"And what can I do for you gentlemen today?"
Both of the men I directed the question to immediately gave me slightly cocky smiles and perceptibly straightened their posture. The extra middle age body mass that had accumulated around their middles sucked in and the wrinkled T-shirts they wore relaxed slightly in the places they were stretched. Ah-ha, I thought, my theory is working.
My theory is this: if I call the male persons who I wait on in the restaurant 'gentlemen', they will at least think about being a gentleman, even if their conduct really doesn't match the description of that auspicious title.
Though some men that I wait on disagree with my theory, they nonetheless find themselves succumbing to it. All I have to do is introduce the concept 'gentlemen' in a question about their beer, and suddenly the knight, the protector, the chivalry is awakened deep inside them. Suddenly it is an expression of their manliness when they order their lunch or let me re-fill their drink. It certainly makes waiting on them easier. And the tips aren't too bad either.
I possess the power to make the male species gentlemen. And even if they don't stay that way after they walk out the door, I will have had gentlemen sitting at my table for a half hour.