It’s not the 18th century. Most people of the current generation have never seen a suit of armor, and too many of them have never been in close proximity to a horse outside the petting zoo at the park. Chivalry is largely dead. Where it lives, it’s considered an oppressive and outdated concept.
Personally, if I don’t get a door held for me, I’m pissed. But if a man has his hands full, I will gladly hold the door for him. And if he doesn’t say thanks, I’m pissed.
I never thought of myself as a liberated woman. I looked along the bridge of my Anglican nose at feminists and man-haters. At the same time, I scoffed at the suggestion that I needed a man to make me happy or whole or to protect me. I could fight my own battles. I didn’t need heroes sweeping in on white horses, sunbursts glinting off polished breastplates and brow bands, and saving me from my life while leaving muddy hoof prints on the carpet.
That’s how we met. He didn’t look particularly knightly. He was average. Average height, average build, average voice. What pulled him out of Average World and into another realm were his eyes. If the eyes are the window to a person’s soul, his were yawning doorways. I tripped. I fell in.
“You’re sitting on my paper, “ he said, and he smiled. It wasn’t a big smile, but it made his average face look something closer to angelic.
“What?” I was still taking a tour of his soul.
He a-hemmed, and looked down and back up. “My paper,” he said gently.
I turned ten shades of red, and got off his paper. “I’m really sorry. I swear I’ve been house-trained.”
He laughed and leaned back on the bench. “Don’t be.” He offered his hand. “Elliot.”
I took it. “Anne.”
“Nice to meet you. You come out here often? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”
I put my hands on my blazing cheeks. I thought I’d remember having seen him, too, but then I thought maybe not. Not unless I’d seen his eyes. “Not really. I prefer Centennial.”
He smiled again. “Some people don’t pull off a blush as well as you,” he said casually, looking at his paper with a studied interest.
“Thanks for noticing. I always hope someone will.” I was retarded. I stood up.
He stood up, too. Like a gentleman. And he picked up and handed me my bag, also like a gentleman. “I’d like to buy you coffee sometime, Anne. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or all three.”
I don’t know when Hanes started making armor, or when knights traded in prancing steeds for creaking park benches. But I still haven’t found my way out of Elliot’s soul. And all these years later, he still points it out when something makes me blush.