- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 19, 2003

Bullies and boors beware: Men behaving badly are getting their comeuppance from Emily Post’s great-grandson.

Peter Post has written a guide to the most vexing etiquette matters from the masculine world.

“Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It and Why” is meant to be a reasoned, succinct approach to manly manners and the benefits of civility.

“I hope my great-grandmother would approve,” Mr. Post said by phone from Vermont Friday. “This book echoes her original conversational tone. It’s not meant to scold; it’s meant to give the ‘why’ behind good manners. Without that, men won’t listen.”

But Mr. Post, married for 30 years and the father of two grown daughters, addresses certain modern matters not covered by the famous Mrs. Post, who published her first etiquette guide in 1922.

There is, for instance, considerable attention given to the “all-important issue of the toilet seat.” Mr. Post offers a three-page rationale for skeptical males who might believe the position of the seat has little impact in the real world.

“Put the seat down when you’re done. It’s a manners issue, yes. But it’s also a safety and hygiene issue,” Mr. Post said, explaining that he has given the same advice to male and female employees who shared a common restroom at work.

He offers specific advice to the myriad social challenges confronting a gentleman in public: gastric distress, flirtatious women, challenging dinner entrees, unruly co-workers, obnoxious offspring, rude sports spectators, mystifying bosses and soiled handkerchiefs, among other things.

Responding with civility is the very bulwark of life, he contends, and the manly goal should be to prevent the ugly situation from reoccurring.

“This all matters, and it’s basic to preserving our society,” Mr. Post said. “A fast-paced informal society might seem beneficial, but it’s not. It causes stress, leaving us wondering what we’re meant to do when faced with so many confusing, immediate choices.”

Women have their own interpretation of the mannerly man, according to a new “Social Life” survey from the Vermont-based Emily Post Institute — founded by Mrs. Post in 1946 and described as a national “barometer of civility.”

The ladies are repelled, the survey revealed, by men “failing to open doors for women, showing up late, swearing, ‘adjusting’ themselves in public, not saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and spitting.”

Women also recoil from “men who eat sloppily, noisily, too fast or who talk with their mouths full.” Yet they revere a decent tipper and men who can muster the impression that they are appreciative and attentive to their lady companions.

“The key to social success is not to think of ‘social etiquette’ as a series of traps you can stumble into — but a terrific opportunity to do things right,” the book advises.

Mr. Post advises womenfolk to be delicate in admonishing their men for etiquette infractions, however.

“Don’t reprimand a man at the moment of his egregious behavior. Do it later,” Mr. Post said sternly. “You’re asking for bluster, bravado and other defensive behavior. And don’t forget to point out and reinforce the behaviors which he does which are pleasing and proper.”

Others have also taken up the clarion call for gentlemen. Etiquette books published for men in the last two years include “How to be a Gentleman,” “The Gentleman’s Guide to Life” and “The Modern Gentleman.”

Younger gentlemen have not been left out of the equation either.

There’s also “A Little Book of Manners for Boys,” “How to Raise a Gentleman,” “Stand Up, Shake Hands, Say ‘How do You Do,’” and “Rules of Civility for the 21st Century,” published by the Boy Scouts and based on social graces recommended by George Washington.

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