5 Ways Opening the Door for Women Can Go Terribly Wrong

The young Catholic man is taught – perhaps even more than most – to open doors for women. His mother demands this of him, knowing that chivalry is a wonderful virtue to practice. His father demands the same, knowing that his son is going to need all the help he can get to attract women, wondering only vaguely what happened to all his family’s good-looking genes. This all goes to prove the point that virtue is at once desirable and practical. It offers both heavenly and earthly reward. This fact is seen in the practice of Patience; it will obtain for you both that Great Heavenly Peace and a little peace amongst your more obnoxious brethren. Hope gets a man to God and through the day. Likewise, the practice of Chivalry helps a man gain both Heaven and heaven-on-Earth, namely, the warm embrace of an attractive woman. And why not? After all, if virtue was all pain and no gain, we’d be Puritans. And – judging by those liquor cabinets – we’re not.

Thankfully. As Chesterton once said, and I paraphrase here: No one likes Puritans.

So we awkwardly out-walk women to the door. I am of the belief that this action is entirely representative of a higher willingness to sacrifice ourselves for these enormously good-looking things. We grab the handle, wrench the door open triumphantly and assemble our face into features that say, “Today a door, tomorrow my life!” or something equivalent. We are aware – believe it or not – that women are capable of opening doors.  Some of us – writers, poets and other degenerates – have the more unfortunate awareness that these same women could put us on our backs and mace us on the way down. But we pretend and they oblige, because it’s not the thing itself; it’s the symbol, as any good Catholic schoolboy knows. 

Not a common symbol, I know.

But there are dangers associated with chivalry, as St. George will testify to. Let no feminist laugh off our noble door-opening as unable to rectify thousands of years of oppression. It’s a dangerous business, opening that darn door. Especially when you’re on a Catholic campus. I give you then, my list of things that can go terribly wrong:

1. The Accidental Door-stop. This is truly humiliating, especially if the girl in question is one you have the hope of making a breed of legitimate children with. There you are, you and Anne-Marie Elizabeth O’Connor, approaching the door. You remember your parent’s warning; you slip in front of that gorgeous woman and open it. She passes through. Life is good. And then a crowd of waddling rugby players – seeing your noble act – decide to take advantage. They follow tightly behind Anne-Marie Elizabeth, giving you acknowleding grunts, cutting you off from your beloved. This, of course, causes a jam, and another crowd joins behind them – you still holding the door, the delicate Anne-Marie Elizabeth half-way down the hall. You gaze at her, you make eye contact; all is lost. You have been degraded from a man to a door-stop. It is almost worst that she stands to the side and waits for you. You know what she is thinking; here’s a man who the world can pushover, who will run screaming at the first sight of childbirth. You know it. The bright ‘thank you’s’ of the girls who mistakenly think you are holding the door for them do absolutely nothing to comfort the despair in your heart.

2. The Locked Door. You approach, brimming with confidence. You are, after all, a member of the male species. You have rugged good looks, a high sperm count, and a firm belief in the virtue of hard work. The door handle gleams. You place a ruddy hand firmly on the cold metal. You yank, strongly, desiring nothing more than to impress Mary-Clare behind you with the sweeping arch of the door. You dislocate your shoulder. While you bite back pain, you manage to say, “Oh, haha, I didn’t realize…” while Mary-Clare – biting back something else – quietly inserts the key. You resolve to punch yourself in the face later that evening.

I’m telling you, life is hard. It’s situations like this that lead to intense confusion in the adult male.

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3. The Non-Compliant Female. There’s always one. You thought you knew her - Catherine-Clare Robinson – you really did. She is Grace Kelly, you Jimmy Stewart. You thought she was one you could share your life with, stay up late discussing the more romantic points of the doctrine of pre-destination, you learning to love Jane Austen, she learning to love Jack Daniels, etc. etc. So you approach the door filled with hope, with anticipation of future joy. You open it wide, her solider and servant. “No, go ahead!” she says happily, gesturing towards the open door. You stop. You are confused. Why is life not progressing onward to the Jane-Jack future of your dreams? Why has she stopped? “Go on!” she says. You are stuck. Is she a radical feminist? Is it a test? If it is, is she looking for a man who will insist open her advancing first, or the man who will oblige her instantly? You don’t know. You try to read her mind. She sighs with impatience. You think: That means I should just go. You step in front of her. Unfortunately, that particular impatient sigh of Catherine-Clare Robinson means, ‘never-mind’. So your step forward cuts her off. She slams into your back. She sighs impatiently. Your life is over.

This doesn't happen.

4. The Long-Distance Relationship. You have no plans to open this door for anyone but yourself. And why? Because there is not a single member of the desire-of-your-heart sex within sight. So you open the door. Walking through you catch a glimpse of something reflected in the doors now-swinging window. Could it be? It is. Cecilia Mary-Margaret – the reason you were put on this earth – is approaching. How could you not have noticed her? She cometh! Or does she? You stop, and turn around. No, she is walking past. You let the door slam. Dammit, nope, she’s coming back. You run back and open the door proudly. You wait for her to arrive. And wait. She sits down on a bench outside the building and pulls out the Imitation of Christ. You slowly, slowly, attempt to close the door without her noticing your amateur mistake. It clicks. She looks up. You run.

5. The Double Door. You and the incredibly exotic Francesca Maria Guiseppe approach the building. ‘Nubile’ – you believe – is the word to describe her, but you can’t remember what it means, and whether or not to complement her with that word. So caught up are you in this question that you mindlessly open the first set of doors for her. Then you see it. A second set. She is already walking through the first. You have a moment to act. Time slows. You could rush a step ahead of her and open the next door, but that would involve pushing her aside to allow her through. An inherent contradiction of intent. You could perform the splits and reach out with your fingertips, just far enough to give the door a push, but that would involve ripping apart your tendons. What, a voice cries, don’t you love her? You could stall her with witty conversation – “Wait! Francesca! Before you open that door! Did I ever mention how nubile your hair is today?” – and subtly move in front of her. You could – the door opens. Another boy, Marcos Johannes Paulos has opened it for her. Their eyes meet and you know, in that instant, that you are finished. Your life is far, far from nubile.

So there you have it. Let no man tell you virtue is easy. But practice it nonetheless, for this life and the next.

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  • amjd

    Believe me, as a fellow Catholic college student, we women appreciate it when men open doors for us. :)

  • Anonymous

    You left out where you hold the door wide for that gorgeous girl, and she’s busy looking at her phone or book and wanders slowly toward the door, making you stand awkwardly for several full minutes waiting for her to finally arrive. Because by the time you realize it wasn’t practical to wait for her when you first opened the door, it is now while you’ve just realized it.

    • Anonymous

      My husband suggested this one, too.

  • lainey

    nice incorrect use of the word ‘nubile’, you vervy man

  • Mary

    This reminds me of my old FUS days… yes, you appreciate it when the door is held for you, but YES, these things do happen! It’s so funny!

  • Calah Alexander

    Oh my gosh. I see grimacing, embarrassed shades of so many boys I went to school with. And I feel AWFUL, now, because now I have a son that will follow the same fate. Your forgot this, Marc: women are cruel. Often unintentionally, but we truly do not understand just how hard the average adult male tries. I’m not kidding. We think it’s as easy to them as it is to us, so if they don’t get it right, it’s because they don’t care, or they secretly love that brunette soccer player with the kickin’ abs down the hall more than they love us. (I’m sure I’m being dated by the use of the term “kickin”. It’s okay.)

  • Calah Alexander

    By the way-having been raised among them, Puritans suck. Seriously. They are the original suck. Life is no fun when everything is a manifestation of original sin.

  • ak_teacher

    After going to a Catholic college, there were days I would walk up to a door and stand there, staring at it – wondering confusedly why this door wasn’t opening for me.

  • DD

    I can’t seem to get the whole of your posts in my reader feed, only a few sentences. Can you fix this? I think it has something to do with your feed settings…

  • http://profiles.google.com/tobie.rose Rosemary M

    You forgot one: the revolving door. Is it Ladies First, or does the man go first in order to get the circular motion started for his female companion? (My husband usually ends up going first. :))

    • http://transformedrebel.blogspot.com/ TʁaɳsғѻʁшɛÐ➟ЯΞΒΞⅬ

      Yes, but then they must not go too fast (as some have done to me), so that I am practically jogging through the revolving door…for fear of being smacked in the back by the panel behind me. Not to mention it brings back memories of double dutch timing and trying to get into the thing…

  • Nate

    Another problem is the push door. Do you reach your arm to full length in order to open it fully while getting partially in the way of the opening or do you barge ahead and wait inside holding it open with ease?

  • Laura

    Hahaha awesome. Sadly, this things do happen… when it isn’t the general rule that men will open doors for you sometimes it can get akward for us too, because you don’t know wether to do it yourself or stand there waiting, move real slow to give him the oportunity or just walk rela fast to avoid the akwardness. Anyways, keep being a gentleman!

  • Anonymous

    One of these days I will go to open a door for someone, find it locked, and rip it from its hinges. Chivalrous gestures are even awesomer if you’re ripping doors off their hinges—Robert the Strong did it during his last battle, to make a shield against Viking arrows, and his son founded a dynasty that ruled France till Louis XVI (and still rules Spain). Admittedly that was a big ol’ church door (they weren’t kidding when they called him “the strong”), but there are some pretty flimsy doors around here. And hey, I may be a writer, but I can also do a six-hit round-kick/front-kick combo without putting my foot down (and no, not in a videogame).

    My sister’s Japanese teacher once said American women are idiots if they object to having doors opened for them. Let ‘em go to Japan, she said, where guys’ll just drop a door right in their faces. Then again Japan considers not hitting girls to be feminism (uh, because any sane person can see it is)—non-”feminists” just aren’t allowed to hit girls in the face. But no, chivalry is totally a tool of patriarchy.

    Maybe we should ask them why Gaius Julius Caesar’s daughter was known as Julia—that is, she had no first name (Julius was their clan-name). Couldn’t have any relation to that law passed by one of the first Christian emperors, forbidding you from leaving daughters after the first out for the wolves.

  • Robert
  • Robert
  • http://paraphasic.blogspot.com Croncor

    You forgot about the revolving door. Much breath has been poured out in all-male catholic circles about the problem of the revolving door.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RS2NGO5O4VTWXTXB2H2Q6Z6TDM Sky

    This sadly happens more often than you’d think…

    • Marc Barnes

      I was hoping some one would see them!

  • Paige Deaner

    This is simultaneously making me wish I had gone to a Catholic college and also making me take a mental note to train any future sons to be this way. *swoon*

    Love the super Catholic names!

  • Michael Atkinson

    Hilarious, I had a hearty chuckle :) Thanks for the pick-me-up!

  • Cordi

    Wow, that’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Meredith-Wise/672300105 Meredith Wise

    I think this column would endear you to Francesca Maria as much as five opened doors! ^_^

  • http://lettersfromchristine.wordpress.com/ Christine

    On a date with a guy once, he actually said something along the lines of “darned double doors – the bane of every chivalrous male” when we encountered double doors on a walk.

    • Beatrice

      That is great! Did you marry him on the spot?! I would have!

  • Miss Doyle

    Love this! Something so little means a lot and says a lot about a man.
    I go all warm and fuzzy when a man opens a door for me, it’s downright sexy.

  • Jean Seah
  • Peter Uhel

    “[...] stay up late discussing the more romantic points of the doctrine of pre-destination [...]” this is priceless, LMAO! :D

  • Joan Audacia

    A few days after reading this, I was walking to my martial arts class with my brother, and a few paces in front of us was another student. I turned around to see what was taking my brother so long and began having a conversation back and forth (with my brother). I then proceeded after a good minute or two to walk into the center, and I noticed the other student had been waiting, holding the door the entire time. I caused #4 on here.

    [I am usually 'that' person in #3, but I remembered to thank him, and not- "*smile* no, you go ahead =)" ]

    So I thanked him, and continued to walk through the door with my obnoxiously enormous karate bag, followed by my brother and his colossal bag. – #1 happens. he (young man holding door) becomes doorstop.

    Then- to top it off- it was double doors. #5.
    After the moment of walking through I realized- wow. I just caused 3/5 ways that could go terribly wrong for a guy when opening a door…in under a minute…not sure if that’s some record…but now I notice it.

    Lol, thanks for the article, I never realized there was such a science and art behind door opening, but now I notice it and appreciate it (as well as try to not ruin someone’s moment, lol.)

  • Escalonn

    Oh man was this hard to read – my college has about 2 Catholics and what I wouldn’t give to be in the environment caricatured here

  • Dburnette10

    #5- If a guy is tall, my hubby is 6’2″, he can open door one, hold it in place with his back as he stands sideways and reaches out to open the second door. I have plenty of room, and I don’t have to touch a door. I am quite sure that men of varying heights can also do this, just a matter of figuring out where to place your feet. You can do this!!! And you get 2 smiles!

    Revolving door- treat it as a doorway, ladies first. This can be lots of fun if you and Mr./Mrs/futureMr./futureMrs. are in a particularly flirty mood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-A-Carlson/100001401488797 David A. Carlson

    The real reason men opening doors for women. (Im a baptist BTW, so forgive me and my perverted mind), we get to watch you coming and going.

  • Maria

    I went to the same school you did, Marc, and I once had a man lie on the ground in order to open double doors for me, he was a nice man.

  • MC

    Man, this is fucking hilarious. & true!