My Son The G-Man

Dear Michael,

Over the years, without realizing it, maybe even without suspecting it, you’ve turned into one. It’s as important as anything else you might be. It’s something I’ve always tried to be and wanted you to be, too.

A gentleman.

Now, I know what that must sound like to you. Some old-fashioned idea about a guy in a tuxedo with pomaded hair who bows before young ladies and tosses off bon mots with ease.

No.

By gentleman I mean something unrelated to class or wealth or breeding, something beyond stereotype and caricature, something eternal.

Let’s start with the concept of decency. To me the most essential mark of a gentleman is decency. And I consider you to be decent, a key characteristic in my book.

Decency means you carry yourself with respect and loyalty and integrity and honor. It means you tell the truth and consider the welfare of others and try to do right. And you do so less for personal advancement than because it comes naturally to you.

Decency is treating everyone equally, whether CEO or doorman, and lending a hand to others, whether colleagues or the homeless, and appreciating the hand you’ve drawn in life, whatever it might be, and making your best effort, either in the classroom or the karaoke bar, and trying, however hard it seems, to think well of others and speak well of others.

I know. It sounds like basic Boy Scout pablum. It might as well come out of some chapter in the Old Testament.

But that’s what I’ve come to believe about being a gentleman. In my heart of hearts, because I’ve known you now for 25 years, I see you as one yourself. And it makes me as proud of you as anything else. And bodes well for you, too.

Because here’s something else I’ve come to believe. Once a gentleman, always a gentleman.

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