How To Stop Someone Chewing With Their Mouth Open

Dear Agony Uncle,

How do I tell my housemate nicely that she really needs to close her mouth while she chews? Seriously, she is a 20-year-old!

Chewed Up

Dear Chewed Up,

Chewing with one’s mouth closed is one of the simplest bodily functions that divides the cultured from the zoo animals, yet so many cannot master the art of mastication. There’s no worse than being seated across from someone whose slack jaw reveals the contents of their bouche ouverte from which a chaff bag wouldn’t appear out-of-place; likewise if they were crouching on their haunches, shovelling torn pieces of a carcass into their waiting pie hole whilst scratching their armpits between bites.

Then there’s that horribly uncouth joke where someone asks you if you like seafood and if you reply ‘yes’, they open their mouth and show you whatever happens to be ground up inside. Delightful. If you’re going to cause offence, you’re better to do so with a witty quip that further marginalises a repressed minority with a killer punchline than reverting to base humour fit for a primary school playground.

As you said yourself, your housemate is of an age that she should know better than to share her meal visually with anyone who deigns not to do so, however, it’s important for you to exercise tact, particularly as you live together. If you wish to take a slightly indirect approach, ask her whilst she’s eating if she has a cold. Of course, she’ll reply that she hasn’t and will enquire why you ask. A simple “Oh, you’re chewing with your mouth open and I thought your nose must be blocked” should do the trick if she has half a brain; thus giving her a bit a of a nudge to keep her trap shut.

If, however, she’s not the sharpest knife in the block, then maybe you need to be a little more confrontational, in the nicest possibly way, of course. Schedule a dinner where she prepares the meal and sandwich the criticism between two slices of pleasantness by telling her you enjoy her cooking and while it’s delicious, it’s awful to look at when it’s half consumed; then conclude by telling her that you’re only pointing it out as you don’t want her to embarrass herself.

She might acknowledge her poor manners, apologise and then change her behaviour, or she might react badly and you’ll end up covered in mushroom casserole. If it’s something you can no longer tolerate, then perhaps it’s worth the risk; if not, then maybe you should start taking your meals at different times: Contact your local zoo, find out when is feeding time and plan around it.

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Etiquette for Hire: Part 2 – Interviews & Resignations

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s most stylish Agony Uncle – takes a look at the world of hiring and firing in Etiquette for Hire. Part 2 answers those all-important questions on interviews, follow-ups and how to resign in style.

The Interview

If you’re fortunate enough to get to the interview stage, view it as meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. Be on your best behaviour and you won’t put a foot wrong. Be warm but not overly informal, don’t sit down without being offered first or asking, show genuine interest even if you’re beyond bored and whatever you do, don’t put your feet on the table. Oh and for God’s sake, iron your shirt beforehand.

One thing to remember is that if you provide references after an interview, always make sure you inform your nominated referees immediately. There’s nothing more awkward for the referee than receiving a call or the employer making the call and one party not knowing about the other. Worse still is nominating a former manager with whom you never had a good relationship who isn’t going to give you a sterling review, or worse, not remember you at all. Now why would you set yourself up for failure?

The Follow-Up

In the old days, in order to show you were interested in a job you would call every alternate day, and sometimes put on muffled voices just to get past the receptionist. Finally when a prospective employer relented and you’d beaten them into submission only then would you be considered for a role. In employment, the hungriest always eat first.

These days, people stare at their phone like it’s a foreign object when it actually rings, but it’s a valuable tool in communicating your interest. If you’re waiting to hear back after a job interview or would like to follow up on your original application, there is nothing to say you can’t pick up the phone and place a polite call. Emails can always be avoided and forgotten, but human resources managers can’t dodge phone calls forever. When you get through, politely introduce yourself and tell them what you’re calling about straightaway. Don’t seem too eager, don’t ask too many questions and know when to pull back. If a police officer is at your front door with a restraining order, you’ve probably overdone it.

The Resignation

If you’re lucky in your endeavours, then finally the time will come for you to say goodbye.

While for some, exits will be tinged with sadness, whereas most of us would prefer to skip out of the joint under the cloak of darkness, potted plant and a drawerful of stolen office supplies firmly secured under our arm.

Whatever the sentiment, ensure that your resignation letter has the right amount of professionalism and appears to be heartfelt, even if you’d prefer to set your former office alight . You should never burn your bridges as you never know when you might encounter a colleague or a former boss further in your career. Or, if you’re going to go down in a blaze of glory, you better make it really good and even YouTube viral sensation-worthy—like this guy:

Video reproduced from YouTube / Joey DeFrancesco
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How to Fix a Fashion-Challenged Boyfriend

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on how to deal with a boyfriend’s wardrobe which needs to be raided by the fashion police!

Dear Agony Uncle,

After years of hanging out with well-dressed gay men, I find myself cringing at my new boyfriend’s fashion sense. He looks great naked but is it wrong of me to want more? Help me, Agony Uncle!

Fag Hag, Melbourne

Dear Fag Hag,

When someone’s clothes look better on the floor than on their person, presumably they would look absolutely smashing in a bonfire. Now, I’m not suggesting you go all Guy Fawkes by busying yourself collecting kindling, used newspaper and other assorted bric-a-brac, but I do feel that a ritualistic wardrobe cleansing is required. Meddling with a paramour’s appearance is never easy and that gentle remark about a pair of ill-fitting trousers can be perceived as a hypercritical verbal petrol dousing.

Start with a positive: compliment a piece of his clothing that truly suits him (and he loves), then suggest that he wears that particular item the next time you are planning to head out together. Instigate an impromptu shopping expedition—never plan one in advance for it will surely end in a break-up—and pick pieces for him to try that are inspired by the ‘one good piece’. Highlight how it suits him and why it’s reminiscent of what he already owns; and if all goes well, it’ll be in the (shopping) bag. Once he trusts your sartorial judgement, it’ll be a natural transition where he will refer to you for fashion advice, thus allowing you to influence his grooming and overall aesthetic.

Failing this, rely on your gays as an outlet for your paper doll, prêt-à-porter perfection, and your boyfriend for indoor exploits only. You said it yourself—he doesn’t need clothing to look his best!

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Chopstick Etiquette

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s most stylish agony uncle and etiquette guru – looks at using chopstick correctly and the different social protocols across certain Asian countries.

More Westerners seem to know the annoying little piano ditty better than how to use chopsticks correctly. Often one’s education is imparted by one’s parents at a first outing to yum cha; the fork confiscated and a hurried hack’s 101 is instructed before any dim sum hit the floor.

For the traveller, trips to Asian countries are often on the itinerary so knowing how to behave at the table is paramount, particularly if you want to be invited back again. They might be simple in design, but not knowing how to operate the two wooden lengths is the equivalent of holding a knife and fork in one’s fists.

Here’s our little guide to getting you using chopsticks like a virtuoso…

The Basics

  • Hold your chopsticks towards their end, not in the middle or close to the tips. Holding chopsticks incorrectly reflects badly on one’s parents, who are charged with the responsibility of instructing their children.
  • Just like flatware, chopsticks are never to be played with unless you wish to be perceived as being vulgar. So all you aspiring drummers out there, use them for their intended purpose.
  • Chopsticks should not never remain in one’s mouth for too long and must certainly never be bitten on. That means no sucking for those with a Freudian oral condition.
  • Never move an object other than food with chopsticks, this means plates, bowls and dishes. Food should not be toyed with, much like pushing around food on plate with a fork.
  • You shouldn’t pierce ever pierce food unless you’re tearing larger items apart in order to share it or make it a more demurely-sized portion. Use both chopsticks and pinch them out to cut the food—this takes some practice. Every attempt should be made to pick up foods that are slippery such as dim sum or cherry tomatoes. Stabbing food is an absolute last resort and is reserved for amateurs.
  • Use a separate set of chopsticks for communal dishes; these are often longer than the diners’ chopsticks. Never use chopsticks to dig around for the food you want—pick whatever’s closest to you.
  • Never pick up  food from a dish on the table and place it directly into your mouth. Food must always be placed in your own bowl or on a plate first.
  • Food should never be transferred from one diner’s chopsticks to another’s. Instead, food that is being shared should be done so on a clean plate or by placing it on the recipient’s plate.
  • When you have finished your meal, leave your chopsticks on top of the bowl horizontally. Placing them on the chopstick holder indicates you haven’t finished, much like crossing your cutlery.
  • Never leave chopsticks standing upright in your bowl as this is considered extremely poor manners and offensive; many Asian cultures believe it’s reminiscent of the incense sticks used in funeral rites and in offerings for deceased relatives. It is also poor manners to use unmatched chopsticks, as this is another funeral rite.

Regional Customs

Like the subtle differences between Western cultures of how to handle cutlery, so too different standards exist between the chopstick-using countries.


  • The host always has the longest chopsticks as the host places food on each diner’s plate. Children are offered smaller and shorter chopsticks in accordance with their social status. If your chopstick’s aren’t the same length, don’t eat with them and instead ask the host or the waiter or waitress to exchange them for a matching pair.
  • Never point your rested chopsticks at someone else seated at the table as it is considered very poor manners.
  • Never tap chopsticks on the edge of your bowl as it believed it is the noise made by beggars to attract attention of passers-by.
  • It is acceptable and the status quo to hold one’s bowl up to one’s mouth and use chopsticks to push rice directly into the mouth.
  • It is expected and a sign of respect to pass food to the elderly before commencing the meal. It is also allowed to pass food to closely related family if they are having difficulty gripping the food.
  • Serving chopsticks are often used and are a different colour to the diners’ chopsticks. These are to be returned to the plate after use.

Hong Kong

  • The eldest member of the family holds their chopsticks first as a mark of respect.


  • To use chopsticks like a knife and fork in order to cut soft foods into smaller portions for children is common practice.


  • When resting between mouthfuls, the pointed ends of the chopsticks should be placed on a chopstick rest. If one is unavailable, one can be made with the paper case that contained the waribashi—disposable chopsticks.
  • It common practice to pick up the rice bowl, but it is never lifted to the mouth as in Chinese culture. It should be held in the left hand with four fingers and with the thumb resting horizontally on the edge.
  • Like vertical chopsticks in the bowl, crossed chopsticks also represent death and should never been done.
  • It is rude to rub wooden chopsticks together after breaking them apart as it is a gesture to the host that the diner thinks they are cheap.
  • When finished the meal, chopsticks should be placed in a right-left direction with the tips on the left. Anything else is considered poor manners.
  • In formal dining, disposable chopsticks should be placed back into their wrapper at the conclusion of a meal.


  • In Korea, chopsticks are paired with a spoon and there are conventions that govern their use.The spoon is used most often if the food is likely to drip including soups, stews and liquid side dishes, but both a spoon and chopsticks may be used to eat rice.
  • One should never pick up a dish and bring it closer to one’s mouth as it’s considered uncultured.
  • Chopsticks should always be placed to the right of the spoon when laying the table. Chopsticks are only placed on the left when preparing for a funeral rite.
  • It is incredibly rude to use the same hand to hold chopsticks and the spoon simultaneously. Likewise placing the spoon on the table whilst holding one’s chopsticks.


  • The rice bowl is lifted to the mouth as in Chinese culture to eat rice. Chopsticks are used to pick up rice from plates rather than a spoon as Vietnamese rice tends to be sticky.
  • It is proper etiquette to always use two chopsticks at once even when using them to stir liquids.
  • Chopsticks should never be placed in a V shape when finished eating as it is considered a bad omen

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How to Speak Up Whilst Dining Out

Dear Agony Uncle,

I recently visited a local restaurant with a good reputation for food and service—usually a relaxed atmosphere and easy to keep one’s head down—however, for a party of five booked in advance, we were shown to a table for four. With one “emergency chair” placed at the side. I didn’t enjoy my meal because my backside was in the middle of busy waiter traffic. When paying for the meal, service charge of 10% was added as usual. Am I entitled to ask for a reduction in the service charge, or should I shut my mouth and grow a set?

Sir Swear-A-Lot

Dear Sir Swear-A-Lot,

We dine out not only for its convenience but with the expectation of a certain level of service. If pheasant under glass existed in a TV dinner form that didn’t induce bowel movements in a matter of moments after consumption, nor did it suggest a spinster’s existence of eighteen cats and a shoebox full of broken dreams, then perhaps we would be less likely to brave the whimsical nature of wait staff.

These days, good help is hard to find and The New York Times agrees. They recently posted a list of the 100 Things Restaurants Should Never Do—a comprehensive roster of service slip-ups that can ruin the culinary experience for would-be diners. Curiously, brass, Broadway and big band numbers are an ambiance no-no, while ketchup is deemed acceptable with any meal. I tend to disagree.

Here are some of my personal highlights from the Times‘ list.

2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.

17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.

46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.

58. Do not bring judgment with the ketchup. Or mustard. Or hot sauce. Or whatever condiment is requested.

85. Never bring a check until someone asks for it. Then give it to the person who asked for it.

93. Do not play brass — no brassy Broadway songs, brass bands, marching bands, or big bands that feature brass, except a muted flugelhorn.

94. Do not play an entire CD of any artist. If someone doesn’t like Frightened Rabbit or Michael Bublé, you have just ruined a meal.

Irrespective of individual condiment or Sousa preferences, the New York Times list sets a level of expectation for restaurant service, which clearly reaffirms the rules governing the relationship between waiter and guest in an age of bare table and paper napkin service.  Sometimes the service can be overly friendly, which I experienced on an outing to a certain Polish restaurant and vodka bar. The waiter, whose sleazy nature and overconfidence is legendary, took matters into his own mitts and thought that my knee was an appropriate resting place for his genitals. Now I’m certain I’ve had worse things on my areas of articulation, however, what I took most umbrage to was having to wait for half an hour for our bill to arrive, despite the specialised attention my knee received. Naturally, we departed without leaving a tip and he narrowly escaped a knee-jerk response.

As a diner, you’re entitled to complain if service isn’t to your level of expectation, however, be sure to do so in a manner than won’t see your meal a repository for a jilted staff member’s saliva. Speak to the particular member of wait staff who has been assigned your table and calmly address the issue—a dirty fork is not worth a tantrum. In your case, you should explain that the precise details of your reservation has been overlooked and that you would prefer to switch to another table should one become available. A good restaurant would do their best to accommodate your request and would even provide you with a complimentary round of aperitifs.

If your concerns haven’t been addressed, you have three options: endure sitting in a thoroughfare, ask to speak to the manager or stand up and leave before you order. Be measured in your delivery; you’re more likely to receive a positive and intelligible response if you keep your voice to an assertive and controlled tone and leave emotion out of your diction. If you can’t achieve a reasonable outcome then vote with your feet. Pick up your coats and leave without causing a scene—your departure will make enough of an impact to the other diners without saying a word—and make a beeline for the nearest establishment able to accommodate your party of five at short notice. It mightn’t be glamourous or charming, but McDonald’s will have your meal in front of you in no more than four minutes and the only brush you’ll have with anyone’s genitalia is if it’s on a truck route. Whatever floats your sundae.

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What to Do About Boring Facebook Baby Talk

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on how to deal with Facebook friends boring you about their babies.

Dear Agony Uncle,

I’ve hit the age where all of my friends are starting to have babies. As a (still) single girl, I’m tired of the endless Facebook status updates about their children’s sleeping patterns and teething troubles. Is it rude to tell them that I don’t care and that they should spare me the detail?

Bored with Babies, Shoreditch

Dear Bored with Babies,

Ah, the good old-fashioned pressure further compounded by modern-day technology. It’s bad enough to have one’s relatives barking in one’s ear about prospective grandchildren, not least when our own peers hit that communal wave of procreation to make us feel insignificant and reproductively-challenged via—heaven forbid—Facebook. It’s as if something’s in the water—an overly fertile amoeba—that ferrets into our friends’ ovaries and makes them spawn like tree ferns, casting offspring asunder; bottled at the source in the State of Utah.

Alas, your friends have entered the next stage of their lives where late-night jaunts and disco pashes are no longer de rigeur, replaced by a demanding little person who screams and gyrates, but not in the good way. Everything that might have mattered once before has now taken a baby seat, their priorities lying solely with the nurture of their infant.

Cut your friends some slack—it’s not easy being a new parent, particularly on three hours’ sleep. If their perpetual dialogue offends you so, use the ‘Hide’ button in your Facebook feed and promptly eradicate their diatribe like a soiled Pampers. And remember: just because you haven’t given birth, doesn’t mean you can’t bang on about your new ‘babies’. Prada heels or a Vivienne Westwood tote are much sexier than news of sleepless nights and baby spit.

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How to Deal with Sibling Rivalry

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on how to deal with sibling rivalry.

Dear Agony Uncle,

My older sister and I have never got along. At the tender age of five, playing ‘hide and seek’ and never being sought was scarring, yet it was easily written off as sibling rivalry. At the age of twenty (sister, age twenty-four) her games are getting old. Her latest attack at my expense concerning my weight despite that I am in good shape and she is 10kg heavier. Both my love and patience for her are wearing thin but alas, you can’t choose your relatives. Short of murder, how can I silence her? 

Bitter Sister, Melbourne

Dear Bitter Sister,

Now I probably shouldn’t admit this in quite a public forum at the risk of getting the reputation of being a pansy (I prefer the terms ‘dandy’ or ‘fop’), however, it is my duty to help you, dear reader. Call it humble human sacrifice; I’m a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi, only with a more figure-hugging and leg-revealing robe. Oh, and it definitely wouldn’t be brown: either black or pink – it really brings out my thighs. I digress.

Growing up with my younger sister, life at the Agony household was always interesting, to say the least. Four years younger than me, we shared a love-hate relationship reminiscent of the vast majority’s opinion of Lady Gaga (Go on, admit it: ‘Poker Face’ is stuck in your head right now and you’re reaching for iTunes to play it to get it out again. You can thank me later.). Fighting like cat and dog is too insignificant a cliché to describe the angst and torment that occurred daily. The yelling, the screaming, the door-slamming, the Chinese burns … and that was just the next door neighbours’ children. There was always some beef and my poor mother had to hear all about it. We were the real-life, living and breathing von Trapp family crisis – cuckoo!

Unbeknownst to me, my sister had developed an even more evil alter ego known as ‘Mrs Strong’, who could be summoned with her taking an imaginary pill thus rendering her an intolerable beast à la the Jekyll-Hyde duo. She would stamp around the room screaming, “Apologise! Apologise!” then would pin me to the floor and strangle me until I relented and begged for forgiveness and oxygen. I realise now that this doesn’t sound particularly conventional, however, after discussion with others’ about their childhoods, I feel relatively normal. The other glaring question is, as her older brother, why didn’t I just fend her off? In my defence, I was a spindly little thing who could barely lift a sack of potatoes, let alone fight his significantly stronger sister off with bare fists. Okay, so there’s no excuse – I’m a pansy.

It appears that you and your sister are maturing at different rates and that the sibling rivalry has continued all the way through your adolescent years and into early adulthood. You must address your issues with her head-on otherwise you run the risk of a lifetime of ridicule. Calmly tell her that what she says to you is hurtful and that you want to love her but sometimes she makes it difficult for you. Assess her reaction: if she scoffs then you might never get through and it’s time to take evasive action by playing your relationship coolly and waiting for her to come to you; otherwise you might be pleasantly surprised and you’ll have a sisterly love-in and a stronger relationship. If all else fails, I’m sure my sister is available at a fee to munch on her invisible pill and pin your sister down until she surrenders.

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How To Avoid Boring Office Christmas Parties

Dear Agony Uncle,

I find the Christmas season to be quite awkward. I’m invited to numerous functions with colleagues; most of whom are vapid, none of whom I particularly like nor want to spread any good cheer with. Given that non-attendance is frowned upon, what excuses can I use to avoid being trapped with drunken colleagues for hours on weekday afternoons as they lament their boring, suburban lives?

Christmas Snob

Dear Christmas Snob,

Work functions are those much-dreaded, frequently tolerated occasions that we all must participate in from time to time. Between the official working hours, you can take solace in the thought that your bank balance will increase every minute you spend there, however, with official extracurricular events you’re not even paid to spend time with those you normally wouldn’t. Listening to Tracey from Payroll’s tales of teething issues and dry nipples are about as much fun as a mammogram with mastitis, not least when they’re slurred as she clutches her warm glass of sauvignon blanc as she corners you or anyone else who’ll indulge her at the end of the bar. It’s the one moment when grabbing an armchair, defenestrating it and make a break for it sounds like common sense.

Of course, some might say that these events are important for career development with many scaling the corporate ladder over company-sanctioned booze and finger food. Others would argue that mixing business and displeasure can be career suicide. No matter your view, both require patience and at the very least a minor painkiller to tolerate their duration. Or a darn good excuse to avoid them.

Believable excuses are made from the banal, rather than the sensationalist. While saying you’re taking French classes might sound like a good evening occupation, it might come unstuck when a colleague propounds their views on French classical literature and tests your knowledge of the tongue. Instead, arrange your diary so that possible evenings have prior engagements, even if those dates are with your sofa. Fortunately, it is the busiest time of the year and being booked out a month in advance is entirely plausible and your non-attendance should be free of scrutiny. Attend the bare minimum and you won’t look like a grinch and enjoy the attention when everyone clings onto every word of your fascinating and fabulous life.

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How to be a Gay Cougar

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on how a confirmed homosexual bachelor can become a gay cougar.

Dear Agony Uncle,

As a long-established (homosexual) bachelor who has never felt the need to compromise myself by entering into relationships, I feel I am experiencing somewhat of a mid-life crisis.  Since meeting a dear friend’s new, much younger ‘gentleman friend’ I am starting to have urges and worrying thoughts of DVD nights at home, pyjama romps and joint dinner parties…especially with the youth in question. Your words of wisdom are keenly sought. Should I:

1. Move in for the kill;
2. Wait for the inevitable ‘irretrievable breakdown of their relationship’, then move in for the kill;
3. Look further afield and procure one of my own; or
4. Come to my senses, shake a Bex powder down my throat and have a good lie down?

Young at Heart, Melbourne

Dear Young at Heart,

Never fear, contrary to popular belief there are still single people out there. I know; I happen to be one. Sure, the further you get along in life it’s inevitable that your peer group will pair up and start prancing onto Arq like it’s nobody’s business. It’s unfortunate that you’ll be forced to watch from the dry dock, but that’s the choice you made when becoming a ‘confirmed bachelor’. I understand that an extra pillow or a half-size replica of Carol Channing isn’t as comforting as another human’s touch, but that doesn’t entitle you to become The Picture of Whorian Gay and muscle in on your friend’s paramour.

Unfortunately, lovers cannot be bought in egg cartons at the supermarket like the foetuses you wish to attract, so you will have to take offensive action. Coming on strong to will have the opposite effect and drive potential suitors away, so, before you hitch your junk up and don your leopard print swimwear, give a little consideration to the stealth tactics of your animal print-clad female counterpart—the cougar.

1. They always hunt in packs, so ensure that you’re not the lone drunkard sipping whisky at the bar.

2. They’re always the life of the party. Someone who has the same vim and vigour as someone significantly younger is always more attractive. Be the dominant male in your pride.

2. They’re always ready for the kill. Have an exit strategy in place for when you need to slink off with your new-found mate. Oh, and wear your best undies.

Don’t worry, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Rather than citing the fish/sea cliché, let me quote my dear German friend and her Deutsch forbears: “There are plenty of other mothers with better looking sons”; just be certain they’re of legal age.

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Who Gets the Armrest on Planes?

Dear Agony Uncle,

I travel quite a lot and I’ve been meaning to ask you: what’s the etiquette of who gets the armrest on a plane? Regardless of whether they are wider than my slender self as a result of too little or too much gym attendance, should I always have to cramp my arms to allow the larger passengers to spread their wings?

Skinny Minny

Dear Skinny Minny,

Possession is nine-tenths of the law and when schlepping it up with the heifers in cattle class, every square centimetre of space is prime (beef) real estate. Between the four inches of schlock for the illiterati in the seat pocket in front of you to that weird air conditioning unit beneath the footrest that seems to serve no other purpose than to annoy you, if you’re not a fine example of human origami by the time you fasten your seatbelt, then you better eat something.

Foot room (or the lack thereof) aside, personal space and personal discomfort go hand in hand, or in your case—locked elbow to elbow. Cabin and lounge furniture are entirely different entities and should be treated as such, although many are unable to distinguish between the two. Common sense should prevail as should common decency: the armrests on the outer edges of the row belong to those in the aisle seats and are then allocated inwards respectively. Stake your claim early on in the piece and muscle/flab in on your turf, which can be done subtly and elegantly by placing your elbow on the corner of the armrest closest to the seat. Should either of you need to move, there’s at least another two-thirds of the armrest available to temporarily rest objects or limbs and to pass inflight meals from the aisle.

Alas, if the neighbouring passenger is more corpulent than Kate Moss, their physical presence can engulf yours. If you are uncomfortable, ask politely that they make a little room for you, but complainant beware: you will have to endure the rest of the trip with them if they take umbrage to your request. Long haul flights are intolerable enough without a fatty wheezing down your neck for its duration.

Of course, there’s one simple solution to it all: request an aisle seat or fly First Class. You’ll always be guaranteed an armrest and in the case of the latter, will only  ever have to share it with a flute of Dom Pérignon. Bon voyage!

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What to Wear to a Balinese Wedding

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice for a UK reader on what to wear to a tropical wedding.

Dear Agony Uncle,

I’ve been invited to a friend’s wedding in Bali and it’s very important to me that I look good and make a great impression on the other guests. The invitation says dress is ‘warm cocktail climate’, so no suit jackets, but not living in a warm climate, I’m not clear what this does include. Can you advise me of what I should be wearing and where I should be getting it?

Tyler, London

Dear Tyler,

A Balinese wedding is perhaps one of the only occasions where wearing white isn’t only practical, but it is the type of situation where you wouldn’t risk upstaging the bride. Of course, a tropical climate is also fraught with the perils associated with poor water sanitation – Bali belly.

Let me take you on a journey back to my halcyon days of being a PR tart, flying across international waters to coordinate photo shoots of luxury resorts. Envious? Don’t be – it was sleeves-up, sweaty-crack, arduous work that could crush even the most resilient of publicists. With a limited budget – read: none – and a fistful of business cards, it was my duty to create a mock wedding in a tropical hideaway, pushing my way through the throngs bedecked with Bali braids and contraband Chanel. No wardrobe, no models, no clue; I managed to assemble a motley crew of ‘present-day attractive’ folk and source a borrowed wardrobe from Bali’s continental Seminyak district. Mid-shoot after a prepared lunch, one of our ‘models’ forgot the cardinal rule to not eat the fruit nor drink the water for fear of days of discomfort. Needless to say, the cream linen trousers he sported remained pristine for half an hour before he had to be stretchered out and the trousers peeled off. After witnessing what I saw, I’m reticent to raise children.

Remember that in the tropics comfort is key. An open-necked button-down shirt, pressed trousers are acceptable , but don’t be afraid to wear a splash of colour in the form of a silk handkerchief or a neck tie. Oh, and that splash of colour? I think you know there’s one you should avoid…

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Etiquette for Hire: Part 1 – Job Applications

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s most stylish Agony Uncle – takes a look at the world of hiring and firing in Etiquette for Hire. Part 1 answers those all-important questions on job applications and preparing for interviews.

There comes a time in life when one just has to move on, and I’m not talking about skinny jeans and the axing of The Real Housewives of New York. When seeking a new job, the process can be a little daunting; what with the cover letters, Curriculum Vitae and the constant stream of indifferent recruiters.

The whole affair can make you want to throw the towel in and retire to a Buddhist temple, where orange robes and mung beans are always de rigeuer. If you’re not quite prepared to trade your polished brogues or court shoes for toe-proud sandals, then don’t despair, take the lead from the monks’ greatest virtue: patience.

Of course, having sheer talent is also helpful when seeking alternative employment, but having the skills to sell yourself long on paper will get you ahead. There was once a time when written correspondence was an indispensable attribute of any lady or gentleman, but that went out when you could have a pizza or sexual liaison delivered with just one SMS. Nowadays, if you ask someone to write you a letter with full block text and correct salutations, you’ll be lucky if you receive a torn piece of paper with illegible scrawl about paperclips.

So in an age of fast communication, correct correspondence will make your application stand out in a rather large lake of mediocrity. By following the basic rules of etiquette, not only can you be assertive, but you can always be perceived as being polite and thus, employable.

The Application

Chances are that a bunch of old crones like those on the left are going to be the ones examining your application, so if you can appeal to their old-fashioned sensibilities, it’s likely it will give you a leading edge.

Whether you’re applying online or by mail, the rules are still the same: be polite, succinct and most of all, confident.

Try and find out the name of the person handling the applications of the particular role you’re applying for and address them by their title and their surname; for example, ‘Dear Mr Smith’, rather than ‘Dear John’. Salutations like ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ are somewhat antiquated and should be reserved for situations when you don’t know their surname or formal occasions. You should always sign your letter with ‘Yours sincerely,’ and your name in this particular situation.

If you’re unable to find out the name of the person handling applications or if a general email address is supplied, then opt for ‘To Whom It May Concern:’, which is always followed by a colon and not a comma. When signing off, you should always use ‘Yours faithfully,’ which is easily remembered by thinking, “I’ve no idea who I’m sending this to and I’m putting faith in the Universe that it will be delivered where it’s meant to go even though I haven’t a hope in Hades in retrieving it should it go awry.” Easy, no?

Mr Agony Uncle
Etiquette Hatquarters

RE: Manservant Application

Dear Mr Uncle

I wish to apply for the above-mentioned position of Manservant. I believe I’m an ideal candidate as I am capable of washing, drying and folding an entire rugby team’s guernseys in forty-seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.

I trust you will consider my application.

Yours sincerely,

Pedro Wilson

Before the Interview

We live in a digital age, which thankfully makes job applications simpler to cut and paste, however, it presents a whole other smattering of issues. If you love the Internet, particularly sharing on the Internet, you need to perform an audit on your social media activity and see just what mightn’t appeal to a prospective employer. Google yourself if you haven’t already and see just what turns up. Now just might be the time to shut down that Neo-Nazi Facebook group and lock your pro-ana Twitter profile.

That said, it’s a good time to unlock your LinkedIn profile and bolster your credentials. Although, before you make any dramatic changes, review your privacy and profile update publishing settings—when someone suddenly updates their LinkedIn profile it usually means they’re looking for a new job; so take control and keep things mum, particularly if you’re connected to your boss.

Lastly, but possibly most importantly, make sure you have working voicemail on your mobile phone. Recruiters and prospective employers will always call during business hours and often from private numbers, so ensure that you have a professional-sounding outgoing message that can take the messages of wonderful job offers and heavy breathing of asthmatic perverts.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of Etiquette for Hire where Adrian Fernand will explore the world of interviews, follow-ups and resignations.

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Top 5 Tips for Harmonious House Sharing

City Connect brings you another informative yet fun article from Adrian Fernand – Australia’s most stylish agony uncle and etiquette guru. This time he has advice for those leaving home for the first time and shares his top 5 tips for harmonious house sharing.

So you’re finally cutting the apron strings or mother bird has shoved you from the nest after tolerating teenage (or middle-aged) angst and skid-marked loads of washing for a little too long?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re nineteen, twenty-nine, or forty-nine (I’m looking at you, Norman Bates) when the time will come for you to pack your worldly possessions into a some semblance of order, throw them over your shoulder in a handkerchief attached to a switch of your choosing.

When leaving the parents behind to do whatever they do on household appliances when you’re not there comes a new sense of freedom but also responsibility. In most cases, one’s first out-of-home venture is usually one they share with others of greater or lesser experience. You might have found a spare bedroom in an established household or you might be setting up one with a friend, lover or stranger; either way, chances are you’ll need a little prod and some guidance to ensure that your new domestic life is one of champions. Here are our top five tips to make you a domestic god(dess).

1. Pay your rent on time. It might seem elementary but you’re an adult now, no matter your age. Don’t forget that you’re not the only one on the lease and others’ rental records and future accommodation depends on their being the perfect tenant.

2. Be seen as considerate but not as a doormat. If there are dishes in the sink and you’re washing up, take initiative and do them for your housemates. Likewise cleaning such as bathrooms and other shared areas, but if you find that your cohabitants are taking advantage of your generosity, redress the balance.

3. Respect others’ property. Not everyone purchases their possessions from charity shops so understand that some people have nice things that require respect. Don’t put your feet on the furniture, be careful with others’ glassware and always ascertain that something is microwave or dishwasher-safe before putting it in the respective appliance. If you break something, tell them straight away and offer to replace it. More often that not it will not be something of value, but if it is, accept responsibility.

4. Do not use metal objects on non-stick surfaces. Unsure of what’s non-stick? It’s any pot, pan or baking dish that has a charcoal grey or black coating on the inside, then chances are it’s not a fan of metal. It might seem trivial but when someone’s Scanpan is irreparably damaged, it makes for a lethal weapon.

5. Announce when you’re going to take a shower and this gives your housemates the opportunity to dash in ahead of you if you have a combined shower/bathroom/toilet. It might sound like an overshare but it will preclude any desperate improvisations in the kitchen sink!

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How to Break Up with Your Barista

City Connect brings you our latest article from Adrian Fernand – Australia’s most stylish agony uncle and etiquette guru. This time Adrian shares his personal views about the coffee scene in his hometown of Melbourne. Check out Adrian’s previous articles here.

When travelling abroad frequently, one tends to make sacrifices—economy airfares for prolonged travel, forsaking a full wardrobe for a 23-kilogram baggage allowance, substituting a queen-size bed for a sofa shared with a gin-soaked stranger—but never should one ever compromise on the quality of a decent coffee. Being a Melbournian I’m the first to admit I’m a coffee (among other things) snob and the mere thought of imbibing inferior caffeinated produce sends me running for my skinny jeans and fixed-wheel bike and clutching them for comfort (not really). I’ve had my fair share of fair trade nonsense and just like an unwanted coffee, it leaves me bitter and cold. For desperation’s sake, Starbucks makes for a consistently terrible global alternative to a decent drop, but why feed the machine when you could achieve the same result with a carburetor and some road tar?

Recently when I returned to coffee Mecca for what has become an extended stay, I’ve relished in the roasted bean goodness that is Melbourne’s coffee scene. With any number of cafés from which to choose and a bevy of baristas at hand to get you your fix, there’s no excuse for effluent disguised cleverly in a takeaway cup. That is, unless you live in my street. You see, given the ageing population whose coffee tastes extend to International Roast out of bulk-purchased tin, the sleepy little suburb is a black spot in café culture. As the old crones finally kick the bucket, the couples with kids shall raze the Californian bungalows and replace them with shiny precast concrete-cladded monoliths and that’s when the circle of life shall recommence … five years from now. You mightn’t be able to fight progress, but you sure can’t expedite it.

This is, however, a small coffee shop (and that’s as much as I’m prepared to call it) just up the road, which on a number of times has served me incredibly mediocre caffe lattes, but as the saying says, any port in a storm. The foccacias are dry and overpriced, the cookies in the jar have been sitting there since approximately 1973 and the decor resembles a cheap B-movie set with a coffee machine. It was my saving grace over the Christmas party season when my eyelids hovered above my keyboard after far too many consecutive nights out, but I’ve had to put my foot down and decide that there will be no more bad coffee for this Agony Uncle.

Nowadays, I’m happy to go without or travel for ten minutes on the train to find one of superior quality, however, that means having to walk past the offending coffee shop in order to do so, which makes for an awkward wave and smile as I stream past in mock haste. I’m yet to have the post-coffee break-up conversation—the one where you revert to a series of cliché excuses and shuffle away as quickly as possible—and not that I’m dreading it entirely, it’s something I’d rather not have, like dandruff.

Breaking up with your barista is no mean feat and can be an often personal experience, despite the tenuous manner in which the relationship is formed. Although telling the truth should is always preferred, the occasional white lie to salvage their feelings is more important than the perfect cup of coffee. If you do happen to run into your barista and they mention that they haven’t seen you in a while, there’s many plausible excuses that can put them off the coffee defection scent. Cite changes in your schedule for your absence or perhaps say that you’ve given up caffeine for the time-being; but beware – being busted by your barista carrying a takeaway on their turf is far worse a crime. You want your beans not your behind to be roasted.

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How to Tell Your Boyfriend He’s Receding

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on the best way to tackle that difficult conversation with your boyfriend about his receding hairline.

Dear Agony Uncle,

I love my boyfriend no matter what, but I have noticed that his hairline is slowly heading skywards. I’ve tried to find the right opportunity to mention it, but anytime I attempt to, he walks off in a huff. How do I tell my boyfriend that his hair receding?

Luscious Locks, Brisbane

Dear Luscious Locks,

It’s every man’s worst nightmare: suddenly waking up to be surrounded by a hairy halo on the pillow. The cruel prospect of male pattern baldness terrifies most men from their mid-twenties and into mature adult life, so when it rears it’s ugly chrome-domed head, you can hardly blame a gentleman for hitting the road. Historically speaking, there have been tonnes of hot-and-less-hirsute gentlemen: Yul Brynner; Sean Connery; Bruce Willis; Vin Diesel; Mr Sheen. These men (including the latter) ooze so much sex appeal they don’t even need hair for you to run your fingers through. In the case of Mr Sheen, he doesn’t even have to exist in real life to make you want to grab that can of magic white foam and writhe naked around on a perfectly polished leather sofa. Don’t judge me.

We live in an age of modern science, and although it’s a largely hereditary trait, many treatments exist to treat hair loss and its prevention. Have a chat to your hairdresser and see what they would recommend in the form of topical serums, shampoos and conditioners. Be warned: some can be expensive, but are a worthy investment it for future decades of hotness. A little white lie will help you broach it with your beau—purchase yourself a thickening shampoo and conditioner for yourself and one of each for him. Perhaps buy a brand where the majority of the label’s text is in French or Italian to steer him off the scent. Then tell him that you noticed that your hair wasn’t as full as normal and that maybe the water is to blame; wash, rinse, repeat… and wait for the result.

If you notice a difference, tell him immediately and he will be more likely to be persuaded by your proposition. Remember that men rarely want to discuss their hairline and if you can remain sympathetic and helpful, he will more likely to address the issue at hand… or at head, as it were.

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How to Deal with Mobile Misuse on a Date

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on how to deal with a date surgically attached to their phone.

Dear Agony Uncle,

I have recently started dating again after coming out of a long-term relationship and am completely alien to the protocol for dating these days. I’ve been on two dates now with a guy who leaves his mobile phone on the table and will occasionally respond to text messages and take calls when it rings. Is this rude or should I accept this and get over it?

Back on the Market, Camden

Dear Back on the Market,

Maybe it’s the bitter-and-twisted cynic in me that prevails or my ruling Virgo star sign that is responsible for my pedantry; however, on any date I always manage to pick fault. Too many times I have been on the other side of the table conducting my date as if it were a job interview, ticking off an imaginary checklist in my head (despite the fact an actual checklist exists under a pile of unfiled receipts in my desk drawer) of whether my suitor is indeed suitable. Current driver’s license? Check. Financially independent? Check. Wearing boat shoes? Fail. “Check, please!” We are instantly critical of the other party based on how they present themselves: the way they hold their cutlery; whether they chew with their mouth open; and if they know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ (a complete deal breaker). Dates are like an audition and if one doesn’t make a lasting impression in the first five seconds, you’re either out the door, or worse: the casting couch. No wonder I am still single.

That said, certain manners and common courtesy should never be overlooked and the minute one is, it’s game over, sunshine. Take, for instance, the mobile phone – the seventy-fifth wonder of the world (next to Murder, She Wrote and microwave popcorn) – and the implications of its misuse. The portable device can simultaneously build and destroy relationships with a flourish of the keypad. In face-to-face contact, their mere presence can change the dynamic of the interaction and alienate those present. That tiny fabrication of injection-moulded plastic, circuitry and LED is responsible for the worst date in HISTORY; and here’s why.

Back in the ‘Bronze Age’ of social networking – referred to as BFb (before Facebook) – MySpace was the status quo for the voyeuristic, exhibitionists and the stalker-ish. Before the unwarranted privacy settings of the current era, it was possible to trawl the far reaches of the globe for hotties whose profile pictures (taken from elevated perspectives) appealed. It was internet dating for the uninitiated without the stigma of having a subscription appearing on your credit card statement, reminding you that you had resorted to technology in the hope of finding a mate. I wasn’t any different – hovering from hottie to hottie like a rubber bouncy ball in hallway. The inevitable occurred: I began meeting people in real life. One such example being someone who we shall refer to as the ‘Madonna Fan’.

I met the Madonna Fan at a sophisticated-yet-comfortable rooftop bar for our date (good venue choice – take note, people!) and there was an immediate mutual chemistry. Everything was going to plan – witty banter, similar interests, eye contact – until the Madonna Fan’s mobile phone appeared on the table. At first I glared at it sitting beside the Madonna Fan’s glass of rosé, yet decided that I would choose to overlook it given the progress we were making. We resumed our discussion and continued smiling, cajoling and laughing until the offending phone whirred into action disrupting us both. The Madonna Fan picked up the phone, read the message then replied furiously; dextrously thumbing away like a crazed Guitar Hero player working their way through the main riff of Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’. I frowned.

We continued along the same course for at least half an hour: five minutes of conversation interjected by an occasional incoming text message and a hurried reply. It was really beginning to grate on me; surely, my time was more valuable and I more engaging than 160-characters-or-less on an electronic device. The Madonna Fan looked up from the phone and said, “’The Convict’ is going to join us.” Bemused, I replied, “Who?” Oddly, as it turned out, the Madonna Fan and I had the Convict in common: someone I had been on one date with earlier in the year, who similarly was attached to the phone, put their feet on the furniture in an upmarket cocktail bar and boasted about their serial freeloading – delightful! Each time the Convict would shift their Dunlop Volleys on the brocade upholstery I could hear my mother scream, “Not on the good furniture!” (implying that there was evil furniture that was likely to swallow me whole) and I would wince with shame. Needless to say there wasn’t a second date and since, we’d awkwardly encountered one another at various art exhibition openings, nightclubs and generally anywhere where free booze could be acquired. We had always greeted one another with the required pleasantries then each retreated to their respective cliques urgently.

As it turned out the Madonna Fan and the Convict had been having an on-off sexual relationship for the past year, which the Madonna Fan felt completely at ease revealing to me. I had to get out; and fast. Before I had the opportunity to make a quick escape, the Convict appeared and my heart sank. What’s more, the convict had brought a friend – there were now two additional parties on my intimate date for two that I was subsidising. I was livid. Bewildered, I sat as the three parties interacted, completely ignoring me and drinking the bottle of wine for which I had paid. I was too upset to think logically and instead analysed the dodgy paintjob on the wall behind us – anything in order to pass the time. No longer able to handle the indifference, I stood up and bid my farewells, thankful that I had settled the account when I had ordered it. Storming toward the elevator, I frantically ran through the doors as they were closing.

I let out a sharp yelp of despair as I entered the full carriage, shocking each of the passengers and causing them to look at each other nervously. “I’m sorry,” I announced, “but I’ve just been on the worst date of my entire life!” A lovely larger lady stepped forward and put her arm around me and said, “Tell me what happened.” I regaled my tale of woe and she walked me to the top of the street, listening intently. She gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be alright then put me in a taxi. Lovely larger lady, wherever you are – thank you.

My point is this: leaving a mobile phone on the table is rude and gives the impression that the other party would rather be somewhere else. Unless there is an emergency, an imminent baby delivery or an ailing relative the phone should not be on the table; in which case, they shouldn’t even be on a date. Tell your beau that the phone is yet another thing he should be keeping in his trousers (or clipped to the waistband if he works in I.T.).

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How to Avoid Blind Date Disasters

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on how to avoid blind date disasters!

Dear Agony Uncle, I have a friend who is perpetually trying to send me on blind dates. I know her intentions are honourable, but she has been setting me up with a string of losers. How do I get out of future dates and let her down gently? Desperate and Unfortunately Not Dateless, Shoreditch, UK

Dear Desperate and Unfortunately Not Dateless, Every single person has a yenta who insists on doing their part in the matchmaking game. Often you and your potential suitor are described as having ‘so much in common’, however, the fact that you’re both single doesn’t count as sharing interests. Now, I’ve always fancied myself a bit of a Dolly Levi and have often fantasised about entering a restaurant to a show-stopping Broadway number just like Babs: descending a red-carpeted staircase; bedazzled to within an inch of my life surrounded by effeminate wait staff whose silver-service skill is so adept their trays appear to be adhered to their hands while high kicking. Are the feathered plumes too much? Never. Unfortunately, about the only thing Babs and I have in common is her great honking proboscis and not her mellifluous voice – heredity can be so cruel.

I digress – quelle surprise! My point is I come with a stable of attractive fillies and stallions and take into consideration both parties’ interests, personalities and potential chemistry; consequently, my success rate is 100% and one fix-up has even resulted in marriage. I’m one literary rejection letter away from throwing it all in and starting my own paid dating service and giving eHarmony a run for its money. Here are the three golden rules for blind dating:

1. Pick your cupid wisely. Take into consideration who your matchmaker is. If all of their friends are dorks, chances are you’ll be going on a date with a dork. Note to self: pack pocket protector.

2. Always request photographic proof that they are not a freak. We live in a digital age so not having a photograph of their friend is no excuse. It’s the perfect way to preclude yourself from sharing supper with the Bearded Lady … unless you’re into that kind of thing.

3. Get the full run-down. Insist on knowing about prior criminal convictions, psychotic episodes, previous marriages and general social dysfunction before you leave the house.

Be sure you’re washing your hair on the night of the encounter. Tell your meddling friend that you appreciate her concern and her efforts to find you someone, but for the moment you are ‘focusing on yourself’. It might be a blatant lie and sound like you’ve been watching too much daytime television, but it’s the easy way to tell her to back off with her reject friends.

If you are still keen to meet someone from her clique, suggest you meet them in a social environment that isn’t as contrived as a one-on-one rendezvous – the pressure will be off and if it goes well, you can slink off into a dark corner and if it’s terrible, you can avoid the other party without seeming aloof. Just remember there should be no shame in being single and having a support group of our own is unnecessary – it’s called hard liquor. Please read more:


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What to Do When Bought a Drink at the Bar

Adrian Fernand – Australia’s seriously stylish agony uncle and creator of – answers your questions on life, the universe and everything. This week, Adrian has advice on what to do when someone buys you a drink in a bar or club.

Dear Agony Uncle,

When someone buys you a drink, what do you owe them? A conversation? A bang? The stronger the drink, the longer the conversation?

Boozy Lucy, Adelaide

Dear Boozy Lucy,

May I push that stool in for you? I’m sure you’re familiar with the repulsive joke that accompanies that punchline; it’s a classic. In fact, I or someone just like me told it to you. You’re living proof that people still send drinks to one another across the bar. It happened to me once: a dry vodka martini mixed just how I like it—two olives and a pinch of salt—accompanied with the obligatory head-jerking and bar-searching gesticulation when a silver tray arrived with a complimentary cocktail. The questions begin to form and spew forth like an AlcoPop-imbibed youth. Who’s it from? How did they know what I like to do drink? Could it be the man/woman/hatstand of my dreams?

Alas, it was my mother, who too shares my love of vodka. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That said, the mystery and the suspense associated with receiving an unsolicited beverage is unparalleled and seldom executed. Likewise the ‘I’ve plucked up the courage to talk to you’ gin and tonic—a staple in the single world—in this digital world of poking, liking and photo stalking.

If offered a drink, remember that you don’t always have to accept. A polite refusal is far more proper than accepting and spending the next half an hour searching for an escape. If you do accept, however, a short chat is polite but you are not obligated to proffer more than your name, your interests and where you summer. As for anything else (drink strength included), well, that’s entirely up to you, but remember that ladies don’t put out on the first date. Well, not ladies who have drinks bought for them (and who aren’t procured by the hour). Never forget that you always get what you (don’t) pay for.

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