Paul Kantor, violinist and professor of violin at the Cleveland Institute is a philosopher and I tip all my hats to him.
According to one of his students, an old friend of mine, Prof. Kantor was holding forth on the topic of Manliness in his studio class. Heaven knows why. Violin teachers get side tracked, and Prof. Kantor is a well beloved teacher; a nurturer of souls. There are any number of reasons he would hold forth on this topic. Why doesn’t matter. Behold the wisdom!
“Do you know what the definition of a gentleman is? a man who knows how to play the bagpipes but chooses not to… because we all know how annoying they are.”
Now, I take issue with one point. I like bagpipes. Lots and lots! I like bagpipes made from brocade, and bagpipes made of a goat. I like Scottish bagpipes, and French bagpipes, and Polish bagpipes! I like ’em live, and recorded. As a dance or a lament. I wrote a letter to a Scottish publishing company once to find out what a piper major did. Forgive the violinist. Not all of them are as…broad minded as I.
But please take Prof. Kantor’s meaning. Substitute bagpipes with something annoying. “…a man who knows how to arm pit fart, but chooses not to.” Or whistle The Song That Never Ends. Or leave the toilet seat up.
Substitute bagpipes with anything low brow. ” …a man who’d like to pick his nose but chooses not to… .” Or chews with his mouth open. Or lets his cell phone go off in church.
Substitute bagpipes for anything mean spirited. “…a man with a sharp wit, but chooses not to deploy it, because it would be hurtful”
A gentleman, in short, is a man who consults other’s feelings before his own. A gentleman doesn’t play the bagpipes. Except when I ask him to.