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ten ways to be a man

In an age in which tweed jackets have been replaced by sweatshirts, pants have holes and shoes lack laces, and the “un-done” look is considered attractive, maybe we need to reconsider our codes of conduct, especially when it comes to the art of being a gentleman. Thus, the question is begged: What makes a gentleman? 

1. A man has public decorum.

He opens doors for ladies and his elders as a sign of respect; likewise, he walks on the side of the curb and he offers his jacket. He minds his P’s and Q’s at all times, whether he is with the janitor or the CEO. A man never makes anyone wait for he is always on time. A man is never rude.

2. A man knows how to eat properly.

He knows to put his napkin in his lap and to rise when a lady enters. He knows which fork to use for his salad and which spoon belongs with desert. A man knows to scoop his soup away from him and to cut one bite at a time. Upon the conclusion of the meal, a man always offers to pay.

3. A man keeps his home.

He does not leave his laundry on the floor and his dishes in the sink because a man is always prepared for company. For the same reason, he always has a bottle of wine, some beer, liquor, and finger food in case an unexpected guest arrives. Upon their arrival, a man never fails to take their coats, offer a drink, and make his guests feel at home.

4. A man manages his money and takes care of his possessions.

A man operates on the principle of “cash on the barrel”—or as close to that as is possible in the twenty-first century. He never lives outside his means. A man never wakes up wondering how he spent several hundred dollars at the bar the night before. Furthermore, a man knows how to take care of that which he owns: He can change his oil, change a tire, find his way around the hardware store, and maintain his home. He knows how to pack his pipe and how to cut his cigar.

12735654_616785845136177_763349352_n5. A man does not play video games nor does he engage in other childish fooleries.

A man does not spend his day sitting on the davenport, in his plaid pajama pants with his hair undone, a five o’clock shadow, and a box of pizza yelling at his television screen as he plays video games. Likewise, a man does not put sporting games and fantasy teams before people. When he was a child, he acted as a child, but when he became a man, he did away with the things of a child. Yes, the past is what is known and for that reason hard to relinquish, but if he cannot put down the FIFA remote, comic strips, and his dreams of being a rockstar, man should consider channeling his creative and competitive energies elsewhere.

6. A man does not say “um.”

A man never utilizes “um,” “a,” “like,” or other filler words because he listens and thinks before he speaks. A man gives others the time of day and pays attention to details.

7. A man is always prepared.

A man does not board an airplane for work in jeans with a backpack, for he knows he could run into anyone. A man is never without a pen in case he needs to write down something important. Similarly, a man always has an umbrella and a jacket on hand, lest the weather takes him by surprise.

images-88. A man is never boring.

A man is passionate about that which matters to him. He is cultured in literature, the arts, politics, and societies other than his own. A man stays informed and always seeks to learn. A man has taste: He knows his Mozart from his Haydn, his oxford from his polo, his stout from his porter, and his scotch from his bourbon. For these reasons, a man is never boring.

9. A man knows what he wants.

A man never leaves others to wonder about his intent because a man always takes initiative, he plans in advance, keeps his word, and is honest. A man does not lead people on, nor does he wait until the last minute. A man knows what he wants and tries to attain it.

10. A man knows and takes care of himself.

A man does not waste time. He does not seek to “find himself” because he already knows himself. A man knows what matters in life, he knows what he wants and how to secure it. A man knows his manners and does not allow others to treat him with a lack of manners. A man takes care of himself and his body because a man is always prudent.

These are ten things that make a gentleman.

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22 replies to this post
  1. Top 10 tips for women:

    1. Learn how to dress stylishly. Trust me, we notice.
    2. No tattoos
    3. Pierced ears are sexy. Pierced anything else isn’t.
    4. Learn to enjoy “Guy” stuff. Women used to complain about being “Football widows”. Now they’re as big a fans as us. We like that.
    5. Learn something about firearms. A gun in the purse is a better deterrent than 100 stupid “Take back the night” rallies.
    6. Have good taste in music.
    7. Athleticism is sexy.
    8. Have good taste in cars. A cute girl in the right car is irresistible!
    9. Be the sort of girl that your boyfriend and his mother both agree is “Adorable”.
    10. Don’t be a nag. Nagging is to guys what beer bellies and whiskey breath is to women.

    • Eric, my reply to your “Top 10 tips for women”:

      1. Learn how to dress modestly before learning how to dress stylishly. Trust me, we notice.
      2.Absolutely. Same goes for men, however.
      3. Pierced ears are okay for teenaged and adult women. Not for preadolescents.
      4. I don’t see why women should be asked to enjoy male pursuits. Mind you, Henry Worsley, the SAS soldier who died at the end of his last Antarctic expedition a few weeks ago, enjoyed sewing as a hobby.
      5. Orthodox Catholics don’t own or learn how to use guns except for hunting or in wartime.
      6. Yay Jazz!! But really, how can we define good taste?
      7. Lady Boxers anyone?
      8. I own an 11 year old 4 cylinder Honda Accord sedan, but I’m not a woman.
      9. A cliche, but true.
      10. Another true cliche.

      • Hello John;

        Taking two of your points above:

        8. A Volkswagen Beetle makes a good Girl’s car”.

        1. Why not have both? The same girl who looks good in a skirt and sweater can also look good in more casual fare, like blue jeans and a T-shirt.

  2. What a delightful article Ms Barnes. I would call you ‘Miss’, but unlike the estimable Miss Eva Brann (a senior contributor here) you don’t make your preferred appellation known; and so – gentleman that I am – I assume you prefer we assume the modern default position?

    Where was I…?

    Your excellent and humorous piece reminds me, first of all, of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation”, which he wrote as a schoolboy. I won’t repeat all of them, but here are seven:

    2d: “Sit not when others stand.”
    9th: “Spit not.”
    24th: “Do not laugh too loud.”
    55th: “Eat not in the streets.”
    61st: ” Utter not frivolous things.”
    76th: “Point not your finger at him of whom you speak.”
    81st: “Be not curious to know the affairs of others.”

    As for your own (mostly) wise advisories , I respond:
    1. To offer your jacket to a woman is an archaism that even a mantilla wearing virgin would laugh at, no?
    2. I did not know soup should be scooped away from one. Why is that?
    3. Good advice.
    4. A man knows how to pack his pipe and how to cut his cigar [???]
    5. What about a man (blush) who spends too much time reading excellent conservative websites when there is a whole world out there in need of his time and talents?
    6. And metrosexual men who end sentences with an interogatory???
    7. Umbrellas? Check.
    8. Present company excepted.
    9. Too amorphous to reply to. Sorry.
    10. I hope to be a man like that someday.

  3. Eric, real women are not primarily concerned with being “cute,” “adorable,” or “sexy.” They are too busy mining the deep reservoirs within themselves which enable them to be true gifts to the real men in their lives. These would be the men who, by the way, are also not primarily focused on the external appearance of the real women in their lives. Not saying appearance isn’t important, but to include it in half of your top 10 requirements will possibly give you a very superficial woman. And looks don’t last forever.

    • “And looks don’t last forever.”

      I take your point, Laura, subject to Orwell’s observation that “by age 50, people have the faces they deserve”, which is why some women at 70 are still renowned beauties.

    • ” And looks don’t last forever”

      Maybe. But radio host Dennis Prager used to brag about how good his mother looked even in her 80’s, and they she did it mainly to please her 80-something husband. Also, #7 above (athleticism) is as much about good health as good looks.

    • A girl “too busy mining the deep reservoirs” to be cute in the kitchen? You’re over complicating the situation.

  4. Say what you mean, Mean what you say.
    Believe in something bigger than yourself.
    Be faithful to yourself and others.
    Always do your best.
    Respect others.
    Refrain from violent behavior and for needing the last word.
    Never lose your capacity for enthusiasm.
    Never lose your capacity for indignation.
    If you can’t be generous when it’s hard to be, you won’t when it’s easy.
    Never be impressed by wealth alone or thrown by poverty.

  5. Much of this more like a list of 1950s American social conventions than anything to do with masculinity. In regard to being one time, Evelyn Waugh once observed that “Punctuality is the virtue of the bored”-all of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Latin America would likely agree with such a sentiment. Number 5 is essential advice. Number 2 has much to recommend it.

    • Agreed Sir this nostalgia for the 1950s has to stop it is hindering in my view Traditionalists and Traditional Conservatives from achieving their full potential. With respect ladies and gentlemen I’m sick of losing politically and culturally to the Left. I hate to say it but nostalgia and even anti ideology ideology are not capable to even contend with the Left. Nothing wrong with good manners though!

  6. What a great essay, Alyssa. Thank you so much. I will admit, I’d get a 90% from you. A-. I can’t manage my finances at all. My wife does all of the books, and I thank the good Lord!

  7. Nothing on family? Is this piece on how to be a man or just act like one? Real men aspire to fatherhood. Fatherhood is the foundation of the universe and the pinnacle of manliness, not the direction one scoops his soup.

  8. Since I made a list for females, here’s one for the guys, but I won’t list 10, just the first few that come to mind.

    1. Have a sense of humor. Is there anything worse or more boring that the person who takes himself WAY too seriously?

    2. Have an adventurous side. Girls like that.

    Actually, I can’t think of any more that that. That, of course, assumes you are basically an okay person to begin with, essentially trustworthy and honorable in your dealings with people. If you’re a jerk, dishonest, have personality disorders, etc., well, that’s another story.

  9. I would add that a real man is pious. He knows his limitations and trust in God. The Christian notion of dignity confers upon the man all the qualities found in the habits that Alyssa so masterfully laid out. Excellent article!

  10. The best definition of “gentleman” that I have ever heard is :
    A gentleman puts the rights of others above his own feelings and the feelings of others above his own rights.
    – John Wooden

  11. I must say, these are not universal principles of masculinity. They are throwbacks to a pre-WWII mentality. As a young man on the verge of entering the working world (true adulthood), I think it is much more important that I honor God in everything I do than knowing how to make a martini or pack a pipe. Why would you assume that smoking is inherently masculine, or something a “gentleman” should partake? My father doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol – does that make him less of a man? Certainly not. A real man is, firstly, someone that can quietly provide for his family, honor God with his livelihood, and be a virtuous example for others. Anything else, including his education and knowledge of the “classics,” is secondary. If you want your “man” to lay down his coat across a puddle for you, that’s fine – just don’t imply that I am less of a man because I happen to like my jeans, t-shirts, 30 year old car, and heavy metal. Character is what counts. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. Your list is ultimately about outward appearances.

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