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Re: On Courtesy Classes

Poster: "Karen Lyons-McGann" <dvkld.dev@mhs.unc.edu>

Alianora tells us, 
> Personally, I don't care much about being escorted into court, although 
> have seen it done quite prettily ...  

I think it's charming and am not surprised to hear it is a southern 
custom.  At Ymir, there were moments of confusion when a lady's husband, 
who was not sitting with her,  couldn't escort her because of other lords 
stepping up.  An excess of courtesy!    Seems to me that oftentimes a 
lady arrives at the front of the hall unescorted because she was simply 
moving too fast for the gentlemen who would have taken her hand.  Perhaps 
that's a result of "speed court".  Perhaps it is because ladies are 
unused to such courtesy in mundane life and forget to allow for it.  
Taking a line from my mother, "If you want to be treated like a lady, you 
must act like a lady."  Ladies _expecting_ an escort should take a deep 
breath and look for proffered hands before dashing full speed ahead up 
the aisle.  If the nearest available lord is was hit on the head that day 
in battle and stands there dull-witted, it's appropriate to offer your 
hand and request he escort you.  However, if a lady is charging ahead 
without pausing to acquire an escort, it should probably be assumed she 
feels she can make her own way and gentlemen should avoid the appearance 
of chasing her up the aisle.  It is amusing to see gentlemen crashing 
into each other in the wake of a lady who has just rushed, but the 
clumsiness detracts from the mood of court far more than the arrival of 
an unescorted lady.

> It also bugged me that the only way
>I could get through a crowd of people in a passageway while clutching my
>brand-new harp in my arms was to shout "Harp coming through!"  because 
>one was listening to "Excuse me, please." 

Had you new bagpipes,  "CLEAR" would have done the job.   The pipes are 
dangerous weapons, after all. 

> However, it did bother me when I dropped a quantity of stuff in the
> front  vestibule at 12th Night and had to get down on hands and knees 
to pick it
> up while all around me chatted away. 

Being newish, I was expecting more style than I found.  Once I got over 
that disappointment, I found the overall substance of manners to be 
better  than what I observe in mundane life.  The general courtesy at an 
SCA event exceeds that at our PTA meetings, for example.  The level of 
courtesy in SCA kids far exceeds what I usually see in my children's 
classmates.  I'm not saying that there is 100% attention to courtesy and 
manners, but better than usual.  At events,  I've been ignored by others 
too busy with their own interests but I have also had total strangers 
take part of my load of baskets and packages off my hands and carry them 
for me, gentlemen give up their seat for ladies  and other such 
courtesies that do not happen at mundane gatherings.

Speaking of "their own interests", a number of unmarried young  gentlemen 
can see unmarried young ladies quite clearly and pay much courtesy to 
them, but treat older or married ladies as if they are invisible.  The 
MOST rude incident I've been involved in was such a man coming up and 
starting a conversation with a young woman I was speaking with .  He 
literally stepped between us, and started speaking to her then  took her 
hand and led her away without so much as a by your leave.   I was aware 
she'd been wanting his attention, but I now doubted the value of it.   
Barely to her credit, she did toss an "excuse me" over her shoulder.  
I've observed this in varying degrees more than once since that time.  It 
seems some folk understand courtesy as an elaborate flirtation technique, 
and perhaps as part of fealty if they are fighters, but they don't apply 
it outside those circles.  

(or should I say, Old Goodwife Anne?  Somebody bring my cane!)

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