Imagine what a daft figure you’d be if you lived and died by the recommendation of these hoary old “etiquette manuals”: awkwardly dancing round the pavement to make sure you’re always walking kerbside; despairing over the direction your fellow diners are passing the port; slavishly learning all the acceptable sorts of address for the royalty (even though they’d never allow you to anywhere near them).
Being a person is changing – it’s always been changing – and people manuals haven’t engaged in real-world for hundreds of years, if they ever did in the least. So what are the usage rules, the sensible dos and don’ts of being a person right now?
We’re not talking about the way to behave in light of Me Too. That’s obvious.
Rule one: don’t be a jerk.
Rule two: don’t let your fellow men be jerks.
Rule three: that’s it! We’re thinking more about the small, lighter things – the items that are easy to urge wrong (or only accidentally get right) within the great modern, roiling galaxy of manhood. Things like …
- Delete your Facebook account. It’s not digital soft play. It’s an elephant’s graveyard.
- Audiobooks: fine – but only for nonfiction.
- Stop thinking of your suit as occasionwear. Wear it just because you want to.
- Stop vaping. Dummies are for babies.
- A gentleman doesn’t flinch when his partner inserts a digit up his bottom.
- Always order a bottle, never a glass.
- Stop doing performative exercise. just go for a run. Then tell no one about it.
- You’re not mindful. You’re rude.
- Always spend more on your trousers than your trainers.
- Go on holiday by yourself at least once a year.
- You really don’t need to know how to do up a bow tie, so long as your clip-on is a) expensive and therefore b) convincing. Please ignore all previous communiqués to the contrary.
- For once, just get the bill for everyone – and don’t recoil when it arrives.
- Buy a pen and use it.