Kissing the Hand

May 24, 2013

The rush, stress, and practicalities of modern life have cost us more than we know. Many of the polite acts of chivalry have been abandoned. I know that a strong, modern woman is fully capable of opening their own restaurant door, but I feel it is my duty as a gentleman to graciously hold it for her. Perhaps she will reward me with a soft smile?

As recently as WWII, it was common among polite society for a gentleman to kiss the back of a lady’s hand when introduced. This fell into disrepute for several reasons. It is way too easy to trade nasty germs when lips meet hands, it requires an extra second or two from a busy day, and too many boorish men used it as an excuse to slobber over pretty ladies.

A knight and fine gentleman in the SCA taught me there is a polite and politically-correct manner with which to bring back this reminder of bygone manners. I would share this technique, now.

Step One: The gentleman takes her proffered hand and turns it slightly so that the back is facing up.

Step Two: He places his thumb over her fingers and bows slightly from the waist.

Step Three: Keeping his eyes on hers (not her breasts), he then lets his lips touch just his thumb.

Step Four: Don’t hold it over long. Just take a second or two at the most.

This simple technique provides the proper intent without drooling and smearing germs on her hand.

Keeping your eyes on hers, serves to hold her attention and let her know that you appreciate her as a person.

As the gentleman straightens up and releases her hand, the lady, in turn, should reward his chivalric display with a smile and a small curtsey.

I have used this technique at SCA events as well as at various conventions.  The only down side is that the gentleman might get a jealous glower from the lady’s companion.

Gentlemen, give it a try the next time you find yourself among polite society. If nothing else, it will start a discussion.

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