Every morning I see fellow commuters in every kind of inelegant, ungainly gait imaginable. Plaza de Castilla bus station may as well be a runway for the Ministry of Silly Walks. Robust ladies bound along the concourse with puppies trampolining inside their tops and tote bags slapping against their ample thighs. (Note that this spectacle is decidedly less attractive than choreographed plastic Pam slow-motion jogging down Santa Monica Beach.) Slimmer girls sometimes effect a 5-step-1-step combination that looks as if one leg is spasming involuntarily every five paces. And nothing looks quite so incongruous as a be-suited sprinting gentleman with briefcase wildly flailing* and the cream soles of his polished black brogues flashing by in a blur.
Do these folk really need to be in the office by 9 o’clock sharp looking disheveled and flustered? Why not just arrive at at 9:10am with dry armpits, neat hair and a business-like apology? I walk briskly for the bus, of course, but regulate my pace so that I can maintain nonchalance if it pulls away during my approach. Much better, surely, than chasing it out of the station, maniacally beating on the windows as though it were taking one’s true love away to a labour camp. 8 times out of 10 I embark on the same bus as those who’ve dashed past me moments earlier.
African children chase buses, Hollywood protagonists chase buses, but Ladies and Gentlemen do not. I’m sure trampolining puppies are warning enough to the girls, but chaps, allow me to refer you to Sting’s Englishman in New York. The song in it’s entirety is fine advice for life but in this case just be sure to memorise the line, ‘A gentleman will walk but never run.’
Other examples of correct gentlemanly behaviour in literature, since you asked, are George Banks (the only redeeming feature of Mary Poppins – don’t get me started on a character assassination of that conjuring, conniving nanny), and (Reginald) Jeeves of the PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories.
*I describe a businessman but I actually have in my mind a picture of a crazy lady roller-skating, possibly a teacher and definitely a Miss not a Mrs. I think the image is from a What-a-mess book (remember those?) I read in Primary School but I can’t be sure. If you recall anything about What-a-mess books, or any other children’s literature in which I might have seen a picture of a crazy roller skating lady I’m itching to hear about it.