Category Archives: Lessons in Etiquette

Lessons in Etiquette, Vol. 8

An open letter to a sullen collegiate sound-man’s assistant.

Dear Sullen Collegiate Sound-Man’s Assistant,
We Gentlemen enjoy a good time as much as the next guy.  Probably more.  During our schooling – and more than occasionally still – we’ve have been known to pepper our weekends with the sorts of debauched pleasures enjoyed by collegiate males the world over.

We thus understand better than you realize that your perfect picture of a Saturday night likely does not involve you being one of four assistants to the sound engineer at a dry, university-sponsored, coffeehouse concert featuring a peculiar, anachronistic two-man band.  That the two-man band’s sound engineering needs are minimal (leaving you little to assist with),  that you find the duo’s music particularly unsuited to your suspect tastes, that there appear to very few unspoken-for ladies present …

Well, we realize these things only make your evening’s good-times forecast more dire.  Perhaps you’re required to be here for this semester’s Sullen Sound-Man’s Assistant course.  Perhaps your fellow sound-man’s assistants lured you here with the promise of unspoken-for ladies or a duo better suited to your suspect musical tastes.  Either way, here we are.  Together.  Please accept our apologies.

That said, in the interest of a harmonious evening, we humbly make the following requests of you.

We request that you and your three fellow sound-man’s assistants do not occupy  the four tables directly in front of the stage.  Traditionally, the tables directly in front the stage are reserved for patrons who enjoy the musical offerings of the evening’s performers, not for the sound-man’s assistants.  Also, as there are four sound-man’s assistants in total, and four chairs at each table, may we politely suggest that wherever you do choose to sit, the four of you share a table?   Four young men at four separate tables, each with one occupied and three vacant seats suggests four anti-social, ill-mannered loners; a scene unlikely to attract any unspoken-for ladies.  I see a poorly-lit table in the back of the room that might suit you nicely.

We request that you attempt to conceal any looks of “this is the worst band I’ve ever seen.”  If we are the worst band you’ve ever seen, we suggest that you go to see live music more often.  I’m sure you’ll find that there are worse bands.  You can probably find one tonight, in your own town.  We request that you save your “this is the worst band I’ve ever seen” look for them.

Fair enough?  Splendid.  We look forward to making music near you.

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean & Fuller Condon
The Two man Gentlemen Band


Lessons in Etiquette, Vol 7 Cont’d

Dear Friends,
Today we discuss the Lesson in Etiquette presented to you earlier this week. As you may recall, the setting was as follows:

At a tavern late one evening, you have offered The Gentlemen a pair of complimentary beverages. The Gentlemen, having already accepted and imbibed several, and well on their way to an ill-feeling tomorrow, decline politely.

We presented you, the reader, with four possible responses after having your offer declined. We invited you to choose that which suited your temperament. The Gentlemen, with their extensive experience in the field, have encountered each of these responses several times over. We discuss them presently, and rate each on the Olympic scale of Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Unworthy of Mention.

To The Gentlemen You Say:

1. Are you some manner of sissy? Or perhaps a lady’s private part? A man does not decline an offered libation. A curse upon you!

A Bronze medal response. A challenge such as this to The Gentlemen’s Party Credentials or Gentlemanliness is unwelcome. It is, however, generally quite effective and will typically result in The Gentlemen accepting and guzzling your offered libation grudgingly, at first, and then quite cheerfully. This manner of argument is a popular one amongst concert goers in the United Kingdom. Accordingly, our visit there this Spring consisted of many jolly evenings and many miserable mornings.

2. Very well then. But know this, good men! My offer stands in perpetuity! I shall arrange with the barkeep to keep two drinks of your choosing on hold for you. Redeem them at your leisure, whether it be tomorrow morning or years from tonight!

A Gold Medal Response! A drink offer that does not expire is a drink offer indeed! It is a wise man who recognizes that though The Gentlemen do not desire any additional cocktails this evening, we will likely desire some tomorrow. Perhaps because we lack it ourselves, The Gentlemen hold foresight such as this in high regard.

3. My word! It takes a learned and distinguished pair of minds to know the liver’s nightly limit. What spectacular self awareness! May I instead present you with a medal of Temperance & Rectitude in celebration of your temperance and rectitude?

Another Gold Medal Response! There are few formal awards in the two-man music industry. We are thus happy to accept any that are offered. A medal or certificate of achievement is often the best nightcap to an evening with the drink.

4. Fine. Dicks. That’s the last time I offer drinks to a crappy two man band. Dicks.

A response Unworthy of Mention. The Gentlemen suggest that one who cannot bear to have one’s offer declined is perhaps unsuited for drink-offering altogether. We are fortunate that such persons appear only rarely in our audience.

I do believe we’ve learned something, friends, haven’t we? As ever, thank you for studying with us.

Yours very truly,
Andy Bean, Barely a Gentleman
The Two Man Gentlemen Band

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Lessons in Etiquette, Vol 6

Dear Internet,
As a consequence of our chosen profession, that of itinerant merry-makers, my dear Councilman and I pass many hours rolling upon the highway.  It is a romantic image, we realize:  Two well-dressed men, a minivan full of kazoos and novelty instruments, a can of Sparks Light or two, and a crowd of 12-15 murmuring music lovers waiting down the road to be entertained.  Romantic, indeed!  But, it is not without its share of adversity.  Our evenings are indeed filled with joy, and song, and camaraderie.  But, our day-times (and late late nights) alone in the gentlevan, hurtling from town to town are wearying and devoid of thrills.  Indeed, in the absence of a scenic vista, the only hiccups in the monotony come when The Councilman determines that he is hungry or in need of a little gentleman’s room.  “I am hungry or in need of a little gentleman’s room,” he’ll bellow.  And I, as driver, will have little choice but to turn from the interstate in search of a food stand and a little gentleman’s room.  Luckily, our nation is peppered with well-lit oases where a gentleman in need can find himself a snack, a Sparks Light, a little gentleman’s room, and, if he requires, some gasoline for his vehicle.

The frequency with which said oases appear along our country’s roadways is a great convenience to me and The Councilman.  And the great frequency with which we visit them has given us opportunity to gain a fine sense or proper Gasoline Station etiquette generally, and proper Gasoline Station Restroom etiquette specifically.  As always, we are pleased to report that the vast number of Gasoline Station customers we encounter comport themselves with an impressively acceptable helping of decorum.  But we have seen, dear friends, enough careless slobbery in our travels to merit this short lesson on the following topic:  Proper Etiquette in a Single Occupancy Gas Station Rest Room.

We shall now recount a story about a fellow we encountered late in the evening at a gasoline station.  For this lesson, we request that you, dear reader, imagine yourself as this fellow going about his activities as we describe them.  As you read, we request that you note, with pen and paper, any of his actions that you deem “improper,” “in need of improvement,” “inappropriate given the circumstances,” etc.  Our tale follows presently.  Please imagine that…

You are the town drunkard, but you are not the social sort.  You tire of the crowds at your local tavern.  You prefer to be drunkardly in the privacy of your own home, or while strolling upon the shoulder of a state highway.  You would like, on this particular evening, to become more drunkardly.  But, wait!  You have run out of the drink.  You stroll to your local gas station to remedy this.  Upon arrival you encounter two finely dressed gentlemen exiting a minivan.  You take little notice of them, assuming them to be itinerant merry-makers or lovers.  You enter the gas station’s miniature mart.  What a fine selection of malt liquors and domestic beer drinks they have!  you think to yourself.  But, wait!  I have need for the little gentleman’s room.  You locate and enter said gentleman’s room.  You notice that it is single occupancy, yet you neglect to lock the door behind you.  Further, for reasons unknown, you choose to position yourself so that you are standing to the side of the toilet receptacle, facing the unlocked door.  Finding your denim pants to be burdensome, you push them down to your shins.  You are, after all, the only occupant of this single occupancy restroom.  You begin to relieve yourself sloppily.  What a feeling of relief, you say aloud.  But, wait!  The door has opened!  It is one of the well-dressed gentlemen from the minivan, who has taken an unlocked lavratory door to mean an unoccupied lavratory.  You smile.  The well dressed gentleman, recognizing the misunderstandin, shuts the door with haste.  But not before catching a full and complete glimpse of you smiling, you relieving yourself sloppily, and you embracing your private man-part in a manner that suggests, “Observe!  My private man-part!”  You complete your business undeterred and emerge several minutes later to encounter the well-dressed gentleman patiently waiting his turn.  The gentleman apologies politely for the interruption.  Not one to belabor a point or place blame, the gentleman does not mention the unlocked door, etc.  You smile, wink at said gentleman in a manner that suggests “Observe!  My private man-part!”, and reply “Any time.”   The well dressed gentleman begins to laugh.  Undeterred, you fetch several cans of King Cobra and a Sparks Plus from the refrigerator and step to the counter.  When told of the cost, you inform the cashier “I don’t have any money” and wait for her to bag your items.  She does not.  After several moments you depart.  The End.

An instructive example, is it not?  For the sake of comparison, we offer our analysis.

Improper actions – 3 instances
Actions in need of improvement – 2 instances
Dreadfully inappropriate actions – 1 instance
Actions inappropriate given the circumstances, but not necessarily in general – 2 instances
Miscellaneous – 4 instances

We hope you analyzed it similarly and, on your next gas station trip, we hope that you keep this fellow in mind.  We, unfortunately, can’t get him out of ours.

Any Time!
Andy Bean

An Etiquette Violation!

Dear Internet,

I shall now spend several troubling minutes considering my head wear.  As you may know, friends, The Councilman and I have gained modest renown in a majority of these United States for two predominant reasons.

(1) We wear finer hats, and look better in them, than any comparable old-fashioned music duo and (2) We consider ourselves expert enough on matters of etiquette so as to instruct laypeople on the topic.

So, friends, you can no doubt imagine the considerable strife and consternation I experience when I consider that our enthusiastic hatting habits may very well violate our otherwise strict adherence to a gentleman’s code of conduct.  That is, when one regards photographs of many of the fine performers of that period when a gentleman’s dress was more closely scrutinized (e.g. Louis Armstrong, Eddie Peabody, Sammy Hagar, Ray Parker Jr, etc.) one is unlikely to see said performers appearing on stage hatted.  Indeed, the only examples of a music making person appearing hatted in performance that we are able to uncover were this fellow and these fellows.  What dreadful company, our fellow hatted singing people!  Perhaps, I wonder, it would be better to save our head wear for outdoor activities such as strolling, ball playing unicycling, tomcatting, leaf raking, gin drinking, etc?

When I posed this question to my dearest man friend, The Councilman, he replied “Leave me be, you fool!  I am slumbering.”  When I protested that he was not slumbering, but rather, eating a sandwich and shouting at me, he closed his eyes and did not move for several minutes.  Though unconvinced, I chose not to belabor the point with him.  Like the feline, The Councilman can become ill-tempered if he is disturbed during meal times.

And so, friends, my queries go unanswered and I spend continued hours worrying.  If our onstage hatted days must end, what hairstyle shall I wear?  Where shall I find an appropriate hat rack and hat box to protect my head piece during the show?  And what hairstyle shall I wear?

I’d ask your opinion, friends, but you are likely wearing denim trousers, an untucked shirt, and a backward ballcap.  Are you not?  Indeed!  I deem you unqualified to assist. I shall suffer through this alone.

Yours, most dejectedly, etc.
Andy Bean, Banjoist
The Two Man Gentlemen Band

Addendum: Until we receive a final verdict on the above, I am happy to announce the incorporation of the “floppy cap” into our onstage wardrobe.  I fear that the stiff fedoras, porkpies, and top hats we favored in the past indicated to the ladies that we two gentlemen are imposingly formal, stiff, and rigid.  A floppier cap shows that we know how to “take ‘er easy.”  Don’t you agree?

The Floppy Cap!

The Floppy Cap!

Lessons in Etiquette, Volume 5

Dear Internet,
It behooves a gentleman to cultivate special skills that distinguish him from the common citizen. Gentlemen of old directed their attention to swordplay and marksmanship, demonstrating their erudition by poking holes in each other. It was a simpler epoch, and one that we long for. Dueling, however, has gone out of fashion and the modern gentleman must steer his efforts towards less violent, but no less noble, pursuits.

As an example: My good man-partner, The Councilman, has chosen the mastery of the double bass and the game of badminton as his primary pursuits, with secondary attention paid to his uncanny ability to appear sober when he is, in fact, blind drunk. Given the amount of time and effort spent practicing the last of these, he will no doubt soon master it, too. When that day arrives, he will possess a fine trio of skills with which to best any man.

I, for one, am too puny for the double bass. And though I put forth a sporting effort on the badminton court, The Councilman is my better. He bests me, too, in the tavern where, though I never skip a libation, and occasionally take them two at a time, my various stages of intoxication are accompanied by steady increases in the volume of my speech and the frequency of winks offered to nearby maidens. Evening, ladies!

I have thus been forced to form a skill-trio of mine own. Not being the self-aggrandizing sort, I shan’t describe my first two abilities in detail. Suffice it to say that one is musical in nature while the other is a not-so-simple maneuver in which I secure multiple glass bottles to my face with the awesome powers of suction. Awesome, indeed!

Still, this leaves me with only two notable abilities. And while a young boy or loafer might rejoice in the mastery of two distinct skills, we have established as our premise that a gentlemen requires three.

On a recent two-man bicycle ride, I posed this problem to my good friend, The Councilman. At first he mocked me, “You are but two-thirds a man!” he declared. But, sensing my distress, he considered the matter further. He examined me, then my bicycle, then me again, before concluding: “Perhaps, if you rode a bicycle with but one wheel, you might call yourself a man. Such a skill would be noteworthy.” A one-wheeled bicycle! I would be a man indeed!

Which brings us, finally, to today’s subject: The Unicycle. Upon my man-friend’s suggestion, I acquired a one-wheeled bicycle at a reasonable cost and set myself to the task of riding it. Two-dilemmas presented themselves. First, being unaccustomed to feats of balance and being frequently filled with drink, I tumbled violently to the ground each time I attempted to mount the wretched machine. Second, my humble dwelling has little space for tumbling, and with each spill I took within my home, I destroyed one of my few possessions. My living quarters are no place for a unicycle camp, I concluded. I shall learn my new craft outside! But no sooner had I stepped outside, carried my man-cycle to a nearby park, attempted to mount it, took my very first outdoor spill, and heard the quiet snickering of some local teens that I realized: I was not alone!

Which brings us, finally, to today’s lesson: Proper Etiquette when Encountering a Unicyclist.

(The gentlemen admit that, on its face, this is a rather esoteric subfield of the standard etiquette curriculum. Unicycle encounters in one’s daily going on are, we acknowledge, rare. However, if one considers the unexpected sighting of a unicyclist as a representative example for all things unexpected, than today’s lesson holds inestimable value. After digesting the following, you will find yourself better prepared to face not only the passing unicyclist, but any of life’s myriad surprises, with the utmost decorum. This, at least, is our hope.)

Indeed, the one-wheeled-novelty-vehicle I’d endeavored to master proved itself a peculiar magnet for verbal ejaculations. For some time, it seemed that nearly every man, woman, or child that I tumbled, rolled, or swerved past had some comment to offer on my plight. Thus, as I progressed over the course of several months from inept bumbler, to unsteady novice, to competent unicyclist, I absorbed a vast library of cheers, heckles, encouragements, and non-sequiturs from the mouths of passing observers.

Below, I list a selection of said utterances (with notes when appropriate). Your task, dear reader, is two-fold: First, please classify each comment as Acceptable or Unacceptable. Second, within each category, we ask you to order the remarks from most appropriate to least appropriate. We offer correct answers below.

Responses to the Passing Unicyclist:

A) “Get down from there! You are a fool.”
B) “Don’t fall!” At which point the speaker makes loud noises meant to distract the unicyclist and/or positions himself as an obstacle in the unicyclist’s path. Common among youths.
C) “Bravo, young man!” Variations include “Well done,” “Oh, what skill” “Indeed!” etc.
D) “Do a wheelie!”
E) “Can I try?” (Option 1) The speaker has never before attempted to ride a unicycle, injures himself while mounting it, and threatens legal action against the unicyclist. Common among youths.
F) “Can I try?” (Option 2) The speaker is a retired circus performer who entertains and educates the unicyclist with a dizzying display of unicycle mastery.
G) “What, no juggling?”
H) Silence accompanied by a smile or wink. Common among young women.
I) Silence accompanied by a sneer. Common among young women.
J) “Cool! Mommy, can I have one?” Common among youths.

[The reader has 4 minutes to complete the task]

The Answers!

Acceptable Responses (from best to worst)

1) Silence accompanied by a smile or wink. There is nothing finer than a smile of recognition from a young woman. The unicyclist is encouraged to wear a hat, so that he may tip its brim in appreciation.
2) “Bravo, young man!” There is but one problem with a nice burst of verbal encouragement such as this: A loud, distracting shout of any sort can quickly send a novice unicyclist careening off-course; in my case, into a parked car.
3) “Can I try?” (Option 2) The aspiring unicyclist is always eager to learn from his betters.
4) “Do a wheelie!” What is this, you say? You approve of a heckle? Indeed! A moderately clever, good-spirited quip such as this is always welcome. A wheelie! On a unicycle! Indeed! Let us take a moment and chuckle together.
5) Silence accompanied by a sneer. Any recognition from a young woman is welcome. The unicyclist can always assume that she sneers about something else, like the thought of her non-unicycling man-friend who treats her poorly and doesn’t ride a unicycle. The gentlemen will wait for you, dear lass.

Unacceptable Responses (from worst to best)

1) “Get down from there! You are a fool.” Indeed!
2) “Don’t Fall” Just plain dangerous!
3) “Can I try?” (Option 1) Despite all the ill effects of such an interaction, I happily report that a good spill from a unicycle silences all teenage bravado. Welcome to gentlemen’s school, teen person!
4) “Cool! Mommy, can I have one?” I appreciate your enthusiasm, young man, but your begging is unbecoming. You may have a unicycle of your own when you learn a trade and save your pennies. ‘Til then, silence!
5) “What, no juggling?” A harmless quip, yes. But, is a struggling unicyclist not entertainment enough? For shame! The speaker reveals himself to be impatient and difficult to satisfy, hallmarks of a rogue, not a gentleman.

Scoring Rubric!
1 point for each response correctly identified as acceptable of unacceptable.
5 points for putting the acceptable responses in the correct order
5 points for putting unacceptable responses in the correct order
Award yourself partial credit as necessary.

How did you do? The Gentlemen want to know! Send us your score (via electronic correspondence) and we’ll bestow upon you a title. (For example, a score of 6 earns you the title: Scallywag.)

Many happy adventures,
Andy Bean

Lessons in Etiquette, Vol 4

Dear Internet,
The Gentlemen now offer a brief lesson in “Etiquette on the Motorways.” As is our custom, we suggest general principles with a pregnant example.

The scene: It is a pleasant late-summer Sunday, early in the evening. My gentleman partner and I, having just completed one of our regular Sunday afternoon engagements, are steering our motorcar up 1st Avenue towards the Queensboro Bridge . This is a favorite journey for the both of us. Traffic is typically light, so there is little to distract us from conversation.

“It is nearing sunset, friend,” says the Councilman.
“We’ll have a pleasant view from the bridge, methinks,” says me.
“How I do enjoy this time with you, friend.”

Our fellow travelers, be they in taxicabs, rickshaws, or sedans, appear to have left the troubles of the work week behind. Drivers signal politely and greet us with a smile, whether they are passing or being passed. Such a pleasant community of motorists I have not known, before or since. But little did we realize: there was a hoodlum in our midst! Suspense!

Our customary route over the bridge consists of a narrow, dangerous, one lane passage, barely wide enough for our gentleman van. The risks of said passage are apparent, and many an inattentive driver has found himself bathing in East River slime after the tiniest error in course. Dangerous, indeed! Perhaps, you say, we should have chosen another route? Perhaps. But, the gentlemen are fond of adventure.

We are not fond, however, of that reckless foolery so common among youths. And you can imagine our chagrin when, as we merged onto the narrowing passage, a grinning and greasy teen-person endeavored to overtake our vehicle with his. Though I attempted evasive maneuvers in our tight quarters, it seemed for a moment that our choices lay between a dreadful smash-up and a watery grave.

The Councilman, sensing our dilemma, voiced his opinion loudly, “Dreadful Smash-up! Dreadful Smash-up!” Not satisfied with our options, however, I narrowly delivered us from harm with a feat of vehicular dexterity not commonly seen. The Councilman cheered!

And his cheering grew louder when he saw what transpired next. Our thoughtless nemesis, upon overtaking us, sped not off into the distance. Rather, he found himself stuck behind a slow-traveling sedan with nary six inches on either side for him to pass. Impatiently he swerved to and fro. Sensing an opportunity, I guided our gentlevan close behind and in between peeks at the delightful skyline, The Councilman and I shot nasty glances toward the young man’s mirrors.

Several tense minutes later, the bridge landed us in our home borough and the passage way widened. Our antagonist quickly sped away. Attempts to catch him were quickly ruled out. The gentlevan, weighed down with instruments, gentlemen, and bottles of spirits, is not made for sport.

“We are beaten again,” I sighed.
“Not so!” declared The Councilman! “He is ours!”

Indeed! Fate had smiled upon The Gentlemen once again. Our foe sat parked before us at a traffic light. I sped the gentlevan ahead, pulled behind the offender, placed the van in park, re-applied my necktie, straightened my trousers, tuned my banjo, and leapt from the car to confront the scoundrel. The Coucilman remained behind to protect against any flanking maneuvers.

To his credit, the young man did not shirk from my offensive. He awaited me with a sneer and as I approached the vehicle’s passenger side, lowered the window for our conversation. It was a shrewd maneuver. For on said passenger side sat not he (for he, being the driver was positioned on the driver’s side) but a greasy, juvenile lady-person. Shrewd, indeed! For whether knowingly our not, the scoundrel had castrated my attack. And with mine own scalpel!

As quickly as I had conjured them, the myriad insults I’d prepared for the encounter evaporated into the steamy air. All contained language and imagery unsuitable for a lady, no matter how greasy or undiscerning in her choice of company that lady might be. Alas, I was handcuffed by my own strict sense of propriety.

Recovering from the strategic blow, I quickly composed a short, well-mannered talk on etiquette, automobile safety, and the relationship ‘twixt the two. I delivered it flawlessly, but my juvenile friend had little time for reason. In response to each of my points, he offered only his outstretched middle digit. Having said my piece, I bid him good day, tipped my hat to the lady, and returned to the Gentlevan.

“Our flank is secure!” declared the Councilman.

Our adversary, however, was not done. He reversed his automobile, pulling his car adjacent to us. And as we looked on in horror, this young man mimed, with hand and mouth, a particular act of vulgarity frequently performed on men by their lovers. While we digested his performance, the light turned green and the young man and his silent companion sped off.

My partner and I remained parked at the light, stunned. Undistracted by the blaring horns and swearing drivers behind us, we contemplated the possible meanings of the young man’s mimicry. Two interpretations presented themselves. On one hand, the gesture may have been a mocking one. Perhaps, the hooligan believed us to be well-dressed man-lovers in search of a suitable location to perform vulgar acts upon each other. On the other hand, the gesture may have been one of tribute and admiration. Perhaps, feeling himself seduced by our gentlemanly charm, wit, and appearance, the smitten fellow felt tempted to perform said pleasurable indecencies upon one (or both!) of us.

Though the former interpretation seemed more likely, the mere idea of it made both The Councilman and I rather queasy. So, we agreed to settle on the latter option which, though also unpleasant, conformed to our long-held view that even the most brutish of brutes eventually finds our gentlemanly aspects irresistible. Indeed, we counted ourselves victorious again!

Satisfied with our conclusion, The Councilman removed his flask from his jacket pocket and we took turns sipping from it and toasting each other’s bravery, intellect, appearance, and good manners. Drivers behind us grew impatient and began to swerve around our unmoving motorcar. Some mouthed greetings, others waved cheerfully, and still others mimed vulgar acts with their hands and mouths. The Councilman and I toasted them, too, sympathetic to their urges.

With warmest personal regards, I am,
Andy Bean

Lessons in Etiquette, Vol 3

Dear Internet:
As the reader is likely aware, the gentleman of old settled his disputes with fisticuffs, sabers, and pistols. And rightly so, say we! For what better way to punish a brute’s vulgar language or peculiar glances than to offer him a thorough pounding?

But alas, dainty forces have overtaken the judiciary, and a Gentlemen responding with appropriate firmness today will soon find himself brooding in the penitentiary. A shame! Gentlemen of the world have thusly tempered our righteous instincts. And to what end? Legions of louts stroll the land, unpunished for their loutishness; whilst we gentlemen laze in our homes, white gloved, seething in passive acceptance.

Today, The Gentlemen say no more! While it is perhaps favorable that men no longer draw their weapons willy-nilly, there remain some offenses that a proper gentleman can not ignore. We describe one of these presently.

We invite you to picture The Two Man Gentlemen Band as we entertain passersby on a subway platform. It is an abnormally steamy day and the traveler finds himself generally foul-tempered. “It is steamy and I am foul-tempered” mutters the passerby. Until he spies The Gentlemen, of course! “What luck, a two-man novelty band to give me cheer!” he says. “Take this dollar as reward!”

The scene is repeated dozens of times over and The Gentlemen soon find themselves deluged by dollars, gifts, and good cheer. Ladies drop in their phone numbers with a wink. Prospective benefactors slip us their business cards with a smile. Wealthy persons donate large bills befitting their wealth. We offer a hearty thank you to each.

But not all hearts turn our way, and several hours into our outing we encounter a surly customer indeed. He is a sweaty, lurching man with a sour countenance. Upon disembarking from his subway train, he pauses before The Gentlemen briefly, scowling. The Gentlemen take little notice of him. We have lost ourselves in song and have little time for skeptical, perspiring persons. The man listens for a bit, his ill-tempered expression worsening.

Deciding that he has heard enough, our sweaty patron makes to depart. A defeat for The Gentlemen? Could it be that we have brought no joy to this fellow’s day; that we have, in fact, aggravated his already bad humor? Impossible!

Impossible, indeed! For as the scowler makes his way toward the exit, The Gentlemen watch with glee as he removes a wad from his pocket and tosses it into our case! Dear reader, is there a frigid heart that cannot be thawed by our gentlemanly song? Oh, I think not!

But, wait! (The reader will now pardon us as we transition to the past tense). I sensed something peculiar about the man’s donation. Accordingly, I addressed my good partner, The Councilman. “Friend, I sense something peculiar about that man’s donation.”

“Your instincts are wise!” declared The Councilman. “Inspect!”

And inspect I did, for The Councilman’s advice is always sage, befitting his title. It took little inspection to determine that things were indeed amiss. Monetary donations come to us in two forms: the shiny coin or the greenish paper. The wad in question had a paperish consistency. It’s coloring, however, was a sickly yellow and white.

“This is no dollar bill” I cried, and thrust the crinkled wad into The Councilman’s view.

“A mustardy napkin? To arms!” declared The Councilman.

I jabbed my banjo into The Councilman’s outstretched hand and headed off in pursuit of the offender. Fueled by righteous bloodlust, I tore through the afternoon crowds towards the station exit. The Councilman remained behind, armed with our two instruments and a nasty look, to dissuade other passersby from discarding their refuse similarly. I followed the offender’s trail of greasy sweat drops up the station stairs to street level. A pummeling was in the offing! How I will pound this man, I thought! Once for myself and once for my man-partner! I arrived upon the street with some perspiration of my own! And fists!

Readers familiar with New York City may predict what transpired next. In the afternoon heat, there strolled not one sweaty, ill-tempered citizen, but thousands! Was I to pound them all for their likeness? Our antagonist was lost! Alas, there was little for me to do but return to my man-friend, with hands still curled in manly rage.

So, dear reader, what is a gentleman to do when the scoundrel wins the day? Pummel him with written words, of course! They are a gentleman’s fists!

Yours, ever devotedly,
Andy Bean

Lessons in Etiquette, Vol 2

Dear Internet:
The Gentlemen have done well by the world, I think. And I must confess, friends, that as a result a new and warmish feeling has found home within me. It is a pleasant warmth, dry and airy. A soothing wind of satisfaction, wafting twixt and ‘tween my entrails, greeting each with a “good day, liver!” or a “well done, spleen!” It is most agreeable.

And for what deed have The Gentlemen been so rewarded? Why, for bettering our fellow man, of course! Since publishing our first Lesson in Etiquette, our lives generally and musical performances specifically have been most pleasantly devoid of the impertinent interruptions described therein. Our conclusion? The people must read our electronic missives and adjust their behavior accordingly! What a pleasant surprise.

It is thus filled with confidence that we present our second Lesson in Etiquette. It involves perhaps a less common situation than the first, but still one that deserves your attention. Again, we write in the second-person-present, so as to convey a sense of immediacy.

Lesson Two: You are a musical saxophone person. You pass your days coaxing repetitive melodies from your horn. There is a particular spot in a particular park where you like to toot upon your instrument. The City of New York confers upon you no legal right to said spot. Nor do the citizens reward you for being there. Your money bucket displays plenty of bucket but precious little money. A whole day of bleating earns perhaps a lone dollar or two, crumpled in your pail like beaten prisoners, writhing in agony for having been spent on such shoddy musical product. No, sir, you are no favorite of the people.

You do, however, arrive at your spot near 9 o’clock each morning. So, while the park’s finer performers slumber, you dig in your boots for a full day of noising. Your diligence is most impressive. The Gentlemen applaud you, silently.

However, on one morning you are slow to arrive. Perhaps the burden of your empty money bucket and the squinting ears of disapproving park-goers have become too much to bear. Perhaps you have a dentist appointment. In either case, when you finally drag your jazzaphone to your favorite spot (well into the afternoon), you come upon two finely dressed musical Gentlemen, delighting passersby with song. You are disappointed, of course. You like this spot and are unaccustomed to interlopers. But look how the people do enjoy these two Gentlemen! They are clapping and singing along and tossing their money about willy-nilly.

You should:

(a) Yield the spot to these gentlemen, shoulder your horn-case, and listen for a bit. If time permits, drop one of your miserable dollars into the Gentlemen’s basket, where it may live a comfortable life among its brethren and one day be spent on whisky. Then hunt for a location well out of ear-shot to twiddle with your tooter.

(b) Unsheathe your music-weapon, set yourself adjacent to the Gentlemen, and begin to blow. Pretend that there is no up-tempo man-duo singing beside you. This will be easy to do as your horn conquers all nearby sounds. When said Gentlemen politely question your decision, give them a lengthy and tiresome speech in which you repeat the word “respect” several dozen times. When the Gents counter that your actions perhaps do not show them a great deal of said respect, threaten to pummel them. When the gathered audience cries for more Gentlemen and less saxophone, deliver a lengthy and tiresome speech in which you repeat the word “respect” several dozen times. Then play a repetitive melody at top volume and speed until the crowd disperses.

(c) Same as (a). We repeat choice (a) so that the reader who prefers to pick his answer randomly is twice as likely to choose an appropriate option.

Here, the reader is given time to consider.

Answers! Choice (a) represents the behavior of an ideal and well-mannered park saxophoner and we award top marks to those who chose it. We award nearly-top marks for those who chose (c). Such a choice can only indicate that the chooser chose his choice at random. This is not recommended, but the chooser shall not be penalized. Such are the short-comings of a multiple choice exam.

Sadly, as in lesson one, it is the worst of the options that occurred. That being (b). The offending horn-player still parks himself in his spot daily. If you come across him, we ask that you interrupt him with the following question:

“Pardon me, dear horn-player. I am looking for two well-dressed Gentlemen to delight me with song. Do you know where I might find them?”

Then take the lone dollar from his money bucket.

I remain,
Andy Bean

Lessons in Etiquette, Vol. 1

Dear Internet:
Etiquette. Though it is music-making that brings us dollars, it is the gentlemanly art of etiquette that makes us men. And were the Lord to smite us two gentlemen, withering our musical hands with his heavenly blazes, we would still, I’m sure, make our daily journey to the park; not to fiddle with our instruments, but simply to greet ladies with jolly waves of our shrunken stubs. Good day, ma’am! I wave my stub at you! To be sure, there would be precious little money in this stub-waving. But, we could hold our chins high, knowing that we spend our days in demonstration of impeccable manners.

But precisely what is etiquette, friends? And perhaps of greater importance, how is it best taught? We could offer a sober listing of rules here. (Keep the waistband of your trousers at or above the hipbones, etc.) But that would do precious little to stem the mucky tide of vulgar behavior we encounter during our afternoon performances.

Instead, let us instruct by example. In the next few installments, we intend to describe several situations recently encountered by The Gentlemen. Following each description, we shall offer you, the reader, a variety of choices for “the most appropriate action.” We’ll then describe what actually occurred and critique or praise the etiquette of the players involved. This sounds fun, doesn’t it? Indeed.

Lesson One: You are a tourist, perhaps a Midwesterner or maybe a Swede, strolling through Central Park with your family. You come upon two finely dressed Gentlemen, delighting passersby with song. How pleasant! Yet, your time with them is to be short as your youngest child insists upon a visit to the famed Central Park carousel. But where is this carousel? Alas, you are lost! You should…

(a) Quietly scold your children for their insolence and reward the performing Gentlemen with a dollar (or perhaps two for wearing such handsome dress on such a steamy afternoon).

(b) Interrupt the performing Gentlemen’s song for directions, listen distractedly as said Gentlemen direct you (between verses), then proceed along your way posthaste, leaving the Gentlemen uncompensated for their musical and navigational efforts.

(c) Perform a lively traditional dance, inciting riotous, rhythmic applause from your fellow passersby.

Answer: Did you choose (a)? Or perhaps (c)? Ah, dear reader, you are a friend indeed! And we Gentlemen hope to encounter you in the park one day! It is indeed a gross breach of etiquette to interrupt a performance.

Sadly, it is (b) that occurred, and has occurred several times since. And while we first countered such vulgarity with polite and thorough directions (all given mid-song), we have since concluded that this perhaps reinforces unacceptable behaviors. Now, when interrupted we offer the interrupter a brief lesson in etiquette: Smiling, we beckon him forward, as if to whisper the requested directions in his ear. When his face is but inches from ours, we offer him a hearty taste of our two man kazooing, delivered most violently into his aural canal. The desired effect is temporary deafness and permanent contrition. But we must often settle for a shocked recoil and some vulgar language. Lesson learned!

On a happier note, The Gentlemen assume that (a) has occurred innumerable times, reinforcing the ancient gentlemanly maxim that the best etiquette often goes unnoticed. And we are most pleased to report that a sweaty jogging person recently paused along his route to offer us the aforementioned lively traditional dance. Though, we did not approve of this man’s sticky and soiled “active wear,” The Gentlemen nevertheless salute his enthusiasm. Cheers to you, sweaty jogging person!

Hugs & Kisses,
S. Andy Bean