7 Life Skills That Every Gentleman Should Have

A beginner's guide to essential usefulness.

The Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared" has never seemed more relevant than it is in the digital age, where modern young men are often at a loss when it comes to handling life's little emergencies. 

There was a time, not too long ago, when these skills weren't considered especially archaic.  Men just learned them as they grew up, either through formal instruction or the force of sheer necessity. 

But because many have missed out on these lessons, we've created a guide with seven skills we believe every modern gentlemen should have. 

This guide is a handy reference for quickly acquirable skills that you can put to use today. You may not use them on a daily basis, but should the situation arrive, these will all serve you well in your hour of need.

And keep in mind, although we've titled this article as being for "gentlemen,everyone should really have these skills.

1. Start a fire without matches or a lighter.

Whether with flint and steel, a nine volt battery and steel wool, a magnifying glass, or a bow and spindle, every man — and woman, for that matter — should know how to start a fire without matches

If that sounds useless, consider the fact that if your matches or lighter ever get wet when you're camping, you'll be enjoying a wet, dark night in the dirt unless you know how to do this.

Also, it increases your usefulness to your tribe in the zombie apocalypse by a factor of ten.

2. Sew a button.

At some point while traveling, you will lose a button on your trousers or a shirt and you will need to know: 

1) That the buttons at the end of your shirt tail/tag or sewn into the front of your waistband are spares

and 

2) How to sew the thing on by yourself. 

We've just helped you with the first part. It's up to you to learn the second

3. Tie a bow tie.

Are you over the age of five? If you are, then you need to learn to tie a bow tie. No, you don't have to wear one daily, but you will need to know how to do this should you ever get invited to a white or black tie event.

On that note, "black tie optional" means, yes, you need to wear a dinner jacket (also known as a tuxedo) and bow tie. Do not go for the "optional" bit unless you want to be sorely underdressed. 

This is the best video we've seen on how to tie a bow tie. It very explicitly shows the part that always screws people up: the very last part. You're welcome, and say nice things to the guy who made this video.

4. Perform CPR and render first aid.

Your actions could literally save someone's life. There's no reason for any able-bodied man or woman not to know how to stop bleeding or perform CPR. If nothing else, at least learn the Heimlich Maneuver. 

Visit the American Red Cross' website for information on classes and sign up for one today.

5. Cook ONE thing really well.

Doesn't matter if it's a steak, your grandmother's lasagna, or some secret recipe developed in your man cave: knowing how to cook something really well greatly increases your social value. You won't be the hundredth guy showing up with a bag of chips to the next party. You'll be able to cook for a significant other, at least once. You will, in short, prove yourself to be at least somewhat self-sufficient and cultured, even if it's just in creating the perfect grilled cheese at midnight.

6. Make three classic cocktails.

The classic cocktails you must know how to make are (in no particular order):

1. The Martini.

2. The Old-Fashioned.

3. The Manhattan.

Because we're feeling generous, here's how to make a perfect Manhattan (for two). 

Pour into a shaker full of ice:

4 parts rye whiskey.
1.5 parts sweet vermouth.
2-4 dashes of Angostura bitters.

Assuming you have the proportions right, here's where people screw it up, so pay attention. Cap the shaker and stir — do not shake — for at least 20 seconds, rotating the shaker (this may be accomplished with a stirrer or spoon if you don't have a shaker) until it is very cold. Serve straight up: strain into rocks or martini glasses and garnish with an actual Maraschino cherry. Drink. Repeat. Don't drive anywhere.

7. How to tie the 'King of Knots.'

The bowline (pronounced "bow-linn") is sometimes called the "King of Knots" by sailors and others who are in-the-know about these things. It has two main advantages over other knots, especially when it comes to securing things, namely that: 1) It's easy to tie, and 2) It's easy to untie, even after being subjected to load. It doesn't tighten, but it doesn't slip either, holding fast even in water and wet conditions. 

The diagram below is self-explanatory. Once you learn it, learn to do it with one hand. 

What other life skills do you think are a necessary part of a gentleman's basic education? Let us know in the comments below.