Define: Courtly

Back in September, I asked for a word for someone who accepts chivalry. We had a lively discussion in the comments about what that person would be called.

It’s a very specific skill, really. Not everybody knows how to move when someone else is pulling out your chair, slipping your jacket onto your shoulders, how to navigate a door being opened for you, how to wait until the car door is unlocked. It takes a lot of consciousness about what is happening around you, and between you and the chivalrous person.

Many folks liked “gracious” as a word to describe those who receive chivalry, but I feel like it’s not specific enough. It has another definition and commonplace usage in our culture, so the word wouldn’t stand out as being used with this intentional meaning in conversation.

Which is why I really like the word “courtly.” (Thanks to Femme Gender for suggesting it!)

Court·ly: adjective.
Receiving chivalry and politeness with graceous skill.
Example: “That sub boy I went out with last night was really courtly, it was fun to have the foreplay start with chivalry.”

Court·li·er: noun.
A person who receives chivalry with politeness with graceous skill.
Example: “When the courtlier rises from the table, it is customary for the chivalrer to also rise.”

Here’s why I like this word:

  1. Courtly is uncommon in daily speech, so it stands out. If used in conversation with someone who isn’t familiar with it as a term for receiving chivalry, it will be different enough for that person to be able to ask, “what do you mean, ‘courtly’?”
  2.  It has an archaic quality, yes; it reminds us of the royal courts (and reminds me specifically of the historical stories of British knights and kings and queens). But I like that, especially because many people see chivalry as archaic as well, so they kind of match. Plus, I think there is some reclamation of these terms that has to be done and explained in order to use them consciously.
  3. Definitions of the term “courtly” relate mostly to manners, elegance, refinement, and politeness, which isn’t specifically what I mean, but it’s definitely related. Much of chivalry is about manners and awareness, and I think being courtly is too.
  4. It also relates to the term “courtship,” that dance that we do when we’re interested in another person, courting each other into a relationship. I like the connection of chivalry and courtliness to courting and courtship.

This also pulls a little on the idea of chivalry as consensual – I think it’s important to have enough awareness over chivalrous acts that you stop opening doors, holding umbrellas, rising when the courtlier stands at a table, if the person in question does not like to be treated that way.

“Hey, I’m not courtly,” s/he can say. “I don’t like being treated that way. No offense, but knock it off.”

Having a word for the position of accepting it, aside from the acknowledgement that accepting chivalry is a skill that, for most of us, must be studied, acknowledges that some folks may prefer not to be in that position, may prefer not to be courtly.

tear you apart

My retaliation mix for Miss DD went out into the mail yesterday, but unfortunately I didn’t realize that she can’t actually get the mail on Thursday, she’ll be occupied by being on a plane to come see me. So here’s praying it comes in the mail tomorrow.

Why did I not send it overnight? Dammit dammit dammit.

I’m keeping a lid on the tracklist until she actually gets it, but I want to share this one particular with you, track #12 from the mix how much my heart can take.

UPDATE: Looks like the embedded video isn’t working; meanwhile, watch the video on YouTube.

Lyrics in the ‘continued’ page.

your love will not be light and gay

Thanks for all the lovely comments on those last few posts; I have plenty to say about this crush, this long-distance romance, the desires of courtship, of getting to know someone.

But! Amidst the ridiculous sappy love shit, I have a new erotica story I am particularly excited about, and that’ll be up later today. It’s called The Houseboy’s Rebellion and it is, of course, written for Miss DD. Custom smut is so much fun.

I also want to make a few announcements.

#1:

Welcome my lovely friend Ariel? Ariel!; she’s posting brilliant rhetoric on things like radical love, where she asks: what do you owe the person you fuck? What to do with the friends with whom you have ambiguous boundaries or desires? Among other things:

I believe in lightning bolt love. I really do. Right down to the soles of my feet. I talk about polyamory and nonmonogamy but really if I found someone who lightning bolted my heart to the sky I wonder if these would become theoretical discussions.

… Oh I just love her turns of phrase. More over at Ariel? Ariel!

#2:

You may’ve noticed the facelift on Miss Avarice‘s lovely blog recently, I’ve meant to mention it, specifically the header image, which I designed. And I can indeed confirm that those are Miss A’s shoes – specifically, the shoes she braved New York City subways in when she visited me (ahem, I mean, this fine city) in October.

#3:

While I’m linking, I may as well mention that Miss DD made me a mix CD this week, complete with the cover image of my hands bound together in her leather wrist cuffs. (Yes, I sent her some of the photographs she took of me.)

The mix is really lovely (whole tracklist is posted over at her chronicles), and tells a story from the opening track “I’m Not in Love” (the Tori version, of course) to “Think I’m in Love” in the middle, to “This is Love” by PJ Harvey as the closing song. But? It also has “Come to Daddy,” “Nasty Little Thoughts,” “Smack my Bitch Up,” and “Crazy Bitch,” so clearly it is not all sappy ridiculousness.

Kinda like us. Go figure.

She wrote these things as her game-plan strategy, yesterday:

  1. let myself be excited about you while maintaining some realism
  2. enjoy the moment and not try to control or predict outcomes, but also not put any expectations on this (the “be present and mindful” strategy)
  3. date when i want to but not for distraction
  4. back off the emotional rollcoaster a bit and just focus on accepting this for what it is

And today, I keep coming back to that list, articulate and succinct, attempting to really feel it in my heart, not just know it in my head.

The Muse – my best friend here in New York, another femme spy, if you will, the one who keeps buying me amazingly fantastic ties, the latest being a hot-pink number that is flat at the end instead of pointed (is there a technical word for that style of tie? probably) – The Muse ran our composite charts, and we discovered that we are pretty much astrologically compatible:

… a feeling of “fatedness,” that this relationship is going to play an important role in your lives, even if it is not a long-term relationship. You will be exposed to the most basic and profound aspects of your own and your partner’s inner nature. Both of you will experience psychological changes through this relationship. In a sexual relationship, physical sex assumes an unusual importance. Sex is likely to be seen by both of you as an experience that transcends ordinary reality.

The composite Moon in the twelfth house requires the two of you to do a great deal of work that most couples are unwilling to do. … If you don’t seek out the truth, your relationship will give you the feeling that you have been defeated in life by forces you don’t understand.

In a love relationship, the expression of love will be quite intense, with a powerful quality that will transform both of you in some fundamental way. Your love will not be light and gay but something very serious that involves both of you at all levels of mind, body, and soul.

I wouldn’t necessarily let astrology make or break anything, but I think it’s an interesting tool to give articulacy to the feelings in a relationship, or one’s own sense of self. Strange how it can sometimes feel so spot-on.

She’ll be here next week (six days) for four days. And I’m sending out my own mix CD to her shortly – glad I got hers first, some of the songs actually overlapped.

in no particular order

things I would like to do with you

  1. dress up. take you to your favorite restaurant and order for you. share a fancy bottle of wine. talk all night and take our time with a long, lovely meal. order a decadent dessert and two forks.

  2. hold you while you sleep. your body curved in my arm against me. breathing in your dreams.

  3. fuck you, and make love. perhaps at the same time. perhaps sometimes one right after the other. more than once. more than three times. your back against the wall, on the table, bent over the bed. legs wrapped around me as I come inside you. your head back neck exposed mouth open body open. fingers clasping my shoulderblades. gasping, both of us gasping, breathing in sync, hearts beating in sync.

  4. make you breakfast. watch you stumble downstairs sleepy-eyed in the morning light, skin still lucent and luminous from the moon through the window way past midnight. make you pancakes. eggs. fresh orange juice. coffee. watch you wake and greet the world.

  5. laugh with you. meet your friends. play with your dog. push you on a swingset. watch you fall asleep on my lap while watching a late film. carry you to bed and pull the covers around you.

  6. maybe you’ll hold me while I cry. is that too much? I am currently a tsunami beneath the surface of glass. I worry about breaking the facade for fear of the gush of rushed emotions that will come. it may happen with orgasm regardless. this may be why I won’t be taken so much as I will take.