Monday, 4 February 2008


It's universally true that Polish men are more polite than English ones. At first this seems cute and exotic. After all, who in the UK kisses us on the hand instead of simply shaking it?! 'A kiss on the hand may be quite Continental', right, girls??

And who indeed, in England, opens doors for you without even questioning? In the UK, this would be a good excuse for a smack in the face:
- Whaddya think I am?? You think I can't get through a door by myself? You think I'm pregnant??? (officially the worst offence against weight-concious Hollywood-aware Brits)

A week or so ago we took our Polish teacher out for a drink or seven (it being the end of semester) and grilled her on Polish customs. She revealed that neither she nor her friends would go anywhere near a guy who refused to open the door for them. No way. Nada. That guy is Officially Out of the running.

The thing I hate most is the Coat-holding thing. Last week, Car Guy had a parapetówka* at his new (currently minimally-furnished) flat. At the end of the evening, one of the girls, unaccompanied, handed her coat over to one of the guys so he could hold it out for her to slip her arms into. Now, this is the kind of mock-chivalrous behaviour I hate-loathe-and-despise more than anything. For heavens' sake. How hard is it to put your own coat on? It simply reminds me of staying at my Granny's house when I was small and unable to work out technical complications such as sleeves.

Just for the record, Car Guy's friends thought him an asshole for several months because I insisted on putting on my coat By Myself.

Just for the record, Car Guy most politely over tea this evening informed me that he has no sentimental connections with me whatsoever.

Thank goodness, I shall be able to put my coat on in peace from here on in.

*House-warming party: 'parapet' is Polish for 'windowsill' cos there's no furniture so that's all there is to sit on.


Anonymous said...

Pani Pinolona
Not actually on topic but … after coming across your fine work and reading through the back issues I became aware of the review on Guardian Abroad. The one suggesting there was too much discussion about Polish language. Hmm. Ridiculous language, sure, but that’s hardly the point. I was so incensed that I submitted my own review, the direct consequnce of which appears to be that the Guardian Abroad site has been completely reworked and all reviews have disappeared. No, really a direct consequence. (Fear my wrath!) Anyway, just wanted to take the opportunity to mention that you are read and enjoyed. Even in far away Australia by people you've never heard of.

Dictor Toolittle said...

Aye, you are read and enjoyed!

The words "cute and exotic" fuse into "quixotic".

PS Would you answer, pls: is it OK to pull chairs away from restaurant tables, for ladies? Restaurant doors, naturally, to be passed through by men first, yes? [I seem to get confused what's politicorrectly polite yet.]

pinolona said...

Thanks guys. I'm having a pretty shitty day: it's nice to have my ego stroked!

dictor: I'm not sure. I'm one of those people who always stalls at doors and then you have that you-first-no-you thing before finally both jamming through the doorway at the same time.
I'd say let the lady go first.

I think it's ok to pull chairs out for ladies, so long as you don't sweep it away when they're just about to sit down. The result might be quite entertaining for people at neighbouring tables, but it won't score you any points where the girl's concerned...

anonymous: thanks, I'll try to keep on your good side! (and I can't find any blog links on the new Guardian Abroad: maybe they decided we were too much trouble...)

Anonymous said...

that's so damn right polish chicks get utterly unimpressed with such behaviour from wusses. nothing works better than roughhouse them .women love it.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. And that's the problem with being anonymous, anyone can play. I must find a non-work computer and get a nickname.

W-wa Jeziorki said...

Car Guy sounds like your regular Polish toss-pot. But then again - do you know ANY English woman (that's 100% non-Polish) with a Polish husband?

I certainly don't!

As Louis Jordan sang, "Birds of a feather stick together/ So get yourself under control/ And let the good times roll"

(* For some strange reason, this rule doesn't work the other way round. I know scores of British/ Irish/American/Australian/Canadian/German/Italian [insert nationality here] men with Polish wives.)

pinolona said...

Thanks W-Wa, you've made my day! 'Regular Polish toss-pot' - I love it.
Sending you a big un-British cyber-kiss on the cheek!
:) Thanks X

Anonymous said...

That's the thing that bothers me about the famed 'Polish manners' they don't seem to actually mean anything. They're just for show. If somebody doesn't know you or feel that they need to impress you (or impress other people by their behavior towards you), they tend to treat you like dirt. It seems to be more important to be seen to have good manners than to actually behave well.

I often get asked for directions by Poles. Does this mean I look like a regular Polish toss-pot?

Btw, the guy is clearly a knob.

Kinuk said...

Not a fan of Polish men. Here, I said it. And am Polish woman (sort of...born here, raised elsewhere). The whole chivalry thingie is sooooo rubbish because the minute you get into a relationship with them, all that disappears and you're left darning his socks (ha!), cooking his dinner (double ha!) and ironing his bloody shirts (triple ha!).

Polish toss-pot, indeed.

And W-wa Jeziorki is right...I know of no foreign woman who is married to a Polish man. A girl at work is married to a Polish man, she was born abroad but to Polish parents. Hence, she doesn't count.

I wonder why this pattern exists? If it continues, pretty soon all the Polish women will be married to foreigners and who will want the Polish men?

Anonymous said...

polish women are the most materialistic in the world, that's why they marry foreigners. All they want is "fast money". I as a Pole love british and german women because they are so much less superficial than the cheap "polish barbies" .

pinolona said...

Ok, enough, enough! This was never meant to be a slanging match! Stop slagging each other off now please. It's not constructive for anyone.

Anonymous said...

i disagree! you're an idiot! :D

Anonymous said...

Well I am a big fan of some Polish men and I tell you some of them are great:)

Usually they are however either gay or married:)) Sorry:))

What anonymous said about Polish women is true to some of them. Having comfortable life with a well established husband - is tempting. And most of all: Polish women are really clever and cunning, and don't have a bloated ego like men. Therefore it is super-easy for them to manipulate men in many ways - which many men can't decipher (or don't mind).

Anonymous said...

I like this coat-cośtam-thing. What a shame - my dad is the only man who does it. The younger generation doesn't.

pinolona said...

Hmm... disagree with you Anon - I just end up getting all twisted up in the sleeves and looking like an idiot!
Actually the guy in this post: Car Guy, the guy that I was dating two years ago, was definitely of the younger generation (albeit a bit old-fashioned) and definitely held out the coat. I met a few guys who did it, not everyone, but a few. But then Kraków is a very conservative city :p