I was at the dinner of a non-profit organization last night, and I was talking to NAME REDACTED. (Do you know him?) Some old friends of mine, a husband and a wife, came up to say hi. The wife is a rather straightforward person, and she said rather bluntly, "Is this your boyfriend?" Meaning NAME REDACTED. And without a moment's hesitation, he said, "I should be so lucky!" It wasn't a matter of flirtation, but good breeding. He managed to say no in a way that charmed everyone and diffused any awkwardness on my part.
Naturally, I appreciated it at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more I was impressed with his effortless graciousness. And it got me to thinking about one of the overlooked values of good breeding/social mores in general - making women feel secure in social settings. I hadn't realized it before, but I typically go into big non-profit events with the mentality that all men fall into one of two categories: 1) nerds desperate for a date to be deflected and avoided or 2) reasonably good looking guys who are unbearably smug because they do better than other conservative guys with the ladies. Both cases make one anxious, albeit in a totally subconscious way, about a conversation with any male. Which is why it was so darn pleasant to talk with a fellow who was not only respectful, but also benevolent.
Editor's note: Which is really why I was so appalled when someone was telling me last night about a game men play, trying to pick up women by being jerks to them. Really, women flock to graciousness and kindness (and it's good for them!).