You always leave the toilet seat down. You leave the bins out every Monday evening, without fail. You go easy on the porter, drink wine and even let on that you like the filthy stuff. But when you’re told that it’s time to shave your body hair, it’s time to man up and put the foot down.
Not even if it’s Kate Upton herself who’s doing the asking. If La Upton isn’t the most perfect woman on the planet, she’s close enough to that magical mark to make no practical difference. Kate Upton is a woman so beautiful she makes a man want to write ballades of courtly love, howl like a dog on the street and twist his own head off and kick it down the street, all at the same time.
But when Kate says, as she says in the ad above, that she doesn’t like hair on gentlemen’s backs, it’s time to put a loving arm around her shoulder, bend to her shell-like ear, and say “Kate, a stór, you’re just going to have to grin and bear it.”
Grooming is important in a gentleman. A man should look smart, and shouldn’t smell like he’s been sleeping in a shed with some goats, or fell into a brewery on his way to work. And if he’s working in Dáil Éireann as an elected representative of the people, he should damn well wear a suit. On €92k a year, he can afford it.
But there’s only so much grooming a man can do and remain a man. Conditioner in hair isn’t a great sign. Hair, in the first place, isn’t great either, if we’re going to be honest. Anyone who saw Leinster rugby star Ian Madigan’s remarkable mop on Friday night will be in full agreement on this point.
Skin creams, gels and otherwise unguents: no. Grand for the ladies. Not for the gents, except as an emergency measure to quieten a squeaky hinge because you’ve run out of WD-40.
And now here’s Kate Upton, handing you some sort of device and telling you to get busy on the back if there are to be any smoochies later on. Well, dream on Katie. Men ought to look like John Wayne, talk like Orson Welles and drink like Richard Burton. None of those boys shaved their backs.
Do you think Brian O’Driscoll hands Paul O’Connell an electronic razor before going out to play England and says he’ll shave Paulie if Paulie shaves him? I don’t think so. The two boys break a few bricks off each other’s heads for sport and away they go.
The only time back shaving is remotely acceptable for a man is if he’s in the barbershop and the barber notices that his customer’s back hair has grown to sufficient luxuriance to peek up above the shirt collar. This creates a jarring effect for the people behind the customer – at Mass, say, or in McHale Park – and as such the conscientious barber is within his or her rights to tug back the shirt and give it a once-over. But anything more extensive is nonsense.
A hairy back is a sign of breeding, masculinity, temperance, good humour and stamina. It is also a tremendous way of making a little money, if one is sufficiently hirsute. Your correspondent has never seen it done, but a friend of a friend used to make pocket money by entering different bars with a friend of his and betting the patrons that no gentleman in the bar had more hair on his chest than the friend had on his back.
It’s a classic sucker bet. People know that the guy laying the odds must know how hairy his friend’s back is, but can’t believe any back could be hairier than a particularly hairy chest. Therefore, they convince themselves that they’ve outsmarted the catch and a group of hairy chested but badly advised men line up.
And then the friend takes off his shirt, turns around and displays a back so covered in hair it looks like the top of his head, only flatter. Razor? A scythe wouldn’t cut through it.
It’s not the sort of thing that would work in a Big Jessies’ boozer like The Market Bar or one of those joints on Dawson Street, but there’s big money to be made in the Barn House and joints like that. If Kate Upton doesn’t like it, that’s her loss. But when that poor misguided woman hooks up with some boy who’s almost as pretty as she is and goes into the bathroom some morning and finds out he’s used up all her face cream – again – all we can say is it’ll be her loss.