one should, without fail, always be a gentleman, and I absolutely, at all costs, attempt to be a gentleman. absolutely a gentleman because there is no gender neutral description to say quite the same thing, and any word in the feminine feels too flabby, too flirtatious and falling in, too wanton, easily swayed, and these are things I am not. it is unfortunate that language has taken such a shift because good manners have all been forgotten: no one reads or cares about Emily Post anymore unless it's some bride-to-be planning the small world of her wedding meticulously. so I regard myself as a gentleman, or at least by my definition of one. however, I feel that more often than not, others do not act with the same consideration, tact and tenacity.
one major aspect of being a gentleman is boundaries, and these are not shifting, strange moveable things. these are not lines in the sand; these lines do not change. these lines, as much in this world as they can be, are absolute. so here are a few, and these few are even more vital to know when you're dealing with those of another gender.
1. my radius is not your radius. if you and I are not close friends, family and you are not my husband, then you have no right to touch me beyond standard greeting, which means that touching my knee is never, ever under any circumstance, appropriate. but one should know this, gentleman or not. this is easy to know.
2. a gentleman respects someone else's time. along with boundaries, one does not demand the time of another. not only is this rude when it comes to close friends, family and husbands, but it is absolutely obscene when it comes to acquaintances. an acquaintance is in no position to make demands on another acquaintance. if you are attempting to make demands, force your time on another, and you are also disrespecting physical boundaries, well sir or madam, you have become a creep and someone to absolutely avoid.
3. socially, a gentleman never ever bogarts a conversation, especially if the conversation is of an acquaintance and of a personal nature. a story must be well-placed, and if it is not, find another circle for your story. the world is a big room. as a second, do not bombard an acquaintance with extremely long and detailed letters; those letters are reserved for intimates. and do not send more than one letter at a time, especially to an acquaintance. if he/she did not respond, he/she is busy, and you are not an intimate.
4. if you run into an acquaintance, never ever sit directly next to them or stand where you are touching. this not only violates boundaries, but it's rude. face them or stand to their side. the world is a circle and not a line, treat your interactions as such.
5. gifts are reserved for those closest, with the exception of a gift of appreciation, which you would give a boss, coworker, the man that's bagged your groceries for 20 years, your son's teacher, etc. gifts of appreciation are rarely wrapped because they're not about the hoopla; they're about the work that's already been done. they're about gratitude. never give an acquaintance a gift. if you do, especially if it is a gift between genders and especially if you and/or he/she is married, and again, if you are an acquaintance, and by god, especially if it is wrapped, you are absolutely, positively crossing a line. a gentleman would not only know better, but he/she would address the gift to both the acquaintance and his/her spouse and tell the acquaintance to open it when he/she got home.
6. never ever ever give unsolicited advice, especially if you are an acquaintance. however, it may be worse to give unsolicited advice as a friend because you may find yourself outside of the circle.