How To Be A Man

August 10, 2017

I was in an airport lounge the other day flicking through the fancy glossy quarterlies, eating heaps of yummy stuff, having a wine etc.. in fact it was reminiscent of that episode of Kath & Kim where Kath and Kel miss their flight and spend their honeymoon at the Melbourne airport and like Mr and Mrs Day-Knight; I was having a great time.

Whilst waiting for my delayed plane (thanks heaviest fog in living memory) I read an article targeted at business men which covered the 12 essential life skills everyman should have to live a successful life. Talk about laugh! Ahhhhhh the Men, they’re hilarious aren’t they?

I’ll just run through the list with you.

Make a Toast – that’s fair. I think it’s a skill everyone should have not just those with penises. We’re not talking about a speech here, just a toast. But now that you mention it, I can’t recall they last time I was at a function when someone raised a toast. A speech – yes – thousands of them but not a toast. In fact I can only recall one toast, which was given by the best man at a wedding I attended in Alice Springs 17 years ago and this was due to how disgracefully bawdy and hilarious it was. I’d love to print it but it’s not fit for publication.

So, proposing a toast? You stand up, raise your glass and say whatever, e.g. “I’d like to propose a toast to Alex and Hugh, may their lives together be as wonderful as Hugh is hot. To Mr and Mrs Hugh Jackman!” and everyone then repeats the last words and you take a sip of your drink.

Sew on a button – yeah, I can’t do this. I am the first person in the history of my high school to fail elementary textiles. I even broke two sewing machines. Why? Because I have no patience and don’t give a fig about sewing. Never learned. Why would I? My mother and closest friend are brilliant seamstresses so I outsource my sewing needs when required.

Use the right cutlery – agree 100%. You may recall previous columns where I have written about my mother teaching etiquette at the local boarding school. It’s a skill everyone should learn. You may not always notice good table manners but my God do you notice bad ones. It’s also gross to have to dine with people who eat like Cro Magnon Man.

Hold a decent conversation – absolutely. People who talk about themselves all the time are boring. Interesting people are interested in others. Shake hands – how many times have you heard people you say “I didn’t like him. He had a handshake like a wet fish.” I think a lot of people still put stock in the strength of a person’s handshake, so a good strong handshake will always stand you in good stead.

Steer out of skid – again, shouldn’t everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car know how to do this? Drive to the conditions in the first place.

Understand black and white tie – it’s called a dress code. If you’re not sure, look it up on the Intramanet guys.

Boil an egg – yes, this was actually on the list.

Mix the perfect martini – an excellent skill to have, as is mixing any good cocktail really. Not sure why this is a SMS (Successful Man Skill).

Tie a Windsor knot – now THIS one is important because Windsor knots look really sharp. I learned as a girl as a tie was part of our winter school uniform. My Dad taught me how. I notice the very dapper Andrew Lofthouse (Channel 9 newsreader) also wears a Windsor knot. Classy.

Shine a leather shoe – yep, this is also really on the list.

And finally, Lingo to talk to a tailor – ahhhh really? If the tailor was any good, wouldn’t they be able to understand what you needed? I know nothing about sewing – literally not a single thing – and the lovely lady who does my alterations understands me perfectly.

Here’s my list of essential life skills everyman should have to live a successful life. Having Emotional Intelligence. You can be hugely successful at work but that really means bugger all if you’re not successful as a partner or father, which in most cases comes down to E.I.

The smarts to know that you shouldn’t rely on lists that tell you your worth is tied to being able to boil an egg or polish leather shoes.

The ability to spend time with your kids and have them think you are having as good a time as them whether it’s at their ballet recital or doing something else they love doing that maybe you don’t enjoy. Those memories will last a lifetime and be treasured always.

Being kind – it’s so so true. A little kindness does go a long way. If you need to put a little structure around it, why don’t have a look at The Allison Baden-Clay Foundations Strive To Be Kind Campaign to see how you can help.

Alexandria Bernard on BloggerAlexandria Bernard on Twitter
Alexandria Bernard

With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.


Alex’s voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.


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