Reaction from The Duchess Dolls (that’s you) is always a surprise. This time–it’s a tiny sentence that strikes a chord. “Where is a gentleman with a hankie when I need one?” The ladies swooned at the thought. Alas, it is not a swoon of the romantic variety as the last man most of them knew with a handkerchief was their father.
My father, too, always had a handkerchief at the ready. He wiped away tears, owies and probably more than a few runny noses. I don’t remember those. But, I do remember tears after disastrous dates, disappointments and catastrophes of the teenage sort.
When he died, the nurse handed me his things. Amongst them, tucked in a trouser pocket was a freshly ironed hankie. I used it at his funeral as I told those gathered that I grew up with a father and a smattering of brothers who believed I could do no wrong. He taught me to be mighty and unafraid and yet, at my darkest hours, I still wish for him to hand me a handkerchief and say all is well.
It’s funny such a small thing can evoke emotion for so many. The dolls lament guys rarely whip out the small piece of cotton when ladies become distraught. A couple of things girls. He can’t distress you and comfort you at the same time and if you think about it, it is kinda gross. The poor guy is carrying around a cloth full of tears and snot in his pocket.
It is, as with much of chivalry, the exercise that excites, evokes and endears. It’s not that we can’t open doors. It’s that if he opens the door, he’s making some acknowledgment of care, some show of respect. It’s not that the car door is too heavy, as it was in times past. It’s that he cares you’re tucked in safely. It’s not that standing when you come back to the table is necessary for your welcome but it is good to know that on some small level, he noticed you were gone, non? As it is with the hankie. Just in case you should be struck by emotion, he stands at the ready.
If he doesn’t have any, he’s probably not likely to skip right out. After all, there’s Kleenex and you know where it is right? Why not take the bull by the horns and give him a gift? I checked for you. You can spend as little as 4.99 at Walmart or 12.50 for a 7-pack at Nordstrom or as much as 75 bucks for a two-pack at Nieman’s. Let’s not go crazy here. Keep in mind, to be fully functional, they must be ironed. Pulling a rumply old thing that looks like the dog’s toy out of one’s pocket does not have the same effect.
Little price, big payoff.