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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Halloween

Robert Manni - Friday, October 27, 2017


For one day every year anyone can dress up and apply a bad spray-on tan like Donald Trump or wear a Kim Jong Un mask and knock on stranger’s doors carrying a little basket while asking for candy. And no one gets shot.

Sounds crazy when you think about it. That’s because Halloween is one kooky and crazy American holiday. On this day straight men can get dolled up like Katy Perry and a shy woman can dress like a dominatrix and no one bats an eye. Add copious amounts of alcohol and a big parade like in NYC, and you’ve got the making of a real party. On Halloween, America really cuts loose and goes for it.

All of this freedom to masquerade can be as intoxicating as the punch served at the parties taking place across the country on Halloween or the Saturday night before October 31st.  But, when you mix sexy devil costumes with alcohol, things can go very right or very wrong. With this in mind, whether you’re single, married, or a parent supervising your kids I offer you a few Guy’s Guy tricks and treats to get you through this special day in fine form while also staying out of jail. 

Here is my GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO HALLOWEEN.

1. Don’t wear your costume to work – You might think your Guy’s Guy recco is too boring and stiff, but there is a big difference between attending a party in monster costume and walking the halls of an insurance company dressed in Spiderman tights. Sure, you will get some laughs, but in the office, they will be directed at you rather than with you. So unless your boss throws down a directive that everyone on her team must dress up, don’t do it. And if you are pressured to play along, don’t do the spray-on tan and orange hair like you-know-who. That or other politically charged costumes can be polarizing. Who wants a Halloween costume to ruin their career?

2. Be original, but don’t dress like a tampon - Remember, when others zig, Guy’s Guys zag. That goes for the ladies, too. You want to avoid costume concepts that are too gross or too obvious, like DT. For example, if you want to get political outside the office, instead of dressing up like Trump, go as hybrid of Jeff Sessions and Granny Clampett. Now that’s original, and you’ll get some laughs. You might not get laid, but you will get laughs.

3. Don’t drink too much – There are few things more disgusting than watching someone dressed like a zombie barfing on the sidewalk at 2am. That’s too scary, amigo. And if you want to get cuffed by that hot blonde in the cop’s uniform, you don’t want her to slap them on you because you’re too smashed. Have fun, have a few drinks, but know when to day when. Having the spins while you’re dressed like the Mummy is not a lot of fun. And that reminds me—make sure you can slip out of that costume easily if the opportunity arises.

4. Stay aware of your surroundings – Right after college I attended a Halloween party in Palisades Park, NJ. I dressed up as samurai warrior, complete with a real sword given to me by one of my dad’s business associates and eye makeup that made this Caucasian look…Japanese. No, I was not politically correct, but this was before everyone got so sensitive. And I did not know the party was in a predominantly Asian neighborhood. I knocked on the door of what I thought was the party, but was the wrong apartment. An older Asian lady answered the door, took one look at me and started screaming and waving her arms as I backed down the hallway. The point is, know where you are. If you are a good-looking straight guy, don’t dress up like a hot woman and go to gay bar even if your gay friends think you’re cool. You might end up in the arms of a hairy guy wearing a leather vest and chaps that wants to break you in, if you get my drift. 

5. Consider giving something healthy to the neighborhood kids – Fortunately, nowadays you can buy organic versions of almost anything, including cookies and candies. I realize this is a more expensive and can be a pain in the butt, but it’s worth a thought, especially when you look into those kids’ bags and all you see are the mini bags of M&M’s and other sugar-laden “treats”. MILF’s will love you for it, also, even if you’re already taken.

6. If you’re dating, consider couple-themed costumes – Brainstorming a costume theme with your date can be a great creative bonding exercise, especially if you can rock a cool couple’s concept that brings out the best in both of you. I’m not going to get specific and suggest the old standby cowboy and cowgirl outfits or Mr. and Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, but you get the idea. Have fun with it and she’ll love you for being a good sport.

It’s Halloween and you want to cut loose and go nuts. By all means, do just that. But keep in mind a few of your Guys’ Guy’s tricks if you want to get some of those special treats from your lady.

This week’s GUYS’ GUYS of the WEEK are all the moms and dads who take the time to help make Halloween a really fun experience for their kids. That includes finding out what the kid wants to be on Halloween and also putting together an interesting costume no matter how crazy the kid’s idea may be. And hang on to your carrots because my son rejected the policeman’s outfit he received for his birthday. He’s decided that he wants to go as a bunny rabbit. Mom, help me!

Valentines Day: The Holiday About Love that Everyone Hates

Robert Manni - Friday, February 10, 2017

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I dread it, and I’d like to have a chat with St. Valentine. He may be a saint, but he’s got a lot of explaining to do.  The myth behind the man is as confounding as the commercial celebration of romantic love that sprang from his legend. Was he beaten to death with clubs, beheaded after restoring sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, or was he a romantic legend created by Chaucer? Until the twentieth century, the tales surrounding this enigmatic man had been spun more times than a soggy towel around the dryer.  Then a slew of corporations that produce syrupy greeting cards, milk chocolate hearts, or jewelry saw the dollar signs and lovingly embraced his “brand”.  And since it’s a holiday, we are now treated to price gouging at restaurants and florists. In my informal survey the majority of men and women I spoke to conjured up emotions far from loving when they saw February 14th and that big red heart on their calendars.

What’s the one word that comes to mind when men and women think of Valentine’s Day?  

Pressure. If you're single, Valentine’s Day reminds you very clearly that you are currently not on the invitation list to life’s love-in, making you feel less than saintly. If you’re in a relationship, then you have to step up your game and deliver the goods—big time. Women love flowers and chocolates, and like receiving them unexpectedly… on any other day. And although she’s digs jewelry, on February 14th it must be diamonds or gold, and it better sparkle. All men love seeing their woman dolled up in new lingerie, but if her outfit is really for him, who buys it for Valentine’s Day? Tiptoeing around Victoria’s Secret and sifting through teddies, garters and thongs can be unsettling. And he probably forgot what size she wears and does not want to make a mistake.  You’ve seen guys wandering around the store checking out other women’s boobs trying to figure out if they could be the same size as his girlfriend’s. And trust me - a man gets no kicks from discussing his lady’s cup size with the sales girl. Pressure.

So how do we get through this annual ordeal?

I have no clear answer. And to ratchet up my own personal helping of pressure, my wife’s birthday is on February 12th. I’m totally screwed. Okay, breathe. There’s hope. Some experts say that February 14th is the best night for single ladies to get lucky. That is, if they can rally the troops and muster up the moxie for a manhunt. So, if you are a single guy, get your butt out there.  And when you hit the bars, keep your eyes focused on those ladies on the lookout for some man-meat and off the hockey game playing on the big screen. If you’re a man in a relationship, you’ve still got time to come up with something fresh. Buy her some well-deserved pampering at a top shelf spa or offer to cook her a romantic dinner.  If you’re a woman, bust out the deep red lipstick and push up bra ensemble and rock his world. Trust me. That’s all he wants. K.I.S.S., as they say. Keep it simple, stupid! As for me, I might end up caulking the bathroom tile before taking her out to her favorite raw food restaurant.  But, I’ll do that on her birthday. Then I’ll wish for February 15th.

Five Resolutions You Should Stick to This Year

Robert Manni - Thursday, January 07, 2016


Sadly, by this time in January, many people have already failed at their New Year’s resolutions.

After all, making changes in our behavior is challenging, especially when we bite off more than we can chew. I’ve given up drinking a few times and have lasted three, four and even five months, but denial is tough. Making positive changes is no easier. Fortunately each New Year, month, week, even day is a new opportunity for a fresh start. With that in my mind, your Guy’s Guy offers you a handful of resolutions to make your life and this world a better place. You don't need a new year to start fresh.

1. Less tech, more active living.

We live in an age where technology keeps changing at an exceedingly rapid pace. To succeed in the conscious world, we need to know how to master our phones, apps, and social media or we’ll be viewed like Grandma trying to “turn on the Internet” to Google a cookie recipe. But tech can lead us to more passive lives. We’re watching instead of doing. We’re staring at the LED screen instead of reading and nurturing our imaginations. We’re texting instead of conversing. We’re focusing our attention on video games instead of playing ball in the park. We’re becoming wimps. If we could be mindful about our overreliance on tech and choose more activities that exercise our body, mind and spirit, we’ll be making great strides as a culture.

2. Spend more time in nature.

Every time I step into Central Park the energy changes. There is something special about being outdoors that grounds my spirit with the Earth’s energy. Unless there is a torrential downpour, I always take my young son outside for a walk. And I notice that my son and the toddlers that I frequently see at the playground have less anxiety on their faces than some of the tykes I see on the subway staring at video screens and eating potato chips. With all our creature comforts it’s easy to sit indoors and keep life at arm’s length. But that’s no way to live—step outside whenever you can. Fresh air and nature rejuvenate our spirits.

3. Don’t judge. Accept people as they are.

This one took me a long time. My internal critic has a razor sharp wit and working in advertising exposed me to too many judgments about people and ideas. But I learned, and as usual I learned the hard way. Over the years, I did not build as many relationships as I could have and I dismissed a lot of people who I thought were jackasses. I guess I’m not that different than anyone else in that regard, but I realize now that it’s not my job to have other people see the world through my personal lens. Trying to change people is tedious and frustrating because we cannot see what lurks inside them or what has led them to their behaviors, decisions or perspectives. I know now it’s more productive to work on myself. When we focus on bettering ourselves, we raise our frequency and shed light on the others we come in contact with. Basically, it’s leading by example.

4. Be grateful.

This time last year, I had receiving a medical “diagnosis of opportunity” earlier last year, spent six months in and out of hospitals, doctor’s offices and medical procedures, and had ten puncture scars across my abdomen. It was a tough experience, but I’m thankful. Yes, I’m really, really thankful. My faith was strong, my medical teams were talented and capable, and my body was responsive. And now I am well. The few times I began feeling sorry for myself, I’d invariably learn about a friend or colleague in a far more precarious situation. Each day I awaken with gratitude for my many blessings and good health. Try it for a week.

5. Watch what you eat.

Let’s face it; our food supply has changed. Every day we learn more about the tricks and deceptions of food labeling, the horrible treatment of factory farmed animals and the potential long-term effects of eating processed foods and GMO ingredients. If the food industry has nothing to hide, why don’t they want all the ingredients labeled in clear language? People are sick of their games and also getting sick from the food they consume. Obesity and gastric-related illnesses have become prevalent in a culture that lives too passively and consumes mostly processed food. If you want to stay healthy, eat organic as much as possible and always be mindful of what you consume. It’s probably the most important decision you’ll make each day in regards to your health.

This New Year’s Day you can resolve to quit smoking, hit the gym three times a week or cut out sweets, but you don’t have to wait until the start of a new year to make a better life for yourself. If you treat yourself with respect and love, you’ll be more successful in improving your life than experiencing that week of agony during the first week of January each year.

This week’s—make that this year’s—Guys’ Guys and women, are the wonderful people who have supported my Guy’s Guy brand and the content I crunch out with a goal of making our world a better place. My best wishes to you today, tomorrow, and throughout this coming year!

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Holiday Parties

Robert Manni - Friday, December 18, 2015


The holidays. They're the best of times and the worst of times.

Whether it’s working like mad to finish up year-end work projects or trying to come up with a gift idea for Uncle Jerry, for many, stress reigns supreme at this time of year. But doesn’t that defeat the concept of celebrating with your colleagues and loved ones? Guy’s Guys take things one step at a time and do our best to savor the fun from mid-November through the New Year. Whether you're single or married, if you’re invited to your partner’s family or friend’s home, there are ways of easing the pain. Same goes for finessing those tricky business parties where it’s too easy to get sloppy after loading up on the free booze.

Over the years, your Guy’s Guy has made his share of mistakes during the holidays, so please accept these tips as lessons from one who has learned the hard way. In no particular order, here are my Guy’s Guys tips for handling the holidays.

Arrive On Time.

"On time" means within a half hour or so of when you are expected. If you're meeting your new partner’s family for the first time at Thanksgiving, you don’t want to be standing around in the kitchen while a frenzy of cooking is taking place around you. And you don’t want to plop down in the living room glued to the Lions-Packers game while others arrive and wonder who the guy is that is eating all the chips and salsa. If it’s a corporate party, if you show up too early it’s too easy to get a head start on the cocktails. In an hour or two, this can backfire. Keep the thirty-minute rule in mind when planning your arrival and you should be okay.

Manage Your Intake of Alcohol.

We’ve all seen chumps who drank too much at the holiday party while the head of HR stood by taking mental notes. That can be tough if you work in advertising where I’ve seen tray after tray of shots attacked by a thirsty mob. It all depends on your company’s culture. If you are buzzed and see the crowd thinning out, grab your coat and leave. It’s that simple if you want to protect your professional reputation.

When it comes to visiting your partner’s family or friends, same rule. Watch your drinking, eat moderately and leave with the others, especially or when you’ve had too much wine and have had your fill of your partner’s drunken uncle that insists Obama is from Kenya or something equally polarizing. You don’t want to get into a heated argument at this time. You’re a guest and it’s just not worth it.

Bring Something for the Host.

Of course this refers to gatherings of friends and families, not the company party. It’s hard to go wrong bringing a bottle of wine at the holidays unless you are entering an alcohol-free household. If that’s the case, dessert (cookies, cup cakes, pie) or a homemade appetizer is always welcomed. Unless you're asked, avoid bringing entrees. That’s the host’s domain.

Make Small Talk.

 For me, the perfect Thanksgiving used to be a quick greeting, three hours of non-stop eating and drinking before watching the Dallas Cowboys and falling asleep on the couch. As a single guy with all married relatives, I got pretty good at this over the years. In my family, no one asks how I am doing anyway. Might as well put on the feedbag while listening to everyone else’s problems. I’d ask a question or two between bites, but that’s it. Now that I’m married and have an infant child, we’re more integrated and the attention is on the baby. That said, I learned (slowly) to focus on the others and their lives. It takes away the burden of thinking about myself and gives me insights into how they see the world.

Know When To Go Home.

I’ve stated clear warnings about making your exit if you drink too much at a gathering. But, even if you're stone cold sober, there is a proper time to move on. First, do something to help the host clean up; even it is carrying a few plates into the kitchen. Enjoy your coffee, try those cookies your niece brought, and be mindful of when people are leaving. If you’re at your parent’s house, of course you can hang around, but if you are visiting someone else’s home for the first time, you do not want to overstay your welcome. Just pay attention and you’ll be fine. Drive defensively while driving home to catch the fourth quarter of the game.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week are all the travelers that brave the stress of trains, planes and automobiles to visit their loved ones over the holidays.


Will you manage the holidays this year or will they manage you?

Image courtesy of Klock Entertainment

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Holiday Hacks

Robert Manni - Thursday, December 10, 2015


Let’s face it; our culture has sucked the fun out of the holidays. Between our bowing to political correct greetings, decorations on display in October, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, tipping everyone from the dental hygienist to the dude who bags your groceries, and those omnipresent holiday musical playlists, this time of year can be tough. How can we deal with the calamity without turning into a Grinch?

Take heart, amigos. There is a bright side to this holiday story. Your Guy’s Guy is stuffing your digital stocking with his helpful hints to give you a firm handle on the season before it can rise up and devour your soul. And it makes no difference which holiday you celebrate. Everyone needs a strategy and flawless execution to help make the holiday season joyful

So, here is my not-so-secret Santa gift — The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Holiday Hacks.

1. Plan early and often.
This critical first step requires only a modest investment of your energy, but pays off handsomely in dollars and hours saved by the time Santa squeezes his big butt down your chimney. December flies by at the speed of a reindeer on PED’s, so it’s important to plan in advance. A good first step is to begin a mental checklist in September and October of things to consider for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s never too early to plan or be on the lookout for things you’ll need once we enter the season to be jolly. My wife buys wrapping paper whenever she sees a pattern or material she likes, regardless of the time of year. Sounds crazy, but it saves her time in December.

For the rest of us, the best way to get started is by asking a few key questions. Where will I be celebrating and with what people? Who do I want to (and need to) exchange presents with? How much can I (and do I) want to spend? Mull this over during your commute, on the treadmill or even when showering. Then, grab your iPhone, jot down a few notes and let them it sit. Subconsciously, you’re laying the groundwork for a successful plan and execution. Over the coming days, you’ll come up with things you omitted and revise your checklist, and that’s good. Soon you should have your game plan mentally mapped out and documented. Although it’s just a guideline, you’re getting off on the right foot start.

2. Do your research online and offline.
There are plethora of digital apps for price comparisons and tools to find the best deals and best times to buy. A quick walk through a few selected retailers before Thanksgiving can also give you a good idea as to what items are hot and in ample supply. For instance, UNIQLO is the king of lightweight down jackets and vests, so you know they will be a few mega-sales during December/Christmas. The point is, if you are mindful and invest a few minutes into research both online and offline for ideas and deals, I assure you that you will spark some ideas and score bargains. Gone are the days of frantically marching through big box retailers the week before Christmas.

3. Consider themes.
After compiling your list of the peeps you want to buy presents for and your budget, consider a common theme for the bulk of these gifts. By the time December rolls around and we’re on the clock, buying one theme that fits all actually levels the playing field and prevents hassles about who got what because everyone's getting something similar. Hey, I’m just being practical here.

Let’s say you need to buy gifts for a bunch of kids. Unless there has been a special request or there's something you specifically wanted to give one of your nieces or nephews, themes save a lot of time. My nephews live for the Dallas Cowboys so last year I bought them both Cowboys caps and shirts and they were happy campers. This year I decided on polar tech across the board, including gifts for siblings and cousins, etc. I’ll drizzle a few more tasty items on top if I see something I like for someone. Of course you will want to be more selective for the people that are closet to you. And the spirit needs to come from a place where there is joy in giving.

3. Booze – Who doesn’t like a select bottle of wine, tequila or rum? If your loved ones indulge, they are probably putting out the full assortment of beer, wine and spirits throughout the holidays. Although it’s not an exciting gift, a nice bottle of wine or spirits comes in handy, for guests or even for (Gasp), regifting. Hey, we all do it and booze is perfect for passing along holiday cheer.

4. Tips and gift cards – You can find tipping guidelines online for everyone from your hairdresser to your doormen. But really, just give an amount that feels right. When time is running out or you’re not sure what to give someone, you can’t go wrong with gift cards. You can find them for everything, if you can’t come up with an idea; all of the credit card companies offer gift cards.

I realize it’s already getting late, and that not all of this is news to many of you. My goal, as a Guy’s Guy, is to help you in whatever way possible, to be at your best during the holiday season. It’s a time for giving, but also a time filled with stress. Have a safe, healthy holiday season and remember the true meaning of all these holidays is bringing loved ones and mankind together in peace.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are the retailers who did not open on Thanksgiving.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.


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