I wonder if our grandfathers and great-grandfathers are looking down at us, pipe or cigar in hand, wondering why we’re in such a rush. Why are we taking shots of Jack when we could be sipping and savoring a fine whisky? Why are we smoking 2 minute cigarettes instead of enjoying the complex and evolving flavor profile of a fine stogie? What is this thing, the “travel mug”? Can’t we just sit and enjoy a coffee without constantly speeding about?
I’ve been pondering these questions for some time. What has caused the death of these once cherished manly rituals? And what have we lost by abandoning these traditions – shelving our fine badger-haired shaving brushes for goop in a can? Is there a way to return to those simpler times?
Talking with a colleague of mine a few months back, he was shocked that it can take me upwards of 2 hours to smoke a cigar, and that I’ll sometimes sit with a friend sipping a coffee or a scotch for hours on end. It has slowly dawned on me that the demise of these manly traditions is largely to blame on our new-found servitude to the clock – the constant desire to shave 3 minutes off our commute, to get 15 minutes more sleep, to optimize our daily routines. The cigar becomes the cigarette. The trolley becomes the high-speed train. The restaurant becomes the drive-in. The straight blade becomes the disposable razor.
I suppose it is all with reasonable intent. We’re being thrifty with our time so we can spend more doing the things we really want. Is this really happening though? Is watching more TV really what made you speed 20 mph over the limit on your way home from work? Because according to A.C. Nielsen Co. the average American still spends 4 hours a day glued to their TVs. You’re probably thinking “I don’t watch TV,” but how long have you been mindlessly browsing the internet before stumbling across this post?
In the pursuit of finding more time to do the things we really want to do, we have actually done the opposite, discarding those activities which are truly meaningful. This is why I founded The Aspiring Gentleman, and is likely why you’re reading this. I’m searching to reinstate these manly rituals into my life and recapture a long forgotten bliss. I want to learn how to take the long road home, to force myself to relax with a cigar, to chat for hours with a peer over a fine scotch. I want to be my clock’s master instead of its slave, to enjoy more moments of substance. These are the reasons I chronicle my pursuit towards gentlemanliness.