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.
Friday, July 20, 2018
Supper a couple of evenings ago.
When you need a break from the seemingly ubiquitous grilled steaks, hamburgers, brats, hotdogs, or chicken breasts (ugh!), go cool with some fruit salad, French bread, brie, and maybe a few slices of something like prosciutto or capocollo on the side. An evening meal like this is easy to prepare, cool, and delicious. It is also surprising how filling a large bowl of fruit can be.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
The Tinker Toy Robot in question, dubbed The Evil Paulbot, who commands ol' Dad to do numerous household chores in the Young Master's absence this week.
The Young Master and Grand Duchess are away for 10 days visiting grandparents. Yours truly is on his own with the cats and fish. Besides reading late into the night, taking long walks around the neighborhood, and painting some toy soldiers, I've been taking a few photographs for The Young Master, which I've emailed to him since they took off last Friday.
The joke here is that eight-year old Young Master feels put upon by the addition of one quick daily summertime chore, in the name or helping his parents and learning a bit more responsibility, which he is expected to take care of five days a week right after breakfast, feeding the cats and fish, and brushing his teeth. These chores, which are printed on a list taped to the refrigerator door in the kitchen, include the following:
Monday -- Bring his laundry basket of dirty clothes to the washing machine for Dad to wash. Help put away folded clothes and hang other items in bedroom closet later in the day.
Tuesday -- Empty the three bathroom trashcans and put new plastic liners in place.
Wednesday -- Swiffer the floors in the entry hall, kitchen, and breakfast nook.
Thursday -- Straighten the bookshelves in his bedroom and neatly replace any books left on floor.
Friday -- Straighten, pick up, and dust the TV room.
Saturday and Sunday -- Free. No chores.
This routine has gone pretty well during the last month that The Young Master has been on his summer vacation from school. However, I have been informed by my son a number of times that I am a mean father. It's always hard to keep a straight face during these moments when I have to reexplain that he is old enough now to help us keep the house in order and to help Mom and Dad by being responsible for these very small tasks.
While largely cooperative, The Young Master has responded by creating many drawings of a mean father stick figure (in glasses like I wear mind you) with a bullwhip in one hand and pointing with the other to some arduous, smelly, sweaty task that he wants the small boy in all of these pictures to complete. The boy invariably has his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, X'es where his eyes should be, and is hunched over with a 500-pound of cat litter, kitchen garbage, or similar on his back.
These drawings are surprisingly good in some case and have produced much laughter in the home since the Young Master finished school in mid-June. The daily chores narrative has been extended to include additional drawings of, and the construction of two Tinker Toy robots: The Evil Dadbot and. . . The Paulbot. The latter, pictured above, has been left sitting in a chair in our library to keep me busy and in line this week while The Young Master and Grand Duchess are away. So far, I've been commanded by The Evil Paulbot to perform 1001 chores around the house. No doubt, there will be a million more before wife and child return next week.
The Evil Paulbot has spoken! Vacuuming the first floor of the house exhausted yours truly this morning. Navy knit polo shirt, faded green chino shorts, and worn leather dock-siders complete today's attire.
Yesterday's casual wear included the fairly typical Madras shirt, some old, worn khaki shorts, and the ever-present Sperry dock-siders. These kinds of summer clothes, derided by some, are simply a variation on the kind of things that my father, maternal grandfather, various uncles, and first cousins of my mother wore during summer weekends and/or on the Chesapeake Bay or the Carolina Coast where we vacationed together during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, three and sometimes four generations sprawled around one house and occasionally between two if there were enough of us present. Old family photographs, slides, Super 8mm films, and a few videos show that similar attire was also worn by various male members of the clan during the late 1940s, 50s, and 60s. We won't talk about the dark knee-length dress socks that Great Uncle Zeb wore with Bermuda shorts and leather oxfords.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Metaphorically speaking, is this really how you want life to be?
It's high time to revisit the Classic Style slogan for 2018. 'Just say no to trashy.' Turn your back on the trashy approach to life along with trashy attitudes, and the related trashy behavior that are all around us now. Online, in popular culture, and maybe right up the street.
In place of the belligerent rudeness and crass habits that seem to be the order of the day now, I suggest that greater effort is made toward acquiring some measure of polish, sophistication, grooming, and finesse. Let's also toss in kindness to and consideration for others for good measure. Self-restraint too might be another good ideal for us to add to the mix. As my maternal grandfather -- from rural North Carolina mind you -- used to intone from time to time during my childhood, "Son! Son! Control yourself!"
Goodness knows that all levels of society in its present state could use more of these seven qualities than has become the sad, pathetic, accepted, and (amazingly) idealized norm in many circles. It's time to stop being complacent about life and how we live it. Let's reel ourselves in more than just a little, and get the darn ship back on course. More bluntly, let's quit behaving as though we were raised in a barn, gentlemen.
Besides formal education, the kind of self-improvement I encourage might start with a series of small steps at the personal level when it comes to how we present ourselves to the rest of the world through daily appearance and routine behaviors as well as in our interaction with others. That aim also extends to how we are at home with the door closed.
If you are onboard with any of this and can admit quietly to yourself that, just maybe, you did not have the greatest role models when it comes to cultivating those missing layers of polish, sophistication, grooming, finesse, kindness, consideration, and self-restraint, I suggest the following.
Start with any of the books by Peter Post for a crash course on decent, everyday conduct. Consider it your 'resocialization' if you will. When it comes to improving your daily appearance, have a look at books on the subject by the likes of G. Bruce Boyer and Alan Flusser. Then, get busy.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Monday, July 2, 2018
No baseball caps or fanny packs visible here, but you take the point I hope.
"When in Rome do as the Romans. Please don’t wear shorts, a fanny pack, sandals, and a baseball cap as they scream “ugly American.”
I would add only that the visually jarring look described above also has its British, Scandinavian, and German variants. To borrow a page from the late Nancy Reagan's book, "Just say no!"
Unless of course you are by a swimming pool, or on a beach somewhere with the aim of looking like a cooked, slightly inebriated lobster by day's end when you stagger back to your hotel for dinner and later clubbing with all of the usual tactless, ostentatious displays of lowbrow drunks off the leash away from home for a few days. Then, by all means, go right ahead.
For those interested in doing things in a more understated way, dressing with comfort in mind when you travel is fine. Especially if you are visiting a warm place this summer. However, do so in a way that is respectful of local culture or customs, and helps you blend into the scene without screaming "Clueless, loud 'merican idiots here just asking to have our pockets picked in some form! Come on over!"
It is entirely possible, on the other hand, to dress for comfort, yet you can also manage to project an image of polish, sophistication, grooming, and finesse. It simply requires a tiny bit more forethought, care, and consideration as you pack your bag before departure.
As a gentle reminder, please do avoid insisting to the locals that you are German simply because a great, great grandparent might have come originally from Stuttgart, you have just visited The Hofbrau Haus in Munich, and here is the t-shirt to prove it.