Just the other day my friends and I went to a bar/cafe/restaurant; we got one of those half-booth tables, i.e. booth on one side, chairs on the other. A guy in our group moved towards the booth and I stopped him. “I think girls get the booth,” I said to him. (I could say that because we’re very good friends and I knew I could get away with it.)
“Really?” he asked.
“Yea, because we have bags and coats and scarves and we generally need some place to put all our stuff. And it’s the gentlemanly thing to do, to offer women the more comfortable seat.”
“I didn’t know that…” he said.
Fast-forward to a few days later. Let’s say you’re meeting a guy you haven’t seen in, say, 3 years for a drink thing at a nice pub. Now suppose you are led to a table that the waitress calls a “booth”, but it’s actually half a booth. And this one doesn’t have chairs on the other side. No, sir, it does not. This is half a high booth. It has one of those high tables, ya know, and what’s best described as bar stools. Really high bar stools. And the guy climbs into the booth side of it.
Um, what’s happening here? my thoughts wondered.
I waited to see if he would say something about it, like maybe it was his idea of a joke or…something. Because I could not believe he wouldn’t offer me the booth.
I saw him settle into the middle of the booth; the surprise on my face went unnoticed.
I warily eyed the bar stool I would have to scale. I’m 5’2″. I was wearing a dress. And 4-inch heels. I kid you not: Only a step-stool could’ve helped me seat myself gracefully. I somehow managed to hoist myself up. Awkwardly. My feet barely reached the highest foot-rest on the stool. My bag had to be precariously balanced on the bar-stool next to me. And when I wanted to place my jacket and scarf somewhere, I had to ask the guy if he wouldn’t mind keeping them on his side please. There was no relaxing for me. I had to constantly be aware of my posture—because there was no back-rest because I was sitting on a goddamned stool—and focus on not letting my foot lose its hold on the rung lest I topple over. And then to simultaneously try and make witty conversation or be charming? Very uncomfortable.
I wasn’t sure if I was making too big a deal of this so I spoke to others about this, guys and girls, both, and it was pretty much unanimous: Whether it’s a date or the girl and guy are hanging out just as friends, offering the girl the more comfortable or desirable seat (depending on the seating arrangement) is simply a gracious, polite thing to do and, I think, is actually also part of how considerate and thoughtful he is. It’s nice when men behave like gentlemen.
And yes, on dates, if they want to, I let men open doors for me, pull out my chair, help with my jacket. Doesn’t matter which century we’re in, chivalry is timeless. Kinda like a Chanel suit.