Do You Manscape?

The Street Hustle

The things you overhear on the subway.

A rather fetching pair of women sat behind me, slightly off to the left.  A 20 something red head with a flesh colored mole on her right cheek was telling a brunette cougar with a fashionable bob all about her new boyfriend.  The monologue had been going on since we left Grand Central Station 8 minutes previous. “My boyfriend is as obsessed with shoes as I am.  For Christmas, I‘m having a separate shelf installed in our closet just for him,” the red head enthused.

These women were brought together by the free for all style of train seating and the story the cougar was forced to endure was driving her to distraction.  “I prefer my men masculine, hairy and slightly messy,” the brunette said, effectively ending the conversation, which is what she wanted all along.  The cougar looked relieved as she stepped out into the rain soaked train station at East 68th Street.  She didn’t have to hear anymore about Metrosexual boyfriends from other women she barely knew.

I thought the Metrosexual male was a thing of the past, a concept that began in 2000 and was in the dustbin of modern history by 2003.  When I bought suits with designer labels, I didn’t buy them because it was a fashion trend.  I spent years chasing around the Lower East Side of New York wearing the punk rock uniform of a black leather jacket, black t-shirt, boots and jeans; the outfit of my gloriously misspent youth. I wanted to stop dressing like the sulking shit who stumbled through the post-punk hardcore bohemia of the Lower East Side.  As much I loved Johnny Thunders, Lou Reed and the SST bands, I bought those suits because I was following Dexter Gordon’s advice to Miles Davis back in the early 1940’s.  In order to look hip, I needed to have some good vines (clothes).  There was a time I thought that all of life’s mysteries could be solved if I read enough liner notes to multitudes of albums I bought or stared long enough at the cover photographs taken of jazz greats for Blue Note releases, so why not go for total emulation.

A few weeks later, I found myself having a few with the some friends on a Saturday night.  My pal Mark was waxing nostalgic about a girlfriend he had in college.  “I shaved my balls for her,” he exclaimed slightly buzzed.  “Not that I do it now, but if women have to do it why shouldn’t men?” 

He was subject to the general ridicule from the assembled drinking buddies, all five or six of us.  And why not, if you want to admit to being what those from the industrial northeast call ‘half a fag’ then that is your problem.  I was happy to give it back to him, after having him call me ‘metrosexually oriented’ on more than one occasion when I came in wearing one of those my new suits. I wasn’t a Metrosexual, just a wanna-be dressing like my jazz idols.

What Mark was talking about the next level of metrosexuality, manscaping.  It’s not the manicures the Old Man used to get on an occasional basis or the trimming of my eyebrows before they become an unkempt unibrow.  Manscaping happens below the chin; back and ‘sack’ waxes, male bikini waxes and even shaved legs.  Theses things are like eating quiche, no real man would ever be caught doing, much less discussing it openly.

However, the trend of manscaping seems to be catching on.  It seems that one must not only dress well but also smoothly groom your body to get the chicks these days.  An article on the website recently offered advice to men who wanted to partake new form of male grooming.  Outside of male porn stars and swimmers, I can’t remember any guy who would want to remove the all hair from their bodies.

“I want my men to be big and hairy and stinky,” Katie, a 24 year old cocktail waitress I work with told me, when we discussed the concept. “I like to be the lady.”

After a few minutes of idol chitchat and jokes made at the expense of any man that would dare shave more than his face, Katie looked at me quizzically.  “Have you ever manscaped, Alex?”

“Hell no,” I said defensively.  It was like she asked me if I ever had a problem getting it up.  Why would I want to do something like manscape? I have never manscaped.  What am I, half a fag?  While wrestling competitively, I used to shave my entire body in an attempt to gain an advantage over my opponent.  I’d shave a day or two before my match so I could use the growing hair as a weapon.  Just ask your girlfriend what it feels like to have an unshaven chin nestle against her cheek.  There is a reason it sounds like sandpaper when you run your hand across the stubble.

Later that week, I was talking to Becca, an old friend from NYU about the concept of male grooming.  “I like my men masculine,” she said, aping Katie.  “I don’t know if I’d want one that waxed anything,”

During the course of the conversation, my vehement goofing on those that would manscape must have boiled over. Becca asked if I had ever shaved my body and I finally admitted to my shaving for wrestling. “Well, Michael Phelps did it and so did Mark Spitz.  But I’m sure you guys did it for utilitarian reasons,” she said assumingly.  “You guys are athletes and athletes look for any competitive advantage they can get.”

After I put down the phone, I was disgusted with myself.  I had manscaped before.  Damn.  I suppose I’m going to have to develop a taste for quiche now.  Are dogs and cats living together in sin?





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