It is common talk among women today about the lack of gentlemanship among men. ‘Where are the gentlemen?’ they ask. ‘In the old days, men knew how to treat a woman, talk to a woman and take care of her. In the old days, there was chivalry… ‘ and they go on and on about how they want a ‘Mr Knightly or Mr Darcy’. But there is one thing these women don’t know about the old days…
In the old days, a gentleman was not naturally chivalrous or charming or sophisticated… He was not inherently manly and stylish, dutiful or honourable… He was trained to be. Not by men, but a woman. And not just any woman. It was a secret practice in the old days for High Society families to acquire retired courtesans to ‘nurture’ their sons into manhood.
This arrangement was not just about making him into a good lover, (though, that was a large part of it), but training him in life. Conversation, style and aesthetic appreciation, mannerisms of civil society, the ways of the world, matters of the heart and even business. The company courtesans kept over their career made them quite savvy with industry and enterprise. But most importantly, a courtesan’s task was to keep the young man from becoming wayward and falling in with bad company, away from drugs and alcohol, or from bringing shame on the family, destroying noble lineage by getting some peasant girl pregnant. Such a courtesan provided protection and an invaluable education for a young man entering manhood.
Unfortunately, this practice is not appreciated today as something appropriate, however, you might be delighted to know that the practice of ‘training a gentleman’ is still used in certain circles by obscure means.
When I was in my twenties, I was trained how to attend to the sophisticated and aristocratic members of society. I worked for a prestigious, yet very private, ballroom dance studio that serviced the rich and influential of the city. Cocktail dresses, diamante heels and fake eyelashes were my usual attire. My main duties were dance escorting, private tuition and dance support for exclusive events and clubs around the city – I attended the Lord Mayor’s ball with a different date every year. My clients were a-listers of the business world, some international. Thus, I was well versed in the art of persuasion…
Every now and then, a mother would send me her son to ‘learn to dance’. The mother and I would have a meeting, and she would tell me how she wanted her son to be nimble on his feet, to correct his posture and learn ballroom etiquette. Now, the young man could have got this training from any local dance club teaching out of a pub, but instead the mother chose me. She wanted someone with my particular skillset. I knew that she was well aware of what was really going on, why she was really sending her son to me – it was in the glow of her eyes and the tone of her voice… plus my manager would give me the real intel before our meeting. I was to give the young man an ‘education’.
With me, the young man would learn how to stand, how to sit, how to walk with confidence, how take my hand and lead me down stairs, how to stroll with me down a long hall, how to touch me in public, smile at me and look at me without drawing attention or suspicion, how to listen and make small talk, how to use innuendos, how to control himself and his desires without stifling his sexuality, how to be confident around the other men in the studio and yes, how to fall in love, among other things. And sometimes… just sometimes… how to make love – pro bono, of course. When our lessons were up, our time would come to an end. Some would find it hard to let go – and I did get a few stalkers – but most moved on graciously, taking our little romance with them.
From my experience, a young man greatly benefits from an affair with an older woman… I dare say, it is what makes a gentleman. And those women who want a gentlemen would be horrified at this. They would expect their men to become gentlemen on their own, but men rarely do. There is always the other woman behind his gentlemanship.
Be careful what you wish for, ladies, you might just get your gentleman, trained perfectly by his courtesan.