In her Guest Blogger post today, Lorie Sheffer shares a delightfully refreshing day dream – that manners still have a chance in our society.
What has happened to civility and manners? I’m far from being a stuffy person, but I am appalled by the total lack of basic respect we are seeing all around us. From a member of congress screaming out “You lie!” to the President during a speech, to Kanye West’s rude antics during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, it seems that good manners have flown out the window. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe this is what it means to hit middle age, but I longed for someone to step in and show the kids how it’s done. As the song says, I was holding out for a hero.
Which leads me to my love of Mr. Tim Gunn. Tim grabbed my attention the moment I first laid eyes on him. Who was this lanky, silver haired man with the impeccable grooming of Cary Grant and elegance of Gregory Peck? He looked and spoke as if he stepped out of another era. The more I watched the more my fascination grew. He is funny and he is honest. He has a distain for rudeness. His now famous “make it work” applies to many things in life, not just what a designer is creating in the workroom.
A few years ago I had the good fortune to meet Tim Gunn face to face. Tim was just as I had imagined him to be. He smelled of fresh laundry and sunshine. His shirt was a blinding, dazzling white. He was impeccable. He spoke to everyone in the room as though he was the one who was honored to be meeting them. The man radiated warmth and kindness. He made everyone feel at ease. He reminded me of a superhero whose special power is graciousness. I am fairly certain I actually swooned. Tim Gunn is the personification of civility in a world gone wild. Tim Gunn is a gentleman. He calls things as he sees them, but he does so in such a way as to be neither offensive nor boorish.
Recently, Tim made a public service video that is available on Youtube. It was made in response to the recent news of the suicides of gay teens after they had been mercilessly bullied. And what is bullying if not the ultimate in bad manners? Tim’s video is part of the “It gets better” message, and in it he tells of his attempted suicide as a teen struggling with his sexuality. While he may have become known as the mentor to the designers on Project Runway, Tim Gunn has become so much more. Under the guise of something as seemingly superficial as fashion, Tim has become a mentor for manners. Perhaps he is so beloved because he reminds us that kindness and gentility still exist in this crazy world. I recently read a quote by Mr. Gunn that says it all:
“Take the high road. You will never regret it. No matter how much anger and strife you feel you’re facing, no matter how badly you want to lash out, don’t do it. You’ll never regret taking the high road. There isn’t one single time that I’ve lashed out that I haven’t deeply regretted it.”