Columnist

Being likable is easy. Most of it goes without saying. Candidates from Beto O’Rourke to Paul D. Ryan to Mike Pence to Joe Biden have mastered it with no apparent effort.

You must try, but not visibly, and not too hard. You must be effortlessly natural but also meticulously and faultlessly prepared. You must be warm, but not too warm — like a cardigan, never a pantsuit. You must be well-informed, of course, but not tiresome. No haranguing! If possible, do not remind people of their mothers, or Hillary Clinton, whichever comes to mind first.

Speaking, in general, may be a mistake, as you will reveal yourself to be either a shambles or lacking in authenticity.

Be funny, but never hysterical. Be cool, but not icy. Be mature, but not dowdy.

At no costs allow yourself to become angry or, heaven forfend, shrill.

You may appear in pictures, but do not take the pictures yourself. This shows frivolity. But you must look good in the pictures.

Never lecture. But, of course, you must be an expert. This world, after all, is very complicated, and we would not want to send to a high place of great honor someone who thought the Internet was a series of tubes, or that the female body had ways of shutting that whole thing down, or, of course, that the island of Guam might capsize if too many troops were stationed on it.

Foul language is out. No swearing if you want to be liked. Not if you want to be respected. Foul language is for ill-bred people not fit to be seen in polite company, such as the president of the United States.

But you must not abstain from swearing in a way that seems pointed or un-fun. You must, at all costs, be fun. It would probably be better if you looked good while being fun, but not so good that people think about you for an uneasy amount of time, say, more time they would give to contemplating Chris Dodd.

It must be clear that you can hang. You must be able to take jokes. Your laugh must be a good laugh, not a cackle or a guffaw or a hoot. You must be fun, capable of devouring enormous hocks of ham and deep-fried Twinkies with a smile, then washing them down with beer. (Anyone would be glad to have a beer with you.)

What should your past be like? You should have enjoyed yourself, of course. No one begrudges you that. But you should have been very mindful of what you were wearing. You may have done things recognizable as fun, such as boofing or being a boy who will be a boy. No dancing!

You must be pure, but not puritan, and agile enough to dart through a moving goal post. You should, of course, not be annoying. You must divine what this means.

How to tell if you need to be more likable? Well, if people sometimes, out of nowhere, tell you to smile, that is a sign you are insufficiently likable. Or if they attempt to offer you less pay than someone else performing the same work, that might be another indication. Or if they repeat to you with no apparent irony what you have just said to them. If you more closely resemble the person in the commercial cleaning up a mess with a paper towel and sighing lovingly than the person who makes the mess — the worst sign yet!

Avoid talking, if you can. Try listening. Listen rapt. If you listen attentively enough, there is no limit to how likable and knowledgeable you may seem.

You must not float when placed in water. You must not be too familiar with cats. You should not spend too much time with your books, muttering their words. You may have no more than one (1) wart, and its position must remain fixed. You must not be seen exiting a clearing if the crops or the economy or the election fails.

You should wear what you want unless it is too eye-catching or the wrong color or too small or too large or too exactly fitted. You should be yourself, unless you are someone people might not like.

Really, to be likable is easy! Once you know what being likable is, the rest goes without saying!

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