Ah, men. It's so hard to be us, isn't it? We have to forage and hunt for food, protect our caves, and protect our families from the elements. We are expected to be sensitive and, at the same time, masculine as all heck. What's a man to do? Well, in this day in age, there are several things men need to be doing that many are sadly avoiding. We'll save the grooming tips for another time. Until then, here's five things men need to do:
5. Give Up Your Seat. See that little, old lady clinging to the handlebar on the bus? Of course you do. You're sitting right in front of her. Now get up and offer her your seat. You should be doing this even if she's not little and old. Or if she's a he. Honestly, you should be giving up your seat to anyone who looks less able to stand than you are but, at the very least, you should be a gentleman to those who are pregnant, barely able to stand, or carrying more than the phone you've buried yourself in. If you can conquer worlds with your iPhone, you can stand up in-transit. And -- hey, gym fanatic -- standing burns more calories.
4. Dress Your Age. This doesn't mean that you need to be wearing a suit every day. You can still look perfectly acceptable in jeans and wearings sneakers. But that "Tap Out" T-shirt looks ridiculous on you if you're over forty and -- quite frankly -- you really aren't fooling anyone. Dressing like a teenager doesn't make you look younger, it makes you look as if you are in denial. Save your mid-life crisis for the Corvette you buy and learn to dress your age. There are T-shirts for middle-aged men that don't look like the boring clothes your dad wore. Find them and try one on. You'll be surprised to learn that dressing your age will actually make you look younger. And it's much better than trying to pretend you're Benjamin Button.
3. Learn How A Doorway Works. Pretty simple, really: Let people out before you go in. This works on planes, trains, at the mall, at the office, or anywhere that a door opens up and people come through it. Believe it or not, you aren't nearly as important as you think you are, and your pushing your way onto the subway before people get off doesn't actually hasten your commute. The old saying that "Patience is a Virtue" rings true when people are walking through the door. Oh, and if you're not going to open the door for people before you walk through it, at least have the courtesy to hold it for the next person behind you. Busier, far more important people than you have managed to pull off common courtesy. You can, too.
2. Control Your Insides. Sitting in an airport lounge recently, I was on the receiving end of a loud, open-mouthed belch by the guy sitting next to me. When I looked over at him, he said "Sorry, I can't help it." Yes, you can. Everyone can. You might have gas, and that's a fact of life, but you also have a mouth that closes and the ability to stifle your obnoxiousness. Same goes (even more so) for farting. If you are over the age of 12 and haven't learned how to control your gas, you're lucky to have made it this far into society without being caged and used as a lab experiment. It's the 21st century; your gas doesn't need to be shared with others. And if you're over 30 and still find it funny to deliberately belch and fart in public, stop reading this article right now and go watch cartoons.
1. Eat Like An Adult. Quick tidbit: Your napkin and fork go on the left, and your knife and spoon on the right. That's formal dinner etiquette and not knowing it is perfectly understandable. Eating like a Neanderthal is not. Close your mouth, chew your food, and learn to sip your drink without slurping it into your gullet. No one wants to hear your chow, let alone see it, so learn to behave as if you've eaten before. It's dinner, not a race. Conversation comes between bites and not during them. If you live in North America, chances are pretty good you are not starving. Stop eating like you are.
Being a man might not be easy, but each of us can do his part to be a little more graceful as we deal with this fact. Sure, we're not completely removed from our cavemen ancestors, but we can at least try eating like we are. And if you must eat with your hands, at least trim your nails.
What kind of bad manners drive you crazy?
Ward Anderson is one half of the talk radio program "Ward and Al," heard weekday mornings on SiriusXM, channel 167. He has been known to dress his age, and is surprisingly much older than he looks. His first novel will be released in mid-2014.