The Courtesy Kick

April 27, 2009
From TV Guide, December 1-7, 1956

George Burns Picks His Funniest Monolog for TV Guide Readers

img019Now Gracie is on a courtesy kick.  I know what you’re supposed to do.  If you invite a lady for dinner, when she enters the room, you jump up, then you run around the table and hold her chair for her…  When she leaves you run around the table again and pull out her chair… then you run and get her coat and help her on with it… then you run and get a cab and help her into it…  Only trouble is, when you’re old enough to know what to do, you’re not young enough to be able to do it…  Women expect too much.  They want all the courtesies of their sex and all the privileges of our sex.  They want us to treat them like women, yet they dress like men.  It feels kind of funny giving up your seat to a woman who’s wearing pants…  Please don’t think I’m talking about women behind their backs.  I’d say the same things to Gracie’s face… except for one thing: She’d say something and get a laugh, and I wouldn’t…  Harry Morton has the right idea.  Once Blanche asked him why he didn’t send her flowers and candy like he did before they were married, he’d send her candy every day…  Believe me, I know all about etiquette.  If you pull out a chair for a lady, she can tell you’re a gentleman.  And if you want to tell if she’s a lady, pull out the chair while she’s sitting on it, and listen to what she says…  A man can be too chilvarous.  I know one fellow from the Virginia branch of The Friars Club… Buford Frampton.  He is very courteous and has a charming Southern drawal.  His wife takes advantage of that.  She says, “Buford, I need a new dress.”  And by the time he says “I’m sorry, honey.  I just can’t afford it,” she’s bought the dress, worn it, and it’s already out of style…

I’ve always been very polite to Gracie.  Of course, some of the couteous things I did before we were married would look silly if I did them now.  For instance, when we went to dinner together, and it was time to pay the check, I always opened her purse for her… I don’t see what’s so great about a fellow standing up when there’s a woman in the room.  My brothers and I always stood when my mother was in the room.  In fact, so did my mother.  We only had one chair, and my father had that…  But we had manners in my house.  Most parents have to tell their children not to talk with food in their mouths.  But not us.  There were 12 in my family, and if you stopped to talk, the other 11 would grab your food…  Once I said to my oldest brother, “Give me the salt for my meat.”  And he did, too.  He took my meat and I ended up with a plate full of salt…  I was only kidding.  We all had good manners.  Especially my father.  He wore a bathrobe and a derby hat to the shower.  The bathroom was out in the hall, and he wore the hat so he could tip it to any ladies waiting in line….

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