Tips on Being a Good Southern Gentleman
“Do you have a cigarette, dearheart?” I asked the pirate who frequents the café in Pirates Alley. That day he was in plainclothes and massaging his swollen, naked foot at a nearby table. Upon first taking my seat, I crinkled my nose at the sight, and he apologized for his state of undress, explaining that he’d sprained his ankle. He said, sweetly, that he didn’t smoke.
My friend, who was visiting from out of town, and I returned to our conversation. A few moments later, Mr. Pirate approached our table, and extended a cigarette, shyly, as if it were a rose.
“I got you one from the bartender. I suppose you need a light, don’t you?” he said with a smitten sigh.
I smiled sexily. “I do, darling.”
He hobbled back into the bar, cheerfully dragging his injured foot along the pavement – a dead, throbbing weight – and heaved himself painfully up the steps back inside to fetch a light for my cigarette.
My friend was appalled. “Way to make the guy with the sprained ankle get your light, April!” She had just been telling me about Portland, where it is common practice, when dating, to split the check.
I explained that I have grown so accustomed to southern pampering, that it now feels instinctual to sit and wait for things to be delivered, carried, and paid for by someone else. A man.
Before moving to New Orleans, I lived in New York, where I once offered to “cover” when a man tried to cancel because he couldn’t afford to buy a drink even for himself. I continued to sleep with a man even though he wouldn’t comp me drinks at his bar because he didn’t want me to “expect special treatment”. I walked to the subway many nights, drunk and unescorted. I hailed my own cabs. I was the subject of belligerent cat-calling: “Smile baby! What’s the matter with you? Why aren’t you smiling?” These are the sorts of men who will laugh stupidly, “You want equal rights don’t you? Carry your own damn chaise lounge up the stairs.”
At the heart of being a good man, you must love women and desire to serve them. Consider Gordon, who you’ll meet in future posts, who is knocking at death’s door and says he wants to spend the rest of his time on earth drinking Bacardi and taking women out to lunch. “I ain’t gonna live too much longer,” he says, “and I prefer spending my time around women. Even if I ain’t gettin any.”
Sometimes, often times, men don’t mean to be jerks, they’re simply retarded. In an effort to educate men who might be wondering how they can be more endearing to womenfolk, I’m going to offer up some tips and advice.
1. Tell Women They’re Beautiful
In New Orleans, there’s not cat-calling, but gushing adoration. Where a man in New York might crudely shout “Great tits, babe!”, in New Orleans, a toothless man crouched in a rotted doorway will say with genial grace, “Good Morning, baby. Yes, indeed you’re a beautiful lady.” No matter that the beautiful lady in question is stumbling over the cobblestones, dressed in hooker garb, and en route to the Three Legged Dog for pre-shift Jaeger bombs. But he means it. And it’s not sexualized, it’s appreciative, as if he were admiring a beautiful flower.
Every day several men respectfully tell me I’m beautiful and it’s done wonders for my well-being. You too, can help prevent P.M.S. worldwide. Let it be sincere, and keep it simple until you’ve honed your skills. If you’re going to get specific, only compliment the eyes, smile, or hair. Keep your feelings about boobs, legs, and butts to yourself unless you know the lady well enough. Do not mention feet. Do not approach children.
2. Eat, Pay, Love
For the longest time I thought it was tradition in New Orleans for restaurants to send a bill to your home, since I never saw a trace of a transaction at the dinner table. I’m kidding, of course, but I wish I weren’t. Once a southern boy, who should have known better, took me to a show at the Rock n Bowl. He paid our $12 admission and when I thanked him he said “No worries, babe, just get the next coupla rounds.” The next coupla rounds? A woman shouldn’t have to split costs with a man during courtship, or ideally, ever.
It’s not just about paying the bill, it’s about anticipating a woman’s needs. Just last night, at Jammin on Julia, I was thrust into the company of Christoph, a Haitian male dominatrix in bunny ears, who isn’t gay, but had just come from the Bunny Hop, a gay pub crawl for Easter. “Are you nervous, April?” he asked. “Not to worry, I make even the bad girls blush.”
After passing a drink stand, he wandered off and purchased a wine for me. He knew I needed alcohol to deal with his intrusive presence. See? Even a sado-masochist can treat a lady right. He’s now invited to my birthday on Tuesday.