Tag Archives: Etiquette

Where are the manners?

Every now and then an email comes in that’s the exact right email for what’s going on in my life. That happened Friday. I’d had an incident earlier in the day that had me seething with rage, and his email hit right home. So, first, the email, then I’ll tell you what happened, and then you’ll get my two cents. Sounds like a plan, no?

I was wondering if there was a certain age where teenagers or adults realise that manners are important and can learn to appreciate them? Because I’ve been trying my whole life (I’m still a teenager, but still) to be a gentleman (opening doors for others, asking if the elderly need help, speaking politely, etc.) and to be helpful as much as possible, but it seems that it is not appreciated at all. So far throughout a few years of high school, I’ve tried to help others boost their marks with assistance on their homework, but they can’t seem to understand that others have morals and won’t cheat for them. (again, turning into a rant i suppose..)

I guess I’m really just sending this email to ask another’s opinion about manners and whether or not it is truly appreciated in today’s society. I’ve asked a few teenage girl friends and they say that it is good to have manners and it’s something important they look for, yet I see them going out with lowlife guys who are despicable and need to learn manners. Is this just a teenage thing to do that you overcome later on and realise it’s importance and learn to be grateful for it? Or is it completely dependant on the people’s standards they’ve set.

Now, what happened to me the other day was when I was riding over to my brother’s place. He and I live in absolute opposite ends of the city — he in the most northeastern section, I in the most northwestern section. I work smack dab in the middle, downtown, and between there and my brother’s is 30-square blocks of what’s essentially some of the poorest and most underprivileged in Canada. If you know where to avoid, you can go without ever seeing any of these people.

I don’t try to avoid it, I just go through. I always see really tragic things when I do and it keeps me appreciating the little I have. This time, though, I was stopped at a light and this old guy, about 70, was in a wheelchair, completely unable to use his hands, and could only pull himself forward using the toes on his right foot. He was literally moving about 2 feet a minute. Naturally, the light turned red with him in the middle of the street, and I got a solid green light to go. Meanwhile, he’s stopped, looks like he’s about to cry from exhaustion, just can’t go any further, and all these fucking people are walking past, ignoring him.

I was in a RAGE. I pulled my scooter over, got off, cursed, “You people ought to fucking help! Where the hell are manners gone?” Then I leaned over to the man and said, “May I push you across the street, sir?” And he went soft with relief. He just sighed, “Please?”

I had a bit of an argument with a couple punks on the corner after that, who seemed to think I was flaming them, and yeah, you know, I was. Just fucking standing there, doing nothing.

When I got over to my brother’s place, I saw my nephew standing there, and I sat him down. I said, “If you ever see a little old lady or a little old man who can’t get across the street or they’re taking too long, you HELP them. You hear me?”

I made sure he knew the distinction between “stranger danger” and helping a senior citizen who really does need the help. After all, that’s how I was taught.

In MY world, I was raised to help people. I was raised to give a hand and do the right thing. I was taught to say please and thank you, and I was told to hold doors open for others.

And I KNOW life moves fast, and I KNOW people are more rushed than they used to be. You know what? I don’t give a fuck. *I* find the time to still be polite. I find the time to thank people and make pleasant small talk. Why the hell don’t they?

So, kid, I say keep going. The thing about being a polite person and not behaving politely just because you’re not getting it in return is that you start to get bitter about it. It changes you. Cynicism finds you and apathy makes a home in you. Stay true to the person you are. Help others, be polite. You’ll one day be surrounded by a better class of people, by people who appreciate that in who you are. It will be a deciding factor on the kinds of engagements you’re invited to and the kinds of experiences you have. You’re still a kid, you’re in high school, and you’re stuck in a social world you have little say in. In a few years, that all changes.

I know I will not date a man who has no manners. I will watch how he behaves and treats others, and I’ll note whether he expresses gratitude for the little things I say and do for him, and if I don’t like what I see, I will walk.

Life’s too short to be with people who just don’t understand basic human decency. I figure that eliminates about 60% of the world from eligibility for my bed, but whatever. I’m fine with having high standards. Are you?

All About Oral: Odor, Etiquette, and Why Some Women Don’t Want It

So, I received an interesting email recently, and the reader had this to ask:

I was wondering what your opinion is on oral sex etiquette. For guys AND girls, is one obliged to kiss someone who just finished going down on you? If your partner doesn’t feel like swallowing, what should he do about his come?

Personally, I can’t wait to kiss a guy who’s just gone down on me. I’m not really sure why it is, but I like to think that a) it shows my appreciation, and b) he finds it hot. Similarly, if I go down on a guy, I also can’t wait to kiss him afterwards. I find those kisses the hottest, most intense a kiss can get. I look forwards to them every time. Besides, planting a smacker on your lover after they’ve gone down on you is the subtle way of making sure you’re tasting great. I’ve often grabbed the guy mid-oral, made him kiss me, find out the taste-test way if I’m tasting as clean as I want, and if I am, he’s shipped back south to finish the job, and my fears and insecurities are abated. Smart, crafty? Of course I am. ;)

I think it’s rude, really, not to kiss your lover after having received their oral services. I don’t know why, but I do. I’m not sure there’s a hard-and-fast rule out there, but really, if you avoid a lover who’s just been indulging in your bodily juices and such, it communicates that you’re repulsed by yourself. It’s not that sexy. Own your sexuality, own your body, and prove it with a post-oral kiss.

When it comes to swallowing, I’m not one of those “good girls swallow” proponents. I often don’t. It’s different in a relationship, I suppose, and it depends entirely on his hygiene and his personal flavours. I’ve occasionally swallowed, and the first time I ever did it, it was by accident and I was surprised it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it’d be. I’ve sometimes chosen in the past to let a guy ejaculate in my mouth, and as I’ve snaked back up his body, kissing everywhere I go, I’ve deposited bits back on him, and then we kissed and squirmed happily together. I think it doesn’t really matter too much, but guys absolutely love a girl that swallows, not only because her lips are around him as he orgasms in that happy, warm place, but because it shows she accepts him in entirety, and that’s arousing no matter what sex you are.

If you haven’t brought him to orgasm orally, then it comes down to either finishing inside you, or by manual means, in which case either a condom catches the ejaculate, or it “goes where it goes.” Again, what happens with his come in a manual situation’s pretty much up to you, him, and the moment. There’s no real etiquette involved. Want it on your belly? Great. Want to take the chance that he’s not a squirter and your walls or floor won’t catch it? Great. Do whatever strikes you as the right way to go.

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In keeping with this topic, I’ve been asked a few times and just never get around to answering it:

What can a guy (or gal) do to change the flavour of their ejaculate/personal juices?

It comes down to general health as well as diet. Are you prone to infections? There might be little you can do to change flavours if UTIs and/or other infections find you regularly.

But usually it’s a diet-related thing. Most sources tell you that a meat-heavy diet can result in a more bitter-tasting sperm. Rumour has it that vegetarians have the best taste out there. (For some reason, I just find vegetarians a little less sexy, though. There’s something odd about a man who doesn’t like sinking his teeth in meat, you know?) Focusing your diet on more carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, as well as drinking a lot of water and other pure, non-sweetened juices can do a lot to giving you a better flavour (and odour).

Smoking, coffee, and alcohol can also result in a bitter, unpleasant come.

You want to eat foods rich in anti-oxidants, high in fibre, and with lots of juice content. Pineapple juice is thought to be one of the best things you can drink in regards to improving your flavour, and is great for overall health anyhow. Drinks like blueberry juice and cranberry juice are also great in this regard. Celery is said to be a terrific food for come.

If you’re really wanting to get serious about things, you could invest in quality juicing at home. Cucumber, celery, pineapple, ginger, and so forth, all mixed together with some protein supplement can really help you develop a sweet, nutty flavour.

There are pills on the market that swear by improving the flavour of come, but what they don’t tell you is that the pills are rich in things like ginger, aromatic herbs and spices, and vegetable supplements. Sticking to a diet that’s rich in spices like ginger, low in sodium, high in natural sweeteners, will do the same trick.

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There are women who resist having men go down on them. These women are resistant for a number of reasons.

One, maybe they just don’t like oral. Strange, but true. Oral’s a very intense experience, as most of us know, and for some, it’s simply too intense.

Two, they’ve had bad experiences. Lovers can be idiots. We can say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, and it can turn a pleasant experience into a scarring one. It’s hard to shake the memory of someone who’s been a thoughtless lover, and it takes patience and encouragement and support to overcome a negative experience.

Three, they have a history of infections. Some women are predisposed to infections. Maybe they swim in natural bodies of water too often, maybe they have a bad habit of shaving their legs in the tub, maybe they have poor post-workout hygiene, maybe they’re just built that way. Whatever the case, a history of infections can leave a woman with a really negative sense of herself and her privates.

Four, they simply have a negative sense of their personal odours. Like most women, I’ve had times when I’ve been self-conscious about my odour. I’ve avoided intimacy with a guy based on paranoia, not reality. In the end, I’ve come to learn that I generally smell the way I’m supposed to, and I have an average, if not desirable, taste to me. The only way a woman overcomes these sensitivities is by way of supportive, open lovers who offer compliments and kindness, not crass observations. The odour a woman emits is filled with the pheromones that turn men on, but the pheromones don’t work on us. Instead, it makes us paranoid. I actually worked in a fish restaurant as a teen, and was belittled by guy friends for smelling fishy after work. For years, I’d have issues about any odours my vagina emitted, and was never able to relax when a man went down on me, not until my mid-20s.

Five, your guess is as good as mine. I recently did the piece “Twats and Knives: Together at Last” in which I discussed the new trend of women getting cosmetic surgery done on their pussies. Why would a woman do that? Who knows. It’s not always something we’ll understand.

The point is, whatever the reason, some women aren’t into letting a man perform orally. If you’re a woman and you’re really, really concerned about your odours and tastes, you might want to try douching. It’s not something you should do regularly, as it kills natural bacteria that can fight infections, but if it’s something that gets you past the fear of having a man perform on you, then maybe it’s something worth trying. Including things like pineapple, ginger, celery, and other juice-altering foods in your diet might also give you a better sense of your emissions and scents.

If you’re a guy and you know she won’t let you go down on her, then don’t force the issue. Instead, sometime when you’re fingering her, you can lick your fingers and tell her you love the way she tastes, and you wish you could try it firsthand sometime. Comment on how her natural scents get you aroused. Linger by her belly, kissing her groin and surrounding areas, and toy with her, breathe her in. Don’t be obvious and say all the positive comments all at once, just occasionally make statements, and you’ll probably slowly wear down her resistance.

Insecurities are a hard thing to overcome, and as women, we’re barraged by advertisements on television that tell us we have to worry about our smells. Once every month, we get periods and there’s always inevitably that moment where we discover it’s a little on the ripe side. It’s not a wonder that women have insecurities about their sexual juices and aromas; it’s a wonder we ever overcome it, considering all the crap we see in the media. Any woman who’s ever had a yeast infection and has seen that look on their doctor’s face as he/she describes the “cottage cheese” within her knows how awkward it can feel to be aware of this thing growing inside of her.

It’s a struggle to overcome the paranoia, but supportive lovers get us there.

Call, for fuck’s sake!

So, date two has come and gone, rather successfully, and a third hovers somewhere on the unspecified horizon.

Now, I’m luckier than the average girl because I have this — a mighty, mighty good decoder ring — available for The Guy to peruse and see what it is I dig or don’t. Because The Guy has a functioning Brain and Powers of Recall, he plays his cards rather well. Such as, calling The Next Day after Date One, and emailing me to thank me for my presence immediately after Date Two. I’m such a sucker for communication.

If you are a guy, and you’re trying to do the whole play-it-cool bullshit, here’s a clue. Most chicks will fucking LOVE YOU if you call. Why? Because suspense might be nice at Christmas time, but it really, really sucks if you’re digging someone after a date and you haven’t heard from them as to whether or not the diggage was mutual. Call. Email. Whatever the hell it takes, and everyone will be all the happier because The Bullshit Factor is cut by half. Plus, there’s the added bonus of anticipation.

Anticipation? It rocks. Knowing a date — a kiss, a cuddle, a grope, a lay — looms on the horizon is a turn on. Suspense, or as I like to call it: Unknowing, takes joy away from things. If you think you’re adding fuel to the fire with “suspense,” you’re not. You’re complicating things and setting the groundwork for what will essentially be a whole lot of head games.

Forget about “being cool.” Be straight up. I’m personally so sick of all that shit that if a guy DIDN’T call the next day, I’d probably write him off. My time’s too valuable for someone who doesn’t know how to clue me in that a good time was had for all. I’ll do my part, he better do his.

Needless to say, not an issue with The Guy thus far, so things are swimming along nicely — a fine happening in time for the first day of Spring, no?

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Now, there could be a “why can’t she call?” line of questioning from the guys out there, and you bloody well know why — she’ll get perceived as needy or clingy, even if it’s not the case. If you boys could stop having such narrow perceptions about chicks that call you, then maybe things would be simpler for you. Unfortunately, yer species’ track record makes it just a tad too iffy for us girlies to take the lead there. As much as some of us might like to. And if, perchance, you luck out and get a chick who’s brazen enough to be open and communicative via giving you the call, and she’s not needy, then at least have the smarts to see it for what it is — a chick who’s willing to help you reduce the Bullshit Factor.

Etiquette for Restaurants: Part 2

This is part two of the basic etiquette for restaurant dates. It began with a rant here, and continued with part one here.

First, a couple addendums raised in part one’s comments:

A. As mentioned by an anonymous commenter after the first posting, if you’re picking your date up, do not call her and tell her to be outside. Do not honk. Do not wait in the car. Go the hell in and get her. Yes, it’s nice to bring flowers if you want to, but try to avoid the clichéd dozen roses, and do not bring carnations. A single rose, or gerbera, or orchid, whatever, is always a nice touch. I could be wrong on this, but I feel corsages are dated and behind the times, and often plain unpractical. I’d stick with flowers for the table. What’s more, if it’s a nice date, she’ll enjoy the flowers more the next day.

B. It’s totally cool and actually good to help a date with a coat. Help take it off, help her get it on. It’s just a nice touch. Unnecessary, but certainly nice. Hand it to the waiter or give it to her to put on the back of her chair, if coatcheck isn’t an option.

Back to bizness. You’ve got wine, you’ve got food, and now you’re dining.

1. How you eat is important. Eat small bites. Use cutlery as much as possible. Cut your food precisely and delicately while being relatively strong and assertive about it. (Press harder with your knife, do controlled movements.) Try to not make noises with the cutlery or against the china. If you’re responding to her question or statement as you cut, make sure you at least glance up to make eye-contact as you’re talking. Always, always show you’re aware she’s present when you’re speaking. And hello? Small bites, please? Chew? With your mouth closed. Do not speak with food in your mouth. Remember in grade two when they said to chew every bite 17 times? Please do that on dates. BONUS: It will reduce the chance you’ll get gas later!

2. If you want a refill of coffee or something, inch the drinking vessel nearer to the edge of the table closest to where the waiting staff will pass it by. An industry professional knows this is the sign for a refill, so you shouldn’t need to shout for them.

3. Never take the last roll, butter, or bit of wine without asking her if she’d like it first. She’ll almost always say no (it’s a date thing) and give it to you, but give her the chance to do so. If she offers to split it with you, say no if you just can’t handle more, & say something like “I’d love to, but I’m set to burst.” Sharing’s nice though. It’s sexy and intimate, and feel free to take her up on the offer.

4. Tear off bits of bread as opposed to gnoshing on an entire piece. Tear it over the plate, so the crumbs don’t pile up on the tablecloth. Butter it as you go to prevent yourself from getting thumbs into greasy badness. If you’re dipping in oil and vinegar, please, don’t double dip, tear bite-size pieces for dipping.

5. If you’re still eating your meal, you rest your knife and fork at 4:00 and 8:00 on your plate, respectively, between bites. Don’t hold your cutlery through the whole meal. Keeping it in your hand all the time – especially for women – tends to look aggressive. Take moments where you focus on your companion. (Goes for both sexes.) When you’re finished and want them to take it away, you set your knives, forks, and spoons used thus far at the 5:00 position.

6. If your server is stupid and tries to take your plate before your companion has finished, then they have clearly missed the basic training course. Tell them you’re not through, and gesture at your companion’s plate. If they succeed and take the plate away, she’ll be left feeling awkward eating in front of you. This goes both ways, so be a man and say something.

7. If she’s getting up to go to the bathroom – it’s not necessary, but it’s extra special classy and will probably get a small grin from her as she walks away from you – you can always push your chair back and stand as she leaves the table. When she returns, you can stand upon her arrival, wait for her to sit, then give her the napkin, or better yet, lay it on her lap. (You can be sexy about it and “accidentally” brush a finger down her thigh as you return to your seat, departing-like.) As I say, this is a real throwback, and is probably a little over the top for most evenings, but if you’re having a more special dinner experience in celebration of something, then yes, go ahead. It’s quite formal.

8. After dinner, your napkin gets folded (casually, in a tidy bunch, whatever, just not tossed down in a heap) and placed BESIDE the plate, not on it.

9. Paying! All the guys want to know this. Going Dutch is fine, but really, if you make more than her – she’s a student, you’re working in an office – then it ought to be on you. If you asked her out and chose the location, then it ought to be on you. If she asked you out, then it should rightly be dutch, unless she’s making your salary look comical. But if you want to feel like your balls are intact at the evening’s end, you probably shouldn’t let her pay, not entirely, but that’s your call. Some women will judge you for not paying. You know I’m right, as much as it galls you. A good move is always to pay, especially if you like her, and playfully ask if she takes trades for a home cooked meal, or tell her she can get coffees later or something. (If she balks at paying anything ever, then she’s a money-hungry minx and you need to be wary, in my humble opinion. Anytime a woman or man feels entitled to something, it’s time to be wary. Me, I like a man to pay, but I’ll always insist next time I do some cooking, and the way I cook, it’s a win.)

10. If it’s old-school car locks and we’re driving for the night and we let you into the car first, lean over and open our lock and let us in. Women, if a guy lets you in first, you don’t have to lean over and let him in, but it’s the kind of small gesture a guy really digs. Ever seen that old Cameron Crowe film Singles, when Keira Sedgwick lets Cameron Scott into his car? He’s bowled right over and is in love from then on. It shows you can not only graciously accept his chivalry, but that you’re woman enough to not feel threatened by reciprocating. Me, I’d always let the guy in. It’s just the right way to act. [Ed. Note: Do people even have these locks anymore? Lots has changed in the four years since this first was posted!]

11. When you’re dropping her off, and this is for anyone dropping a woman off – date or not – always, always wait until she’s gotten inside before you drive away. It’s a sign that you’re concerned about her safety, and honestly, our entrances aren’t always as safe as we’d like.

12. Not related to restaurants, but time to be said. Can we, for once and for all, move past the “don’t call the next day” bullshit? Call. Tell us it was a good time. Even easier and just as good, in the age of email, send her a quick note. “Wow. I had a great time. I’ll call you later in the week. Looking forwards to more with you.” That’s it. “Ooh,” we’ll think, “a guy who doesn’t play games.” You’ll get laid sooner, you know. Drop the bullshit head games. Keep it casual, light, and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Call her later in the week, don’t mention a specific day, but you’ve bought yourself time now. Just a note! A text! A quick email! It’s a lovely way to play.

If there are other dating scenarios you want the etiquette for, let me know via comments or emails. Happy dining this weekend, kids.

Etiquette for Restaurants: Part 1

This is part one of two for restaurant etiquette. It was preluded with a rant yesterday. Yes, I’ll answer questions about going dutch, etc, but that’s next time. Tried to put this in the order it transpires on a date, but I’m sick and my head’s fuzzy.

I have had men saying women don’t respond to chivalry, and the chicks are just confused. I’ll write something about that in the next week or so, since it’s an important part of this topic, and maybe I’ll try to wrap my head around why that’s still happening and how to defuse it.

Anyhow, this is largely addressed at men, but there are women-related comments throughout, and a lot of it is knowledge both sexes ought to have about the dining scene.

Feel free to make comments about other areas of dining dates you’re not sure about how to behave during, and I’ll amend my part two posting if anything’s missing. Thanks!

Another thing? If you’re under the delusion that “manners” & “etiquette” mean the same thing, not true. Etiquette is about behaviour, social conventions, and even tradition. Manners have far less scope. This is Etiquette 101.

1. If you’re picking her up at her place and you’re seeing her pad for the first time, then find something positive to say about it. If you honestly love it, then flatter her tastes, tell her it’s very revealing. If it’s pretty uninspired, find a photo of her or something you can relate to. “Hey, I read that book. What’d you think?” Or “That’s a great photo of you. Was that in college?” Be interested. If you want us to care about sleeping with you, kissing you, or even just being with you, then be very, very interested in us. Women are like houseplants – give us a little attention, and watch us thrive. This’ll help you break the ice and give you a conversational direction to head in. It’s helpful on many levels.

2. Hold the door open. If I reach it first, I’ll hold it open for you – as any person ought to do for another. (Hear me, women?) When you’re holding it, look me in my eye. Don’t look at the ground like you’re sorry to be old-fashioned. Be proud, god damn it, and look at me as if I should know it’s that you respect me that’s spurring you to do it. It’s the kind of sexy thing Bogart would do. Be like Bogey. Smile, even.

3. Do I need to say this? Turn off your damned cell phone. Do not text message. Do not talk. Do not even acknowledge the thing in her presence. If it rings and is audible, shame on you. And women? Double for you! Jesus Christ, people. Put the fucking phones away on dates. I always do. Can we for five minutes pretend to be rapt in attention of those whose presences we’re in? Is it so hard?

4. When you’re seated at the restaurant, if the waiter doesn’t do it for you, put your napkin on your lap immediately. This signifies that you have class and upbringing. It also tells the service that they’re dealing with a well-trained patron, and they will give you better service (most of the time) if they see you know how to behave in such an environment. Believe it or not, I’ve read stories where waiting staff confess that a patron’s tendency to put their napkin on their lap influences whether the waiter thinks a good tip is coming or not — and you know what that conclusion means.

5. Your order will never get taken if you have your menu open. When she’s done and has decided and has closed her menu, casually pick it up and place it atop yours, the edge of them protruding slightly off the table, so the staff see you’re ready to order. Well-trained waiting staff understand this to mean “take our order, please.”

6. It’s all right to order for your date. It’s sexy. Don’t be a pompous ass and do it without her approval or input, though. Ask her what she’s leaning towards, and then casually mention that you’ll be happy to place the order for you both. If she smiles, you’re on. If you’re doing the ordering after she’s consented and the waiter asks you what you’ll be having, look him in the eye, then meet your date’s eyes, nod at her and smile, and look back at the waiter and state simply that your companion is having X, and you’ll be having Y. There are reasons she would decline you ordering for her, particularly if she’s a Meg Ryan type from When Harry Met Sally. I’ll have the dressing on the side, and your face in my lap, thank you.

7. Don’t order your drinks without asking the woman what she wants, either. Women know more about wine and drinks than they ever have, and you need to respect that. Ask her what she’d like. When the waiter comes over with a wine that you’ve mutually selected and you know your date knows wine, if the waiter extends the cork for you to inspect and pours a taster’s sample, tell him you’re deferring to the lady. Let her make the call. It’s sexy and shows you’re confident in yourself, and that you trust her judgment, and you don’t feel threatened. Hold her gaze as she sniffs the wine, tastes, and gives her verdict. Nod in agreement to whatever she says. Taste the wine, and hopefully you agree with her verdict. If you don’t, just keep quiet. Taste is subjective, and if you disagree, such is life. Next time, you can just make the move to order some for yourself. Or, you can cover your ass and ask the waiter to recommend something that complements both your meals. (Obviously, if the wine’s turned bad, it goes back.) And, DUDE, sniff your wine, not the cork. You sniff the cork, you’re smelling cork, not wine. Duh.

8. If you’re pouring the wine, never, ever pour it more than one-third to a half full, depending on glass type/size. Wine drinking is a subtle art, and science proves that 40% of our taste experience comes from our sense of smell. By filling a glass too full, you reduce the amount of aroma that “cups” in the wine, since it’s in swilling the wine around the glass that you cause the smell to rise & improve the taste. You’re throwing out flavour if you have a full glass. It’s uncouth. What’s more, it flies in the face of science!

9. When drinking, always hold your glass by the stem, particularly with white wines (less important with red). The more of your hand to cup the glass, the more heat transfers to the glass, thus elevating the temperature of the wine, thus doing bad things to taste. Common perception is that “room temperature” means whatever the hell the yuppies have their thermostats set to. Um, no, kids. “Room temperature” speaks to an era before central heating, to hundreds of years ago, to the temperature of natural caves and cellars. Somewhere around 14-16 Celsius, maybe 55-65 Fahrenheit. (Bad wine form irks me.)

More tomorrow. Sounds snobby? Hey, I come from relatively low-income heritage — farmers, fishermen, that kind of thing. We never had a lot of money growing up, but my mother taught me that just because I didn’t have money didn’t mean I couldn’t behave like I did. So, yes, class and etiquette instilled from a young age, and I’m grateful for it. It’s taken me far, in some regards, from my roots. Not an entirely bad thing, so long as your memory’s good. ;)

The Modern Man (& Woman) & Manners

A reader wrote me recently to say that I need to comment more about the modern man’s condition. We both agree that men are caught between what they want to be and what they think they have to be, so they’re essentially lost.

In not so many words, I’ve recently alluded in an email with him that I feel the modern man is some kind of throwback to a troubled Winslow Homer painting, a boat being tossed about a churning sea, straight out of Good Will Hunting. Any port in the storm, boy.

Let it be said: I hate the divide between the sexes as it presently exists. I hate what this so-called “feminism” has done to the modern guy, but I wouldn’t give up any of the advances my sex has made, and I feel there is more for us to achieve, too, but without continuing to erode masculinity. That’s a bigger topic, that’s a fucking book, for god’s sake. We’re not going there. Yet.

That said, there’s absolutely no reason we can’t have old style manners and charm and etiquette make a comeback while we’re striving to find both genders’ new identities.

I hate that etiquette is a thing of the past. I hate that chivalry is practiced almost apologetically. I hate that the black-and-white movies seem to be more an anthropological reminiscence than a cultural record.

“And exhibited here in this celluloid document is the now-extinct Homo Erectus, a classical beast with style and grace not seen in today’s beaten, confused specimens. Note the confidence in the gaze, the subtle mannerisms of gesture, the attentiveness shown with a slight tone of deference yet dominance toward the female of the species. See the strength and prowess he exhibits in stride. The species was noted to have danced precipitously on the edge of extinction in about 1965, as seeming collateral damage in the Battle of the Sexes. Fortunately, the species has held on, if even barely so. Scientists today are working with remnant DNA in an attempt to create a hybrid of the Homo Erectus Pastus and the Homo Erectus Presentus for a species to be dubbed Homo Erectus Potentius.

Someone somewhere got everyone drinkin’ the Kool-Aid that somehow being polite to women meant you were disrespecting them. This is the most ludicrous bit of irony to ever be swallowed by the masses. By demonstrating respect, you are disrespecting. Say what?

And the funny thing, chivalry went out the window, and since then, everyone’s forgotten what the hell manners are. Look around you! We’re ruder than we’ve ever been. Road rage, aggression, never looking passers-by in the eye, never saying hello, yammering on your fucking cellphone as some person assists you at a counter, not reserving in advance for parties – fewer people than ever understand basic manners at all.

Being well-mannered isn’t just for patsies, man. It’s necessary for the human condition.

We’re a tribe, people. We need to get along. We need respect. We need a code. It gets us through.

I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve declined dates based on manners. I don’t associate with people who lack them. It’s unpleasant and uncouth. Behaviour is the best bit of evidence anyone has as to the kind of person you are. What does yours say about you? Your body language, the way you carry yourself, the way you defer to others, speaks volumes louder than your words. How’s your posture? Do you speak clearly? Do you make eye contact? Do you know the proper way to shake hands?

Men and women today both need to learn better manners. Women need to be gracious and accept a door being held open for them, and they need to return the favour. The only way men will feel welcomed to begin being gracious to us like in the old days is if we reciprocate and we say thank you. There’s no damned reason we ought to feel threatened by chivalry. If so, what the hell does that say about the woman? She’s too insecure to allow for assistance? Pfft.

I practice what I preach. I thank men for holding the door open, I smile. I’ll pick something up for a guy if he drops it. What’s the problem? When did it become a competition? It’s like we’re waiting to see who’ll crack first.

My manners make my life more pleasant. Sure, when I say thank you or have a nice day or make small talk, half the time I get looked at like I’m some homeless bitch begging for a crack fix, and the rest of the time I get these warm, grateful smiles that I’m bringing some old-style charm back into the mix. I make a friend for two minutes and I wander on.

And I don’t care what the world expects, I know what I expect, and furthermore, what I demand. I don’t compromise my standards just because the world’s too fucking stupid to adopt them. And you know what? I’m part of a growing minority. But where do you stand?

So, here’s the deal. This stuff may seem mundane and stupid, but manners count. If you’re on the rise professionally, if you work with the public, if you’re trying to woo a woman just outside of your class, what have you, then you need to know this.

This is my introduction to what’ll be a truncated guide on basic etiquette for dinner dates and such. Some of this is perceived as old-fashioned, out-of-style, and that pisses me off! Gah! That’s so stupid I can’t even see straight, man!

It’s like these people who go to expensive restaurants wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Can’t some things be left exclusive? Sigh. Nothing is special anymore. Jesus.

These will be the kinda things I want my men doing. I’ve been turned off just by a guy who left his napkin on the table during a meal. I’m a hard-ass, but then you’re learning from the right chick, aren’t you? And you know I’m more fun to party with than Miss Manners, so, don’t think this makes you out-of-date.

This will make you retro cool. It’ll give you a classy mystique the other dicks you know don’t have. In the future, I’ll be returning to this topic of the modern man and how he can better find his place in today’s world with today’s woman. The sensitivity post of last Saturday was only the tip of this large iceberg.

Oh, and if you’re thinking, “What’s this got to do with sex?” Well, it’ll teach you how to say pretty-please, for starters, and it’ll get you to the end of the date in one piece. We’ll get to that part another time. It’s a big fucking topic.

Those tips start tomorrow. It may be two more postings. (On restaurant etiquette for men, primarily, with some tips for women thrown in.)