Life Deconstructed: Where do boys learn to be men?

Life Deconstructed - Maria Jiunta Heck

Does any man born after 1942 know how to treat a woman like the superior being she is? Not in my house.

We went out to dinner tonight to celebrate my father’s 89th birthday. He has a special friend who joined us. My father pulled out her chair and tucked her back in. I looked to my husband to see if he would do the same.

Fat chance.

He was already seated, terrorizing the bread basket and ordering a fancy beverage for himself.


He did indeed pull out my chair for me once. It was 11th grade history class and he, displaying his unrequited love for me, pulled out my chair — right out from under me. I blame him to this day for my aching tail bone. Boys, show your love to a girl with flowers, not fractured body parts.

I hope to God that my own boys know how to treat a female. I only need to look to their father for half the answer.

My husband is a gentle soul who, despite his propensity for 20-hour golf games, has always treated me with kindness and respect. Until I throw away his Twizzlers. Then, there’s hell to pay. Otherwise, he’s golden. But it’s the gallantry that I’m certain they’ve never seen him display: The old school gentlemanliness, the gestures, the chivalry. I’m not sure any male in this house knows what chivalry means. They probably think it’s a new Axe Body Spray.

I study my sons, also engorging themselves on bread. Neither of them has ever held the door open for me nor pulled my chair out for me. I worry that they are not wired for good manners. I worry they are, instead, wired to be animals.

I watched as my father led his friend to the car, opened the door for her, again tucked her inside, safe and sound. Conversely, my husband was already in our car, tooting and yelling for me to hurry-up because he needs to get home to watch “Amish Mafia.”

Did he ever open a car door for me?

Yes! I remembered! Junior prom!

He opened the door for me. And then, he shut the heavy Malibu door on my Candie’s-clad foot so I limped through “Stairway to Heaven” all night. Otherwise, rest assured, it would have been like any other date night; he would’ve been in that driver’s seat honking for me to “shake a leg” or we were going to miss the first showing of “Planet of the Apes” at the Moonlite Drive In. Who needed the movie? I was dating a primate.

There are little things I’m trying to impart on my sons about the importance of courtesy toward womankind. Like, take off your stupid baseball hat at the table. Don’t start eating until your date’s food arrives. Don’t pick your nose. Open doors.

My father was gracious and loving toward my mother until the day she died. He would never have sat down and started on the bread before she did. If he did she would’ve smacked him on the knuckles with a soup ladle. She trained him well.

So who are they going to emulate? My husband or my father? As my husband rushes ahead of me into the house, clutching leftovers enrobed in a swan-shaped swath of foil and slamming the door shut before I even reach the porch, I pray the answer is the old man. I pray they treat their partners with the love their father shows me but with the elegant, Edwardian gallantry their grandfather displays without even trying.

I suppose it could be a win-win.

Until someone throws out the Twizzlers.

Life Deconstructed

Maria Jiunta Heck

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.

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