My Wife’s Haircut Makes Her Look Like a Fat Little Boy. Now What?

Sensible answers to the questions of modern manhood.
March 20 2013 8:15 AM

I Hate My Wife’s Haircut. Should I Tell Her?

Also: Do I have to be That Guy when I order a martini?

Troy Patterson
Troy Patterson

Photo by Christina Paige

Please send your questions for publication to gentlemanscholarslate@gmail.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Dear Scholar,

How do you tell your wife that her new short haircut that she so loves makes her look like a fat little boy?

Signed,
ChosenSpeed

Under the influence of sodium pentothal.

Thanks for checking in before attempting this, but I’ve got to wonder about the nom de plume: Exactly how is the speed that you’ve chosen?

A gentleman does not offer a lady any unsolicited negative critique of any aspect of her physical presentation. A gentleman is allowed exceptions to this rule in precisely three instances.

  1. You are making yourself helpful by drawing her attention to a clear problem easily fixed (such as when pointing out an undone button on your wife’s blouse or a glob of pigeon poo on a stranger’s shoulder).
  2. You two share a professional relationship predicated upon her physical presentation. (Think of hairdressers and clients, models and modeling agents, dancers playing delicate White Swans and leering French ballet directors.)
  3. You are trying to start a fight or something.

Maybe the 'do will grow on you, but definitely it will grow. And if, 18 months from now, it flows lustrously down her back, run your fingers often through its tresses and compliment its length at every opportunity.

Dear Gentleman Scholar,

I am a fan of martinis and also of Slate's recent madness for them. I was especially interested to read the bartender's reaction to the wrongheaded commoner "who orders a martini without specifying how they want it." Gentleman Scholar, that wrongheaded commoner is me! It had not occurred to me that placing a specific order might be part of proper martini etiquette. On the contrary, I've always thought it was good manners, if not always satisfying, to defer to a bartender's expert interpretation of the cocktail. Accepting my wrongheadedness, how should I go about ordering my preferred martini without sounding like a bloviating jerk? What script does the Gentleman Scholar follow?

I thank you for your letter. I thank you for erring on the side of polite deference. And I thank you on behalf of bartenders everywhere for showing some respect for their craft; it provides a vivid contrast with those gray men who, after a long day of business travel and quiet desperation, like to unwind with a little gin and a big power trip. These are the martini martinets. You can see them leaning across an unfamiliar bar, exasperated to the point of raging disgust at their bartenders’ failures of omniscience and their civilization’s continued decline, as if the Magna Carta had something to say about stirring counterclockwise.

Everyone involved in the transaction wants you to get exactly the cocktail you want. (The exceptions to this rule are few and entertaining, most notably including the late proprietor of San Francisco’s Zam Zam Room, who’d kick you out for ordering a “vodka martini.”) Being clear about how you like your drink is, on the contrary, helpful. It’s no more rude than asking for your cheeseburger medium rare.

Call your gin; dictate the proportion of vermouth; state your choice of garnish. “May I please have a Brand X martini? About five parts gin and one part vermouth? With a lemon twist, please?”

Better bartenders tend to think it’s silly to make a production about how very, very, Sahara dry you want your martini. You get more respect by saying, “I’ll get a glass of chilled gin.” And you will get the most out of the chilled gin experience by ordering an old-school drink called the Wax Cocktail, which I’m bringing back, starting now. Two ounces of silky Plymouth; four or five dashes of orange bitters; an orange twist and a cherry and elegance and simplicity. I can only suppose that the drink never took off in this country because its inventors didn’t promote it properly. The oldest reference I’ve seen to the Wax Cocktail is in a 1922 book noting its popularity among Canadians, a people famed for being polite to the point of self-denial.
 

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:06 PM Nothing to See Here The one national holiday Republicans want you to forget.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.