Some day, some girl is going to thank Chance Evans King's mother for teaching him how to put on the charm.

Raising gentlemen ... and gentle ladies, through the timely teaching of etiquette's finer points

By Nancy Arcayna

We would live in a perfect world if everyone were well-mannered and polite to each other. If only we could take a step back and experience times when chivalry reigned.

Civility takes a back seat when everyone's in a rush.

It's bad enough when adults let good manners lapse, but at least they usually know the difference between good and bad behavior. Trouble is, children learn by emulating their parents.

Lisa Zakar, owner and director at Lisa Rose Dollhouse, noticed that many of the girls she was hosting for tea parties needed help with manners. They didn't know the basics of saying "please" and "thank you," how to drink without slurping, keep their napkins on their laps and keep their elbows off the table.

"Baby boomers feel that women can do anything, so they shunned traditional manners," said etiquette instructor Naomi Lee.

Worse yet, there's a double standard for behavior. Society still expects girls to be ladylike while allowing boys to get away with rough-and-tumble antics. But shouldn't everyone be encouraged to be polite and courteous?

Lee and Zakar encourage boys to attend etiquette classes held at the Dollhouse. "Boys are somewhat embarrassed at first. But once they get going, you can tell they really want to learn," Lee said.

"The classes are not gender-based," Zakar said. "It's really about learning to treat others the way that you want to be treated."

The classes for boys are intended to build self-confidence, and teach basic manners and gentlemanly respect for others. Good sportsmanship, hygiene, grooming and proper introductions are also on the agenda.

"We teach real practical things," Lee said. "The older boys learn how to open doors and to pull up a chair for girls. These are things they need to know because they are going to start dating and going to proms."

Zakar added: "We present everything in a fun, positive and interactive manner. We even discuss the importance of making and keeping friends."

Naomi Lee teaches Justin Lee how to politely hold a chair for Jordan Cooper as Phoebe Fox looks on during a session at the Lisa Rose Dollhouse.

A wait list for boys

Since the Victorian-style tea room setting of the Lisa Rose Dollhouse is feminine, done up in pink and roses, "it's a real big turn-off for the boys," Lee said.

"We don't want only one boy in the class. He would feel really uncomfortable," Lee added. "But boys really need this. Men like to smack when they eat and cut up everything on their plate. The best time to groom boys is when they are young."


Four boys are currently enrolled in the etiquette class. Kelly Evans admitted to bribing her son Chance with a dirt bike to get him to agree to attend etiquette classes. "This is a hard thing for him to do. But, I want him to be a real man," she said.

"My son is 9 years old and he's very active," Evans said. He surfs, is a champion wrestler with the Waikele Wildcats team and enjoys BMX racing, but one thing he has not yet mastered is how to be well-mannered.

"When the elevator door opens, he tends to rush in before the people can even get out," Evans said. "A lot of kids need to control their impulsiveness."

Evans also believes that classes is a good opportunity for boys with single moms. "If boys can learn how to tie their own tie or to pick up something that a girl has dropped, that's great," she said.

The class often covers rules parents may have tried to teach their children. "Sometimes you see a light bulb go on; they're thinking mom and dad must have been right," Lee said.

The boys and girls enjoy a tea party together at the end of the sessions to test their newly acquired skills. "The kids learn so much from role-playing," Lee said. The boys also escort the girls for a final graduation walk.

"It's important for the children to know they are not the only ones on this earth. There are other people around them," Lee said. "When we're in public, we need to be aware of our surroundings." For example, if someone is following close behind, leave the door open for them, hold the elevator door or offer a seat on the bus to a woman or elderly person. "Kids get a kick out of teaching their parents when they go home," Lee said.

Lee grew up on the mainland and experienced a variety of formal dinners with china, crystal and complete place settings. "In Hawaii, its so casual," she said. "There is not a lot of opportunity to learn fine dining. It's paper plates and potluck style, and its hard for a child to learn table manners in these types of settings."

What women want

If a man wants to score some points with women, a display of manners would make a good start. "That's what separates the boys from men," Lee said.

"People say boys will be boys, but that just doesn't work for me. I've been married for four years now, and my husband still opens the car door for me."

Men just don't get it sometimes. The small things are what make most women happy, although women, too, have forgotten to expect little niceties.

In the movie "Kate and Leopold," starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman, modern gal Kate could not begin to comprehend Leopold's actions. He stood up when she left the table or entered the room and gallantly courted her. Today, girl power and women's liberation have robbed women of the chivalry they deserve.

Charlene Wong, a student at the University of Hawaii, said a little pampering "would be nice, but I don't expect it."

"The older days of chivalry are gone," Wong said. "When we're crossing the street, my boyfriend doesn't make sure that I'm on the inside, so that I don't get hit by cars."

Wong said she notices some men doing the obvious things, like letting a women walk ahead of them or holding a door open, but she doesn't think most girls even know this was once expected.

Allison Martin, a 17-year-old student at Castle High School, said: "One of my guy friends opens the door for himself and lets it slam in our faces. My friend and I made such a big deal about it, he finally caught on. We trained him.

"In older generations, they taught manners," she said. "I don't know many people with good manners, and it's sad. I think it's the way people are brought up. We are not accustomed to people being polite."

Her prom date this year "didn't open the door and I pulled my chair out myself," but she claims that was fine.

"I don't expect a guy to open my car door or pull out my seat. I can do it myself," she said. "I don't think girls are helpless. It's not like the olden days when the guys had to do everything. A girl can even ask a guy out now, so why can't she open the door for him?"

Even so, Martin admits that the etiquette she's learned while working part-time at Lisa Rose Dollhouse now makes it impossible to ignore a man's manners. Martin said simple and courteous gestures are always appreciated, even when they come from a stranger.

Etiquette Classes For Kids

Place: Lisa Rose Dollhouse, corner of Nuuanu Avenue and Vineyard Boulevard
Cost: $99 for a four-week session
Call: 528-4552 or visit
class times

>> 9 to 10:15 a.m. Saturdays, Oct. 12 to Nov. 2, for the Teacups, ages 5 to 9
>> 9 to 10:15 a.m. Saturdays, Sept. 14 to Oct. 5, or 4:40 to 5:45 p.m. Fridays, Sept. 27 to Oct. 25, for the Teapots, ages 10 to 13

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