226: On Gentlemen.

What does it mean to be a Gentleman?

This is something that was discussed by my father and I quite often. Not sure if he ever came right out and said that "This is what it means to be a Gentleman," or if he has ever actually said the word "Gentleman" before in his life. But, at the same time, you know what I mean right?

Things he actually said:
-Treat your mother like the head of the household/center of authority that she is and we won't have any problems.
-Always be nice to people. Or at least try really hard to be.
-Being in love with yourself too much is not very attractive (I think this has something to do with self-awareness)
-Play fair, but play often.
-It is better to be lucky than good. And that was usually followed up by a sly smile that said "but it is possible to make your own luck, if you know what you're doing."

My Dad, or Dan, if you prefer, is the man that taught me about sportsmanship and how to generally "live well" but he also taught, or tried to teach me about woodworking, house fixing, and photography (my first Photoshop teacher). How to properly mow the grass and trim the yard to be pleasing to the eye? Yes, that too, along with optimal speaker placement with a new hi-fi stereo system. Breakfast yogurt smoothies or perfect pancakes? How to make food while camping (foil dinners anyone?) Pay attention here, this is life-lesson type stuff. Of course Dan also taught me about girls, but if we start to delve into that specific a subject we could be here for slightly longer than you or I have time for. So, I like to think that he was doing all of this with the "How to be a Gentleman" theme lightly tapping around in the back of his head. He was also the one who taught me a good deal about the mystery of women, but that is a much longer story (although still applicable.)

But, if I had to sum up what my father has taught me about being a Gentleman it would be this sentence. And it should be noted that I just made it up now. Being a Gentleman is about making the very best of each and every situation. I will try to boil it down a little bit in the coming weeks to see if something better, more precise, more tweetable comes of it. I'll let you know.

How is any of this applicable you are wondering? Well, on a not too recent, but not too distant (ok, it was two weeks ago) weekend was this years East Coast version of the Rapha Gentleman's Race. So, as you can see, Gentle-men were on the brain.

Of course the whole ordeal went off without a hitch. There were people chipping in left and right to help out on the course, and maybe get a heckle or two under their belts on the way? Not sure, I was only one man in one vehicle (murdered out at that) but I am almost certain that when I bumrushed the first checkpoint I heard some laughter and I'm almost certain I saw some of the drinking that makes the laughter all the more loud and amazing.

It was not possible for me to be at every point on the course at all times. But when I rushed back to the Start/Finish after spending a good four or five or six hours chasing that race around I was ready to be done with this. The day was already long, and standing there at the finish and waiting for friends and compatriots from two different teams put me in what I like to call a 'sour mood.'

However, if that feeling was not dispelled by a man playing bagpipes for the winning teams' entrance to the finishing area, then it was certainly washed away by seeing the next four, five, six teams hugging each other at the finish. I admit it was not always a hug, sometimes it was a stern handshake, or a high five that would leave a mark. But in each form of expression it was not so much the act, but the symbol behind it that meant something. And I think that this praise could be important. That Gentlemen/Women should praise the others in whose company they keep. For your friends and compatriots to know not only how well you are working together but also that you enjoy their company is an important piece of the puzzle. I mean we are in this together right?

But the thing that I am curious about is this; my ways and thoughts only have to do with my own upbringing. With my crazy, athletic, and completely hilarious father at the helm anything could happen, but he was only helming the ship that my Sister, Mother and I happened to be traveling on. Ok, he was a teacher so there is a chance that he did some extra white water rafting with a few others (readers?) But, I am thinking that his cannot and is not the only way to live this lifestyle...

So, my question is this.

What does it mean to be a Gentleman, or a Gentlewoman?