How To Be a Man

Does Glenn O’Brien’s book “How To Be a Man: A Guide to Style and Behavior for the Modern Gentleman” make his GQ column unnecessary?

Yes. And no.

The book is just under 300 pages, and O’Brien writes about absolutely everything: how to drink, smoke, be a guest at someone’s house, a friend… even how to die!

So what the hell else can people write in to The Style Guy to ask him?

Well, in GQ’s May 2011 issue, a reader wrote in with this question:

“I have a crush on a friend, and I was thinking about getting her something that I know she’d love and then leaving it at her door. Is that romantic or creepy?”

To which O’Brien responded:

“Creepy. Give her a birthday present and hand it over yourself.” 

O’Brien resume is just bonkers, and there is no doubt he knows what he’s doing and talking about. “How To Be a Man” is chock full of historical tidbits about the origin of the suit, the necktie and alcohol. So not only does he teach you how to act in 2011 (when there seems to be an ever-growing number of slobs), but you are also told in O’Brien’s signature wit.

Here are just a selection of some of my favorite quotes and bits of advice from “How To Be a Man.”

Glenn O'Brien by Jean-Philippe Delhomme

– On being a man: “Anybody can have a penis, two testicles, and a Y chromosome. You might be a man, technically, but that is not enough anymore.

– On flip-flops: “Flip-flops are never to be worn with suits; in fact they are not to be worn outside the home, unless you have a swimming pool. If you wear them on the street and there’s any justice, you’ll step on a pop-top and blow out that flip-flop. Flip-flops are actually designed to prevent you from catching athlete’s foot in the locker room, not for strolling the boulevards or climbing mountains.

– On his being a wine drinker, exclusively (now): “I also went wino because I came to believe it was compatible with evolution. Humans have been drinking wine since prehistory, whereas we’ve been drinking distilled spirits for less than a thousand years.

– On friends: “Don’t you hate it when a perfectly good work changes its meaning? What is a friend today in the age of Facebook? […] A friend is defined as a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts. A person, not a set of data. ‘Friend’ is a noun, and its use as a transitive verb is unfortunate and hopefully a fad.

– “Buy a Star Trek uniform in case you get called for jury duty.

– “Joining Jews for Jesus nearly doubles your days off.”

– “Wear a tuxedo for your ID photos.”


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