Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Recipe for a gentleman

By request of Mr. Nelson (any relation to the Admiral?), I now set forth a set of time-honored standards for gentlemen who wish to be worthy of the title. So glad you asked.

1. Courtesy: A gentleman is equally respectful of all humans who command his attention. His manner does not distinguish among attractive ladies and their less attractive friends; elderly ladies, beefy linebackers, chief financial officers of large corporations, or their janitors. He never refers to a member of the fair sex in pejorative terms, no matter how justly her actions may seem to require it.

2. Handiness: A gentleman must be able to handle a basic set of hand and power tools without blackening a nail, detaching a finger, or rendering major household appliances unworkable for extended periods of time. An intimate understanding of the inner workings of automobiles is desirable, but not mandatory; however, he must never get testy on the cell phone with the AAA representative if he is incapable of changing his own tire.

3. Integrity: A gentleman must never tell a falsehood to avoid a difficult conversation, whether the topic of conversation be financial, emotional, legal or domestic. Similarly, he must never wilfully misunderstand the subtext of said conversation in order to adhere to a position which absolves him in a merely technical way. In other words, the statement "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" is Right Out.

4. Dress: A gentleman dresses appropriately to the occasion. He wears hiking boots to go duck hunting, a dinner jacket to the symphony, jeans and a flannel shirt to chop wood, ragged t-shirts to work on the car. He does not wear Italian shoes to a football game, Izod shirts to a punk-rock concert, or a ball gown to a dinner party. Under no circumstances does he ever wear polyester.

5. Fitness: Too much attention to physique is as damaging to a gentleman's credibility as too little. A gentleman should be in good enough condition to survive for a week in the wilderness in the event of natural disaster or manmade holocaust; e.g. he should be able to walk five miles carrying forty pounds, bench-press a mountain lion, tie a bowline, know to camp on high ground,and clear the dry grass from around the fire pit. Hmm. It would seem I got a little off-topic, there; as I was saying, men who blow themselves up like Michelin men in order to impress the ladies are repulsive and vulgar. We are not interested in the size of your equipment, either.

6. Intelligence: A gentleman should be sufficiently conversant with current events, the sciences and the humanities to have some inkling of the extent of his own ignorance. If at all possible he should avoid delivering long monologues on notions which are blindingly obvious to his listeners. However I acknowlege that this may be too much to hope for.

7. Tact: A gentleman should know when to shut up, forgive and forget.

8. Playfulness: A gentleman ought to be able to handle being left alone with an eight-year-old of either gender without either panicking or molesting the child. Bonus points for helping with the treehouse.

9. Manners: No whining. Ever.

10. Resourcefulness: A gentleman should be wise enough to recognize those moments where a lady's petulance is due merely to low blood sugar, not to a pervasive disgust with humanity, and pull over to get dinner accordingly.

Lest I be accused of sexism (perish the thought!) it must be noted that my standards for ladies are in addition to, not in place of, the above requirements. And if anyone doubts me, I will send him my circular saw blade for sharpening.

No comments: