Monday, June 29, 2009

Call Me Old-Fashioned

In one or two ways, but only in one or two ways I'll have you know, I am a old-fashioned kind of guy. For example: when Cuppa and I go out walking, I must always be closest to the curb. This makes for fancy footwork as we cross streets and change directions, but I can't stop myself. Me on the inside simply feels all wrong. There's one local street which only has a sidewalk on one side, but that side keeps changing, so we are forever crossing over the road and doing our odd little dance.

It's all my mother's fault. I remember once walking with her in Montreal when I was still in elementary school. My favourite teacher and her beau approached, and horror of horrors, wasn't he walking on the inside? We said a polite hello, but Mom certainly had more to say to me as we walked away. In point of fact, she was scandalized, for in her world, and now mine, men always took the curb (or kerb) side.

Despite what I said above, it's not my mother's fault; I was just saying that. It's really Sir Walter Raleigh's fault, for it was supposedly he who lay his coat over a muddy puddle for a lady to walk upon in order not to soil her pretty shoes. It may have been Queen Elizabeth I, or it may not have been anybody at all but only the stuff of myth and legend. Who's to say?

Despite what I said above, it's not really Sir Wally's fault either (I keep doing that). It was the fault of the times, for according to the Trivia-Library: "In 16th-century England, the habit of emptying chamber pots out of upper-story windows into the gutter made a city stroll so hazardous that gentlemen gallantly took the side nearest the curb when walking with their ladies." Although this seems against modern logic because it would seem to put men further from the hurled refuse and the women closer to it, there's probably some truth to it because I have found it in more than one reference. We've seen pictures of old English houses partly jutting out over the street, so the inside may really have been more sheltered and safer for the ladies.

Personally, I would bet that this bit of etiquette became firmly entrenched in Victorian times when more people lived in cities and the streets were pretty dirty places, clogged with horses and their leavings. Being partially shielded from the excrement was probably one of the few perks of being female in that very paternalistic society. Dear old Mom, came along shortly after Queen Victoria expired, but the sensibilities of that time still lingered — and street cleanliness was still not exactly up to modern standards — not by a horse's patootie it wasn't.

Whatever the historical truth, I haven't had the dubious pleasure of having to protect my lady from either flying chamber pot excrement or splashing horse manure, but I still take the outside, for I simply must. It's been ingrained. If you think that makes me an old-fashioned kind of guy, so be it, but let me remind you that I'm not exactly sending this message to you by carrier pigeon or smoke signal.


Barry said...

Thank for recommending Blurb. I've downloaded their software and have started playing around with it.

This could be very interesting.

Mara said...

I can just picture you and your fair lady having to duck for falling chamber pots of excrement. It makes a fantastic cartoon in my head!

Wendy said...

Bravo for you. You just keep on being old-fashioned in however many ways you want to. I think it's charming that you walk on the outside and I'm surprised (although why should I be) that more men do not.


Found you from Barry's site, by the way. :)

KGMom said...

OK--AC--if you are really old-fashioned, get ready to rewrite the etiquette of walking with Cuppa.
If the intention is to protect the fairer sex, then today's rules call for a rewrite. Now, the wisdom is that the most likely source of danger is building side, as that is where thieves and robbers and cutthroats can lurk.
So, switch sides for maximum protection.

KGMom said...

On the other hand, if you still have folk emptying chamber pots in Ontario, by all means--stay street side.

Ginger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ginger said...

I LOVED this post! One of your literary masterpieces. :)

My husband also walks streetside. I have always pictured the reason to be that he can push me out of harm's way if a vehicle veers off its appropriate path....

Donna said...

I'll be calling you Sir Ac from now on!!Hahaa...Ever the Gentleman...You're a rare breed these days!!hughugs

Anonymous said...

That is the true test of a gentlemen, right after opening the car door for the lady to get in and out. Hooray for you. Blessings

Mary said...


Your post today is brilliant. More men should do this. I have a habit of walking next to the curb, but hubby always makes me move to the inside. He is a curb walker as well. I'm glad to hear that you use your gentleman's manners to keep Cuppa on the inside.

Wishing you both a great week.

Anonymous said...

This is so sweet. Cuppa is a lucky lady. :-) My hubby has the same ingrained habit and we too do the dance. The funny thing is, I had never heard of this consideration until I first met my husband. :-)

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I suffer from the same affliction, having to always walk of the street side when escorting a lady along a city street.

It has been so long since I had the pleasure, I wonder if I still would? Probably! Lessons learned in childhood under your mother's guidance are not easily disobeyed.

Woman in a Window said...

I feel about four. I'm giggling at that word.

And the Victorian times were so peculiar, weren't they, with a pretence of finery but loads of crap being flung about.