Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How-To Book Review

I just read a smart little book by John Bridges called How To Be A Gentleman: A Contemporary Guide To Common Courtesy. Essentially, it’s a litany of gentlemanly proverbs loosely compiled into a handbook. Reading through them all at once, it becomes clear that being a gentleman is basically about two things. First, being completely dedicated to making the lives of others easier. And second, when all things are equal, executing the proper techniques in refinement.

You can essentially apply those two concepts and a little common sense and score a near perfect on a gentlemanly quiz. Still, I did find a handful to be rather enlightening. Such as:

“A gentleman says ‘thank you’ on paper, and ‘I’m sorry’ on the phone.”

“A gentleman feels no obligation to wear socks after Memorial Day…”

“A gentleman introduces youngest to oldest first.” And “A gentleman introduces an unmarried couple as individuals. Avoiding phrases like ‘…and this is her live-in boyfriend/homosexual companion/lover’”

“A gentleman never says ‘If there’s anything I can do…’ Instead of placing the burden on the unfortunate to ask for help he makes a specific offer of assistance.”

“A gentleman always carries plenty of singles. You always want to be prepared to leave a tip or to help someone who is unprepared to leave one.”

“A gentleman never instigates a handshake with a lady. Though he accepts and does so gently and quickly.”

“A gentleman never wears a button down shirt with a bow tie.”

“When pouring wine form a bottle, a gentleman turns it slightly as he finishes to avoid dripping”

“A gentleman doesn’t brag, whine or make idle threats.”

However, I also have to take issue with a few of his points. For various personal reasons I don’t plan on conforming to these standards any time soon.

“A gentleman tucks his undershirt into his underpants.”

“A gentleman doesn’t waste time with pilsner or beer glasses, the can or bottle will do”
First of all, I strongly disagree. And I happen to have a very elaborate collection of beer glasses that I’m quite proud of.

“A gentleman does not lean back in his chair.”
I can agree with this to a point. No slouching and chair tipping, but putting up your feet and leaning back is one of life’s great pleasures.

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