“Gentility is what is left over from rich ancestors after the money is gone.” – John Ciardi
What a nice way of explaining what real ‘class’ means.
It is indeed a matter of gentility. It is a manner of being that gets into the bone marrow from early years. It becomes a part of you. It is a way of relating to people and the world. It is not ‘taught’ or ‘put on.’
It is like so many other aspects of this life; you know it when you see it. You recognize it and feel the difference from those that are without it.
While it is true that growing up in a family with money you learn certain behaviors and ways of acting, that is not the whole story. You do take for granted that money is not a problem and the fear or need to earn money is not a big concern as it is for most of the people in the world. That alone allows for an attitude of comfort and ease.
It shows you the world and how to see it through travel. It sends you to the ‘right’ schools, and has you meeting and being comfortable with people like you.
It shows you how to set a table, (no ketchup bottles on it), and what silver ware to use with what foods. Cloth napkins are there; not paper. You learn about wines and foods and how to converse with ease.
You are above all else taught manners.
All of this doesn’t mean you cannot learn over time, experience, and observation how to do all of this, but it is not ingrained automatically from the start.
Now it is true there are some people who can ‘affect’ class and come across as if they were to the manor born, however with the right questions you can learn it is an affectation and not the real McCoy.
Certain clubs will only admit people who come from a certain background with the ‘right’ ancestors. I had a friend who was listed in the famous ‘400’ but was dirt poor. She had the right name! That can also be a problem.
Being elite is easier in America where money can buy you ‘in.’ Some other countries do not have this luxury.
It is also true some born into a certain group choose to reject it at some point in their lives; for a variety of reasons. These can include rebellion, a partner, or a feeling of discomfort.
While most people with true ‘class’ are egalitarian, polite, and kind, many are ‘hung up’ in a number of areas. They can’t let loose a lot.
Others can abuse their station in life and look down on others, be condescending and behave nastily. They can do gross things and behave in really awful ways. They have the ‘name’ and think that’s all they need.
Most people who are ‘classy’ are cultured and know about the world of literature, art, and music. They have been exposed and it has gotten into their skin, so to speak.
Being refined is dignified and respectful. You even dress the part. Years ago, a particular group came to dinner in evening dress every night! We are a LONG way from that.
Today’s working women have no time to cook, polish silver or write personal thank you notes with a fountain pen…….
This generation can’t even spell and uses computers for that among other things.
What is observable in little gestures is obvious to those in the know. It is the behavior that is ‘instinctual’ as it is part and parcel of the individual.
Once at the beach I saw a man I knew who was extremely wealthy stand at the water’s edge and watch a woman he knew casually, struggle to get out of the ocean. He never offered a hand to help. That said it all.
Little things show it all the time.
When you have it; you have it… that’s all there is to it.
Sadly ‘class’ is missing today in so many instances.
It requires caring and being there for others when it counts. It requires discipline and not saying whatever you think, or hurtful things intentionally. It is a ‘manner’ that exudes and lets others know you are not spontaneous and out of control. Yes, that takes a lot of fun out of life but it is not for having fun that people with ‘class’ hold on to it.
Can you have ‘class’ and be a free spirit? You can but it takes being aware and balancing the two aspects.
The other part of this is that those who have this quality don’t have to struggle and fight to be successful. They don’t have to push or claw their way up; they are there.
Class will always tell and you know what it is and you know how people with it act. It can be an acquired taste and that takes time and attention.
It is quiet and never outspoken, gaudy, or in your face. It just IS.
“Society can exist only on the basis that there is some amount of polished lying and that no one says exactly what he thinks.” – Lin Yutang
What does ‘class’ mean to you? Do you or anyone you know have it? Is it a good thing