Monday, 1 December 2014

#16 - “The Modern Gentleman: A Guide To Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice” by Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

I'll thrust my groin whenever I damn well please.


By Peartree

(book chosen by Captain Charisma)

Editors Note: Captain Charisma thought Peartree would be the most suited to review a book on gentlemanly conduct due to his regular and common disgraceful behaviour. Judging from the review, he clearly did not learn a thing. Next time I go on holiday with him I hope he at least brings more than one fucking suit.

The Modern Gentleman is a mish mash guide of bizarrely random and sometimes confusing topics. Useful subjects such as artful conversation and apologies are followed by perplexing over analyses of mundane subjects, such as a how-to of pouring ketchup out of a glass Heinz bottle. One particularly peculiar topic was the method of calculating how many shirts one should bring on a trip, whereby a Modern Gentleman should take the numbers of pants exponentiated by three and adding the number of shoes, finding the square root of this sum, then finally adding the number of days. Let me tell ya, I spent four goddamned days in Tijuana wearing only one suit and shirt and never had a problem.

The advice given by Mollod and Tesauro on the various topics are... curious at times. While I’ll agree that learning about oysters down at the local market is a sound idea to help me become the well rounded gentleman I strive to be, I have to question their thoughts on family reunions and their choice of puns. Stating “Incest-dentally, it is not discourteous to express lingering affections for single, peripheral kinfolk…” I don’t think I've ever been described as prudish but I certainly draw the line before incest.

In fact there are number of off putting lines I found throughout the book. Have a mistress which you fell in love with? You can leave your wife, but “the mistress must be superior beyond a reasonable doubt”. Getting to see your new flings apartment for the first time? Feel free to check drawers and even “glance askance at the bathroom trash. signs of birth control method or that time of the month are often in plain sight”. If you find yourself at a Passover celebration “you may gleefully aid the kids hunting the afikoman, a hidden sheet of matzo -- though, as many a disappointed suitor has discovered, it’s invariably behind the couch cushion, not under the skirt of the eldest daughter.”

Most of the guidance given, using colourful metaphors, revolves around sex, furthering the stereotype that all males really care about is getting their Axolotl in fresh new waters. The lavish language gave me quite the queer expression trying to decipher what it was they were saying without actually saying it. “Prolong and tease by peppering oral pleasures with plenty of hand jive. Use different utensils for different dishes, don’t mix peas and carrots; and never explore the fundament too early in the count”. Ok I get the first part, get my hands working while I'm whistling in the weeds. Then I would say use different toys with different women, not everyone’s into pegging, I get it. But that peas and carrots thing? I just have no clue. And the last is yet another anal innuendo.

Approximately a third of the book seems to be about how to initiate a three-some (hint: get a girl to bring on another girl) or vanguarding their benefits, but peppered throughout are little nuggets of everlasting knowledge. How to organize your fridge, a primer on cotton-candy, and my personal favourite, which I will certainly retain into my golden years, is “sandwiches are instantly enlivened with a diagonal cut, a toothpick, and a green olive.”

Another aspect I will certainly find useful is the again overly complex charts and systems devised to help me; grade my trinkets into useful or throwaways based on meaningfulness, uniqueness, familiarity, and the wonderfully named arc of archivability, or how to categorize my friends and acquaintances into appropriate circles, and measuring my anger and outbursts on a one to ten scale system.

Well after reading this book I would say my anger would reside at a paltry two, alongside accidentally “ignoring a wet paint sign”. I’ll brush it off and keep on my way. But for any self-inflated, privileged asshat who feels like they have to read a book which starts out with “knot up your ascot, pour a glass of sherry, and dim the lights; your Man Cycle is peaking” to become a gentleman is already lost. Leave the over the top exuberances to Kelsey Grammar. Take inspiration from the laconic Tao Te Ching and leave with just one page of Sam Martin’s ten rules, leaving open any interpretation you wish. Reading this books cacophony of ideas of triviality will get you no where. Obsessing over minuscule details about which flatware is best for caviar for you to impress those around you is about as bad as negging women in hopes of sleeping with them. However, if you are actually interested in caviar, than pick up a book about that subject, not a book about how to fake your way through a selection of topics and interests while having no real interests of your own.

But I leave you fair reader with one last golden truth from our authors which I hope you will take to heart: “intimacy grows lush like plush moss on a rotten log”. Try not to waste that intimate moss on frivolous details.

- Peartree

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