A gift for the man who has too much — a manscaper


My friend Butchie Rawlins may have been the hairiest human being in the history of the world.

For starters, he had a full head of thick, curly, black hair, but that was only the beginning of the wonder.

His beard began coming in when he was 13, and it started high on his cheekbones and went right down his body like a fur coat. Only the soles of his feet were hairless, and when we went to the community swimming pool, he looked like an otter.

By the time we were out of junior high, Butchie was shaving twice a day, and the girls all loved him. He apparently wasn’t all that far genetically removed from the great apes he so closely resembled, and he gave off some powerful animal pheromone that made girls weak at the knees.

We hated him, of course, and gave a silent cheer of thanks when the hair on his head started falling out. Last time I saw him, he was smooth as a cue ball on top but still resembled a wombat everywhere else.

You’ve got to wonder how old Butchie is taking this “manscaping” craze that’s going around these day. In his case, the only thing that would get rid of all his unsightly body hair is Agent Orange, and when it grows back, it will come in twice as thick.

I guess we men should have known something unpleasant was in the offing when that movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” came out in 2005 and one of the things the old virgin had to do to make himself attractive to the opposite sex was get a body wax.

It was a funny scene, but men didn’t pay enough attention to the subtext. And that subtext was: “Your hairy chest and back are definite turnoffs, and your significant other wants you to get rid of it.”

I began to notice that this trend was gaining steam a few months ago, when my wife would point out the occasional question in a women’s advice column asking something like “How can I get my man to prune the bushes without offending him?”

And then I got a press release timed for the holiday season from Phillips Norelco touting their new Web site called The Bodygroom Manalogues. The Manalogues are a series of personal stories told by a comedian about “real guys” recounting their “funny (and sometimes painful) personal body grooming experiences.”

The videos, which you can find at www.Shaveeverywhere.com, are pretty funny, but deeply troubling on so many levels.

First, they’re all designed to sell a new electric shaver built by Phillips Norelco that comes with at least five comb lengths for underarms, chest and abs, back and shoulders, legs, and that area of the body men should never, never approach with sharp instruments.

Second, I think you’d have to be a contortionist in Cirque du Soleil to use the thing. How does a guy shave his own back with an electric shaver anyway? Is that even physically possible? And won’t we look pretty stupid if we only shave the parts of our backs that we can reach?

And what if — instead of buying one of these gizmos for ourselves — we get one as a gift this Christmas? What kind of message would that be?

You: “Oh, honey, thanks. This looks like a new electric shaver. I need one.”

Her: “It’s not for your face. It’s a manscaper. It’s for the hair on your body.”

You: “But I always thought you liked my hairy chest. You said it makes me look manly.” Her: “Well, I’d like you to be a little less manly, sweetums.” We’re talking years of therapy and counseling here, but it’s probably already too late. If she’s giving you a manscaper, you’ve probably already given in on squeeze cheese, Monday Night Football, and the ratty T-shirt you’ve slept in since college.

Instead of Nazis on the History Channel, you probably spend every evening watching Clean House with her on Style Network.

Like me.

You might as well go out and get a little Shih Tzu, dress it in designer dog clothes and a rhinestone collar and walk it around the parking lot at Macy’s on Saturday afternoon while she shops for cute shoes.

That whirring noise you hear is John Wayne spinning in his grave, fellas.

On the plus side, I suppose we could save some of the hair we’re shaving off our bodies and Super Glue it to our balding noggins. The cost of this fancy manscaper would be more than offset by what we’ll save on Propecia.

• • •

You’ve got to wonder whether disgraced ex- Marlboro Democratic Mayor Matt Scannapieco, who was convicted of taking $245,000 in bribes from corrupt developers, is looking at the Rod Blagojevich case and thinking, “Man, I just wasn’t thinking BIG enough.”

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s kind of nice to know that New Jersey isn’t the most politically corrupt state in the nation after all. As a matter of fact, we’re not even in the top five. Sure, we’ve had our share of politicians taking bags of money in the restaurant parking lot, but it was all small potatoes compared to Blago. That guy took corruption to a whole new level and should give the next generation of corrupt politicians in New Jersey something to aspire to.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the stories about Gov. Blagojevich, however, I’ve enjoyed even more the stories about his potty-mouthed wife, Patricia. In some of the tapes, it’s been reported you can hear her using very bad words and encouraging her husband to withhold money from the Chicago Cubs and a children’s hospital if she doesn’t get what she wants. Among the many things she wanted was for the Tribune Co., which owns the Cubs, to fire some editorial writers at the Chicago Tribune who said mean things about her and her husband. She also wanted to get a lucrative public sector job to take the stress off the family’s finances.

None of that is going to happen now, and her husband will probably be serving time with Illinois’ last governor, Republican George Ryan, who is currently serving a 6½-year term for racketeering and fraud.

I’d love to hear what the conversation around the Blagojevich dinner table is like this evening, wouldn’t you?

I’ll bet they aren’t discussing manscaping.

Gregory Bean is executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers. You can reach him at gbean@gmnews.com.