Monday, August 21, 2006

Not dead yet

The running nearly killed me.

It was 3:09 Friday afternoon when I left the office in hopes of catching the 3:18 train home.

Nine minutes is not enough time to walk from my building to Union Station. So I ran.

Running isn’t easy for me under normal circumstances. Even all geared up for the health club with my cushy shoes and industrial strength bra, I can only go about a mile because of this bad knee.

So running through the Loop in strappy sandals on a rain-forest humid day was, as you can imagine, pretty ugly.

But I made it, breathlessly boarding the train with less than a minute to spare.

Of course getting on the train is one thing. But finding a seat just seconds before the doors close is something else.

I checked my usual spot – up top toward the very back of the train – where there’s sometimes a seat that gets overlooked because of the people who spread out trying to avoid being overcrowded.

No luck.

So I decided to camp on the steps. It’s not unusual. But it’s not ideal, either, because the stairs are usually filthy and hard on your butt and back.

I looked up in spite of my aversion to responding to that particular appellation.

“Take my seat. Please,” said a paunchy, rather non-descript man in a Masters green polo shirt and headphones.

“Oh. That’s okay, thanks,” I say, shocked at the offer.

“Please. Take it.”

He was already up and moving towards me down the stairs so I had no choice but to get out of his way and take his kindly offered seat.

“It’s not dead,” I said, still shocked but smiling.

“Pardon me?”

“Chivalry,” I said. “It’s not dead. Thank you.”
You left at three on a Friday? What a slacker.

Yep. That’s me. A total slacker.

Do me a favor, okay?

Tell my husband that when I’m ignoring him and responding to work e-mails at 10 o’clock practically every weeknight.

I’m sure he’ll find your assessment very charming.
Feminists dealt a serious blow to chivalry back in the 70’s.

Asserting their Independence and Equality, angry women the world over decided it was un-cool for men to do nice things like open the door or offer seats for them.

Which kills me because that was one of the very best things about being a chick besides always knowing when you’re gonna get laid.


Shaddap. You know it’s true.
I’m okay with feminists. I’ve benefited from their efforts in ways I can’t even begin to fathom.

But I’m not a feminist.

Women are not equal to men. Not physically. We simply can’t gain muscle mass like men; it’s a scientific fact. And we’re certainly not equal mentally – men and women are just wired differently.

Plus, most of the women I know (including myself) have that whole Unfortunate Hormone Thing going on.
You’re a closet misogynist, Heather! Who knew?

No I’m not. I don’t hate women.

I just prefer to look at chicks honestly and objectively.

I like celebrating the amazing, cool differences between men and women rather than futilely attempting to homogenize the sexes.
Would you vote for a female president?

If we’re talking Hilary, hell no.

If she’s a modern-day Queen Elizabeth, you bet your ass I’d vote for her.

But I’m thinking that as long as scary white men like Dick Cheney are running this country, the odds of a strong, intelligent female leader being elected are slim.

Slim like a regular absorbency tampon.
Turns out the Chivalric Seat Guy was going to Aurora too.

I couldn’t resist asking.

“Why did you do that?”
“Well, you’re a lady,” he said without hesitation.

He looked genuinely surprised and maybe a little sad that I asked, as if what he did was common and something anyone would do.

We introduced ourselves (his name is Mike) and I took the opportunity to thank him again before hopping off the train.
You can stop laughing now. And kindly keep your ‘lady’ comments in your pants.

It was a cool thing to do even if I didn’t deserve it.
Is chivalry dead? Is it even necessary these days?

I’m not sure.

I grew up in an egalitarian household where my dad was just as likely to do the dishes as my mom. And my mom was just as likely to cut the grass as my dad.

So I’ve never expected chores or courtesies or any other activity to be divided along the traditional gender lines.

What I remember most from my parents sharing work around the house was the spirit in which it was done. It was always as an act of kindness to each other – they did it to ease the burden on someone they love.

So maybe chivalry doesn’t have to die. Maybe it can evolve.

Because it’s the little acts of kindness that we do for each other regardless of gender that can really make life easier.
I am listening to: Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
I am reading: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
And I am: Not a lady