In this installment of my how-to guides you’ll learn how to iron a shirt and a pair of pants. Some of you may scoff and say “pfft this is basic knowledge”, but you wouldn’t believe the number of men who -
- Don’t own an iron.
- Don’t own an ironing board.
- Think that wrinkled clothing is acceptable.
I won’t even begin to mention seeing a well-dressed man wearing suit pants with hanger-crease. Why are you even using a wire hanger? I hope that you find these how-to videos useful.
The Natty Urbanite
I read yesterday’s post about being a good guest, but what about those people who are terrible hosts? Ok, so I work as a server at a local bar and I’ve been flirting with our DJ for some time now. We finally went out and had a great time and he took me back to his place. When I got there shock and horror. He had no sheets. No, they weren’t dirty, he just didn’t own any. He had a duvet and a thin blanket. Said that he just sleeps on the mattress or o top of the duvet. It gets worse. I asked for a towel so that I could take a shower and he pointed to his on the back of the door. He only has one towel. He’s a 32 year old guy! What gives? LB
Ohhhhh that kinda host. Is that what you kids are calling it these days? In my day we just called it a one ni… Anyway, I really hope that you went home [and if you didn't you may have contracted a flesh-eating superbug]. It pains me to hear when grown men don’t know the basics of home economics. Yeah this is why this guys do shop and girls do home ec is ridiculous. ONE towel? My word, he can go to any department store and get three really good ones for under $50, including tax. But the gall to offer you his used and probably still damp towel is just egregious. It’s way too early to try and wade into his psyche to understand why he lives like a troll. You realize that I haven’t got to the mattress bit yet? Yeah because that would require an all cap rant, and last time I checked, I’m not Kanye.
Men, if you are going to ask someone to spend the night please ensure that you have clean sheets [preferably an extra set so that you can change the sheets and let your companion see that you're both respectful and a grown-up], clean towels [bath and face] and an extra loofah [c'mon the dollar store ones are fine for this exercise]. The morning after offer to make breakfast and give her a ride home/pay for a cab. All-in-all just treat her like a lady.
So you’ve been invited to your friend’s cottage/beach house/country home/chalet for the weekend. We get it, you’re terribly excited because you have friends with multiple homes like Mitt [last name isn't relevant]. It has been said on a few occasions that I make for a good houseguest. I didn’t realize why until I began doing regular houseguest stints with other peeps. Then it dawned on me. A few mental WTFs were uttered and I decided to help brothers out before the bad-male-houseguest becomes a pandemic.
Uno – Bring the host/hostess a gift. And honestly a bottle of wine [that the gift giver will undoubtedly drink after one too many Miller Chill Limes and say something to the effect of "oh brah I'll get you another one. Trust!"] doesn’t cut it. You’re $12 pink swill masquerading as a rosé will just leave a bad taste in your host’s mouth. Literally. Opt for something thoughtful for the cabin/yurt/villa where they have invited you to stay. I oftentimes opt for a throw, coffee table book, fancy breakfast pastries, a cookbook of simple rustic recipes, good coffee or a decorative pillar candle.
Dos – Yes it’s a vacation but don’t be the last to get up. Lazy. Set your smart phone to wake you up at a decent hour befitting your environment [9am does the trick for me], get out of bed, make the bed, wash your face, brush your teeth and put on coffee.
Tres – Make the bed. Like c’mon you’re not at the W, there’s no turn-down service. As my friend Barry’s grandma used to say “you’re a hard-grown man” so you should know how to make a bed.
Cuatro - Make a meal. If you can’t cook, you must be able to grill. Right? Anyway, even if you smuggle a canister of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in your weekend bag then pop it out [when everyone is still asleep] and put pieces of chocolate in the triangle before rolling it up into delish chocolate croissants, your attempt will be appreciated.
Cinco - Clean up after yourself. Sounds simple enough right? This includes rinsing body hairs out of the tub/shower, wiping away the inevitable toothpaste-spit that gets on the glass and washing any dishes that are used.
Now go out there and be amazing houseguests. If you forget everything that I’ve said, just remember do the opposite to Owen Wilson’s character in You, Me and Dupree.
A co-worker was recently at a holiday dinner party and called me [from the washroom] to ask what the general rule was re: bread at dinner. I began giggling and asked if someone was using his/her teeth to rip the roll. His response, “how did you know?!”
There are a number of things that put the fear of Jesus into many people – my mother, tax deadlines, annual reviews and formal dinners. Whether the meal is served family style [on platters that people help themselves from] or plated course-by-course, many people seem to mess up when it comes to the bread.
1) Don’t bite into your bread. Tear off a piece of bread with your hands and, if so inclined, butter it. Yes, butter each piece of bread.
2) When you’re done with a particular course, it is acceptable to take a piece if bread and mop up the juices on your plate. Use your fork to move the piece of bread around the plate, in a gently wiping motion, not as if you are scrubbing away evidence.
3) Here’s the doozy. If you are not provided with a bread plate [I know right, but let's not judge] the rule of thumb is to place your roll/piece of bread on the table cloth.
4) This has nothing to do with bread but rather the awkward moment created by the last morsel on the platter at family style dinner service. If you’d like the last prosciutto-wrapped quail, offer it to everyone at the table [pray that they all decline] and when they do, help yourself.
The office party is honestly a pulsating HR disaster. Arch nemeses + surly & bitter coworkers + a handful of interns – spouses & significant others + alcohol + unrequited love/intense crushes – any sense of propriety = drama. Don’t be the person who has to be sending apologetic emails the next day whilst praying that you aren’t called in for a ‘chat’ and made to watch the harassment video, again.
As prudish as it sounds, your office party isn’t really where you want to let loose and go wild. Well, maybe you can but c’mon, do you really don’t think that your VP won’t remember your slurred diatribe about the one-ply toilet paper on your floor?
I have a list of
rules guidelines of how to successfully navigate your office party without incurring embarrassment.
- Take cues from your boss. If he/she is still in work mode and keeping the conversation very beige, take a hint and don’t stir the pot. Don’t start talking about your childhood and the horrible date that you had last week. Keep it amicable but professional.
- The two drink maximum. If you can really hold your alcohol, the drink maximum is on a sliding scale. I can have five drinks before I start getting really friendly. And believe me I’m not usually. Don’t allow your superiors to see you getting all lushy and when you start feeling tipsy, stop drinking and take the party elsewhere.
- The fake teetotaler. Depending on the company that I’m in, I oftentimes use this trick. I visibly have two glasses of fizzy water and then switch to vodka or gin and ask the bartender to serve it to me in the same water glass. To pull this off effectively, restraint in key. Have one or two drinks less that the your ‘maximum’. It shows that you’re in control or hardcore straight edge.
- Leave situations at the door. It’s a festive occasion, do not engage your nemesis. Stand in your corner across the room and give intermittent stank-eye, you know just to let him/her know that you’re feeling merry but not gonna sweep ‘this’ under the mat.
- Promotion and raise, what promotion and raise? The party is not the turf on which you want to bat for a raise or promotion. Just because your boss’ icy personality has thawed some, does not give you license to start talking serious business. You can plant the seed by saying “come January I’d like for us to spend sometime discussing how I could contribute more to the organization”. That is all.
- Don’t eat where you… Do I really need to discuss how bad it is to do an office hook-up? If your company is 1500 people strong, maybe take the chance. But, if your office occupies one or two floors, don’t.
- Be polite, kind and gracious. Whatever the venue, on-site or at a hotel, always be polite to the serving staff. You don’t want to have people going around saying “the people from Blue Crystal Energy are a mean/tight-fisted/overly demanding bunch.” Tip the bartenders and say thanks to the poor girl whose job it is to tote around that oversized platter of coconut shrimp.
- Leave before it all ends. This is not the place to put into effect the “I don’t stop dancing until the DJ stops spinning” rule.
Whoever invented gift bags and environmentally-suspect coloured tissue paper is a God-send in my eyes. However, there is always a place for a well-wrapped gift [and not just under my Christmas tree]. Before you get all Martha Stewart there are a few essentials that you need in order to perfectly wrap a gift.
- Sharp scissors
- Invisible tape
- A ruler [if you're really anal]
- Good quality wrapping paper [not the kind that tears from staring at it too hard]
- Ribbon, pre-made bows and other decorative fandangles.
Below are three great videos on how to wrap all sorts of gifts.
Ahh, the holidays. At the time of writing, it’s just six more sleeps until Santa
breaks into many houses and brings gifts for the good kiddies. I spoke with my parents last night, and when I asked my father how he was doing, his response was “well I hear that Christmas is coming.” You see my father who is Jamaican, but of Scottish descent has the driest sense of humour. What he wanted to convey was that he really wasn’t prepared for the Yuletide season.
Oftentimes we get bogged down with what to buy for whom; we go into a mall and immediately are awash with panic and nausea. Or, there are those of us who are depressed as we may be far away from home. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this time of year should be filled with the song of laughter and the warmth of friendship. And if you have neither of those things in your life, I hear that Craigslist has a section for that.
Up until New Year’s Eve, all my posts will be focused around getting through the holiday season, and on New Year’s Day, I’ll be telling you how to go on a ten-day juice cleanse. Your liver will thank you.
So here’s to eating our body weight in Scottish shortbread cookies and fruitcake; drinking champagne like our last name is Winfrey; and untagging ourselves from Facebook photos that we have no recollection ‘posing’ for.
May your Holidays be merry & bright.
Nowadays calling in sick is easier than ever. Many workplaces still have the rule that if you wish to do so you have to get a manager on the phone. Others allow their employees to text, bbm, email or send a carrier pigeon to the boss saying that they are too ill to come in. Bosses [well most] won’t make you feel guilty about taking a sick day, but they do demand that when you call in sick that it’s done respectfully and with some regard for the business.
Here’s the way to effectively call in sick –
1 – Ensure your not just sick of your job. Just saying.
2 – Contact your boss or another manager before you’re supposed to be at work. The 9:05am call doesn’t help your case.
3 – Sound like you’re dying. No, seriously. Think about it, if you sound
yourself it’s just gonna raise some red flags.
4 – If you think that you need
to cover your ass some proof [and from your working environment you will know if you do], head to a walk-in clinic and see a doc. The next morning take the note to HR.
That’s it. Don’t forget to drink lots of liquids, NyQuil counts, and catch up on Man vs Food.
The modern gentleman needs to know how to make a few solid cocktails. Rye and Ginger is not a cocktail. This is the first cocktail recipe in a series called Clink Clink, in which I’ll share some of my favourite drinks.
My friend Erik Sjoholm introduced me the beauty that is Maker’s Mark bourbon and I love using it to make my drink of choice – the Old-Fashioned. At 416 Snack Bar in Toronto the bartenders there make it just the way I like it. Below is the recipe.
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce Maker’s Mark
1 – Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in a lowball glass.
2 – Splash on the bitters.
3 – Muddle the sugar and add ice cubes.
4 – Twist the orange peel over the ice to release the oils.
5 – Drop the peel on the ice.
6 – Pour in the bourbon.
7 – Stir and serve.