And Who Are You?

The first installment in the Kingsman movie franchise more than earns its subtitle — The Secret Service — via lots of spy action and cool gadgets, but its most honorable and indeed hidden service it performs for us, the watching public: Though Eggsy and his agent-friends are impeccably dressed at all times, they remind us that manners are what “maketh man,” not clothes.

In shifting our attention from one well-known idiom to another, the film teaches us a lesson we seem to keep forgetting: It’s not the outfit that matters, but what’s underneath.

Reader Sue, a Honolulu realtor now in her 70s, had to insist on this lesson many times throughout her life. From sewing her own clothes as a young agent — albeit a real estate rather than a secret one — to being scanned head to toe by local newspaper writers, one experience sticks out above all others.

When she was ten, Sue attended a military function with her parents. Literally there to shake hands with the bigwigs, one well-dressed woman asked her while doing so: “And who are you?” Sue gave the only answer she knew, which, to this day and forevermore, for everyone from Honolulu to Hiroshima, is the only answer that makes sense: “I’m me!”

You are neither your Gucci t-shirt nor your worn-out flip-flops. Be nice, shake hands, but never apologize for your uniqueness. That way, whenever someone asks you, “And who are you?” you’ll have something better to say than, “The guy in the tuxedo” — perhaps even a line as daring as “I’m me!”