I read a blog post recently on The Art of Manliness called “What the Young Man Should Know” from Harper’s weekly. It was a great article from the 30s that was a list of skills or tasks that the author believed every young man should learn. It included a few A few items that are still important today, and a few that are no longer necessary (keeping a horse), practical (chopping wood), or advisable (hitch hiking), but it is a great list none the less. I thought for all of you swell readers I would update it for the modern man. I have compiled a list of skills that every swell guy should learn in their lifetime.
I think that this post may spawn a loose series of small posts about how to carry out these tasks; after all I can hardly give you a list without telling you how to accomplish it. So look for some of these items coming up in the category ESMSL, so on that note let’s begin.
In the Garage:
There are few areas that can be as emasculating than not being able to take care of yourself in regards to your car. It is never fun being that guy stuck on a cold highway waiting for someone else to take care of you. Man, if you only learned to change a tire. So here are a few car related musts to help you save your money, your pride, and your time.
- Learn to change your oil-I am not suggesting you always do it yourself, but at least be familiar enough under your own hood to be able to do it yourself in a pinch.
- Change a flat tire– This one is obvious; also remember to keep the tools on hand to accomplish this task so you are able to do it when you need to.
- Properly jump-start a car– It feels great to be a hero to someone in need, it feels even better to be able to redeem yourself after making an error of leaving your lights on.
- Drive a stick– I won’t give all of the examples of when you may be in a situation where you need to do this, but there is no more manly way to connect with an automobile than to do it with a manual transmission. Besides when your buddy offers you his vintage corvette for the day, do you really want to have to admit that you can’t drive it?
- Ride a motorcycle– While you’re at it, this is a good one to learn as well, even if only for your own enjoyment.
As much as you want to take pride in your ability to handle situations out on the road, in your home is even more vital, it is where you live, love, and entertain.
- Paint a wall– Weather you’re a renter or an owner there will come a time you will get really tired of those blank white wall your dwelling came with. Sure you could hire it out, but your baby is due next week and the nursery is not yet done, or you need an accent wall to make your living room livable, be able to do it yourself.
- Hang a shelf or a picture– Speaking on drab white walls, there is a right and wrong way to hang a shelf or picture, know how to do it right, people will want to visit you more.
- Fix a toilet– this is one of the most simple, and yet the most common issues in a home. Knowing how to fix a plugged or broken toilet quickly will sure settle your stomach… literally.
- Change an outlet/ switch– as with the toilet in regards to electrical this is about as simple of job there is. Don’t pay someone $30/ hour to come over and change a broken .30 cent switch. If you live in an older home that doesn’t have ground holes in the outlets, you will be happy to know how to do this and stop destroying your cords on your expensive electronics.
In your Closet:
This is where the rubber meets the road (and you thought it would be in the car section). There are some vital things us guys need to know about what we wear. Treat it like putting on your armor for battle , it better be on right!
- How to tie a bow tie– I am just going to assume you know how to tie a tie already, but please, please gentlemen learn a bow-tie, in all cases clip -ons are for boys!
- Wear a tux-As with the tie I am going to assume that you know how to wear a suit properly, but don’t be that guy at your bro’s wedding fumbling with your cuff links or shirt jewelry. I know it’s a rental, but you’re a swell guy so look like it… always.
- Know your measurements– It is much easier to shop for a suit, even with a tailor, when that impromptu business trip, funeral or wedding comes out of nowhere, when you know your measurements. It even helps in your everyday clothes.
- Sew– This may not sound inherently manly, but you really ought to know how to fix a loosened hem or replace a button. I really advocate having a relationship with a good tailor, but in a pinch it’s nice to know how to actually use that emergency sewing kit.
In the Kitchen:
You guys need to be swell there too.
- Cook something– Whether entertaining guests of a lady friend, you should know how to prepare at least a few meals well that aren’t from a box, and don’t include merely scrambled eggs, or Mac & cheese -Important note learn on a gas stove, you’ll be glad you did.
- Carve a Bird– Should one of your go-to meals be a turkey or other foul(and it should be), don’t loose all of your credibility when it arrives at the table, learn how to carve a bird and serve it .
- Cook with fire– I am not necessarily talking about camp cooking, but it isn’t a bad idea to know that too. But many guys would be more comfortable making their go-to meal outside, on the grill. Great! Go for it, or at least be proficient enough to be able to make some Burgers and Brats, or a chicken breast.
- Make a fire– Since we are talking about cooking with it you should know how to light your charcoal grill, but also how to build a proper fire, every man worth his salt can keep himself warm outside, and impress a lady.
- Mix a martini– The martini certainly should not be the only drink you know how to make, but you should at least be able to know how to mix one of the most basic and fundamental drinks. Once you’ve mastered the Gin, or Vodka Martini you can experiment with it, and move on to the next one.
Out in Public:
As much as how you look matters, how you act matters even more so.
- Shake hands– This might be the most important think that a man can learn, not too firm, not too weak and no more than 3 pumps.
- Tip and make change properly– Some people make a living on tips so learn how to convey your comments on their service with a tip, and how to count change, you will look much more swell leaving your cell phone in your pocket when the bill comes.
- Dance- There is always an occasion to dance and celebrate, don’t be the only one left at the side of the dance floor out of all the fun.
- Swim- You never know when you will be pulled from a trunk and thrown off a bridge- A la Goodfellas, But seriously it is a good thing to know, and a great workout.
- Play cards-Learn at least a few games; Rummy, 7 card stud, Black Jack, not Go Fish, I promise it will be fun.
- Throw a punch– I may get some flak for this one, and I am not advocating violence. You may someday need to protect the honor of that girl on your arm, or fend off that dude who had way too much to drink and for some reason decided he doesn’t like you.
- Speak a second language– This will not only be convenient if you ever travel to where your language is spoken, but some conversational foreign language will do wonders for your native tongue as well
- Play an instrument– At least one, at least a little. I learned the Harmonica (Blues Harp) at a young age. I have not played in years, but someday I might just surprise everyone and jump on stage at the pub and play along… Maybe
In Work, and Life:
A few more important things that a man should really know how to do.
- Buy a Diamond– Being a Gemologist; I am surprised that it took me this long to address this, look for this post very soon. This is a very important thing to know how to do.
- Shoot a Gun– You can accomplish three very important tasks by being comfortable with a gun; protect your home, feed your family, kill an afternoon with friends. Don’t like guns you say? Well at least be comfortable enough so that if you come across one you can safely unload it and take care of it properly.
- Write a resume and sell yourself– Um yeah this one is a biggie, especially in today’s age when a resume is almost all of the information a perspective employer has about you, they may never meet you face to face.
- Compose a letter and use proper grammar– Letters are a lost art, but you still use e-mail and a keyboard. Know how to compose a letter (even a cover letter for that resume). And by all means don’t write it like a facebook post.
- Speaking well and Making a toast– You already look swell, don’t ruin it by opening your mouth and tasting toe jam. Learn some proper grammar to sound intelligent and avoid slurs and slang. Lear to make a swell toast, and express to your toastee what he or she really means to you.
These really are just a few simple life lessons, but if you’re a young man it will behoove you to exercise them. If you are and older man, then teach these lessons to someone younger than you. Some of these things are what makes you a man, and once you gain this knowledge you are not only a man, but you know how to be swell.
- Want to Know How to Tie a Bow Tie? Here’s How! (fabsugar.com)
- William Jones and his Swell Motivation (howtobeswell.com)
- Art of Manliness (14/30): Write a Letter to Your Father (hobbitsadventure.wordpress.com)
The only one I haven’t had a chance to do much is throw a punch. Maybe someday.
Hopefully only to defend the honor of a lady, a most chivalrous of reasons.
Or to defend a puppy.
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