A Better Man
Little Things That Count
Each of these will make you a better man.
By Duane Swierczynski
1. Paying attention -- real attention -- to a small child. I still remember the adults who did that when I was a kid. They also happen to be my role models.
2. The lid on a jar of pickles. It's not that women really need your help twisting it loose from the jar. They could use a hammer. But they like to make you appear strong, even if you are built like Mick Jagger.
3. A breath mint.
4. A brown bag. Pack a turkey-on-wheat most of the workweek and you'll save enough for a plasma TV by year's end.
5. A lunchtime reservation -- one that doesn't involve a drive-thru. All those sack lunches earn you a fine meal in a steak house every couple of weeks. Life ain't a gulag.
6. A 50-minute CPR class.
7. Distance. "From 30 feet away, she looked like a lot of class," wrote Raymond Chandler. "From 10 feet away, she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away."
8. Gratitude. It takes 15 seconds to thank someone for their time or gift. It takes 15 years for them to forgive you when you don't.
9. A single glance. That glance. If you have to ask, it's been too long since you've made it.
10. Five degrees. Go easy on the thermostat overnight this winter and you'll save 5 percent on heat.
Mother Nature thanks you. So does Al Gore.
11. Checking your spelling. Because the difference between Public Relations and Pubic Relations could be your job.
12. Listening -- really listening -- to your grandfather when he tells you, for the ninth time, about that seafood shop back in South Philly that sold littleneck clams for a penny each. Forget the clams. He's trying for a little bit of immortality by passing along the story to you.
13. A handwritten note. I landed myself a hot redhead because I sent her a goofy Far Side card with a dashed-off question along the lines of "So, how have you been?" Ten years later, we have a house and two kids.
14. That last drink. If you're drunk enough to absolutely need it, you absolutely don't.
15. The right to remain silent. People never remember you for being quiet. They remember you for a stupid joke about a venereal disease, your boss, and a transvestite hooker.
16. Getting off your ass. Time was, you stood up when being introduced to someone new. You meet eye-to-eye and shake, which is a small way of saying, "I'm not above or below you."
17. Getting off your ass, period. Even 10 minutes of activity a day can drop your blood pressure, boost your mood, and prevent you from forming a covalent bond with your couch.
18. A single detail. About someone else. Could be a wife's name, or a kid's sport, or the gum disease their hound had. Wield details wisely and you'll be a charm machine. Flub them and you'll make people feel like they're interchangeable cogs in a cosmic mishmash.
19. A single date. I have it easy. My wedding anniversary is September 11. Plant a Post-it, set an Outlook alert, or write it on your hand in permanent marker. A Sharpie fades. Her memory doesn't.
BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE