door for a woman at a store with barely any effort at all. I didn’t have to go out of my way with special effort. With a glare that said she was offended, she told me she was capable of opening her own door. Mom would have been proud of me as I graciously stood until she passed. I suppose some women may feel it is a flirtatious act. Truth is, I open doors for anyone…… Younger, older, male, female or child. Often it is a case of thank you but go ahead. In a stalemate, I enter first with a thank you.
    I love being a gentleman all the time. Mama would be proud.
    Be kind, be you.
    Phil in Fairhope

  7. Bobbalew - October 15, 2021 10:54 am

    I was brought up by folks who were kind, polite, and had poise. Dad was an officer in the Army and our mom was his support unit. My brother and I were his soldiers. We learned at an early age about respect and how you earned it and how to give it back. Poise is another thing. It’s a lost art but recognized when you see it. There is poise in your writing and how you observe life. For me you’re the best way to start the day Sean. Appreciate it a lot and I think of you as a friend. Thank you sir.

  8. Joan Moore - October 15, 2021 10:58 am

    Preach it, brother, preach it!

  9. Carolyn - October 15, 2021 11:42 am

    I look forward each day to read your post. So uplifting and joyful. Thank you for your words!

  10. Becky Kaufman - October 15, 2021 12:28 pm

    Amen. I’m 78 , and female and I still hold doors for people. That is just manners.

  11. Lou - October 15, 2021 12:37 pm

    Loved this ❣️❣️

  12. Paul McCutchen - October 15, 2021 1:00 pm

    Sometimes I can beat out the young men by hitting the handicap button before they grab the door handle. :):)

  13. Karen Spracher - October 15, 2021 1:03 pm

    Oh, would love more of the queen treatment. Sweet story. Reminds us there are some of us teaching boys manners. Working to instill these things in my 5-year-old grandson. Thank you Sean.

  14. Melanie - October 15, 2021 1:47 pm

    Yesterday I saw a gentleman open and hold the door for two ladies. At the gas station. In (gasp) California. I think if we keep our eyes and hearts open we’ll find an abundance of good moments in the most unlikely places. [ Love that title, Sean 🤣 ]

  15. Cathy - October 15, 2021 2:00 pm

    Good manners never go out of style. I was raised by parents and four wonderful grandparents who not only expected but demanded good manners from their children. Now I am passing that on to my grandchildren. It is a gift that they will carry with them for a lifetime. So, thank you Sean for this message and thank you to my people in heaven who took the time to teach their little people good manners. It’s a reflection of those who raised you.

  16. roselyn2013 - October 15, 2021 2:03 pm

    Your line about Howdy Doody is brilliant. Thanks so much for generously sharing your writing.

  17. Tom - October 15, 2021 2:03 pm

    You are correct, women are magnificent. Ain’t nothing better than a good wife, Mama, or Grandma. If there is, the Good Lord did not share it with us.

  18. perryteri4gmailcom - October 15, 2021 2:11 pm

    I look forward to reading your blog every day! I am lucky to have a gentleman husband and son ! Sad that some women are not able just enjoy the gift of a kind gesture.and the joy it imparts to the giver. Thank you for Being a true gentleman, Sean!!

  19. Tom Wallin - October 15, 2021 2:52 pm


  20. Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder - October 15, 2021 2:55 pm

    Dearest Sean,
    Chivalry is not completely dead!
    Such tokens ought to be revived so more smiles can be seen on the faces of the elderly.

  21. Christina - October 15, 2021 3:10 pm

    How can we not love your mama for raising someone like you Sean? God bless all the gents and multiply them please

  22. Ann - October 15, 2021 3:59 pm

    There is hope!

  23. Linda Moon - October 15, 2021 4:26 pm

    My Guy had open heart surgery a long time ago. His physician was not a puppet, however. He was a gentleman and a scholar of medicine who gave my daughter’s daddy back to her and to her Mama, too. Daddy was and is “Papa” to her sons and I became “Nana”. Papa grew older with a healthy and good heart, so God blessed us everyone…didn’t He.

  24. Skip John's - October 15, 2021 4:35 pm

    Well said!!!

  25. Chandler B Duncan - October 15, 2021 5:40 pm

    This story reminds me of that old Don Williams song “I believe in you.” One of my favorite tunes. Love this post.

  26. Vince - October 15, 2021 5:55 pm

    I used to reflexively open doors for women. Not now. Many of them have and continue to tell me how they can do anything I can do. Not only is the gesture not appreciated there have been more than a few times surly remarks were sent my way for my trouble. I know gauge the age of the woman (I know, I know) but if she looks 50 or younger.. nope. Now one must bear in mind I live in the Northeast where people are just rude in general let alone when they ‘feel’ that you are imposing a patriarchy on them. It is a sad change.. as a ‘woman of a certain age’ that I know likes to say, “I used to be superior.. why would I want to be equal?”

  27. NancyB. - October 15, 2021 6:21 pm

    I needed this today! Last night I worked a country star’s concert. From all I could tell from my position in the elevator, the music was very good and the star was gracious. Members of the audience not so much. I’m in the elevator to direct people to the easiest way to get to their seats, and then at the end, get to the exit closest to their cars. Many have never been to the venue before and it’s easy to get turned around. I was appalled at the language being used. Appalled at the lack of courtesy many men showed their dates/wives and just the lack of common courtesy many, males and females, showed others around them. I was irritated, trying hard not to be angry, by how some chose to treat me. My job is to reduce their stress as much as possible. I do it with a smile and polite greeting. In return some felt it necessary to called me impolite names, make unnecessary advances, and, in general, act like boors. Fortunately, not all were like that. Many were very nice, polite and helpful to others riding at the same time. Some were raised by the Mama’s you wrote about. I appreciated them so much. But, I’ll be honest, the others left a bad taste in my mouth and at times made the nine hours drag. Thank you, Sean, for reminding that even though times have changed, there are those who still value good manners, courtesy, and politeness. I’m going to chose to remember the kind ones and ignore the boors.

  28. Christy - October 15, 2021 6:28 pm

    I am a widow of almost 6 years now. My sweetheart opened my door for me up until he passed away. Even when he was not feeling well. Today, a young man opened the door for me into a business. I was so taken back by his kindness, I thanked him a few times. This hasn’t happened to me since my husband passed away. Please keep this up fellows, it sure makes a lady feel special!

  29. MAM - October 15, 2021 7:32 pm

    I’m with Vince’s “woman of a certain age.” I, precisely for the reason that I could choose to work or stay home with the kids when the Equal Rights Amendment was being voted on, voted against it. Vince, your woman of a certain age is spot on. We used to be superior. Why would we want to be equal? And on an aside, yesterday, a young man held the door open for the woman in front of me and kept it open for me. I thanked him. Someone holding doors open is always appreciated. I also agree with Stephanie Ann above. I don’t see the usefulness of a person running around the car to open a door, unless the person has her hands full or is on a walker. And please don’t try to seat me at a table. It’s way too awkward! But I do appreciate an occasional ma’am from a younger person. But then, because my initials are MAM, I sometimes get that instead of my name. 🙂 Thanks as always, Sean!

  30. Stacey Patton Wallace - October 15, 2021 8:59 pm

    And God bless you, too, Sean. Whenever a man of any age opens the door for me, I say,”Thank you; your Mama raised you right.” I’m proud and happy to say that my great nephews are being raised right, too.

  31. Stacey Patton Wallace - October 15, 2021 9:12 pm

    And God bless you, too, Sean. Whenever a man opens the door for me, I say, “Thank you. Your Mama raised you right.” I’m proud to say that my great nephews are being raised right, too.

  32. Karen Snyder - October 16, 2021 12:58 am

    Kindness and good manners are always appreciated, no matter who displays them, but especially when it’s by a youngster. Sadly, I think I experienced more of that when living in the South than I do here in Indiana, but maybe that’s just because I don’t get out as much now as I used to. 😉

  33. Jenny Young - October 16, 2021 1:28 pm

    I love this.

    Have you ever had a woman become angry with you for opening the door or calling her ma’am or miss? My son has & we live in Arkansas. He doesn’t do the gentlemanly things for every woman because of it.

  34. Keloth Anne - October 16, 2021 1:31 pm

    In a time and world that only negativity and wrong deeds are noticed—you take time to notice all the kindness and goodness around and then put your observations into such beautiful words😊😊
    Thank you and keep these incredible posts coming♥️♥️

  35. terric - October 16, 2021 11:14 pm

    Love you much, Sean.

  36. Cynthia Russell - October 19, 2021 1:04 pm

    Need this today!! Thank You !!! Bless the Boy, his women tribe who love him, & You Sean!


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