Tag Archives: knights

Courtly Love #2: What Makes Modern Maidens Blush?

17 Apr

We love from afar probably almost universally but the second tenant “acts of chivalry” is a smidgen harder to liken to universal truth.

Preening, cheek puffing, and chest beating continues to dominate the male animal world in terms of courting, but do true displays of valiance? 

Merriam Webster Defines “Chivalry” as the following:

Definition of CHIVALROUS

2: of, relating to, or characteristic of chivalry and knight-errantry
3a : marked by honor, generosity, and courtesyb : marked by gracious courtesy and high-minded consideration especially to women
— chiv·al·rous·ly adverb
— chiv·al·rous·ness noun
Hmm honor, generosity and courtesy; all things that society seems to display a general lack of and increasingly so. I am not sure I have recently met “gracious courtesy” or “high-minded consideration” in unmarried male form in recent years. I continue to believe this is because smart women snap up the good men early in life. It might even lend validity to the Mrs. degree that so many scoff at.
The closest I have gotten to the above in recent years was during the holidays of 2007. That year there was a tragic shortage of cranberries (I like to refer to it as The Great Cranberry Blight of 2007, yea yea I promise I am going somewhere with this). One of the guys in the hospital overheard my nursing station lament that on my first holiday without my family I was unable to make the cranberry salad that I had enjoyed so much for every year that I could remember because every grocery store in town (read that as the 4 that I had gone to), had no cranberries fresh or frozen.
I wasn’t talking to him. I actually wasn’t even aware that he was listening, but on Christmas day as I was leaving the hospital he approached me with a shopping bag. In that bag was Ocean Spray perfection. It turned out he had purchased two of the last bags weeks before and frozen them and he wanted me to have one so I could have my holiday treat. I was sleep deprived which almost always equals overly emotional, so I didn’t think much of it when I teared up upon viewing them, however looking back maybe it was more than just being up all night.
Here was a guy that paid attention and was incredibly chivalrous in the best way that he could be. He had never been on my radar until that moment and since then he hasn’t really left. We went out once and I regrettably let his less than impressive reputation with my peers (he was socially awkward with my guy friends) dictate my behavior. Looking back, I should have made much more of an effort to give this guy a chance. I mean, he brought me cranberries. 
Courting in the form of chivalry can happen in so many ways:
It is the flower on the windshield that I convinced all of my graduate school guy friends to leave for the ladies that they were attempting to woo, it is an opening of a door, an offering of a jacket or an umbrella to shield from the elements, or the unexpected bag of cranberries.
It could even be something as modern as Rufus Wainwright’s “I’m your knight in shining armor. I’m here to save you from Linkin Park.” (I feel sure that few would refuse such an opener as that.)
Complex or simple, traditional or modern; chivalry is the very essence and core of true romance. 
I always think of one of my college acquaintances as she yelled out of a 4 Runner as we left her intended in the literal and proverbial dust “Court Me Dammit!!!
He didn’t, but someone else did. The second guy won her affection and her heart. He didn’t have to be reminded of the tradition of courtly love or chivalry and neither did my Holiday guy. It makes me wonder why chivalry is no longer expected and as seldom as it happens why didn’t I treasure it?
My 4 Runner friend married her chivalrous man; and, Me, I had a really good Christmas salad.

Courtly love: #1 Admiration at an arm’s length vs the 20%.

23 Feb

Or are we in the same place that we were centuries ago???

In the Middle Ages, knights followed the tenants of courtly love: 

1. Worshiping from afar
2. daring acts of chivalry
3. declarations of devotion i.e. poems, flowers, songs, and “sweet favors”
4. the relationship was kept a secret and thus could be between any noble lord or lady, regardless of their relationship status.

In modern day times there are many parallels to the above in every stage of life and societal microcosm. Let’s take them one by one.

I would bet on a daily basis people continue to love  and worship from afar. I have all of my life. When I was in sixth grade the boy I had a crush on was nothing less than dreamy. He had a dimple when he smiled and he was the tallest guy my age (consequently I have not lost my penchant for height as I have grown up). It was of no consequence to me that his brother was a professional country club life guard who smoked so much weed he rarely formed complete thoughts or even sentences. He was more of an adjective talker, “Rad!” “Deluxe”.

We definitely loved at a distance as close as most got was also the definitive moment in the  “relationship”. A poignant handwritten number 2 pencil note: “Do you like me?” or maybe if you were more of a deal sealer: “Will you go with me?” followed by the classic check box configuration: Yes, No, or Maybe. What on earth did you ever do with “Maybe”?? I guess it was the original anti-rejection technique, my my, we learn so early. This 6th grade crush definitely made it to the note but not beyond although we agreed to “go together”. When my parents heard the news they always asked where exactly I was going and even more importantly how was my 12 year old self going to get there with this other (hopefully) equally  non mobile  gent? My response to these inquiries were consistent with most preteens and usually involved loud exhales and eye rolling and possibly a chastising “MoooooommmmmMM!!!”

In the two decades that have followed I have loved and adored many more from afar, hoping that one day one of these guys would take notice and be more bold than the paper check box. Some of them have even been way closer than an arm’s length. The good friend, the study buddy, the running partner, the lab partner, the boy who just faded away, but I was too proud, scared, or maybe insecure to bring him back or for others demand they take notice. Why have I never followed the romantic in my head? Is it tremendous self doubt? Cynicism? Laziness? Maybe a bothersome combination of all three?

I was recently told by my massage therapist that I should act like a “player” and play the numbers game. He went on to further explain that out of 10 girls he expect 3-4 to actually respond to him and at best 2 of them to be people that he would want to actually hang out with. If nothing else that definitely destroys the idea of the “one”. Although, it does sound a bit more likely to say the “20%”.

I often wonder if I watch too many romantic comedies? “Too many” being loosely defined as more than none. These amazing tails of happily ever after where everyone ends up with their best friend (or in poor Katherine Heigl and Matthew McConaughey’s cases a manipulative reporter) just encourages a whimsical hope that makes the scientist inside my head scream in outrage due to it’s lack of realistic possibility.

Maybe we all should take bold initiative to close the gap with those we admire from afar, however, I am not quite ready to for that lest I might not ever experience #2…

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