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Every Gentleman Should Know How To…

June 11, 2006

I cannot dance. Not really. I can, when called upon, throw my hands in the air and shake it like I just don’t care. But really know how to dance? Not so much. I think this is a skill that I really should acquire. How hard can it be to learn a few steps and do a passable salsa, foxtrot or waltz? I probably learn harder stuff in taekwondo all the time.

All of which made me wonder if there wasn’t a list of things every proper gentleman should know. I don’t mean good manners or how to impress someone’s mother. I’m talking technical skills. Like how to swing dance or how to open a bottle of wine without getting cork in it or how to box. A quick trip to Google yielded nothing useful. So I guess I need to start my own list.

Let’s see. How to change a flat tire, how to defend yourself, how to get a good table at a restaurant, how to write an invitation or a thank-you letter, how to dance, how to carve a turkey, how to split firewood…

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  1. OK, Scott, I know I questioned the whole notion of “gentelmanliness” last night, but perhaps this is really a list of things every decent guy should know. Semantics aside, here are my additions: how to pay a compliment, how to receive one, how to make a meal, how to clean up after one, how to break-up with someone kindly, how to offer condolences at a funeral (from my mom, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”), how to fix a toilet that won’t stop flushing, and (should go without saying if we’re talking about gentlemanliness) how to open the door for someone without stepping on her toes.


  2. Those are some pretty big ambitions–maybe it is the “gentlemen” part that you should work on first and them possibly the rest will follow?


  3. How to dress in a tux, including shirt studs and cufflinks. How to tip the valet, the porter at the airport, and the host who grabs your coat at a restaurant. Know when to pick a red wine or a white wine. What the utensils are for. How to tie a tie properly. How to give a short speech at any occasion off the cuff.

    You laugh, but I’ve known guys that were completely lost in these situations.


  4. I think small talk is important, but being able to make small talk with children so that they feel included in a group of adults is important too.

    Defending yourself is important, but also to stand up for the lady you are with when necessary. And, to keep the occasional “tell off” out of her sight.

    Yes, chopping wood, changing oil, replacing seats on a faucet, snake a drain, use a power drill/hang something straight, drive in snow…

    And I agree with Wigs on the general etiquette, relateability and dress. A man who knows how to take care of these details and Be A Man without calling attention to it, is definitely a gentleman.


  5. I think the key to being a gentleman is in the emphasis of the world…the emphasis should be on gentleman. Are there skills involved? I dunno. I think opening and holding doors open for women is important. Letting a passenger in the car before you get in is one. I think it comes from thinking of others before you.

    I was also told that one of the keys to being a gentleman is knowing when the time is right to not be one.

    There are definitely things I think every person should know…


  6. I just thought of this one: the ability to gracefully admit he doesn’t know.


  7. Oh no no no Scott. That’s where ya gotta draw the line 🙂



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