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Conduct for gents

If you are male, there is an excellent chance that you are incompletely civilized. Therefore, after the manner of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility,” I offer some useful precepts:

Take off that baseball cap when you’re indoors. If your accelerating baldness bothers you, buy some hair.

Sleeves are not napkins. Or handkerchiefs.

Your comments on the film everyone else is watching are not as clever as you imagine.

Brown shoes with a blue suit, no matter what anyone has told you, are still a bad idea.

You’re still allowed to open a door for a lady, and you’re equally welcome to light her cigarette, on the off chance that you meet one who smokes, in a place that still permits smoking.

If you must sing, find a choir that will tolerate you.

Never mind what that article told you about pheromones — bathe daily. And wash your hair, too. Apply that mousse with a light hand, so that you don’t look like a seagull caught in an oil slick.

Think about buying a three-piece suit. Nothing befits a paunch better than a vest.

Never take a cell phone call at table. You’re not that important.

You should be tying your own neckties, and you should be thinking twice if you own any with Looney Tunes characters.

If you’re stingy with tips, eat at home.

No one cares how you would manage the Ravens/Orioles/Federal Reserve.

If you’re not at the gym or the pool, wear long pants. No one wants to look at those legs.

Your athletic and romantic exploits are unlikely to be out of the ordinary. Save them for your memoirs, which you can instruct your heirs and assigns to burn without reading.

Perhaps, readers, you have something to add?


Posted by John McIntyre at 3:15 PM | | Comments (4)


Here's mine (an oft-repeated mantra in my home): It may surprise you to know that not all your thoughts should be spoken; consider developing a filter between your brain and your mouth.

An online dater in Atlanta would have done well to follow that advice. He is currently being villainized in blogs across America. You might find the article--and the situation--pretty interesting:

Oh jeez, my entire work day could get hijacked by this exercise if I'm not careful.
- clean up after yourself and its corollary, put things back where you found them
- don't leave one gulp in the carton/one M&M in the bag/one square of TP on the roll -- finish & replace
- spitting is really, really gross
- if you don't have a tissue (and you've already been instructed not to use your sleeve), don't attempt to sniff the offending material back into your nasal cavities repeatedly

I might be back with more later after I've crossed a few things off my to-do list.

I have to know: John, were you feeling whimsical, or did something trigger the enumeration of rules of conduct?


Honestly, I've never understood this injunction. (Though I admit brown shoes are unremittingly dorky).

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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