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Hi Prof,

I guess I'm not a true gentleman, cz I don't know what's wrong with this picture.


Hi Chaz,

Don't feel bad. I may be able to persuade you that all hope is not lost for you; you may be more of a gentleman than you think! 

I assume you'd like me to explain the picture, so I'll do that first. In the days of horse-drawn carriages, it was traditional for men to walk next to the curb, so they'd be more likely to be the one to step in horse poop, or have horse poop splashed on them.

Once horse and buggies were gone, the tradition continued, because, after all, even without horse poop, the roads were still muddy, and dirty, and it was considered courteous for the gentleman to take the brunt of the mud, so the woman wouldn't get it on her beautiful dress.

In this picture, neither horse poop nor mud seems to be at issue, yet somehow tradition still requires that the man walk on the curb side, if he wants to win the approval of the GWS ("Gentleman Watchdog Society" - it's totally a thing - or at least it should be!).

But wait...according to Emily Post, the tradition went the other way in urban centers pre-dating proper sewage disposal...when people would (sometimes without warning) dump their chamber pots out the window. In that culture, it was the man who walked directly under the windows, and the woman on the curb.

Either way, the rule appears to be about poop.

Of course, there's a possibility that the woman doesn't want to accept "chivalry," in which case the man is being a gentleman by permitting her the privilege of risking the non-existent mud and poop in this picture.

And, now that I think about it, there's also the possibility that they're not even together. She's walking very slowly next to the curb, and so, instead of pushing her out of the way so he can follow the GWS rule while he passes her, he walks on the inside in order to not disturb her leisurely stroll.

According to the Emily Post website, "manners" change from society to society, but the "principles of etiquette" are unchanging. These principles (according to EP) are: "consideration, respect, and honesty."

So who are the real gentlemen? The real gentlemen are the ones who are not commenting on this photo, "What an idiot he is!" and "What a jerk!" and other rude and insulting comments that express neither consideration nor respect.

And hopefully, Chaz, that means you're a step closer to being a true gentleman than you thought you were!

Professor Puzzler
GWS Non-Member

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