Chivalry is a Drunken Contortionist

Men and doors are just plain awkward.

Don’t get me wrong. Opening doors for women is sweet, and when the guy manages to do it right, it’s adorable.

But more often than not, it’s an old-fashioned gesture that turns into a train wreck.

I’m evenly divided between putting up a series of YouTube instructionals: How to Hold a Revolving Door for Three Ladies and a Guide Dog; You’re My Date, Not a Doorman; And How NOT to Look Like a Serial Killer While Waiting for a Pretty Girl to Cross the Dark Parking Lot So You Can Hold the Door For Her Like a Fucking Gentleman.

And just campaigning for the whole world to install those swish-swish doors like on Star Trek.

I was leaving the copy shop yesterday, along with my mother.  Well, maybe a little behind my mother. I do get distracted in copy shops. And when I get to the double glass doors, she’s trying to take the second door from a delivery guy who is trying to hold the door open with one hand while maneuvering a hand truck with the other. He’s more or less spread-eagled across the sidewalk, with his hand truck trailing.

She’d have to climb over him or his hand truck, or both to get out that door, and her obvious assumption was that he was trying to get into the copy shop, not out of it.

So, now…

He’s trying to hold the door for her, she’s trying to hold it for him, and I’m trying to get the second door in the set so that he can just keep right on going, once he gets through the first one.

There are people behind me–who clearly see the situation the way I do–getting out of the way so he can get by, and people queued up behind him, waiting for him to go in the building. (Because, as I may have mentioned… arms and legs and hand-trucks thrown all over the sidewalk.)

I don’t know what finally tipped him off. Maybe my mother said something. You know, “I’ve got it. Come on in.” (Slightly surprised not to hear her say anything about air conditioning the great outdoors.) Or maybe it just finally clicked, but the guy suddenly goes, “No, I’m going the other way.”

And traffic starts moving again.

None of the women can look at each other for fear of laughing out loud.

Because this is a thing. If four men are carrying a load of bricks… through a thunderstorm… in the dark…. on a deadline… One of those men will still decide that he needs to stop and hold the door for the woman who’s dancing in the rain.

Say what you want about chivalry, but… Most women do recognize a Freight Exception.

Booksellers, Men, and the Cabinet of Sin

We sold pornography at the bookstore where I worked. Not a lot of it, and nothing that would compete with Jugs, Jugs, Jugs down at the local Kum&Go. Sex-positive, consent-positive, feminist, GLBT, fetish stuff. Non-violent. It lived in a cabinet behind the counter, and if you didn’t know it was there… well, you wouldn’t know. Strictly a word-of-mouth kind of thing.

The cabinet of sin was about four feet wide and three feet tall. Double doors. Opaque. And, if you happened to find a group of Booksellers gathered around it, there’s a pretty good chance we weren’t analyzing the latest Haruki Murakami. Hands down, it was the most open and accepting set of co-workers I’ve ever had.

Oh, and then, there were the customers…

You got to recognize that Look, eventually. The Please, Miss… might I trouble you for something from the Cabinet of Sin Look. The… Please, I’ve read this high-quality gift book about garden gnomes three times because I’m just that nonchalant Look.

So, you’d wait for the other customers to go away. The women, and children, that attractive, but is-he-or-isn’t-he guy, the older couple who look pretty much just like anybody’s grandparents. And then… only then… You’d “notice” him standing there.

Can I help you?

Oh, no. Just looking.

Well, fine. I believe you. Besides, what am I supposed to say? Oh, you are not. I know you want something from the Cabinet of Sin, and since I put away today’s shipment, I’ve got a pretty decent idea of what you want?

Moving on.

Noted. One of the unwritten rules of masculinity–apparently–is that whenever possible, you buy your porn from other men.

Or, possibly, female Booksellers are just that terrifying.

Or innocent-looking, or wholesome, or … something. Maybe I sold their kid a copy of One Fish, Two Fish the week before. But the script was always more or less the same. They’d loiter until some man showed up to sell them a magazine.

And, as it happens, most of the time, I did just happen to have a spare man just lying around. Well, not so much lying as laughing his ass off behind a partition. (The unwritten rules of masculinity–apparently–do not apply to SuperBookseller.)

In the end, SuperBookseller always had to sell the–whatever it was–and he was the king of straight faces.

Oh, yes… The women tried to be approachable. We tried to look understanding. We tried all kinds of things:

  • Putting things away in and/or organizing the Cabinet of Sin.
  • Sympathetic smile.
  • In a rush and much to busy to notice, even if someone tried to buy 3 kilos of cocaine and a baby elephant.
  • Sitting on the Cabinet of Sin.
  • Sitting on the Cabinet of Sin while eating a cookie taken from the Cabinet of Sin. (Yes, there are cookies in the Cabinet of Sin. Stop judging.)
  • Sitting on the Cabinet of Sin while eating a cookie and reading a paperback copy of deSade (Yes, the one with the picture.)

None of them worked. Once a guy decided he was not going to buy porn from you… well, mostly his mind was made up. He’d be there for hours, just… waiting… if you let him.

What are you going to do?

SuperBookseller, HELP!!!!

That’s why I named my vacuum cleaner after him.