I stared at my boyfriend in disgust.
The cretin behind me had made an obscene comment about my dress, or more specifically, lack of said garment. The whole nightclub queue heard it, but my errant knight was more concerned with his friend’s critique of Apple versus Android, or Ants versus Aardvarks… or whatever.
“That man…insulted me!”
He cocked a brow and smiled. “So?”
“So? How about, defending my honour?” Like a right Elizabethan maid.
He laughed. “I value my face a little more than your honour.”
Well that said it all. I was sorely tempted to give his pride and joy a big, red welt.
When I was a little girl a cyclist ran over our puppy – in a dog park – and followed my mother and I home to bang on our door complaining his bike had been scratched (never mind the living creature mangled beneath it). Upon knocking loudly, he wasn’t met by the diminutive blonde he’d expected. My father listened to his nonsense for a full ten seconds before lifting him by the throat and projecting him off our verandah. I’ll always remember his spandex body sailing through the air, followed by his helmet and bike. As the thin black wheels spun uselessly above him I clapped and cheered, safe in the warm, robust cloak of Dad’s masculine superiority.
It was the satisfaction of a primitive instinct, born of the days when the Hun were waiting over the border. Of course, times have changed and now the rapists and pillagers are banished to the seedy end of town. For the lucky majority, the danger is gone. As Dad would say, a modern male is more likely to drink a punch than throw one, his ‘knife work’ directed at a delicate cut of steak tartar. But where does that leave honour? And bloodlust? My boyfriend is vegan: he doesn’t even eat the steak tartar!
Said pacifist put his arm around my shoulders as we walked home. I shrugged him off.
“Still grieving your lost honour?”
I flicked him a look. “More like my choice in men.”
We walked in silence, I gathered my ammunition.
“This is just like that time Joe was rude to me and you did nothing to put him in his place.”
“You’re a grown woman!”
“He’s your friend!”
“And he has as much right to insult you as anyone.”
There were so many words struggling to exit my face I could only stop and gape.
He sighed and spun around. “What would you prefer happened tonight? A few hours in the ER, or the cop station? All to prove a point to one moron?”
He pulled me by the hand and we continued down the footpath.
“There’s honour in being smart, you know, in living long enough to take care of someone properly.”
I could see his point; no denying my father’s fierce protection came at a cost. Any tension, an idiot on the road, or worse, a slur against his French heritage, would send a ripple of anxiety through my mother and sisters. He wouldn’t react physically, but rough words have their own violence. I had happily lost that angst in my adult life, without even realizing it.
I squeezed his hand. Not a full blown apology, but enough. He squeezed back.
“And for the record, I told Joe he’s a fuckwit.”
“Really. Though I still think you deserved half the things he said.”
I smiled. To love and honour.
Should men stick up for women in the name of gallantry? Share your thoughts below…
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