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Puddle-Covering Chivalry

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Waldo: So I took off my jacket and put it over the puddle, so Maxine’s feet wouldn’t get all muddy.
Eddie: Ahh, nice move. Very gallant.
Maxine: And then he picked up the jacket and wrapped it around my shoulders.
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A trope Older Than Print: a man notices an attractive lady confronted with a puddle of water or mud. In a gesture that shows he's a true gentleman he takes off his coat or his cloak and puts it over the puddle so that the woman can walk across without becoming wet and ruining her shoes. Given that women's shoes at the time were often quite fragile and delicate, while men's coats often were intended to be robust, warm, thick, and suitable for heavy outdoors use, and that recently-fallen rainwater was much cleaner in the days before heavy industry and ubiquitous, filth-spreading automobiles large and small, this is less crazy than it sounds. On the other hand, the ubiquity of the horse, especially in urban areas, would have made this quite a bit less attractive.

A Dead Horse Trope, nowadays this will almost always be Played for Laughs and/or subverted. Having the coat conceal a manhole or other hazard she promptly sinks into seems to be a popular joke.

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Compare the slightly less dead Helping Granny Cross the Street.

Subtrope of Old-School Chivalry and Women Are Delicate.


Examples

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    Advertising 
  • This Hamlet cigar advert is a parody of the Sir Walter Raleigh / Queen Elizabeth I story: the puddle turns out to be several feet deep and Queen Elizabeth sinks into it completely.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Berserk, a variation occurs where Griffith lays his cloak over the edge of a stone fountain so that the tired Princess Charlotte can sit there.

    Comics 
  • In an Archie comic, dumb jock Moose pushes Archie into a puddle when his girlfriend Midge is concerned about stepping in the water when crossing the street.
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    Films — Animated 
  • In Corpse Bride, Mayhew lays his coat over a puddle so that Victor's mother can step across it. Though in his case it's likely less that he was being chivalrous of his own accord and more like he was just following an unspoken order.
  • In the Disney adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod helps a woman cross a puddle in this way.
  • A non-romantic example on Trolls: As King Peppy leads the Trolls' escape from the Bergens, he lays down pieces of his clothing to cover up puddles for the other trolls to cross. Eventually, he's down to his underwear, and he loses those after they're caught on a Bergen's shovel.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Hard Day's Night. Ringo Starr takes off his coat to help a woman cross a puddle, but it turns out to be a manhole and she plummets down into the sewer.
  • Played for laughs in Buster Keaton's silent movie The Balloonatic. Attempting to exhibit a most basic form of chivalry, Buster puts his coat over a puddle in front of a curb where a woman appears to be wanting to cross. Then a car pulls up atop his jacket, the woman gets into the car and it drives off. She was simply waiting for a ride. For his efforts, Buster's coat is now sopping wet and torn by the car wheels that rode over it.
  • Also played for laughs in Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd. The duo stop to help a woman in this manner. Costello puts his vest down, she steps off the curb...and sinks waist deep in mud.
  • In Shakespeare in Love, Queen Elizabeth (Judi Dench) stops in front of a puddle and looks for help. All the guys hesitate and then reach to throw their jackets down for her. But she loses patience and just steps in the mud.
  • In Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) makes his presence known to the Queen by throwing his expensive cloak to cover a puddle in the street. The scene is a Shout-Out to The Virgin Queen (1955) (same scene, same characters).

    Literature 
  • Used in a slightly different way in the Belisarius Series: at one point Shakuntala and her handmaidens—disguised as dancers in elaborate clothing—have to pass through a room that has just been cleared of assassins...and is awash in blood. Her bodyguards, in order to move the women out as quickly as possible without ruining their disguises, position the bodies across the bloody floor as a bridge. Shakuntala is the only one able to cross without flinching.

    Live Action Television 
  • In a sketch on Dave Allen at Large, Raleigh puts his coat over a puddle for the queen, only for her to fall into a several feet deep puddle, disappearing.
  • Benny Hill did this once for a girl: unfortunately the "Puddle" turned out to be quicksand, into which the unfortunate girl sank like a stone.
  • In the Diff'rent Strokes episode "Short But Sweet", Arnold is inspired by the Sir Walter Raleigh legend to do this for a girl at his birthday party.
  • Hilariously—then heartwarmingly—invoked on Family Matters. Eddie's friend Waldo goes on a date with Laura's friend Maxine. He tells Eddie about the date afterwards; he placed his jacket on a mud puddle so she could cross...then picked up the jacket and placed it on her afterwards. When he realized what he'd done, he rolled in the puddle so they would match. Maxine, who is telling Laura about the date at the same time, was genuinely touched by this despite his stupidity, and they became the Beta Couple for the rest of the series.
  • In an episode of F Troop, a soldier does this for a visiting general and is instantly promoted, much to the fury of his captain and NCO who had to wait years to earn their ranks. Worse, he uses one of their jackets to do so.
  • The Monkees use this technique when teaching Peter romantic etiquette. When it's his turn to try it, he takes his girlfriend's coat instead of his own.

    Music 

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Betty Boop short "The Old Man of the Mountain" a bear takes off his fur coat to help Betty cross a puddle.
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • In "The Truce Hurts", where Spike, Tom and Jerry are trying to be friends, Spike removes his fur and covers a mud puddle for Tom and Jerry.
    • In "Touche, Pussycat", after Jerry falls face first into a puddle, his protege Tuffy uses Jerry's cape to allow a passing lady mouse dry passage using the cape and Jerry's body.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle subverts this. In a Peabody's Improbable History segment about Sir Walter Raleigh, Mr. Peabody and Sherman see a still shot of Sir Walter laying down a coat for Queen Elizabeth, presumably to cover a puddle for her to cross over, however, after doing so, we see Sir Walter removing the coat to reveal street graffiti, reading, "LIZ IS A SHNOOK!", that he wrote.
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry does a more believable variation of this on his date, stepping into a puddle so he can help Leela cross it without getting her boots wet.
    • He later does this again in "A Farewell To Arms". Being Fry, he, for reasons known only to him, instead takes off his pants, rather than his jacket.
  • In the opening wraparound of the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Here's Hamton", Hamton places a shirt over a puddle so Shirley can cross over it. When Shirley steps on the shirt, she falls through the puddle as if it were a trap door.
  • Discussed on Clarence, "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend." Clarence practices chivalry with Sumo to impress his new girlfriend; they go to a puddle and Sumo instructs him to throw his coat over it. "What's maybe something you could do? Maybe something you've seen on TV?" Clarence doesn't take the hint.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Best Night Ever", Rarity and her date Prince Blueblood come upon a puddle. Rarity thinks Blueblood will do this for her. Instead, he takes her coat so that he can walk across on it.
  • An episode of The Charlie Brown And Snoopy Show has Charlie Brown reminiscing on a time he put down a coat for himself...only to slip on it and fall in the puddle anyway.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode, "The Bully Code", After Baljeet saves Buford's life and Buford becomes his servant, Buford covers up a puddle so Baljeet can cross over it. He covers up the puddle with Baljeet's own overalls, which he yanked right off him.
  • In CatDog, Winslow has blackmailed Cat into becoming his slave, and he makes Cat lay his body on top of a mud puddle so he can walk across without ruining his new shoes. Afterwards, Winslow calls over a whole line of people so they can walk across Cat as well.
  • The Sheep in the Big City episode "Fleeced to Meet You" shows Sheep using himself to cover up a puddle so that several old women don't have to step in it to cross the street.
  • In the Gravedale High episode "Cleo's Pen Pal", monster actor Billy Headstone attempts to be courteous to Duzer (whom he's mistaken for Cleo because she sent Duzer's picture) by using his cape to cover up a puddle. Duzer dismisses his action as "corny".

    Real Life 
  • One of the earliest uses of this story can be found in the 16th century, where a writer claims Sir Walter Raleigh helped queen Elizabeth I cross a puddle in this manner. Historians are almost sure this anecdote never happened at all. The story of the cloak and the mud puddle probably originated with historian Thomas Fuller, who was known for embellishing facts.
  • British Labour politician Stephen Pound did this in 2007.

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