Tag Archives: Easy

Chop Style: The 10 Second Shoeshine

Maybe you’re the type that doesn’t dress up a lot. Perhaps you’re a lot more comfortable in a pair of Adidas or Converse than brogues or boots. Style is a matter of taste and lifestyle, and at the end of the day it’s to each his own.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and for a lot of you it will represent one of the two or three times you’ll see the inside of a church this year. Or you may just be getting together with family. Or your girlfriend’s family. For most people, whatever they’re doing, Easter is a prime day for wearing the best pair of shoes you own.

Now go home and get your fucking shinebox.

There’s no substitute for a proper shoeshine, but if you’re the sort who usually takes to shoes that don’t need polishing and has only one pair of dress shoes buried way back in the bottom of the closet and reserved for weddings and funerals, you may be caught out tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning when you wake up all hungover and reluctant and pull out your sad sack of a suit and try to remember how to tie a four in hand, you may then notice that your dress shoes have a nice patina of dust, cigarette ashes and beer foam stains, and you’ve got to be out the door in 10 minutes because you hit that snooze button too hard. Even if you had the time to give your shoes a proper shine, you don’t have brushes, cloth or polish, because after all, who the hell keeps that on hand all the time?

Fear not, slovenly friend. The Chop has you covered.

    The 10 Second Shoe Shine

  • Gather 4 paper towels and a can of furniture polish.
  • Spray one towel liberally with furniture polish and coat your shoe leather evenly.
  • Buff it lightly with a dry towel.
  • Repeat both steps on the other shoe.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Your shoes aren’t going to pass Marine Corps muster, but they’re going to look a sight better than they did 10 seconds ago, and probably even be presentable. Furniture polish is all wax based, as is shoe polish, so there’s no need to worry about harming your shoes. If they’re in a very sorry state with quite a bit of dust and dirt present, you’d also do well to wipe them down first with one end of a slightly damp cloth or towel and dry them with the other side.

It may not be ideal, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and more sensible way to clean your shoes than wasting perfectly good Champagne on them.

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House Rules: Making Multiple Restaurant Reservations

Getting a table at your favorite restaurant is seldom a pressing problem in the Baltimore restaurant scene. The only place that ever seems to have much of a wait is the interminable, befuddling Cheesecake Factory at Harborplace. They might as well call that place the Waiting Factory. We never understood it. Apparently suburban fatties really like their cheese in cake form, and are willing to queue up for it.

Anyway, while waits aren’t generally a problem, there are certain nights when restaurants do crowd up. Baltimore Restaurant Week is now in full swing, and one of the busiest dining nights of the year, Valentine’s Day, is right around the corner. On big dining evenings like that, most people just pick out their favorite place, zero in on the hot new buzzed-about spot, or pick the nicest restaurant they can afford, try to get a reservation, and then hope the kitchen and waitstaff don’t get horribly backed-up in the weeds. We’ve got a better idea.

If you want a table for two for Valentine’s Day, you should have reserved not one, not two, but six tables last week. (Or you can still try to do it right now.)

Hear us out on this. Reservations are free to make. It doesn’t cost you anything at all. They’re also very easy to make if you are acting well in advance. We’d never suggest that you make a reservation in bad faith and hold up the table, we’re just saying that the restaurant business is business, and your dealings with the restaurant are, in a sense, business dealings.

You’re in competition for a place at the table, literally, with other customers, and making three, four or half a dozen reservations early will place you at a competitive advantage against them. As the date draws closer and the prix fixe menus are released, the New Year’s entertainment is announced, or your after-dinner plans are finalized you can better make your decision, a business decision, on where to dine.

After you’ve decided where to dine, you can easily cancel those reservations you’re not going to use. Remember, it’s just business. The hostess or floor manager is not your boss. Neither are they your parents, college professor or landlord. You don’t need a good reason to cancel a reservation. You don’t even need a poor excuse. You’re the boss. When it comes down to it, the restaurant and the other diners may even be relieved and happy to see a table open up at the last minute and get some breathing room.

As an added benefit, you may be able to help out someone you know by virtue of your advance planning. Maybe a friend of yours screwed around and forgot to make that Valentine’s reservation until too late. Maybe one of your in-laws was going to be out of town, and now will be staying around, but stuck eating at Sip and Bite. You can always tip them off to one of your extra reserved tables, with the restaurant being none the wiser. If you do this often enough, you’re going to be using made up names anyway. Just be sure to give each reservation the same name, as to avoid confusion, and change that name the next time you go out to eat.

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Top Five Cheap, Quick and Easy Halloween Costumes for Adults

We’re going to let you in on a little secret of etiquette, Baltimore. When an invitation says something is optional, that thing is damn well mandatory. A good host or hostess will be reluctant to push their guests around, even on paper. There are firm conventions in place though, and if you’re planning to attend a party or event that is ‘black tie optional’ and ‘gifts optional’, you had better show up in a tux with a nicely wrapped gift. You’ll look like a boorish clod if you don’t.

The same is true of ‘costume optional’ Halloween parties, whether they are a private affair or being held at a bar or some sort of festival. Halloween is now less than 2 weeks away, and if you’re still lacking a costume or are dropped a last minute invitation to a ‘costume optional’ party, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Nothing says Halloween like raging alcoholic clowns.

Fortunately, the Chop is here to help. We’re happy to give you five solid costume ideas which can be assembled with a minimum of effort and expense, and which can easily be shed when the party ends, or if your plans include something that does not require a costume.

5. Priest The priest outfit is really nothing but black on black with a little white cardboard collar. You probably own most of it already. It can be good fun to do the priest schtick too: blessing people, taking confessions from ‘naughty schoolgirl’ costumers, and breaking out your crucifix or holy water to ward off anyone who may be dressed as a devil. Plus, people like the irony of seeing a priest get totally faced on hard liquor.

4. Fisherman Think fishsticks. This guy has the right idea, and he’s really selling it with the beard. If you forgo the beard, you can accessorize with a little green netting or manila rope. Yellow foul weather gear is available cheaply at places like Lowe’s and Home Depot, and of course, you can wear normal clothes underneath.

3. A Mexican Is this racist? Yeah. Probably. A little. But if you dressed in lederhosen or a kilt, no one would say boo, so why not. Besides, you can claim the moral high ground by claiming to be the (Colombian) coffee man Juan Valdez, or just by yelling “Do I look illegal?!?!?” directly into the face of anyone who questions you. A sombrero, a poncho, and a fake mustache and you’re pretty much good to go.

2. The Sheet It’s old hat on TV and in the movies, but you actually see very few people rocking the sheet-ghost costume. It’s the easiest thing in the world and good for a laugh every time. A sheet will also double as a toga with very little modification, so it’s basically 2 costumes in one. Why not?

1. Clown Okay, so a clown may not really be that easy. Makeup is kind of a commitment. Wig, shoes, gags; a lot goes into being a proper clown. We believe that the return is worth it though. Don’t underestimate the scariness of a clown outfit. More people than you think are totally freaked out by clowns. Besides, clowns are never so funny and awesome as when they’re out of context. Drinking heavily, making lewd remarks, and threatening violence are what takes the ordinary clown costume above and beyond all others. If we see you out on Halloween and you’re a clown, we’re totally going to buy you a drink.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, in which we’ll be discussing the dumbest costume trend ideas of 2010. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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