To reflect the changing mores of young men in 21st century society, Wayne James has written a refined, yet topically edgy etiquette book covering not just table settings and wardrobe essentials but once-taboo sexually charged topics.
James, a Virgin Islands native, notes that he was “long groomed in the intricacies of polite society” from an early age. He attended Georgetown law school and, soon after, became a prominent New York fashion designer of upscale women’s clothing. In 2008, he was elected senator of the Virgin Islands.
Written in a sophisticated, yet conversational voice, much of the book (first of a trilogy) offers engaging information covering everything from table manners and wedding planning to building a gentleman’s wardrobe, with asides on the history of ties and skivvies. Other subjects range widely, from having an audience with the Pope to avoiding multicultural faux pas to proper etiquette when detained by the police and incarcerated. (It should be noted that James has personal experience, having been indicted in 2015 for allegedly embezzling funds and committing wire fraud while serving in the legislature. In the book’s Acknowledgements section he thanks his “fellow inmates” for their friendship.)
Most eye-opening, perhaps, is James’ willingness to address in frank detail sex-related subjects, such as proper hygiene for the genitals (gently wash the glans and inside of the foreskin with a mild soap and water) before inviting fellatio and considering a cleansing enema before engaging in anal sex. He also clarifies etiquette in gay bathhouse cubicles, where one can participate in anonymous, noncommittal sex. A cubicle’s door position is key, James explains. While a closed door means “do not disturb,” a wide-open door means “Voyeurs welcome (to observe from the threshold.) And the more, the merrier!”
The book is highly informative and enhanced with detailed diagrams of place settings and the like. While the index offers quick reference, the table of contents is too spare, excluding the complexity of topics—but that’s a quibble.
The book’s explicitness regarding behind-closed-doors behaviors clearly marks this as a read most geared to open-minded young men. They will find a wealth of solid advice that is variously sophisticated, amusing and entertaining.