The Gentleman's Guide

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Little Things Women Notice, Part 1

As an unreconstructed man you may be used to farting, burping and scratching yourself in public, but if you're serious about becoming a gentleman these are things you need to change. Preferably right now. It's nauseating, frankly, and I'm sure your parents taught you better.

There's more to it than this though. Most men won't notice a lot of the little things it takes to truly call yourself a gentleman. Women, however, are both our harshest critics and the most willing to reward us when we get it right. They do notice this stuff. It also helps grease the social wheels in general (eg. in interviews, queuing for a coffee, being introduced to strangers, etc.). Before you take this list of things to heart though, bear one thing in mind; you want ladies to respect you. Having good manners is fine, but running around after the apple of your eye complimenting her all day is supplication and it makes you look pathetic. Consider where to draw the line.

  • Treat Everyone the Same: If you're only being polite to someone you hope to impress they'll notice it, making you look like a sneaky oaf instead of just an oaf.

  • P's and Q's: Say 'please' and 'thank you'. Say it all the time. It costs you nothing and keeps everyone happy. This should be obvious but you'd be surprised how few people I hear remembering to say either.

  • Hold Doors: Check behind as you walk through a door and if there's someone just behind then hold it for them. If there's someone a little further away but their arms are full then hold it a little longer. And while we're on the subject of doors.....

  • Let Them Out: Let whoever's inside get out. Better yet, hold the door for them if you can. This counts for trains, buses, office blocks, bars, basically everywhere. If there's double fire doors on a corridor (so technically both of you are indoors), then if the door opens towards you then you are on the outside. Even if, in such a case, you're not on the outside, it never hurts to wait, or at least hold the door for them once they've got though. If anyone gives you any stick for this then say 'Tch, no wonder chivalry is dead if that's the response it gets.' Don't labour it, just make it light but serious enough that they start thinking 'Hmmmm, yeah....'

  • Grey Hair or Pregnancy is a Free Seat Pass: It's a tricky one this, especially the pregnancy one (it can, occasionally, be confused with obesity). But if it's an old person (particularly old ladies) or someone who you think may be pregnant then don't mention why you're offering your seat, just smile and say 'Excuse me; would you like to sit down?' If they turn you down then that's their choice and at least you tried. If they accept your offer then feel free to feel a smug sense of self-satisfaction as the other passengers either look on admiringly or guiltily avoid your gaze.

  • Keep it Clean: Not just your humour (though it's always good to know two clean jokes); I'm talking about everything else as well. First, your clothes. If it's been worn then make sure you change it for something that's been in the wash. This is especially true for underwear and socks. Consider buying a load more underwear and socks if you run out too quickly (you can get perfectly good 3-packs of plain black socks in �shops - why pay more?). Polish those shoes too (with real shoe polish, not one of those sponges). Taking your car through the carwash costs �or � Tidying your apartment is free - concentrate on the kitchen and bathroom first (people notice mess more in these areas), then the bedroom (for obvious reasons), then lastly any other areas. Lastly, think about getting a tounge-scraper for when you're cleaning your teeth.

  • Hold It: Your drink, that is. You're not a teenager, secretly drinking dodgy cider in a field in the rain and thinking you're the coolest person on Earth (or was that just me?); you're a grown man. Act like it. The aim is not to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible. Pace yourself. Don't feel a need to be a part of every round, since that just means everyone drinks at the speed of the fastest drinker. If you feel yourself getting drunk too quickly then try drinking bottles of beer instead of pints. You could even experiment with other drinks, depending on the company you keep. Wine is acceptable with a meal, a whisky and soda is respectable at a bar. Just don't order anything that doesn't taste like alcohol or that's served with a tiny paper umbrella. And over the age of 21 you're allowed to say no to the shots round.

  • Smile: I'm not talking about walking around all the time beaming like you're a bit simple. Just be aware that your face, when relaxed, could be misinterpreted as many different things (vacant/grumpy/not listening/etc.). Smiling just a little, like you've just remembered something mildly amusing about the person, object or situation in front of you projects an impression of relaxed confidence. Practice in a mirror.

There's plenty of other things you can work on but I'm going to leave it at just these 8 for now and continue the list in a later article. Practice these until they become second nature. Look forward to opportunities to show everyone, particularly ladies, that you're an advanced individual, though don't milk it of course.

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Normally I'd advise against vanity and being judgmental, but a little self-assessment is necessary. Look at yourself in a mirror. Consider whether whatever you're doing right now looks stupid (and, obviously, if it does then stop it). Then (now you're following my instruction to stay a bit more sober) watch what other guys do when they're drunk. Gets kinda ugly, huh? Resolve to never sink to such depths yourself.