Welcome to the final installment of A Gentleman's Quest for the Perfect Night Out, a four-part guide written by etiquette expert John Bridges meant to instruct our more testosteroney readers on how to comport themselves during the evening hours. With the help of Clear Men Scalp TherapyTM, which gives you 100% dandruff protection* (because, after all, perfect hair ensures a perfect night), the guide covers all the man-questions you were always curious about, but were too ashamed to ask your dad. Don't worry. This is a safe space.
There will always come a time, even on a night that is definitely history-making, when all the bars have closed, and the only food you can find is a burrito from a Korean market. But that doesn't mean the thrill is gone, or that the buzz has completely evaporated.
A generous-spirited, and perhaps over-lubricated, gentleman may decide, at such a moment, that it has become his duty to save and sustain the evening. He may fool himself into thinking he is taking on this responsibility for the benefit of others, but it's more likely his personal party that he wants to stretch out to eternity, keeping it on life support until the plug finally has to be pulled.
He may make this sort of offer on the spur of the moment, as in, "Hey, I've got a couple of six packs. Why don't you guys all come over to my place?" Or he may actually have given it at least some fleeting forethought, as in, "After the show on Saturday, why doesn't everybody come over to my place?"
In either case, he will be wise if he realizes what he is getting into. It is only in the latter case, however, that he will be likely to have that sort of grasp on reality. Nevertheless, even in an off-the-cuff, unpremeditated moment, there are ground rules, all of which ought to seem self-evident, at least in the clear light of day. But maybe not so in the wee hours of the morning, so here they are:
At any hour after 2 AM, food is a good idea. So is managing to run out of booze, at least shortly before sunrise.
The food can be a wedge of cheese or a six-inch hunk of pepperoni. (Cheetos and a vacuum-sealed pack of salami slices don't count.) In a moment of true desperation, or great valor, a gentleman may even be called upon to scramble eggs. This can only happen, of course, if he has eggs in the house, preferably in the refrigerator.
If a gentleman lives in any circumstance where he shares a wall with another person, or if his ceiling also happens to be somebody else's floor, he keeps down the noise level, both human and electronic. He does not wait for the cops to remind him of his manners in this regard. And he hopes he will not have to make too many apologies over the next 48 hours.
A moment will eventually arrive, of course, when it will be time for even the best of friends to move along. That means shutting down the bar, distributing the coats and jackets, and making so bold as to say, "This has been great, guys, but it's time for me to walk the dog."
Good sense, true friendship, and common decency require that everybody be capable of finding a cab or making it to the train before they are sent out into the night. If necessary, car keys may be confiscated. If worse comes to worse, a gentleman may find himself stepping over the bodies of snoring near-strangers when he steps into the hall to pick up his paper the next morning. But at least they will still be snoring.
Etiquette expert John Bridges is the author of How to Be a Gentleman, and is also the co-author, with Bryan Curtis, of seven other volumes in the best-selling GentleManners series. He is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs, always championing gentlemanly behavior in modern society.
*No visible flakes with regular use.
Image by Alexandra Cannon