Leave your comments below.

  1. Just heard your interview with AnnaMaria Tremonti of CBC Radio in Toronto.
    You give me no choice.
    Guess I’ll have to buy & read.
    Am looking forward to it.

    By LunchLadyRosie on Jan 3, 2012

  2. Hello! I’m the condescending perfect affable ass who takes his whiteness as demarcation for a higher social station and cleverness—a great wit and station far above, say, “waiters”, who can but only smile dumbly when I rub their belly as they are obviously far too stupid to have a degree from New York University’s film school! I provide a soft welcoming grin whenever the “waiter” arrives, my eyes teary with tenderness to convey warmth and understanding. A gag I like to play; lure them into believing we can be friends. But really I touch my waiter to establish my class dominance! Some one’s got to do it! “It’s good to be the king!” my hero, Mel Brooks, likes to say. I’m so fed up with the pretension of equality, I mean who isn’t? But given it’s impolite to talk down, me and my ilk will just pat them on the head, or the butt, rub their belly, or take them gently by the elbow and steer them off to the kitchen to fetch our mutton. After all, they’re clearly too dumb to know when we (that’s the royal “we”) are being rude…

    What’s this in my soup? Cream, you say? Lovely…

    By Server with a smile on Jan 4, 2012

  3. Hi from Canada! I heard you on ‘The Current’ with Anna-Maria Tremonte, and I enjoyed the whole thing. I, like Anna-Maria, could identify with you regarding the people who won’t acknowledge my presence. I have had several neighbours like this over the years where I know that I could not have done anything to offend them, but absolutely no eye contact was / is forthcoming.

    However, I was telling an introverted friend about this, and they pointed out that there are people (like them) who really do not want to invite more people into their lives than they must, and one way to keep your circle small is to not even begin to acknowledge the other, because to acknowledge invites more intrusion, and it’s easiest (and least rude) to just not let anything start. On the one hand, this sounds like a completely crappy way to live for an extrovert like me, but there is no rule that says you have to like people, or that you are rude for not engaging. Some folks would live in the bush if they could somehow get paid to do so, but the reality is that the city (or even the town) is a necessary evil for employment. Let me guess that you didn’t likely see the people who shunned you saying much of anything to anyone, yes?

    Jeff Wiseman

    By Jeff Wiseman on Jan 5, 2012

  4. Dear Henry,
    What, no photos!
    I couldn’t resist reading about your initiation into the Tribe of Booty-Shaking Z. I used up one of my 20 free articles, the first of the month. I was doing so well, too, hoarding them. I haven’t even looked at Bill Cunningham yet, and I have to go to the archives to look up Joan Didion’s depression over not being able to wear a certain pair of shoes, I’ve been meaning to write her a sympathy note on my blog.

    I came to Zumba just last Monday, but from a somewhat recent ballroom dance education, after a bit of a brain crash that left me with left right confusion. I convinced myself I was doing it all for rehab. But really I woke up one day and felt like dancing and because I was brain-damaged at that point I had no impulse control, thank God. I recently went to Zumba because it’s a mile away and during the day when my kids are in school and I’m no longer brain damaged so I think about things like practical logistics and babysitter costs for evening dance classes and mileage and all that tedious stuff that stands in the way of humans and dance. My experience was different, because by then I could already salsa, and mambo, and merengue, and cha cha.

    But this is about you!
    Henry, I get from your article that you’re a bit old. There’s no photo, so I can’t tell how old. Maybe your editor is old, too.
    *I* know in context what you meant by
    “I pegged Miss Puckett at first sight”
    but you – and your editor – need to know that PEGGING is not, ummmmmm, what it used to be. I would be ashamed of myseslf if I didn’t fill you in on this. I’m not really sure how to explain this, but do you remember the phrase ‘Bend over boyfriend?’
    Now, I live in New Hampshire at at the Zumba class I went to all we did was shake our booties and move our hips and other body parts while we were appropriate distances away from each other. Oh, once in a while we syncopated and did a squat jump so that we were facing each other and slapped our palms up against each other – the women in my town can really bust a move!

    I am not sure what happens in NYC, and my Zumba teacher has a really great behind but she kept her shorts on!

    Consider yourself, well-edited. (Singing..from Oliver, I think?)

    Christine Westgate

    By Christine on Jan 12, 2012

  5. Had to write to let you know how much I enjoy your articles in the NY Times. Was reading the Zumba story in this AM’s paper and realized it was sim in humor to the article about bathing suits (“Does this Swimsuit Make Me Look Fat?”) and the reporter who had his kitchen graded by the city health inspector (“Would the City Shut Down Your Kitchen?”). Le voila, all the same writer You are hysterical! thanks for making my paper read fun.

    By Cathy on Jan 12, 2012

  6. You are one funny person…just read your NY Times article on Zumba and laughed outloud several times. So much so, that I had to Google you. I have recently become a Zumba fanatic and can appreciate and relate to everything you talked about!

    By Estela on Jan 12, 2012

  7. Henry Alford: I very much enjoyed the interview with you on NPR re. your “Manners” book, and was dying to call in (but couldn’t) to point out that a source of monumental irritation to some of us is the unctious “caring” and “friendliness” some companies require their hapless employees to exude. For example, Wells Fargo’s tellers ALWAYS ask “How’s your day going?” and usually interrogate me about my activities of the day. Safeway checkers have to address customers by name. T-Mobile is the worst that I’ve encountered: they always “understand” how “important” my issue is to me and how “frustrating” it must be not to have the answer I lack, whereas all I’m after is the answer to a very simple and straightforward question that could be delivered in about ten seconds. All this patronization is, in my opinion, worse than outright rudeness. What do you think?

    By Brian on Jan 17, 2012

  8. Plan to pick up your book this weekend. What particularly irks me is when dining the wait staff inevitably asks if I am still WORKING ON IT? Well I dine for pleasure and always loose my appetite when asked.

    By Andrea Crowe on Feb 8, 2012

  9. I’m loving your book “How to Live.” It is the tonic I’ve been looking for on aging that has me laughing out loud! The interviews are a hoot. And thank you for involving your family. It is speaking volumes to me. My mom entered a “finishing school” and your brother & sisters sound so similar to my brothers & me. Trying to get our heads around this whole thing: sometimes terrifying, sometimes downright hysterical! Mostly eye-opening. Thanks for tackling this topic, Henry. Loving it to bits!

    By Sue on Feb 26, 2012

  10. Dear Mr. Alford:
    I read your book, How to Live, today. I would like to offer you insight into something which should be of interest to you. You are very fragmented in your thought process and it shows up in your writing. This results in your not having an ability to succinctly summarize your ideas. According to my extensive studies, this inability to focus results in your aetheistic beliefs. You do not see the clear facts of the proof of God because you are focusing on so many things all the time. I think you might benefit from therapy to build this skill in your thinking. Poor therapists or so-called doctors would say you have ADHD, but what do they know? I hope that helps you, but if you allow an unChristian therapist to try to help you no doubt you will remain in the dark.

    Your friend.

    By Wendy Angel on Mar 11, 2012

  11. Henry:

    Long time no email and speaking of which – I thoroughly enjoyed your article in the NY Times on email manners. A delight to read. I hope you are well!


    By Mark on Apr 11, 2012

  12. Dear Mr. Alford,
    I very much enjoyed your book about manners (or lack thereof), and would like to share with you a Lovely Gesture that came to my attention just yesterday. I purchased some pillow covers from China on eBay, and not only did the seller go out of his way to tell me that he had packed with care (which he did) and arranged for expeditious delivery (which he must have had some kind of magic trick to do, because the package arrived well before it was expected), but… [s]he hand-wrote on the packing envelope a MESSAGE TO THE POSTAL SERVICE THANKING IT FOR ITS WORK!!! Yes, in very elegant script on the envelope, the inscription reads, “Dear Post man, thanks [for] your work!” If that isn’t a gracious gesture, I’m, um, I guess, mistaken. It really made me smile, and you can be assured that I left tremendous feedback on eBay about the transactions, plus a personal message. A little courtesy really greases the wheels, doesn’t it?

    By Pamina Dexter on Apr 13, 2012

  13. Hi Henry: Any chance of getting some editorial mention about my blog “Geezer Planet.” It’s a humorous look at life in the slow lane. Regards, Mike (The Head Geezer)

    By Michael Principato on Apr 15, 2012

  14. I was reading “Would it Kill You” before I went to an art exhibition this morning. There I saw a woman I worked with several years ago who has worked in development for a variety of cultural organizations around town. She told me she was currently out of work and trying to decide what she wanted to do next. I was able to keep myself from saying, “Gee, you’ve worked with almost everyone” and instead said, “That must be hard, you’ve worked with so many fascinating organizations.” She gave me a heartfelt “Thank you.” Thanks for the inspiration to slow down and think of a kinder response.

    By Adair on May 25, 2012

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  17. Mr. Alford,
    I have never written an author before, but your book, How To Live, really helped me on many differnt levels. My husband died in Sept. and I go to the library and choose different books on grief, self-help, etc. Your book was among that area om the Dewey Decimal System. I laughed out loud on different sections and put it down and stared into space after reading others. It is a good read and I am sorry I did not pay for the pleasure of reading it. It did me a world of good, much more than many of the “cheesy” books on grief I’ve read. I plan to read more by you, I guess I might even pay for one, maybe Barnes & Noble’s bargain price section? You are a man any woman would be proud to have as a son. Thanks.

    By Brenda on Jul 25, 2012

  18. Dear Mr. Alford,

    I waited six months for your book on manners to become available at the library. It was well worth the wait! I don`t think I`ve laughed out loud, or nodded my head in agreement in a very long time.

    I first read about your book in an interview you did with Macleans magazine, which was published in late January. I now share that article with my students (I teach ESL to government workers), and the discussions that have been generated are fantastic!

    I do think your book should become required reading in every home, workplace, and mode of public transit.

    Thanks so much.

    By Caroline B on Jul 26, 2012

  19. Dear Henry,

    Thank you so much for writing your highly engaging “Would it Kill You…”

    I am a high school librarian and plan on reading a chapter of your book at the start of each of our library club meetings this school year. The students will surely benefit from both the excellent content as well as your unique and highly enjoyable writing style. I want to thank you personally for such a delightful book; I am enjoying it immensely.



    By Jill Sonnenberg on Aug 26, 2012

  20. Am I glad you are back! I checked your site every day forever and then there you were. Don’t stay away so long next time!

    By lawheezer on Mar 22, 2013

  21. If you do give your next dinner party naked (as threatened in “How I Became a Hipster”), please invite me. Oh. And my boyfriend, too. I guess. Mark

    By Mark on May 3, 2013

  22. Dear Henry Alford, did you mean to imply in your article,”Avoiding Jokers’Remorse”that homosexuals drink from the”proverbial well of loneliness” or are you not the gentleman to which Oscar Wilde referred? Also, correct your subject to read We not “Us joke-makers…” Good article. Sincerely, Sissel Hawkes

    By Sissel Hawkes on Jun 2, 2013

  23. The fun! We’d have to hit the weather just right, at the midpoint on the humidity/cold air continuum.

    Thanks, Mark. Apologies for the pace at which I answer my e-mails! Henry

    By Henry Alford on Aug 19, 2013

  24. Merci!

    By Henry Alford on Aug 19, 2013

  25. Heard you read at PT Shorts tonight. Will be raffling off my goat next week in order to buy one of your books.

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  43. Enjoy your witty and clever articles. You probably know that there was an earlier Henry Alford (1810-1871)who was an English theologian, critic scholar and hymnodist. That last one is a composer of hymns and a person who studies the history of hymns. Today it would be considered sexist if we didn’t include the term hermnodist as well. Thought you might like this small example of humor. I too am a writer of sorts who recently had my encounter with Eleanor Roosevelt published in this year’s New York Times Metropolitan Diary on Monday, March 6th. I have also published two books “TV Noir:20th Century” and “The Sitcom Class Wars”. I did two syndicated internet radio podcasts for author /host Ed Robertson on his website I’m just trying to gain attention by climbing on the backs of more successful authors like yourself. Anyway, I enjoy your work. I appreciate your indulgence. Take care.

    By Raymond Starman on Aug 11, 2017

  44. Dear Henry
    Just read Born To Live. Amazing,funny, smart, intuitive and heart warming. Really made me think and ponder. I’m 70 and finding it difficult to maneuver though life so easily as I use to, so the book was wonderful. So enlightening! Found it by chance at the library and now got another – Big Kiss So now on I go with your books. Thank you so much for your gifts and witt
    Ann Eugene Oregon

    By Ann Lytle on May 18, 2018

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  48. Hi Henry,
    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed “Enjoy the Park” in the NYT’s July 21st. It was funny and sweet and informative all at the same time. I’m looking forward to reading more of you’re work. We all need to laugh more these days!


    By NJ on Jul 22, 2019

  49. Thank you! Apologies for the slow response–I should take this comments section off here because I rarely read it. But I’m so happy you enjoyed the story! Henry

    By Henry Alford on Sep 4, 2019

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