chivalry: WTF happened?

I’m a lady. I happen to enjoy being treated like one. And I just love gentleman. I’m no stranger to dating; I’ve spent much of my twenties single. It seems like though, especially in more recent times, that the notion of “chivalry” has fallen by the wayside. I’m not exactly expecting a guy to take off his jacket and throw it across a puddle, but come on. It’s been quite awhile since I had a car door opened for me, my chair pulled out at a restaurant. Yes, I know I’m perfectly able-bodied, and can do all of those things myself. Totally not the point. Acts of chivalry are symbolic. They represent who you are as a man, and what matters to you. Plus they are very nice, and in my case, never go unnoticed.

Let’s discuss for a moment who pays for the bill. This is my number one chivalry gripe, and makes or breaks whether I will pursue a long-term relationship with a man or not. I’ve had plenty of men who wined me and dined me endlessly. No matter my insistence (and often willingness) to pay for my own meals and drinks, they shoo’d me away. “Please!/Get out of here/Don’t be silly!/It’s my treat!” It’s politeness. Especially in the stages of early courtship…or I guess these days, what we call “dating.” More often than not, my favorite men courted me. Even ones who lacked in other areas or with whom things didn’t work out, they seemed to understand the significance of paying for dinner. I’m a smart, capable woman, and I do believe in women’s rights. But, I’ve always been on the more old-fashioned side. I was raised that way. If you’re dating a man, you want to feel taken care of. And lately, I don’t. I say, “Let’s split this?” or “Do you want some cash/my card?” and with no hesitation, he snatches my money and we go dutch. Quite frankly, few things make me want to put out less.

I realize we don’t live in the nineteenth century anymore, and I suppose it would be wise for me to slightly modify my expectations. I guess I’ve had a taste of what it can be like to be treated extremely well, and I won’t lie, I enjoy it. I like hand kisses, getting flowers and random presents, and being courted — and by the way, you should want to do all of this. Men who take a girl out for a certain number of dinners or try to buy their way in and then have some sort of expectation of a reward, or are trying to satisfy some waiting period — no. I’m pretty good at sensing intention, and if it doesn’t feel genuine, that isn’t going to work out for me, either. My thought is: If the man isn’t willing to pay for your first meal, he isn’t going to want to pay for any subsequent meals, either. He will expect you to float your own way, which is totally fine, if you just want to be friends. It’s about knowing and feeling that your man can take care of you — even if I can (and do!) take care of myself just fine.

Not that long ago, I met up with a fellow I’d met through match.com (sigh). He was mid thirties (almost ten years older than me), and seemingly successful. He looked better online, but that’s beside the point. He had selected the restaurant and he had initiated the date. (This seems to be an important “point.”) We had an unremarkable yet not completely unpleasant meal; he selected to sit on the patio even though it was freezing. The check came and he ignored it for awhile as it lingered on his side of the table out of my reach (sometimes the waitresses try to help us ladies out). Finally he picked up the $50 dinner/drink tab and said “how about you grab this, and I’ll grab drinks afterwards?” Pardon?! Needless to say, we went splitsies and he made a big point of asking the waitress to “please make sure she pays for hers, and I pay for mine.” I wound up needing an “out” from my friends on this one, which entailed an awkward phoned in pseudo-emergency. I felt a little bad, but. If the guy had been gentlemanly I wouldn’t have bailed so soon and maybe would have spent a little time getting to know him — I usually give the guys I date ample “chances” if things seem to not be going well right out of the gate.

And this works both ways. If a man courts me the way I expect, I would not only reward him handsomely in the bedroom (once the time arrives), but also eventually work my way up to cooking him meals and otherwise pampering him. Not because I feel that’s my gender role necessarily, but that’s what I like to do. I’m more traditional. Things have a way of balancing out. There has to be a happy medium, even in these mixed up modern times, of getting exactly what we want and expect from the opposite sex. Until then, I’ll be watching old movies and pining away for the men who wear gloves and will help a fair maiden down from her carriage without even blinking an eye.

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set on you forever – a tattoo story

I’m commitment phobic. Totally always have been. My style evolves constantly, my tastes, my interests. But I’ve always toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo. I grew up in a small town and was raised by very conservative parents with old-fashioned values – many of which I think are great to have. When it comes to “body modifications,” however, I’ve always been fascinated and curious. I never saw many tattoos growing up, until I hit my twenties, and every other boyfriend was heavily tattooed. Over the years I’ve had three piercings other than my ears (belly button, nose, and a medusa), each of which my mom flipped out over. I’ve always admired tattoos on other people, when they’re well done. I think it’s probably been about two or three years that I really, really wanted to get myself inked – for real.

I was always apprehensive about the idea of something being on my own precious skin forever and ever. I would obsess over it. How could I commit to the idea of having an image set permanently in place? What if it came out badly? What if I hated it? What if I needed to cover it up for work? What if it affected my job adversely? All things to consider. Which is why I took great pains to do my research, select my artist based on his portfolio, and sit with my design for a long time. I wanted two birds – one male and one female, one holding a key in his beak and one with a lock set in her belly. Flowers. Girly. Pretty. The “meaning” I guess, if you insist on it, is kind of obvious – one having the key to my heart and whatnot. (I used to be stuck on the idea that every tattoo had to have a very profound meaning – ain’t so. Get whatever you like. Just make sure you like it a lot.) Initially I wanted to get them done on my forearms. When my apartment was burglarized in November, I shelved my tattoo indefinitely. I still held the idea in the back of my mind, though. (And continued to fill up my tattoo savings account!) Six months later, I still wanted the birds, but decided to have them placed on my upper back instead. I was freaking about the visibility and commitment level of a forearm tattoo.

I booked a consultation with my artist (J.M. Wulfe at Grim North in Portsmouth, New Hampshire). As soon as I talked about it with Jamesย put the deposit down, I knew I was ready. So. Fucking. Ready! I’m a tattoo obsessor. I stalk blogs like Sometimes Sweet for its Tattoo Tuesday posts (Danielle Hampton has some gorgeous ink) and Decorated Skin is another of my favorites. I watch all “Ink” shows (with a grain of salt, those shows are highly stylized). Good tattoos, man.ย It may sound silly but I have just been dying to be tattooed for so long. I kind of always suspected I would be someone who would wind up with a bunch of tattoos, but I was also at war with my conservative background and mercurial nature. “What ifs” plagued me – until I finally mentally committed.

Two weeks later, I committed in ink. I brought my friend Kyle with me to the tattoo studio and had an amazing three hour session with James – lines and shading are done. The design is beautiful and more than I could have hoped for. It’s unique to me and James did so well with bringing what I had envisioned to reality. The pain wasn’t bad, either. It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it almost brought out a certain toughness in me – you know it’s going to be worth it in the end, so after awhile you get in this zone and you feel sort of invincible. It was emotional for me, too (although I held it totally together like the cool cat I am) – getting something you’ve deeply wanted for so long and taking a plunge into something I know I’m absolutely into. I got my first “nice ink” from a stranger in a gas station. I feel different, even when my tattoo is covered by my office appropriate clothes. Sexier. I can’t stop looking in the mirror. It’s beautiful to have something that moves with my skin that can never be washed off, can never be stolen from me. I just love that.

In progress of course. James’ photo is better than mine which were taken on my iPhone, and it’s hard to take pictures of my back. But yes. It’s healing gorgeously and I go back for colorrrrrss on June 2! If you have any ideas, be sure to post them. Oh yes… and I’m already planning my next big piece. ๐Ÿ˜€