Be a Man, Be a Stoic

Stoicism was a popular philosophy in the Victorian era. It was even the basis for the prevailing honour codes of the time. In the simplest terms, stoicism is soldiering on and maintaining a calm demeanour as much as possible, the quintessential British “stiff upper lip.” Doesn’t that sound manly, facing challenges head on and being ruled by logic rather than emotion? In case that wasn’t enough I’m going to be making some more arguments for embracing stoicism. 

Emotion Feeds Emotion

When one person expresses emotion others react to it. If you yell in anger, others get angry. If you cry, other become sad. Before long everyone becomes extremely emotional. When emotion takes over, a whole plethora of problems appears. 

Emotion Impairs Logic

We’ve all made bad decisions because we were upset. It’s how the human mind works. The more emotional we are, the more important emotions seem to be. Not only that, emotion clouds the mind so nothing shines through and you can only think about whatever inspired the emotion. 

Emotion Blocks Communication

Have you ever been calmly discussing something, until someone starts yelling and suddenly it’s a fight? I’m guessing you have. When emotions boil over, advice becomes demands, observations become insults, and communication breaks down. All you can do anymore is hurt feelings. 

Good Leaders Stay Calm

What’s the most terrifying thing that can happen on a plane? Weird noises from the engines? Turbulence? Smoke in the cabin? No. It’s panicking flight attendants. Why is that so terrifying? The flight attendants only panic when there’s genuine danger. Calm flight attendants means there’s no real danger. Followers always look to their leaders for guidance, stay calm will allow a leader to make wise decisions and make it easier for the followers to stay calm as well.  Virtually all men will eventually become leaders, like when they become husbands and fathers.

Stoicism Can Make Unpleasant Situations Palatable

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation you can’t change, like a hot summer day. If you let your emotions get the better of you, you’ll just make yourself and everyone around you miserable. A mildly unpleasant situation just becomes progressively worse and you’re blind to the good points. If you soldier on it can even become a point of pride that you were able to keep your composure and face the hardship with dignity. I often get headaches on sunny days, but I never hide in a corner and complain, instead I soldier on. 

A Man’s Wedding 

These days people tend to think of weddings as being for the bride. That’s something that’s always bothered me. If anything, getting down the aisle is more impressive for men, seeing as how good women are in such short supply and we’re expected to be the ones who make the moves. It’s not right that we become little more than an accessory on the day that’s supposed to mark one of the most important events of our lives. I’m going to offer you some tips to help make your wedding about you too, and be a manly groom while you’re at it. 

Avoid the Word “Bridal”

I’m not saying never say “bridal” but be very careful about it. He word “bridal” means of or pertaining to a bride. It is not a synonym for “wedding.” Every time someone says “bridal” for things that aren’t exclusively about the bride, it sends the message that the groom is irrelevant. If you’re considering hiring someone who’s liberal with the word, pass them over.

It’s Your Day Too

No matter what point in the process your at, never allow your opinion to be ignored. Of course, I’m not saying your bride’s opinion should be ignored either, but you should get your say. There are some decisions that are yours, some are your brides, and some are shared, but both of your opinions should be considered in all of them.

Skip the Groom’s Cake

Some men try to get themselves back into their weddings with things like groom cakes, but that’s not likely to work. It seems like the bride made a gesture by allowing you to express yourself in some little way. It’s then obvious that everything else is just about the bride. There is a much better way to keep yourself in the wedding, but you’ll have to read to the end to find out what it is.

Keep the Men Out of the Bridal Shower

Notice I said Bridal shower. This is one part of the wedding that should be entirely about the bride. Some people think “couple’s showers” should be a thing. They’re wrong. I don’t know if they think it’s the solution to the unfairness of brides getting two prewedding parties or a good way to get men to be more involved in their weddings. Really it’s just another example of forcing men to become more feminine.

Veto the Bachelorette Party

The bachelorette party is the epitome of women trying to be men. Sometime after boorish bachelor parties became the norm, the bachelorette party became common. Even worse, it’s become common for women to want bachelorette parties yet veto bachelor parties. If you stay out of the bridal shower it’ll give her the chance to have a classy party with just her friends.

Keep the Bachelor Party Classy

When most people think of bachelor parties, the first thing that comes to mind is a night filled with debauchery, but there’s a better option. A bachelor party that’s built around enjoying the company of your friends will inevitably be more manly and your bride will have nothing to object to. Your bachelor party should be about celebrating your impending nuptials, not having “one last night of freedom” especially since you’re, if anything, more free after you’re married. 

Put Tradition Before Fashion

There’s nothing wrong with having trendy touches in your wedding, but it is more feminine. Men tend to be more concerned about legacy and tradition than women are, so being traditional tends to be seen as more manly. The best thing, is that wedding traditions are still quite feminine so insisting on a more traditional wedding isn’t going to push your bride on to the sidelines.

Be Visible

It’s impossible to make an event about you if nobody realises you’re around. Your bride is going to be extremely visible in her beautiful white dress, so you need to be front and centre too. Be sure to dress differently than the guests, so you don’t too easily blend in. That’s part of why I think casual weddings are a terrible idea, you can’t stand out if you’re dressing below where many men would be comfortable. Mingle, dance, do whatever it takes for people to see you as the centre of the day, alongside your bride.

Have Non-Negotiables

As promised, here’s the best way to keep yourself in the wedding, non-negotiables. You need to pick some points on which you’re completely unwilling to compromise. Be sure to choose things that are extremely important to you, like family traditions. Don’t choose a tacky theme and make it a non-negotiable. Your bride deserves her non-negotiables as well, and you need to respect that. If they become an issue, then that may be a bad sign for your marriage.

I have one non-negotiable for any event to be about me. I expect the maximum appropriate level of formality for the type of event

The Update to Phone Etiquette

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

Telephones have been around, in some form or another for over a century and there have been several notable advancements in the technology during that time. Most have those advances forced a change in the etiquette, except the last time it needed to. When cell phones entered common use the old etiquette could still be followed but it no longer fits. 

The Evolution of Phones

To understand the etiquette of phones, one must understand how the technology and the etiquette have evolved since Alexander Graham Bell said “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you.” In 1876. The core features of phone technology haven’t appreciably changed since then but the routing has changed enormously. 

The Party Line

The first phone system in many communities was a party line. Party lines consist of two connections. The first rings the bells on all the phones in the community when a handle is turned on any of them. A second connection carries the voice signal to all the phones on the network at once, if someone picks up the receiver. Party lines were inexpensive, lacking the need for complicated routing equipment or paid staff, and allowed many people to participate in the same conversation but they provided no possibility for privacy and inherently had a limited capacity, to the point that they could only serve a small community. 

Typically people were expected to only pick up the phone if they intended to participate in the conversation, although many people eavesdropped anyway. It was also expected that conversations be kept brief, so others could also use the line. It’s also when the expectation started that an incoming call never be ignored. 

Operators

The first major improvement technology was the switchboard. One to one calls became the norm, with human beings (usually women) routing the call. Besides the obvious benefit to privacy, switchboards allowed for long distance calls and the operators could render assistance, like retrying busy lines and helping to track down individuals. 

Mostly the etiquette didn’t change, but now people were expected to be considerate of the operators. Better yet, people back then were actually respectful. The long time it sometimes took to connect calls even forced people to be patient. 

Automated Exchanges

I grouped all of these together because they all had the same effect on etiquette. The role of the operator was eliminated along with all its benefits. Calls now connected quickly, even between continents. It also brought about the end of accountability because anonymity became possible. For that reason, hanging up on a call in progress became acceptable. 

Call Screening

With the advent of caller id and the answering machine, it became possible to identify callers before answering again. This was also the first time the etiquette didn’t fully update. It was still seen as extreme to not answer. 

Mobile Phones

When mobile phones, most notably cell phones, came on the scene people were always near a phone for the first time, but the etiquette didn’t update at all. 

The New Etiquette

With our society’s failure to update phone etiquette, we’ve ended up with some pretty aggravating and sometimes dangerous situations. 

Answering is Optional

It’s entirely acceptable to not answer the phone for any reason. The assumption must be that when someone doesn’t answer it’s because it would be inappropriate or unwise.

The Physically Present Take Priority

It’s never acceptable to ignore the people around you to answer the phone. Only answer the phone in social settings when you believe it will be a genuine emergency or some other “DEFCON 1” type situation. 

Move Away to Talk

Go as far away from others as you reasonably can to talk on the phone. Nobody else wants to listen to your conversation so don’t force them too. 

Use Speakerphone Sparingly

It’s only appropriate to use speakerphone when nothing else is practical. Using speakerphone as an alternative to holding the phone or to allow many people to participate are the appropriate options. That said, the other side has the right to know who can hear them. 

Don’t Make Calls That You Shouldn’t Expect To Be Answered

I’ve explored when to make phone calls before, so I won’t again. If you’re making a phone call when you shouldn’t then you can’t expect it to be answered. Also, if the other party’s caller id doesn’t accurately identify you or the party you represent you are lying to them and calling them becomes malicious.

Don’t Assume Anyone is Perpetually Available

A trend has appeared that people think they have the right to a prompt response to a phone call placed to a business at any time, day or night. They don’t. Only call business lines during regular business hours and expect specific people to be entirely unreachable while on holiday, unless you’ve been personally told otherwise. 


That’s my idea of how phone etiquette needs to be updated. If you have any ideas of your own, drop them in the comments.

Summer: Dressing for the Heat

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

Summer is here, and it’s brought the heat with it. If you’re not dressed for it you end up baking like your grandma’s rhubarb pie. I’m going to help you dress comfortably in warm weather without looking like a cad.

Keep Your Shirt On

There’s a trend these days of guys taking their shirts off any time it gets warm. Often these guys are pretty out of shape too. I say, don’t. Unless you’re at the beach or pool or maybe playing a pickup basketball game, keep your shirt on. Nobody wants to see that anyway. You’re a man, your intellect and character make you far more attractive than your body ever could.

Choosing Your Fabrics

Your choice of fabric can greatly influence your comfort level in any weather conditions. When choosing fabrics for warm weather, you’ll want to wear something light and breathable. Cotton is a good choice, as a certain synthetics. You want to be careful with the synthetics though, they can look excessively casual. Lighter colours are a wise choice as well, as darker colours will heat up more in the sun. 

Wear a Hat

In the heat, hats go from a wise fashion choice to a necessity. The right hat will protect your head from the harsh sun. A baseball cap would do the job, but there’s not much that’s less classy than a ball cap as an everyday hat. A gentlemanly white Panama hat is probably your best bet. It’s summery looking but still classy, and it goes with a wide variety of casual and informal outfits. On top of that, you’ll look a bit like Al Capone. 

Shorts

Shorts are far more comfortable in the heat than pants but can easily be worn wrong. It’s sad that I have to say this but, shorts are exclusively casual. In fact, you should probably limit them to your street clothes. A man’s shorts should be approximately knee length with a relaxed but not baggy fit. You have a little bit of leeway on the baggy side but otherwise they’ll almost instantly look ill-fitting. You also need to remember that simpler garments are more formal, so only pair cargo shorts with t-shirts. Personally, I would always go straight to pants after cargo shorts. Finally, never tuck your shirt into your shorts. 

Sandals

Sandals are an excellent choice to keep your feet cool in the heat, but there are rules here too. Most importantly, there are two garments that must never be worn with sandals; socks and pants, you’ll just end up looking like an old man, even if you’re thirteen. Leather flip-flops or hiking sandals are a touch more formal so they’re a good choice with a polo or button-down shirt. Anything else is best kept in the realm of t-shirts. 

Be Prepared to Layer

Even the hottest days can get pretty cool in the evenings, so you’ll need to be ready for that too. If you expect to be out into the evening, be sure to bring along a sweater or coat that goes with your outfit. Fit is less of an issue since you’ll be most comfortable wearing only one layer anyway. If you’re going out on a date, a blanket is your best choice so you can cuddle up with that lovely lady when it gets cool. 

Suck It Up

Sometimes you may have no choice but to tap into your inner stoic, and suck it up. Men’s fashion gets inherently warm once you get up to the more formal end. It can even be enough to make you jealous of the fairer sex and their light airy dresses. Just carry a handkerchief and try to stay indoors. 

The Rightful Successor to Children Being “Seen and Not Heard”

Drawing of children reading.Whether we’ve read Anne of Green Gables or we’ve been told about it by our parents or grandparents, we’ve all heard about the old parenting philosophy that children should be seen and not heard. It’s certainly a bit stifling but with the newer ideas we’ve kind of thrown the baby out instead of the bathwater. Like all traditional ideas, it has its merit, even if it’s not the optimal approach.

The Virtues of “Seen and Not Heard”

Whenever you’re considering whether an abandoned idea should be readopted, adapted, or forgotten, you must consider why it was created in the first place. Anyone who’s spent time with children know that they can be quite rambunctious and noisy, which would be very disruptive to the adults who are trying to have a conversation. It’s also easy to become unconcerned with children’s happiness when you have ten of them and there’s a good chance several of them won’t live to adulthood. However its best point is that it teaches boys the stoicism and girls the poise they should have as adults. 

Our Current Ideas

We seem to have adopted the belief that children are some sort of miniature master race. We cater to them and even use disciplinary philosophies that can never be replaced by something more mature, like an honour system. So often parents refuse to punish their children or even deny their wishes. We coddle our children and risk them growing up to believe the world revolves around them, literally and metaphorically. We’ll even reject academic standards to protect their self esteem, something I may have found a solution to. We teach them etiquette that either puts them first or denies them the right to agency, rarely anywhere in between.

The Rightful Successor

So if the old ideas are wrong and the new ideas are wrong, then what should we do? We need to find the balance. We need to adapt adult etiquette to children’s nature. We should teach children to respect the use of all spaces at all times. They can make plenty of noise wherever they’re expected to play but seen and not heard stands where the adults are having a conversation. Every time we’re considering a parenting decision we should ask ourselves “would a child need to reject this lesson to become a healthy adult?” If they will, then it’s the wrong decision. We should adapt but never contradict adult etiquette, and put reality ahead of identity or self esteem. 

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.

Head of the Household as a Head of State 

John F. Kennedy relaxing with his wife and children.
Many people these days hate the idea of the head of the household. It’s one of those destructive feminist ideas, that being in leadership is the same as being superior. The hypocrisy in that is how they only object to this exact form of leadership. I’m going to explain why the existence of the head of the household is beneficial and how it should be like the head of state. 

Leadership is Service

Something that people often forget is that leadership is a form of service. A good leader doesn’t exercise his authority to get his way but rather for the good of those he leads. He may not always abide by their will,  but he never ignores it. We’ve all heard of army officers claim that “nothing’s too good for the men” and that’s the epitome of a good leadership attitude. Army officers don’t see those under them as their servants but rather people who need guidance to achieve a common goal. The head of a household should hold a similar philosophy. He should lead with the goal of creating a healthy family culture and protecting the well-being of his wife and children. 

You Can’t Have a Democracy of Two

Nobody ever argues that children should have equal say, they are children after all, but that only leaves the two parents to make all the decisions. That works fine when they can come to an agreement, but what about the times they can’t. You can’t vote to settle a disagreement when there are only two voters, you’ll only ever get a tie. When a decision must be made but a consensus can’t be reached, it falls to a leader. 

A Leader Must be Chosen in Advance

If you try to choose a leader when a decision needs to be made then you’re actually still trying to make that decision. You always need to choose a leader when there’s no other decisions to be made. Governments schedule elections to try to avoid that very problem. For that concern, it doesn’t matter who the leader is, so long as the choice is made beforehand. It works well to assume the man will be this leader, but that’s not the important point. 

Head of Household, Head of State

A head of state has two primary roles; be the final authority and be the face of the government. It has never been common practice for a head of state to act entirely unilaterally. They always at least tried to get input, to fill in the gaps in their own knowledge of the situation. The head of a household should do the same, consulting with his wife and children when there’s a decision to be made. 

The identity of a family comes from two places; the family as a collective unit and the head of the household. When a family needs to choose a representative or ceremonial leader, the duty tends to fall to the husband and father. Whenever there’s a need to attach a single name or face to a family, it’s the husband and father. 

Conclusion

You can either be marginalised in your own home or the “king of your castle” and your family’s “head of state.” If you forego your place as the head of the household you lose your place in it, and simply become hanger on.