Drink Like a Man

Alcohol has become an ugly thing. Instead of nursing a glass of fine cognac or Sauvignon blanc while discussing the important affairs of the day, we go on pub crawls where we drink cheap beer and make complete asses of ourselves. Perhaps it’s an after effect of American prohibition but to so many now drinking is not seen as something classy but inherently boorish and irresponsible. I’m going to delve inside what it means to drink like a man. 

Keep Your Wits About You 

Stoicism and composure are among the most manly virtues but too much drink can destroy them both. Everyone has a limit when it comes to alcohol and it’s entirely your responsibility not to exceed it. Never drink to the point that your dignity is in danger. If you’re starting to act more boorish than is appropriate, it’s time to stop drinking.

Respect Your Responsibilities

Sometimes you’ll find yourself in the presence of adult refreshments but still have responsibilities, like hosting or driving. In those cases your responsibilities come first. You don’t have to completely abstain but you need to still be able to meet those responsibilities. 

Plan to Get Home Safe

You often hear about the need to plan a safe ride home when you drink, and I wholeheartedly agree with that assertion. Your choice as to whether or not you drink must never effect your chances of getting home safely. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, so long as it keeps you safe. Just don’t rely on anyone else unless you’re absolutely certain it won’t cause any problems. 

Drink for the Enjoyment of the Beverage

Most people now choose to drink for the intoxicant effect of alcohol, but that couldn’t be much less manly. A man drinks to enjoy the taste of the beverage and the camaraderie those around him. When someone drinks to get drunk they tend to drink the cheap stuff, that pretty much tastes like turpentine, but when you drink for the enjoyment of it you soon discover the bold and intricate flavours of quality libations. There’s only one way to find drinks you truly enjoy. 

Learn About It

What’s the difference between Canadian and Tennessee whiskey? What is a session ale? Where are the best wines made? These are the kinds of questions you can answer if you educate yourself a little. Even better, you’ll find yourself more appreciative of the qualities of your drink if you understand the intricacies that went into making it and will open up a new topic of conversation. 

Avoid Drinking Alone

If your wife greets you with a martini at the end of a hard day or you like to sit down with a cigar and a glass of scotch to reflect at the end of the week, that’s fine but drinking should be primarily social. Never be the only one drinking at a social function never go out to drink unless you’ll be with friends. 

It’s Fine to be a Teetotaler 

Whether it’s you or someone else who chooses not to drink, it’s a perfectly acceptable and manly choice. You must respect and even endorse their choice. Never push drinks on anyone, especially your date. If you choose not to drink and you have a considerate host, you’ll still have some delicious drink options.

Conclusion

Drinking like a man really comes down to two words, drink responsibly. If the only lasting effect of a night of drinking is the memory of a delightful evening, you drank like a man.

Funerals: The Most Somber of Somber Occasions

Cemetery

Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

Slave or King, rich or poor, good or evil, death eventually comes for us all. There’s no getting around it. Our families die. Our friends die. Our heroes die. We die. It’s not something we like to think about but it’s an inevitability. We will all face death. We will all lose those we love. Despite the inevitability of them, we rarely discuss funerals. 

Funerals are a part of every culture, although they may vary extensively. Death is an irrevocable change so we all must come to terms with it when it happens. A funeral may be chance to commiserate a loss or celebrate a life. 

Funerary Customs

Every culture, sub-culture, and religion has funerary customs, such as the black veils of Latin America, the twenty-one gun salute of military funerals, and the Jewish use of stones. Before attending a funeral you’ll want to familiarise yourself with those customs. A distant family member is usually the best place to start. They’ll likely be familiar with the customs but won’t be too busy or distraught to help you. You can also feel free to incorporate customs from your own culture so long as they don’t conflict in any way with the family’s. You’re also exempt from any customs that run contrary to your own beliefs and are under no obligation to sacrifice your own needs. 

From this point on I’ll be writing from a purely North American Christian perspective. If anything conflicts with your own customs, then your customs are right. 

How to Dress

Funerals are part of why you should have multiple suits. Funerals are best kept an informal affair, but custom certainly trumps that. Typically a man should wear black suit, preferably with a white shirt and black tie. Pocket are completely acceptable but be sure to leave all the cheery colours and flamboyant patterns at home. Also, be sure to remove your hat in the church and at the gravesite. 

Ladies should wear simple black outfits. Again, leave the cheery colours and flamboyant patterns at home. A funeral is also an excellent place to break out a hat with a veil. There’s no need for ladies to ever remove their hats. 

It’s only appropriate to wear uniforms at military, police, or firefighter funerals, and even then only if you are or once wear a part of such an organisation. There’s no need to remove uniform headdress at the gravesite but it should still be taken off in the church. 

Itinerary

Like many events, funerals have a traditional itinerary. They usually start with a viewing the night before. This is a casual service that’s open to the public but usually attended only by those who were particularly close to the deceased or their family. A second family viewing is often held immediately before the service. The former is typically at a funeral home and the latter is usually at the church. 

The main component of a funeral is the service. The service usually takes place at the deceased’ church or at the gravesite. If the main service is at a church then there’s usually a second shorter service at the grave. The deceased’ religious views are usually very appparent at the service and can even be a full church service. Regardless of the church, conduct yourself appropriately for a visitor there. When the gravesite is some distance from the church, mourners travel to the grave in a ceremonial procession. 

Funerals will commonly end with a simple meal. To many, it’s the beginning of life without the deceased. It’s a good time to catch up with friends and family, and share give your condolences to the family. It’s also the time when a funeral ceases to be somber. 

Procession

The typical funeral procession is led by the hearse and includes all the mourners driving at slow speeds. The vehicles generally have their hazard lights turned on so other motorists know that they’re part of a funeral procession. It used to be the norm to turn on the headlights but, with the prevalence of daytime running lights, this is no longer effective. 

Wakes

In some western cultures it’s common for funerals to celebrate the deceased’s life more than mourn their passing. This usually takes the form of a party. In those cases, the etiquette of a similar party held some other purpose applies. 

Sympathy Notes

If you can’t attend a funeral or don’t get a chance to speak with the family, then you may want to send them a sympathy note. Actually writing the note has plenty of its own etiquette but it should always be hand written and sent or delivered within a few days of the funeral. If you deliver it in person, don’t expect an invitation to come in. Grieving people often feel asocial and you need to respect that. 

Future Remembrance

Few people deserve to be forgotten. The good should be venerated forever and the evil should remain a cautionary tale. Consider attending an All Saints Day service and possibly visiting the grave periodically. 

How to Properly Address Others

Man tipping his hat.Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

We don’t often think about how to properly address others, and as a result we tend to be quite rude. We often assume we should be on a first name basis as soon as we meet someone. We don’t even consider what we’re saying to people with how we address them. I’m hoping I can give you some useful guidance here.

Who you’re speaking to is, of course, of central importance. When you’re addressing VIPs, they often have special styles of address you need to know. Fortunately, most people are given the opportunity to ask about protocol before they meet these people, so you can easily find out how to address them. Everyone else is simple. 

Most people are to be addressed by a combination of their name and a salutation. If you don’t know a man’s name you can address him as “Sir” and if you don’t know a woman’s name you can address her as “Ma’am.” Some people will address young women as “Miss” but I would discourage it because it makes an assumption about her that she’s likely to interpret as negative. The best way to address someone before you know what would be appropriate is to use “Mr.”/”Mrs.”/”Miss”/”Ms.” followed by their last name. “Mr.” Is typical for men, “Mrs.” is for married women, “Miss” is for unmarried women, and “Ms.” is for women whose marital status is unknown. If you’d like to address young boys as “Master” that would be acceptable as well. 

People like armed forces members and police are best addressed by rank instead of using “Mr.”/”Mrs.”/”Miss”/”Ms.” Don’t use rank alone if you don’t know the relevant protocol. 

Clergy usually have other ways to be addressed. Protestant pastors are usually addressed with “Pastor” or “Reverend” in place of “Mr.” and Catholic clergy are typically addressed with “Father” for priests, “Brother” for monks, or “Sister” for nuns, both are sometimes addressed using these titles alone. “Professors,” “Doctors” and other academic figures use these titles to be addressed similarly to clergy. Choosing not to use these titles shows a lack of respect for the person or qualifications.

Until you are told otherwise, you should address others in the most formal way you can. Once they establish their preferences it becomes acceptable to address them as such when it isn’t too casual. For example, if your friend John Smith prefers to be called “John” then you should call him that around the poker table but you should still call him “Mr. Smith” when you meet him at a wedding. Later on in an event it always becomes appropriate to address others more casually. Formality really only applies to greeting and introductions. If someone is your superior in some way, such as age or rank, then you may want to consider addressing them formally regardless of their preference. 

Showing Respect in Passing

Drawing of a Victorian man tipping his hat.
Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

These days we tend to walk through the streets with our heads down, afraid to interact with anybody. Why? It’s probably because we don’t know how to show the proper respect in momentary interactions and can’t expect to get it in return. There’s not much you can do about the latter, but this article should fix the former. 

The most important rule is to always give strangers the benefit of the doubt. Only an infinitesimal number of people are dangerous, although far more aren’t respectable. Of course, this doesn’t give much practical guidance but it’s a good starting point. 

You also can’t assume your business is more important than anyone else’s. You don’t know what they’re doing. For all you know, they’re on their way to present the perfect solution to crime, although that’s pretty unlikely. Don’t expect others to wait unnecessarily for you or to yield the right of way to you for no reason. 

If someone speaks to you, reply respectfully but don’t allow idle conversation with strangers to interfere with anyone’s business. If someone makes a request if you that only requires a brief pause then it’s advisable to oblige them, and it’s never a bad idea to give someone genuine help. Although you shouldn’t help people if it’s just going to make you feel good, so don’t give money to panhandlers since it’s most likely to be used to support a drug habit or a avoid contributing to society. 

If you make eye contact with someone in public then it’s extremely disrespectful to not acknowledge them. A nod of the head to a fellow man, a quick smile to a lady, or a wave is adequate, but if you’re wearing a hat you have better options. Touch the brim to acknowledge a fellow man or momentarily lift the hat to acknowledge a lady. If one of you is in the military or some other uniformed civil service then a salute may be appropriate, depending on local customs. 

Your speech around others must always be respectful, free of crude language and topics. Also, try to speak in the local language so people know your words aren’t disrespectful, and keep private topics in private. If you feel the need to play music then it needs to be inaudible or away from where others are likely to be, unless you’re busking. 

Those are all the rules that come to my mind for being respectful in superficial interactions. If you have recommended rules of your own or feel you can elaborate on mine, leave a comment. 

All Gentlemen Are Men But Not All Men Are Gentlemen

Sepia photo of men on the porch of a forest cabin.Reading what I write you can reasonably come to the conclusion that I believe a man must be genteel and refined, but that’s not the case. The truth is a man must have certain blue collar traits. In fact, it’s easier for our dirty and callous handed brothers to be men than the more delicate among us. Today I’m going to explore the difference between boys and blue collar men as well as the distinction of gentlemen and men. 

Unlike manliness, gentlemanliness can be turned off and on at will. It’s never an inherent part of who you are. It may take quite a lot of effort to develop initially but it can then be suspended when the need arises. Gentlemanliness is about etiquette, poise, and class, all optional in less refined company. Manliness is about taking on the hard jobs, doing the physical work, and defending and caring for others, none of which require refinement. 

As I’ve said before, a male who is not a man is a boy. Thus, a boy is by definition lacking in manliness. The difference between a boy and a crude man is that the man knows when to introduce gentlemanliness into his mannerisms. For example, no man would ever leer at a woman or otherwise reduce her to nothing more than a potential object of sexual pleasure. He acknowledges that a lady is a nuanced creature, with not only erotic potential but also the potential to be intellectual, artistic, and nurturing. More importantly, a man never attempts to exercise rights while rejecting the responsibilities that go along with them. 

That’s it, making the transition from boy to man doesn’t automatically make you a gentleman but it’s always worth pursuing. If you familiarise yourself with gentlemanly behaviours you can leave boorishness where it belongs, in the company of other men. If you’d rather avoid the refined world with its operas and cocktail parties, then all you need is the ability to not look the fool when it’s forced on you. 

Choosing Your Event’s Dress Code

Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

There are so many different types of events that one can host that choosing a dress code can sometimes be daunting. Sometimes, specific events may also have very specific dress codes. I’m going to help you decide, so far as practical concerns don’t decide for you. 

Formality

In many cases the only factor to determining dress code is formality. Sometimes there can be some disagreement on the formality of the occasion, but that’s not really something I can help you with. You want dress formality to match the formality of the event. If you expect your guests to agree on how formal the event is, then the dress code can go unspoken. 

Children’s Parties

Not surprisingly, children’s parties have two dress codes; one for the kids and one for the adults. For the kids the dress code should be whatever suits the party. The parents on the other hand, should dress at or below the level of the kids, preferably informal or casual.

 Cocktail Party

A cocktail party is at least informal. That means all the men should be wearing suits and all the women should be wearing cocktail dresses. 

Outdoor Parties

Most outdoor parties are pretty casual. The type of activities tends to force that. Some outdoor parties are more formal but those are usually for once in a lifetime events or a royal visit, which would probably still be once in a lifetime. 

Dinner Parties

Dinner parties can be quite casual but should usually skew formal. A good rule of thumb is to dress more formal if you’re use nicer china.

Once in a Lifetime

Once in a lifetime occasions should definitely be formal. You only get to do them once so you need to make a big deal out of it. 

Know Your Guests

More important than anything is to know your guests. They’ll likely be uncomfortable if you’re expecting them to dress outside of how they might otherwise. On the flip side, don’t adopt an excessively casual dress code either. Go with the most formal of what your guests will be comfortable with, unless it’s inappropriately casual for the nature of the event. 

Email Like a Gentleman

Man using manual typewriter.
Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

Email has been a pervasive communication method for years but we still can’t seem to agree on the etiquette. That’s created a world where it’s acceptable to not only to be impolite but downright insulting. Drawing in part on its predecessors, handwritten letters, I intend to develop a viable code of etiquette. 

Format

Properly formatting an email shows that you gave due attention to it, and thus have the appropriate respect for the recipient. 

The first email and first reply must be opened with an appropriate salutation, after that you can get right to the meat of the matter. What constitutes an appropriate salutation depends on the purpose of the email and your relationship with the recipient. In most cases, a more casual salutation like you would use in conversation is appropriate but salutations more like you would use in a letter are appropriate for more serious or affectionate emails.

The next portion is where you share any relevant background information. Don’t include anything irrelevant, you don’t want the recipient to feel like they have to sift through a tome to get the facts. The point is to demonstrate the relevance of the email and to make sure the recipient knows what they need to in order to formulate a response. 

The next section is for all the really important stuff. Here’s where you’d make a request, impart news, or engage in conversation. Be polite and maintain the tone of the email, but otherwise you can do whatever you want. 

End with some sort of signature or complimentary close. Whatever you use, it must include your name and the organisation you represent, if relevant. You can also include whatever other contact information you like as long as it’s appropriate for the recipient to use it to communicate with you in the future. 

Addressing an Email

An email should only be address to multiple recipients if you need to send an identical message to all of them and it’s appropriate for them to all know who it’s being sent to. For example; if you’re planning a meeting then emailing all the participants together is appropriate, but if you’re applying for jobs then you need to send each employer a separate email. If there are people who don’t need to be a part of the conversation but do need to be included in the paper trail then you can CC them, but never use BCC. 

The subject line should be a one line summary of the purpose of the email. Don’t use it to convince people to read the email, they should be doing that anyway. The subject line is best use to identify individual emails to check the information therein or follow up later. 

Reading Emails

It’s a sad commentary on our society that I need to explain this part, but I have to none the less. Every email must be read unless you already know that it doesn’t warrant a reply and contains no useful information, like all those Facebook emails. 

Every email should also be given the benefit of the doubt. Always interpret the message in the best way possible. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve received a reply that made it quite clear that they read something negative into what I said, and it usually ended up being quite insulting. 

Replies

There are only five cases where it’s not necessary to reply to a email;

  1. Replies to previous emails that make no request that warrants acknowledgement 
  2. Harassing emails, such as any form of spam
  3. Insulting emails
  4. Emails containing only information where there’s no reason to believe the sender is expecting any acknowledgement 
  5. The sender has asked that you not reply 

Some sort of reply should be sent within eight working hours of the email being sent. An automated reply is acceptable only if you’re unable to read your email for a predetermined period and it includes when that period will end, at which point the clock resets. The first reply can be a simple acknowledgement if it also includes when a more thorough reply can be expected and why it’s being delayed. 

Privacy

Anything included in an email must be assumed to be confidential unless stated otherwise. Unless it’s quite clear who has a right to know, it cannot be shared with anyone. 


That’s my suggestion for the etiquette we should apply to email. If you have any ideas of your own, feel free to share them in the comments. 

For when to use email see: Choosing the Right Communication Method