Thursday, May 17, 2012

dandelion kindness appearance

Three ages of dandelion.

Opening a door for someone and allowing them to pass ahead of you, is courteous and kind. Good manners  in comparison carries a whiff of compulsion. Kindness is what matters as in so many other things. But to return to my recent post (and to the comments of M-L, CC and Lucy) I remember while attending s summer course at The Slade School of Art in London some 20 years ago, allowing a woman to go ahead of me through a doorway and being berated by her for my male condescension or some such  rubbish. In contrast when I was being shown round a hotel in Hong Kong by a public relations woman she always insisted on my going ahead of her. When I explained that I was accustomed to allowing women to go  first, she responded (she happened to be Japanese) that in her country the rules of precedence were the other way round, and she found it as hard to depart from her upbringing as I did from mine. Yes, kindness should always be our guide.

Often I find it hard to recognise a woman who has changed the colour or shape of her hair. It only shows that I do not look close enough at people's faces. Men less commonly make radical changes to their appearance. Today however I note an exception. An Italian restaurant owner who has been around  here some time greets me as we pass in the street. At first I am not sure who he is. Then by a process of deconstruction followed by reconstruction, I recall behind the heavily bearded face  that smiles at me, a clean-shaven countenance ornamented by a  cultivated wisp of woven hair protruding like some kind of horn from beneath his lower lip. Two quite different personalities flagged at different times in one person.


marja-leena said...

Regarding changes in appearance, your story makes me recall my wedding day. I scarcely recognized my husband-to-be when he appeared in church for he was clean-shaven after having had a beard for several years! I felt quite odd as if he was a stranger. He'd shaved the beard off to please my mother who did not care for it. And grew it back later :-)

Roderick Robinson said...

As a connoisseur of social embarrassment may I refer you to my initial days in the USA when I was introduced to several women to whom I stuck out a hand-shaking hand only to see them leap away away as if I'd proffered a dead toad. This, it seems, is the American equivalent of tutoyer.

Unknown said...

M-L That's an amazing story. I'm glad it had a happy ending. A less accommodating bride might have fled before the face of stranger. It brings to my mind for some reason The Importance of Being Ernest.

I remember your hand-shaking experience which you wrote or spoke to me about. Ever since I have shied away from shaking hands with American women, not that I have had many opportunities.