The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People. . .

"Lard Ass" in the Rob Reiner movie Stand by Me (1986) just before all hell breaks loose.  If you've seen the movie, no explanation is required.

Here's another post for average guys that has nothing whatsoever to do with clothing or shoes.  Most of it has been covered in one form or another somewhere on The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style before, but I have witnessed various kinds of social gaffs and no-nos among young people, who are certainly more than old enough to know better, the last several days as the university semester has wound down.  

Now, I don't know what in the hell Mom and Dad taught these kids, but clearly basic levels of politeness are something many parents no longer instill in their offspring, assuming the former are even aware of these concepts themselves.  And I'm well aware that there are many families where unappealing behavior, and joking about it, is common currency, as typical as discussions of politics, movies, or books might be in other households.  It absolutely boggles my mind.  

What I really cannot fathom is that disgusting personal habits, behavior, and equally unpleasant talk about them seem to know no social bounds.  You can't simply blame it on people being underprivileged, uneducated, and/or disadvantaged, to use current parlance.  The small Liberal Arts institution where I work, for instance, isn't exactly cheap.  The 18- to 23-year-olds I teach, and who behave so poorly, come from middle, upper middle, and even upper income homes for the most part.  Obviously, it does not follow that easy access to money and material things equates with having "class." Rather just the opposite from what I cannot help but notice between August and May each academic year.  And offensive behavior isn't the sole preserve of young college "men" either, although they've got that partiuclar market cornered by a little bit.

All of that uncomfortable socioeconomic talk aside, it's probably worth mentioning again certain things that stylish men do not do.  You know.  Just in case there are actually any younger guys reading this blog, who somehow have no clue about how not to behave*.  So, let's get rolling.   Here it is.  If you want to win friends and influence people, be careful to avoid the following unpleasant habits as you work to improve your everyday style:

1) A stylish man does not cough, yawn, or sneeze without covering his mouth.  And he always follows quickly with an "Excuse me, please."

2) Stylish men do not burp out loud.  Rather they do their utmost to suppress the burp and hold it in as quietly as possible.  "Excuse me," might be necessary once in while here, guys.

3) Stylish men do not pass gas in public.  It's just gross.  Get some over the counter medication to help alleviate the problem, or see your doctor.  In the meantime, go to the bathroom to sort things out.  And CLOSE THE DOOR.  Don't be a pig and treat everyone else to your intestinal issues.

4) Stylish men do not chew with their mouths open.  Ever.  Neither do they ignore other basic table manners like keeping napkins in laps, elbows off the table, not talking with your mouth full, and/or not reaching for things.  Period.

5) Stylish men do not swear habitually and loudly in general public conversation.  It's just common and puts off more people than you might realize.  It's also a good idea to keep this kind of thing in check when you're at home too.

6) A stylish man does not pick his nose, dig in his ears, or poke at the yuck in the corners of his eyes.  This is another area where, if there is a problem, you should retire to the privacy of the bathroom to fix it.

7) A stylish man does not honk his nose loudly into a handkerchief or tissue in public, and he certainly does not do so at the table during a meal.  Lots of people apparently see no problem with this, but, again, it's really much nicer for everyone else if you excuse yourself and go somewhere private, if at all possible, to clear your nasal passages. 

8) Stylish men do not urinate publicly in full view of others.  Find a restroom, or a portable toilet for the love of God.  Public parks, parking decks, and people's front yards are not your personal toilet bowl.

9) A stylish man does not clip his finger or toenails in public.  I once heard about a professor doing this in a department meeting where I went to graduate school, although I did not actually witness it.  I was not so fortunate while waiting for a flight at Charles de Gaulle outside Paris several years ago when I noticed a handsomely dressed, 60-something American man clipping his fingernails in the boarding area.  He then brushed the clippings onto the floor as his row was announced.  A thoroughly charming individual.

10) Stylish men do not brush their hair, floss their teeth, or engage in other grooming necessities and rituals beyond the confines of the bathroom at home with the door closed, or the men's room if there is nowhere else.

11) A stylish man does not adjust his privates in the front, or try to fix a wedgie in the back when he is in full view of the general public.  Again, go somewhere private to do this discretely.  Of try a larger size of underwear.

12)  A stylish man does not appear in the morning without washing his face and brushing or combing his hair first.  If you want to lounge around in your pajamas all day, super.  That can be a wonderful way to unwind on the weekends or during holidays. . .  if/when you don't need to leave the house that is.  The late Sir Winston Churchill is supposed to have run the war from his bed on many days, but let's not treat everyone else to the sight of our sleep-filled eyes and corkscrew hair, please.

13) When nature calls, a stylish man  excuses himself without broadcasting the fact that he is off to relieve himself.  And a stylish man never discusses his activities in the bathroom or restroom afterwards.  Other people do not want to know those kinds of details, and should not have to hear about them.  You follow me?  That's about as crass as Point #3 above. 

14) Stylish men , regardless of their age, never forget to use "please" and "thank in any personal or public interaction where these words might be appropriate.  And a stylish guy also knows how to ask for something without relying on the all-too-common "Can I have X?"  or "Give me Y."  If people knew any better, they'd be embarrassed, but I suppose that's expecting too much.

There.  That should do it for now.  Without a doubt, there are other points to keep in mind where personal habits are concerned, but the various reminders mentioned here will go a long way in helping average guys, who want to kick up their everyday style several notches and at the same time avoid obnoxious, irritating, and gross behavior.  Let's not continue acting like cavemen, guys.  It's far better to acquire a bit of gentility and finesse now if you somehow managed to get through childhood and adolescence without certain pleasantries transferred to you through example.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

*That's it!  We need a program on cable TV entitled How Not to Behave.  Kind of like What Not to Wear but less touchy-feely feel-marginally-better-about-yourself-for-two-minutes-and-then-go-back-to-the-way-you-were-before-the-makeover.

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