In 1993 I saw the movie “A Bronx Tale” which was set in the racially turbulent 1960s and highlighted the challenges of an interracial romance. A landmark scene for me was ‘The Door Test’ when Sonny, an Italian-American gangster father-figure mentored young Calogero who was interested in taking a Black girl named Jane on a date. Sonny advised the lad, “Pull up the car to where she is and lock both doors before getting out of the car. Walk over to the passenger side of the car, unlock and open the door and after she enters the door lock it behind her. Walk behind the car and look through the rear windshield and see if she reaches over to open the driver’s side door latch. If she does it, she’s a keeper. If she doesn’t do it, it means that she’s a selfish broad and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Dump her, fast!!”
Although I paraphrased some of the movie lines it was a powerful lesson in dating etiquette and what would ideally be expected from both parties in heterosexual relationships and general male-to-female interactions.
Two years before the movie aired, after finishing my tour as an overworked and underpaid foot messenger in Manhattan I sat down on a crowded subway train and unconsciously gazed off into space as I enjoyed the ride home. Standing above me on my right side were two young women around my age, one of whom was holding a baby. The lady with the baby and I made brief eye contact with one another but I took it as just a casual gaze that many straphangers meaninglessly engage in to avert boredom and the stress from their day. Yet in many cases, the gaze is a subliminal signal of a need that the average person is expected to comprehend. As a 22-year-old kid who was still grieving the sudden loss of his mother to a homicide about six months earlier and forced into independence on a minimum wage salary ($4.25 per hour at the time)
As a 22-year-old kid who was still grieving the sudden loss of his mother to a homicide about six months earlier and forced into independence on a minimum wage salary ($4.25 per hour at the time), understandably my intuitive radar was subject to momentary imbalances.
A few station stops passed before I noticed the gentleman beside me get up and offer the same lady his seat. Shortly after she thanked him, she and her female friend disgustedly cut their eyes at me. At that moment my intuition was awakened to alert me that she was disappointed that I did not volunteer my seat to her earlier. Being in the fragile state of mind that I was already in, accompanied with my own docility, I immediately apologized to her as if I owed a tremendous debt to women that would have an infinite lien on my FICO score! Even
Even during my compassionate plea for forgiveness of my self-entitled bliss, she rolled her eyes and instinctually said, “How dare you not offer me your seat?? Didn’t you recognize that I was carrying a baby when you looked me in my face???” Aside from that encounter, even though the rest of my ride home was uneventful I departed the train with a sense of shame and obligation that followed me to my bed. Believe it or not, I eventually ordered my TRW report. Ironically, on a following subway ride home from a sanitation job I was in the same scenario with an elderly woman. The only thing that she did differently was ask and say Thank you with a smile after I got up.
Recently after a hard day’s work operating the same subway train that I once rode to work as a passenger, I rode Amtrak home and witnessed a young couple board the train with their luggage. The gentleman placed his bags in the overhead rack as did his female companion with the ones she could manage. Realizing that one of her bags was too heavy she politely asked him to lift it for her. After he kindly obliged they sat in the adjoining seats across from me. Though I was not deliberately eavesdropping I swore that I heard her tell him, “The guy at the airport just grabbed it for me.” Assuming I heard her right as he sat with no reply, I took the latter as code for “As the man you were supposed to do it for me automatically.”
Finally, I recall one dinner date with a former girlfriend that, in my opinion, went fairly well. Not that it matters but most of our dates were my treat. As we left the restaurant she walked ahead of me, pushed the door open, and held it. When another woman passed through before me she thanked my lady for the gesture and it was welcomed with open arms.
Assuming that my lady was doing the same for me, with my hands in my pockets to prepare for the blazing cold weather I traversed the doorway and shared thanks as the previous woman did. Just when I thought I did right by my father’s gratitude class as a boy, in a flustered tone she remarked, “What’s up with you walking through this heavy door with your hands in your pockets?? At least you could’ve held the door when you saw me opening it!” Adding further insult to compensate her emotional injury she added, “I don’t wanna feel like I’m the man walking with a woman!”
Just when I thought I did right by my father’s gratitude class as a boy, in a flustered tone she remarked, “What’s up with you walking through this heavy door with your hands in your pockets?? At least you could’ve held the door when you saw me opening it!” Adding further insult to compensate her emotional injury she added, “I don’t wanna feel like I’m the man walking with a woman!”
Really? I’m sure you caught the sarcasm when I said that it didn’t matter that most of our dates were my treat, right? Further considering that on most occasions I opened building and car doors, chauffeured her to various locations, plays, out-of-state trips, etc. (free of charge) did my manhood warrant scrutiny for one or even a few isolated occasions that are totally outweighed by all the good things that I did and she openly appreciated?
Was the door heavy when she opened it and held it for the other woman or did its weight suddenly come crashing down when she saw me walking through it? When she dines out alone or with her girlfriends and there is no male in her immediate sight does she stand there hopelessly until one comes or does she open the doors herself? While she was humble enough to extend herself in female camaraderie to someone she did not know, where was her compassion to do the same for
When she dines out alone or with her girlfriends and there is no male in her immediate sight does she stand there hopelessly until one comes or does she open the doors herself? While she was humble enough to extend herself in female camaraderie to someone she did not know, where was her compassion to do the same for her man that treated her like a queen? Since my tri-bureau report is still in the A+/900 range, the rest speaks for itself.
In 1995 when I got my first driver’s license at 25-years-old, the era of roll-down windows and manual locks were slowly coming to an end. Although I never learned to drive a manual shift, based on experienced drivers’ testimonies and my own observation the accurate timing, detail, and steady alertness required to operate one gives a greater appreciation for driving that us automatic drivers take for granted. Hence,
Hence, that is many women’s misperception of chivalry: something that is on mandatory auto-pilot without the need for periodic maintenance on their part. While my 13-year old Honda Accord has one of the best engines on the market, because I have kept her well maintained on a regular basis, with minor adjustments her legacy and stamina still make the ride worthwhile. Even as her body changes shape over the years, I would marry her all over again because of what she has inside. It makes me question some women’s driving habits before they got stranded on the shoulder, still awaiting rescue to date.
If our forefathers followed The Door Test rule to the letter as Sonny suggested there would be few baby boomers. Theoretically, while he was in the driver’s seat a lady found creative ways to shift the gears and keep his engine running. Be it standard or automatic, they worked magic with a stick. However, the narrative suggested that in the beginning of every relationship a man should be observant enough to look for early signs of reciprocal love from his potential mate that she should be inherently willing to practice. Ladies, before calling AAA (Attitude Adjustment Association) for a costly tow, if the ‘Check Engine’ light is dark a qualified love mechanic is more likely to pull over when you do a simple task: check your door light. It illuminates when the door is open.