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Essential Etiquette

29 Sep

The way we behave is a large part of the image that we project. dining etiquetteOur actions have all sorts of repercussions, good and bad, and knowing how to conduct oneself in different situations can definitely work to your benefit.

The point of etiquette is to be considerate of others and make them comfortable by doing the right thing, the polite thing, the things that make people want to be around us. One of those nice things is the ability to work a dining table with grace and mindfulness of our company.

Bad table manners won’t get you another date

Many people have stories about rude dates that displayed behaviour that put them off. A few years ago, I wrote about social and clothing changes since the 1980s and took my influence from Love Connection, a dating show from that era. On the show, several people mentioned manners being important to them but unfortunately, their dates didn’t always politely come through.

For example, Del talked about her date with Donald and explained what it was like to go out to eat with him: “What was embarrassing was at dinner when Donald licked his knife… then he put his lobster shells on the bread tray, then he reached over to my plate and ate my food, so he enjoyed his and mine.”

Surprise! Donald didn’t get a second date.

Speaking of dates, a friend of mine had a date with a woman who was a friend of a friend. From this familiar association, he assumed that she’d be alright. Things may have turned out differently if she hadn’t arrived at their dinner date drunk and then ate from his plate.

I started seeing a fellow several years ago who I liked but because of his ill-mannered ways, I fled and didn’t look back. On our third and final date, we met for breakfast on a Saturday morning. I remember ordering eggs Florentine that came with some sort of potato on the side. He ordered an odd breakfast: salad and fried eggs over easy.

When the food came and we began eating, I had to look away because watching him shovel iceberg lettuce from a fork dripping with egg yolk into his mouth – that he didn’t close while chewing – was a disgusting sight. I was literally put off of my food. I laid my napkin over my plate and what was left of my breakfast.

“Are you going to eat that?” he asked.

“Uh, no,” I replied.

“Mind if I do?”

I should have seen this coming; the second time we saw each other, he came over to cook dinner with me. I keep dried beans, rice, grains, nuts and seeds in jars on a shelf in my kitchen. I had my back turned to him as we chatted and I cooked on the stove. I turned around at the very moment he was about to toss a handful of sunflower seeds he had poured out of one of the jars (without asking) into his mouth.

He didn’t see me again.

Good table manners might

On a first date breakfast with a different fellow, he caught some food in his throat and started coughing. I beckoned the waitress to bring some water for my friend who cleared the block with a sip of water and appreciated my gesture.

I got a second date and I felt classy.

Bad manners can cast a bad light on your person

I had to meet a client in a shopping mall food court one day. Behind my client was a very large man who I couldn’t help but notice as he stuffed mounds of processed food into his greasy mouth, then stuck a fat, oily index finger into his hole to dislodge the food from the inside of his cheeks.

What can I tell you? It was sickening to watch but I found myself unable to tear my eyes away, like I was looking at a car wreck. The state of this man, what he chose to feed himself with and how he administered it made me wonder what he could possibly do for a living. Without meaning to, his bad behaviour made me question his intelligence and his sense of self-worth.

Good manners make us glow

Polite people always leave a good impression; we tend to like people with good manners because they are considerate of us and that makes us feel good; it seems to me that good etiquette breeds trust in other people.

THINK: How do you feel towards the person ahead of you who let the door slam in your face? The woman on the streetcar who offers her seat to an elderly lady?  The man who allowed you in front of him in the grocery store line up because you had fewer items?

Bad table etiquette = employment suicide

I spoke to Catherine Bell, one of Canada’s premier etiquette specialists at Prime Impressions about manners. Catherine says that poor dining skills are the result of either one’s upbringing (where proper dining etiquette was not a priority), or the rejection of what are perceived as empty rules of behaviour that no longer matter. She told the story of a student who blew his chances at post-graduation employment because of his bad manners:

This particular student won an award for his marketing skills at college. At the awards banquet, someone from the marketing company who was giving this young man the award, leaned over to the professor in charge of the class and said that they would not be hiring him. When the mystified professor asked why, the marketing executive said, “It is because he brings his face down to the food, not the food up to his face.”

The job entailed entertaining clients over meals.

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Exercising good manners is a choice. Some people shrug and scoff at etiquette and say, “that’s just the way I am” or “if you don’t like me, you can (fill in the blank)“. Fair enough. But if you decide to reject the etiquette, think about what you’re doing and what you could be losing out on, not to mention the lasting impression you’re leaving on other people.

The way I see it, if a person decides not to exercise polite manners, that individual is waving off consideration for others which ultimately reflects how other people see that person. It also seems an indication of how that person regards himself, like the man in the food court. It’s about respect for others and for oneself – if we don’t respect ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to?

Remember, we only get one chance to make a first impression and if we blow it the first time, we may not get another go at it.

Become the Perfect Gentleman

12 Nov

The Perfect GentlemanI was lucky enough to have not one but two two-hour long interviews with Zacchary Falconer-Barfield, founder and 1st Gentleman at London’s The Perfect Gentleman, an operation that seeks to make the world a more respectful, stylish, and gentlemanly place, one man at a time.

The Perfect Gentleman runs courses and events to teach men the art of the gentleman, and includes dressing, how to dance, how to be charming, etiquette, romance, and modern chivalry. North America is fortunate to have the two-day PG event, Becoming the Perfect Gentleman, tour in early 2016 and visit five American cities: Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, with one Canadian date (Toronto). For any of you who have fallen under the spell of Downton Abbey, you will agree that it is high time to resurrect the gentleman and all the niceties that go with him.

Falconer-Barfield explained to me that the gentleman is who he is and what he does. As a child, he spent countless hours watching old movies and was influenced by the most stylish and gentlemanly of gentlemen: Cary Grant, James Bond, and David Niven, among others. He was raised by women who gave him an understanding of etiquette, and he always dressed well. In fact, every Friday is Cravat Friday for our 1st Gentleman.

He explained that there have been centuries of gentlemen, but World War II saw the beginning of his decline. It was a time of austerity that saw the massive loss of life, the rise of women, and changes to the socio-economic world that urged men not to bother anymore.

“It’s been four generations since the war – three moved away from the gentleman and now we’re moving towards it again.” Falconer-Barfield believes that it’s just in the recent past that men have had style ideals to live up to and the social freedom to make an effort. He says that men are being held to a standard again, and cites George Clooney, David Beckham, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Hugh Jackman as modern icons of style and gentlemanly ways.

Please enjoy part one of my interview with Zacchary Falconer-Barfield.


LM: Do North American audiences/men differ from British audiences/men?

ZFB: Yes. English men think they’re already gentlemen – English women will disagree. North Americans wonder when we’re coming over! The difference between the response to learning how to be a gentleman is that there is no culture of self-improvement in the UK for men; the thought of a “gentleman” is perceived as elitist, but of course this isn’t true. In the UK, it’s immigrants who seek out self-improvement.

LM: Do men in different countries have different challenges?

ZFB: The same challenges seem to be generic across the world – dating, romance, but there are minor cultural differences: business etiquette and style. How do I approach a lady? How do I have a good date? Universal. Style? Cultural differences, but a suit is a suit. Male icons are fairly universal.  Confidence is king.

LM: What drives a man to be a gentleman?

These are general drivers: everyone wants to be better and have better relationships; dress smart, feel good, climb the social ladder, make more money. When men realize what they’re capable of, the world opens up. It’s a kind of enlightenment.

The next article will feature a gentleman’s attitude towards women and romance, and women’s attitudes towards gentlemen.

Click here for tickets for the Becoming the Perfect Gentleman in Toronto March 5 – 6 2016.

Damn dirty glasses and how to keep them clean

16 Apr

dirty eye glassesOne day I was driving with a friend who wore his fancy new Coach sunglasses. I didn’t notice the greasy fingerprint on the lower third of the right lens until he turned his head towards me. I thought to myself, it doesn’t matter how expensive your sunglasses are; dirty lenses cancel out any effort to try to look cool.

I remember as a kid, I always wanted to wear eye glasses but never needed to; now that I need them, I find I have mixed feelings towards them. I got my very first pair of eye glasses less than a year ago because I need them to read and see fine detail, so I appreciate them because they help me see. At the same time, because I only need glasses to read, I find myself taking them off and on a lot during the day and this makes them dirty, and therefore something of a pain in the ass.

I checked in with some friends who regularly wear glasses to see how they fare with keeping their glasses clean. Turns out that all of them complain about dirty glasses. From their comments, I’ve learned that I’m not alone – my friends say that their glasses get dirty depending on what they’re doing: some say that bad weather makes eye glasses dirty, housework makes them dirty, gardening makes them dirty, and cooking makes them dirty; others say perspiration and wearing moisturizer makes them dirty. Some people say that the types of coatings (i.e. anti-glare) we choose for our lenses attracts dirt and oil, others say that lenses made of plastic are more prone to smudges than glass lenses. I’ve also heard that plastic frames sit closer to the face and will get greasier from skin oils than metal frames which sit further away from the face.

Whatever the case, eyeglasses get dirty, and when you can’t see through them, you’re somewhat handicapped AND they look awful.

What can we do?

In a Wall Street Journal article, Teri Geist, chairwoman for the American Optometric Association, says, “The best way to clean your glasses is to run them under warm water and put a tiny drop of dish washing detergent on the tip of your fingers to create a lather on the lens. Then rinse with warm water, and dry with a clean, soft cotton cloth.” I tried this last night and it seems to work, but a word of caution: I’ve witnessed a friend with fancy new eye glasses with all of the coating options wash his glasses with soap and water, and over time, the coatings began to peel away, leaving cloudy and irreparable lenses.

Dr. Geist warns that “Lenses typically have some form of protective coating and should never come into contact with ammonia, bleach, vinegar or window cleaner. Those chemicals can break down the coating or just strip them”. This is where spray lens cleaners come in. I understand that there are different types for different coatings, so use the correct spray for your specific lens coatings. For a DIY option, suggests a simple 60% isopropyl alcohol/40% water solution used in a spray bottle instead of commercial lens cleaners. Try one of these methods instead of breathing on your lenses and wiping with your shirt tails, paper towels, or Kleenex, which can scratch your lenses because the fibers are not necessarily smooth and can leave debris behind.

Microfiber cleaning cloths

Much of what I’ve read raves about microfiber cleaning cloths that keep glasses smudge-free. Microfiber fabric is a very fine synthetic textile that is so dense, it won’t leave streaks. Good ones will last for years. But the cheap ones will wreak havoc on your specs and undoubtedly drive you mad.

Did I ever tell you the story of my microfiber dish rag? It worked wonderfully at first, then I started to notice that no matter how much soap I used in the sink, the dishes had an oily film on them. I couldn’t figure out why until I examined my dish cleaning tools and noticed that the microfiber cloth also felt greasy, and I decided that the cheap synthetic was decomposing and returning to its former state: oil.

I have microfiber lens cloths that seem to do the same thing. Microfiber is made of petrochemicals and not biodegradable. The David Suzuki Foundation sees pros and cons to this textile. These cloths lift dirt and grease from surfaces but “are made from a non-renewable resource and do not biodegrade. And only those made from polypropylene are recyclable,” the site says. One good thing about microfiber cloths is that they eliminate the need for wasteful paper towels and napkins, etc., and can be washed in the machine in cool water (avoid fabric softener which will leave a film on your lenses), and I recommend to air dry them instead of putting them in the dryer. Watch this how-to short video by an optometrist for more information.

Pieces of cotton can work just as well though there may be more dust due to loose cotton fibers in the fabric, which would not be present in microfiber. I just experimented with a thin silk scarf and it worked wonderfully! No streaks and no debris left behind.

TIP: Through your cleaning cloth, lightly use your fingernail to get into the edges of your lenses between the frame – dust seems to collect in these crevices.

Wearing cool eye glasses or sun glasses can instantly update your look, but with style comes a cost. I completely understand that keeping one’s glasses clean is a nagging daily job and there is no permanent solution, so it is a cross we with bad eyesight must bear.

As an image consultant, I can say that from an objective viewpoint, dirty glasses don’t say good things about us, but now that I wear glasses and I know how quickly they dirty,  I completely empathize and understand the misguided criticism of dirty eye glasses because they’re nearly impossible to keep clean! It seems that I could continuously clean my glasses all day and they’d still get smudged, but I make the effort because looking good is one thing, but being able to see is priceless.

Spread ’em. Actually, don’t

8 Jan

you balls are not that bigInspired by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the move to ban “man-spreading”–men who sit on public transit with their knees spread so far apart that they actually take up seats next to them–has reached Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission, and it’s caused some interesting gender chatter.

Globe and Mail article on the topic mentions the Canadian Association for Equality (CAE) who started a petition to stop the ban on man-spreading. The group says, “This sets a very bad precedent as men opening their legs is something we have to do due to our biology. It’s physically painful for men to close their legs and we cannot be expected to do so, and it’s also a biological necessity for us to do so.”

According to the petition, a ban on spreading one’s legs would “be a big blow to men’s rights.” Men’s rights to do what? Take up unnecessary space on public transit? To be discourteous to others?

Mike Wood, a volunteer advocacy officer with CAE argues that men should be able to take up as much space as women who board buses with strollers, but he fails to understand that when women bring strollers onto a bus, there is another person in the stroller, and the baby in the stroller needs space, just like any other person.

I wouldn’t agree that testicles have any independent rights and need their own seat on the subway.

 In Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behaviour, James Dabbs describes “panache” as a manner that seeks to get the attention and respect of others. “A person with panache,” he writes, “scores points by looking dominant. Bluffing often works just as well as fighting when it comes to getting attention and respect. Male animals bristle, puff, strut, preen, spread their tail feathers, control space, intimidate their opponents, and show off to get their way and impress the opposite sex.”

Is this not what man-spreading is? Puffing up to take up more space and display some form of power and superiority? Why else would a man would choose to sit in on public transit in a way that exposes his most vulnerable body parts, open to potential contact with knees and parcels at the sudden jolt of an unexpected brake. If I were a man, I would protect my fragile spheres, not make them targets.

Ball room

Subway behaviour has its own etiquette and etiquette is about respecting other people and making them comfortable. Man-spreading is the opposite of this. Mr. Wood mentions men’s biology a couple of times being the reason that men need to spread. Some men will need a little extra space for their tackle than others, yes, but how much space could comfort possibly require? Are your testicles so big that you need an extra foot to accommodate them? Perhaps it’s time to change your style of underwear instead of hogging transit seating.

The image used for this post is from a hilarious site about man-spreading. YOUR BALLS ARE NOT THAT BIG seeks to out man-spreaders on the New York subway by posting pictures of the culprits (world-wide submissions are welcome). The blogger makes it clear that man-spreading is about men concerned only with display and their own comfort, not the comfort of others.

Display includes body language, the expression of our self-confidence. Individual self-confidence and self-esteem speaks through the way we move and position ourselves in space, including the way we sit. A man who sits with crossed legs looks comfortable, a man sitting with knees 6″ apart also looks comfortable, but when men sit with knees wide apart, i.e. over 12″, he’s telling the world that a) he’s desperate for attention, b) he’s painfully insecure, and c) he wants to appear virile and by spreading his knees apart so far apart, he can show off those “big balls” of his. Testosterone likes to put on a good show, as Dabbs says.

Funny thing about virility: it’s often not what it seems. Like male animals, much of the virility is false but the display can be stunning.  I had a boyfriend with a huge set of testicles that hung heavily under his pinkie-sized penis which only ejaculated prematurely, so I wouldn’t say that large testicles necessarily indicate virility. The whole puffed-up, I-have-bigger-balls-than-you-and-that-makes-me-more-masculine mentality of man-spreaders is a delusion; mere posturing.

In the animal world as Dabbs mentions, panache works to look dominant and impress the opposite sex. I cannot imagine any woman being attracted to a man who tries so hard to show he’s masculine by exposing what he thinks are mammoth testicles to prove his manhood, while simultaneously imposing himself into other people’s space.

I’m not even sure that men are aware of how much space they take up because they haven’t been challenged on it until recently. Once men are called on it however, many will acknowledge their puffed-up, space-taking wrongdoing and change their position (at least this is what happens in polite Toronto). Several times I’ve been on public transit and saw the only seat available beside a wide-kneed man,  but instead of being intimidated, I said, excuse me, and lowered my bottom into the seat (while he scowled because I’ve messed up his space). If a man’s leg is in my space, I ask him to please give me some more leg room and I’ve never had an argument. Politeness and a kind smile can do wonders for personal comfort, so I recommend it.

Now that the New York subway system’s anti-spreading campaign is on and the messages are travelling to other large cities, it’s time for men (and women who take up more space than they need to) to pay attention and be more aware of the necessity to share space in our ever-increasingly populated cities. As subway posters in Philadelphia say, “Dude It’s Rude… Two Seats — Really?”

PS – Have a look at this site that features Japanese subway posters from the 1970s and 80s that even back then, tried to make people aware of how man-spreading negatively affects people.


Dabbing like a gent

12 Jul

A client recently asked me what he should do when sweat runs into his eyes on a hot and humid summer day.

“Good question,” I said, “there is no reason that a gentleman shouldn’t do as a gentlewoman would on a hot day – use a hankie.”

I pulled out my embroidered scarlet vintage hankie and showed him what I do with it when I find beads of sweat rolling down my face: dab. Simply dab.

Using an absorbent linen or cotton handkerchief to take up the sweat is a much nicer alternative to wiping one’s forehead with a sleeve or the back of your hand. Using a hankie is politer and much more stylish.

In Style & The Man, Alan Flusser, a permanent member on the international best-dressed list, writes of the pocket handkerchief:  “Immediate availability has always been a requirement for any handkerchief; the user must have ready access to it if he is to head off that unexpected sneeze before it becomes a source of embarrassment, mop up the spilled champagne before it flows into the lap of a guest, or perform other social niceties.”

As Mr. Flusser reminds us, the practical handkerchief must not be confused with the dress handkerchief that graces the breast pocket of a jacket. This workable handkerchief, also known as a pocket handkerchief, is meant to be stored in your back trouser pocket, as Flusser says, but if this is not possible, I’m sure no one would mind if you kept your hankie in an outside jacket pocket or if the fit allows, the front trouser pocket.

In the old days, a proper gent would always carry a hankie for nose-blowing or mopping the brow on a hot day. I remember my grandfather always had a linen hankie in is pocket and kept a drawer full of handkerchiefs because he bought them in packets of three. These are still readily available in men’s furnishings departments. For you groovier types, seek out vintage stores for cool, old-fashioned hankies or search for them online.

Random hankie tips:

  • Men’s hankies tend to be plainer with straight or rolled hems; women’s hankies are more colourful and often have lace or edging on hems;
  • For denim or sporty days, carry a colourful bandana, but go with a plainer, quieter hankie at the office – either way, hankies are a great way to express yourself;
  • At the end of the day, toss your hankie in the wash or rinse under the tap, otherwise you’ll have a soggy wad to deal with.

For more handkerchief info, see the Hanky panky post, and for more info about combating perspiration, check No need to sweat it.

Unconscious behavior: using iPods

26 Jan

I’ve written a couple of times about unconscious behaviour – actions done without thinking, especially without thinking about how our actions will affect other people – and I’d like to offer a tip for those who use iPods or other portable music systems.

Be aware - ear buds easily leak sound.

If you’re like me and you take public transit, you’ll know how irritating it can be when someone nearby is listening to music at a high volume through headphones that leak sound (ear buds, especially). An example to illustrate: one time not long ago, I was riding a bus. A guy sat down beside me wearing old-style over-the-head headphones with speakers that sat outside his ears, BLARING what sounded like 80s metal. I asked him to please turn down the volume. Instead of turning it down, he got up, moved to a seat a couple of rows behind me and turned it up, an action equivalent to giving me the finger, I figured. (As you may guess, I did not take too kindly to that.)

Honestly, I like loud music as much as the next person (really, it’s true)  but I’m very aware of how the sound escaping from my ear buds can irritate people around me. Because I’m aware of this, I turn down the volume when I’m in closed public spaces so that I don’t annoy anyone who might be trying to concentrate on a book or a newspaper, or someone just chilling in the quiet.

If this means anything to you, and I hope it does, here is a trick that I devised to check how loud my headphones are to other people:

Keeping the volume at the same level it would be if you were outside, take the headphones out and hold the little speakers in your fists (don’t squeeze too tight – we’re only trying to emulate buds that sit in your ears). Hold your arms out away from you – this is what everyone around you can hear. How loud is it? What do you think of this idea?

Remember that the music you’re playing on your portable device is for you and only you, so please do us all a favour and turn down the volume while you’re in an enclosed public space, then when you’re back outside, turn it back up and keep on grooving – an easy action that makes the world a better place for us all – thank you!

Top 10 ways to turn off a self-respecting woman

11 Aug

Men, it’s time for a perspective change. To prepare yourselves for this, you first must consider yourself by thinking about the degree to which you can focus on something. Next, think of other men and how intense you may have noticed they can be when concentrating on reaching a goal. Got it? Now, put a bunch of these men in a room and put drinks in their hands.

I want you to now imagine that you’re a single woman in the same room and think about what it might be like to be the target of this intense and intoxicated masculine focus. If you can do this, you may be able to understand why single, self-respecting women choose to remain single.

1.  When she’s standing at a bar, make sure to confine her space – i.e. barricade her with arms and elbows.

2.  Walk up to her, introduce yourself, and follow with “wanna shag?”

3. Assume that she wants you to paw her, just because she said hello back.

4. Put your hand up her dress.

5. Ask the woman if she’s married, what her sexual orientation is, and make comments like, “with a body like that, you mustn’t have any children.”

6. Keep talking to her and hang around her though she isn’t even making eye contact with you.

7. Get really drunk and flash a wad of cash around, making sure she’s seen it at least 3 times. Try not to stagger while you do this.

8.  Get really drunk, walk over to a woman with whom you’ve never spoke, grab her by the arm, drag her to the dance floor, and force her to dance with you.

9. Get really drunk and interrupt the conversation you’re having with the woman to get into a fist fight with another drunk guy.

10. Exclaim “Don’t leave me!” when she turns to walk away.

* All items in this list are are true and actually happened to me. I’m sorry to report that 6 of these 10 points happened in one night not too long ago.

Of unconscious behaviour: at the gym

14 Jul

I’m very aware that once the day’s wardrobe is replaced with mostly non-descript gym clothes, identities are lost and we have trouble sorting each other out because the visual cues that tell us about people’s occupations, social standing, etc. are missing. I find gyms really interesting for this reason.

Gyms also interest me as I observe the behaviour of the people there. At my gym, I’m mixed into the 95% male gym users because I weight train. This gives me an advantageous insight into the world of men.

Sometimes it seems, guys at the gym forget they’re in a public place and behave as though they were in the men’s room, engaging in behaviour that should mostly be kept private. Images of bad public behaviour burn in people’s brains and can leave a haunting, lingering picture that you may not be able to recover from.

This is the second post I’ve written on unconscious behaviour, that is, actions done without thinking, especially without thinking about how our actions will affect other people. This is also the second post about my observations about behaviour in gyms. I’m melding these two concepts together this week to draw your attention to gym behaviour, how acting badly can affect the way people think of us, and tips on how to behave like a gent at the gym.

The following examples are real experiences I have observed at my gym. See what you make of them.

Use machines for their intended purpose and hurry up about it

During my routine on the machines one day, I noticed a guy with his heel resting on the forearm platform of the calf machine, stretching his hamstrings. I assumed he was just getting a kink out would exit momentarily.

He didn’t.

I would be using the calf machine but to be polite and give the fellow the benefit of the doubt, I worked around him and did reps on three different machines, saving the calf machine for last.

And he was still there.

I had given him 5 minutes to stretch and decided that he may not realize that someone else might be waiting for the calf machine to work on their calves, so I walked over and asked him if I could please use the machine.

“I’m stretching,” he said.

“Yes, but this machine is for calf raises, not stretching,” I replied.

“Five minutes,” he said.

“You know there are rooms for you to stretch in, instead of using a weight machine,” I said.

Unrelenting, he repeated himself and turned away from me.

What could I do? I walked away and shook my head. I guess this fellow didn’t realize that when using a machine for an extended period of time AND using it for purposes other than what the machine was built for, he’s definitely not casting a good light on himself AND annoying others. I for one, will not be able to disassociate this experience from this guy when I see him.

*Gentleman’s tip: Assume that other people are waiting to use the machine you’re on, do your set, get off. Easy. No one could possibly label you as a fill in the blank for being efficient with the weight machines.

How about the people that sit texting and relaxing on a machine that you want to use? The same principle applies here: be aware that other people may be waiting for the machine you’re languishing on. I’m not sure why anyone would bring their phone into the working gym to begin with unless they were waiting for very important news maybe, because last time I checked, gyms are for people to exercise in.

Just because you can’t see it

Sometimes people don’t realize that other people can see what they’re doing. Gyms are large, open spaces with mirrors that shoot your reflection all over the room, so people can see whatever you’re doing even if you’re not aware of it.

While on the treadmill recently, I watched a guy about 10′ in front of me sitting on a quad machine with his finger stuck up his nose. I had to look away when he pulled something out. When I looked again to see how he was going to dispose of this treasure, I saw no tissue and and didn’t wait to see where he wiped.

Now, come on, man! This is disgusting. Please think before you pick in a public space – public transit included.

*Gentleman’s tip: Keep your fingers out of all orifices while you’re in public.

From my treadmill perch, I see other amazing things. The treadmill faces a cluster of weight machines in front of a full-mirrored wall, giving a good, wide view of almost half of the gym. Sometimes I’ll see guys stand in front of the mirror and they’ll do one of three things:

1. pose and admire themselves,

2. check and re-style their hair, or

3. squeeze pimples or razor burn bumps.

I watched a guy last week spend a few minutes in front of the mirror squeezing things on his face. I was really amazed that after popping a pimple that hit the mirror, he wiped it off with a bare finger and then walked over to the machines and started pumping. After a couple of reps, he came back to the mirror and the process started again.

I know that nasty things go on in the locker rooms (though I will say that the brotherhood is pretty tight-lipped about what really goes on behind the men’s room door), but once a guy is out of the can, the public persona should really be taken on – the one that keeps a guy in check and exercises respect to other people.  This pimple-popper was not extending consideration to others in any way, shape, or form, and worse, spread the insides of his body around. I will recognize him as the pimple-popper from now on and I never forget a face.

Again, a public space is not the men’s room and any Jackass tactics should be kept private.

*Gentleman’s tip: Be hygenic and go wash your hands when you touch bodily products beyond sweat.

Steam room

Though I don’t know what happens in the gents’ steam room first-hand, a very good source has confessed that he’s watched men behaving very badly in steam rooms at his gym. He’s seen guys sloughing off dead skin from their feet and spitting on the floor in the communal steam room, much to the total gross-out of everyone else in the room.

*Gentleman’s tip: If you steam, just sit there and steam instead of spreading your DNA samples.

The potentially scary idea behind acting with disregard at the gym is that because the visual wardrobe cues have been removed, we don’t know who is who. What do you think would happen if the next person you network or interview with goes to the same gym and saw you squeezing blackheads in the gym mirror? What would they make of you? How do you think women would react to you? Is this the impression you want to make on other people?

If you think of your life as a chess game, know that  your every move will affect you and the rest of the players on the board now and in the future. One wrong move can cost you the whole game.