Of Knights and Fair Maidens

7:30 AM

Herein tells the true Story of a Damsel in Distress and of the valiant and chivalrous Knight who rescued her from utter Peril and Doom

When I saw the list, I knew I was in for it.

Shopping for a family of eleven (plus a dog, in this case) involves two carts, two lists and a crew of capable assistants. Apparently, I fit the bill for pushing Cart #2, but the children enthusiastically announce they are not going with Bailey. Caroline is the only one who will not complain. No, that is too kindly put. Caroline is the only one who hasn't found the need to string together syllables into words, so even if, when riding like a princess in Cart #2, she sullenly protests all the while, nobody will be the wiser. I cannot think it is too disagreeable to her: she flashes toothy grins and we kiss noses in the spaghetti sauce aisle and she patiently waits while I read the list aloud to her for the fiftieth time in ten minutes.

Once, when she was being particularly adorable, a lady worker came up to me with an admiring, "Your daughter is so beautiful!"

("You told her she was your sister, right?" my mother anxiously asked. Mothers cannot share their daughters, even with their own.)

I smiled. "Yes, she is, but she's my sister."

Without missing a beat, she replied, "Oh, your sister is so beautiful!"

And I could not agree more. As a side note, it's not too terrible to be mistaken for a young mother, as long as you cross your fingers and hope you pass for twenty-three instead of your young almost-seventeen. The only downside is not being the target of compliments anymore. All praise passes on to your imaginary child for the thirty minutes you're shopping. It's quite the trading of places, to be sure.

{{{ Much admired for her beauty, our heroine took for a stroll an equally beautiful babe, intending to buy strawberries and cream at the local market. Why, do you ask, would such a treasured gem of womankind venture out alone, without courtiers, without pages, without brothers? If we stopped to puzzle such questions, the story would not continue. Perhaps the best answer is she greatly desired strawberries and cream, and we must content ourselves with that. }}}

But the list. I was discussing the list. This time I again had only Caroline, which was no comfort to me. On the list, for the first time ever in my entire shopping career, were printed these words in my mother's teacher-perfect hand: Old Rory Complete Nutrition Dog Food.

Read: a mammoth bag three-fourths my size and twice my weight. And not a single soul to help me heave that thing into the bottom of the cart.

I was doomed. I make excuses about how it's statistically proven that women have no upper body strength, comparatively speaking, but I cannot deny the fact that my brother will pinch me and tease that I should work my triceps. If they are triceps. Biceps are the ones closest to the fingers, correct? In any case, they're as exercised as I am familiar with them.

But courage, courage. Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic -- I could lift a million-pound bag. (Never mind that her story ended poorly. I pride myself on bucking trends.)

Well, in the first place, I wandered in the aisle for five minutes, bricked in by dog food on every side. They had Old Rory, all right, but not "complete nutrition" (or "nutrition complete" -- whichever; I only knew that the meaty num-nums weren't Badger's style).

{{{ Our brave damsel stepped out in the unknown territory, utterly lost from mankind, wandering in a land where pictures of horrid, slobbering beasts leered out at her on all sides. She clutched the child to her bosom and uttered many sighs and tears of terror, but there was nothing for it but to go on, alone, disoriented, cut off from the brightness of hope. }}}

Friends, I found that dog food. (If you shop at my Walmart it's on the wall at the end of the aisle, not in the aisle itself.) And it was bigger than I expected. But what of that when gumption's got the girl? I grabbed that bag around the belly and dragged it to the floor with minimal huffing and puffing.

That was the walk in the park.

I had to get it under the cart. Imagination -- or delusion, whichever you'd like to call it in my case -- made me bold, so I stuffed that monster into the cart, straightened with a jaunty air and strolled off to pluck five gallons of milk from the Arctic fridge.

Not really.

I got perhaps an inch on the lip of the cart before it (the cart) rolled away with Caroline demurely sitting inside it. There was a barren grape vine in the bottom of the cart. I marked that well, because I stared down at the whole mess for a minute wondering how best to go about this.

"I could use a man right about now," I thought, and redoubled my efforts to wrestle the bag into the bottom of the cart. But embarrassment is not as potent as ignorance, and I felt my arms go all flabby and weak and my face flushed red and the cart rolled away again. Hands on my hips, I looked at that bag and that bag looked at me, and I knew this was a moment of crisis.

{{{ Bravely did the timid princess make her way through the wild beasts -- only be to caught in the embraces of a horrible giant who would not give to her frantic wrestling. So horrible was that moment in her life that she knew not what else to do. Again did the tears flow, but violently and fearfully, and she did cry out in horror, "O, that I had a knight to rescue me!" }}}

"Here," I heard him say, "you hold the cart and I'll put it in."

He was tall, bearded, a daddy of what looked to be a few elementary kids, and he had the hugest grin on his face. Not a mocking grin, though heaven knows what a pathetic figure I cut, chewing my fingernail in despair at a five hundred pound bag of dog food.

I could have melted in a puddle of total relief. "Oh, thank you!" I sighed. Frankly I was too elated at my rescue to remember the PRESERVATION OF MY DIGNITY.

"How do you want this? In the cart or in the bottom?"

"In the bottom."

In just one quick thrust it was in and he was straightening up and strolling away.

"Thank you so much!"

"No problem."

{{{ At that moment a clear voice as a bugle in the sunlight broke into the fray: "Of assistance, fair princess, I am full!" "Oh, thank you, sir knight!" cried she, bewildered, as with a jab of a shining sword he slew the wicked giant which did squeeze the life and courage out of her body. "Thank you, most valiant and chivalrous knight!" she again repeated, and then fainted dead away in his arms. And they lived happily ever after. }}}

I was giddy with relief, the horror story ending in a happily ever after. Perhaps not quite happily ever after. After, I felt totally incompetent: bungling into things and forgetting what I had yet to get and which aisle it lay in and heaven knows I couldn't wrangle a twenty-four pack of diet Mountain Dew out of the shelf.

But to be perfectly honest, though romantic chivalries of antiquity can be parodied, true, every day chivalry cannot. I was so grateful for the knight-errant who assisted this damsel in distress and had the kindness not to mention one word about triceps. If such gentlemen, who are full of common courtesy, do actually exist in the world after all, I feel that it is worth being a lady. Not, of course, that I'm terribly proud of the fact that I cannot handle a bag of dog food my size (though I hefted it into the van to prove I wasn't totally incompetent), but I appreciate the gentlemen who open doors, who offer to carry things, who kindly shove bags of dog food under weak and downhearted maidens' shopping carts. To me, any common courtesy from any person is welcome, but there is something special about being assisted by an every-day knight in shining armor.

Gentlemen, my thanks. Fair maidens, do tell your tales of chivalry, ladyhood and the knights-errant who make it possible.

"You know," my mother said after the fact, "we normally don't get that big a bag of dog food."

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19 impressions

  1. This post made me smile. :) I also appreciate it when guys/men are chivalrous, though it seems to get more rare each day.

    A year or so ago, when I was interning at a child care center for a class, a young dad and his son (about 4 years old) were waiting to be let in the door when I walked up. When someone opened the door, he held it open for me. His son tried to go through, but he said, "No, let her go in first." I thought it was nice that some fathers out there are teaching chivalry. :)


  2. Three cheers for chivalrous men! When a guy does something like hold a door open for me, I remember it fondly for a very long time. =)
    Sadly, despite that, I haven't got very many tales of chivalry to tell. There IS one from a few years back. It's kind of funny.
    My family and I went to the library one day, and there was a guy sitting just inside the door who got up to open it for us. The thing was, due to our different walking speeds (and different degrees of impatience to reach the books ;-) the poor guy had to open the door over five different times!
    When we compared notes later, we had each told him thank you, and his response to our thanks (all five times) was, "No problem!"
    It's kind of amusing to imagine the same scenario happening to him five times in a row. ;-)
    I loved this story! Thanks for sharing!

  3. That's got to be my favorite post yet. Especially the epilogue.

  4. OH my word!!! What a perfect blog post to start my day with! Common courtesy has been lost in our culture (though women can't totally blame the men... we played our part trying to proove how independant and capable we are).

    God has blessed me in that the young man I'm courting is a wonderful gentleman underneath his tough, outdoorsman, western self. His mission right now is to remember to open car doors for me. :)

    I would like to join you in thanking the guys that ARE practicing chivalry! They are a breath of fresh air.

    Thanks for brightening my day with this post, Bailey!!! Have a wonderful day!


  5. What a wonderful story of Everyday Adventures in Grocery Shopping! You're my heroine for helping me with the daunting task of large-family shopping each week--it cuts the shopping time in half and there's no way I could push/pull 2 carts by myself.

    Thank goodness for that nice man/knight in shining armour!

    You know, the whole dog food retrieval adventure was probably captured on the security camera. Now that's a scene I would like to see.


  6. I was once told that chivalry is dead. My automatic reply was, "Not while I'm alive." The saddest part is that I heard it from one of my own siblings. I thought I had been raised the same as my siblings but if our views differ so much, I begin to disbelieve that. Surprisingly, I later heard the same statement from one of the least likely people to believe he's chivalrous. It's nice to know that Arthurian chivalry still exists.

  7. I read this aloud to my sister. Tears did floweth at thy touching tale.

    Not really...we were cracking up. This is great...you're great. Keep up the good wording.


  8. Love the last lime of this story! I laughed out loud. :-D

    The whole thing was clever and fun to read. I liked how the poor princess was surrounded by pictures of slobbering beasts.

    The whole chivalry thing is a complicated issue for me. I actually consider myself a feminist. I work full-time for a corporation. I am the only woman on my team and, because I work in IT, this is not the first time this has been the case. I certainly don't want to be discriminated against because I am female, but if I am honest with myself, women and men are not the same and not just physically either.

    Here is my tale of chivalry.
    When my husband and I were dating and I was in college if I left his place after dark he would always always walk me back to my room even though that meant he had to turn around and walk all the way back home by himself. Many's the time I would protest that I was perfectly fine going home by myself and he did not need to walk all that way just to accompany me, but he would insist saying he would not feel right letting me walk by myself. It made me feel very valued and protected.

    Thanks for sharing your story.


  9. Hahaha! That was great...didn't want it to end! You are the only person I know who can turn a shopping trip into a fairy tale!

  10. Oh Bailey. You know how to make me laugh loudly and heartily.

    Loved the prose and moral and everything. As usual, you are fantastic.


    P.S. The epilogue is my favorite part. :)

  11. Haha, this is good. I agree that when men are chivalrous, it feels worth while to be a lady. God bless, and keep blogging. I love reading it.
    P.S. Aren't little sisters fun? Though I've never been mistaken for my little sister's mother. :)

  12. Mother dear, that is a horrible thought and just something that would happen to me. (Actually, I have this niggling idea that Walmart personnel wait for me to walk through the door and then crowd around the monitors for the day's entertainment.)

    Tuathal -- Thank you. Chivalry is not dead and will not die because it is not a code to wither away to archaity: it is engrained in the hearts of all true men, and the hearts of all true men will never die. They are too strong.

    Everly -- Funny story. When I saw your name (or screen name, whichever) on Jasmine Baucham's blog -- or was it Jessica McDonald's? -- I immediately was going to steal it and use it for a story. I was obsessed with it. I spent a whole thirty minutes hunting through either of those ladies' followers boxes just to make sure I spelled it right.

    And here you are commenting on my blog. I love how blogging does that to you. :o)

    Shelby and Adele -- The last line is my favorite too. It was actually an afterthought that almost didn't make it.

  13. First off, this is the first time I've laughed outloud during one of your posts. You were reading though, so I don't think you noticed my giggles.

    Secondly, I feel very guilty, because I was mistaken for Caroline's mum, and I didn't have enough time to correct the person.

    And thirdly, *said with humbleness*...

    Darling. Dog food bags aren't that heavy -- but since I ruined my wrist, I'll tell you right now I can't lift one.

    Fourthly, why on earth didn't you tell me story sooner?

    Fifthly, @ Mum - - we really should call Wal Mart and see if they caught it on tape.

  14. I would agree that chivalry is not dead. My daddy is a wonderful gentleman. He is always opening doors for us and stuff. It always thrills me to see or have gentlemen do kind things like mentioned! Loved this story( love you too)!

  15. Haha...that *is* a funny story! I am honored to have been noticed by a blogger I esteem so highly! It had to have been Jasmine's blog, by the way, and Everly Pleasant is my pen name. It was actually going to be a girl in a story *I* was writing, and I tossed the story and saved the name! Haha...

    Good to "meet" you. :)


  16. I read this first thing this morning and have been smiling every time I thought of it throughout the day.

    The heroine and the chivalrous gentleman have my utmost admiration. They have also garnered the respect of my twin sister who read and enjoyed their story as well. :)

    **thunderous applause**

  17. Deliciously delightful! I loved it, Bailey, and the epilogue was the perfect ending.

  18. Here's one of my favorite chivalry stories. My mom, sister and I were coming out of McDonald's just as two boys of about eleven and twelve were going in. They both got hold of the door and held it open for all three of us. It made my heart melt. I'm glad there are going to be two more chivalrous men in the world!

  19. Hilarious! Especially the epilogue.:-) Thanks for posting, especially when it must have been quite hard for you to recall and recite such a traumatic experience of woe. ;-)


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