Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Esau is a hairy man

“Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man and I am a smooth man.” 

It is from Genesis 25:11 and in the stage revue from the 60’s, Beyond the Fringe, it is repeatedly (and totally out of context), told by a pompous English minister (to great comic effect) twice. 

Behold!!  My brother Issseouoooo is anairy man and oi(!!!) am a smoooooth man!” 

I bring this up because I am an “airy man”.

It shouldn’t bother me but it does.   

It didn’t at first.   I was sort of proud I could grow a full beard at 16 – (and did for the high school senior play).  And the fuzz on my  arms and legs (and shoulders and hands) that turned sun bleached in the summer was bearable.  I liked my full blown Fu Manchu as a college freshman. 

Was this a family thing?  Hereditary?  DNA encoded?   No, my father assured me.  The only thing I’d inherited from his side of the family was a bad disposition.  No, my mother said, somewhat baffled.   The beard perhaps but the fur coat?  Not from her Scandinavian family.  So obviously my brother – who suffered the same malady – and I were genetic mutations.  Perhaps the hair would keep growing and we would find something useful to do with it – become hairy X-men - cling to trees like caterpillars – bullets would bounce off us – we would start a human sheep ranch or a sweater factory. 

Behold I am an hairy man and my brother is an even hairier man. 

It didn’t bother me too much that thick brown hair had sprouted full blown on my chest by my early 20’s.  It was the time of the pelt chested Sean Connery as James Bond.  It was soon to be an era of shirts open to the navel and having to something show was considered manly.    Body hair, of course, is caused by androgens, the male hormones that confer masculinity and govern male sexual development and physique.  The more the hair, the more the masculine me.

But then as it began to be associated with cologne wearing gigolos at discothèques, it didn’t seem nearly so cool.  At least not to a Wasp from Connecticut who’s forebears gravitated more to madras shorts and spouting whale corduroys than to neck chains.

I think it was around this time that the hair began growing on my back.  

I decided to ignore it with the hopes that it would all go away.  A wasp from Connecticut would never think to do anything about body hair; even back body hair.   Such an action would suggest vanity; would suggest that one was concerned by such a trivial thing as one’s appearance in a bathing suit or a boudoir.   Surely there were women out there – and it all comes to women in the end, doesn’t it? – that were attracted to a hairy man.   Of course, they were.  They were also attracted to Sequatchie and to hairy knuckles. 

I date.  I co-habitated.   Somehow I got married.   I say somehow because I was now living in California and the male ideal in the national zeitgeist was becoming that of the dolphin slick surfer guy.  They were everywhere out here.  Perhaps being a hairy had something to do with being born and raised in cold climates.  And then of course there were the hermaphrodite male models staring out from magazine pages.  And the bodybuilders who seemed born with shaved chests. 

I felt like I should be living in a cave.

I think it was around this time that I started trimming my chest.   No big deal.  Take some scissors and wade through the forest.  A pinch here, a pinch there.  Even it out.   Nice!  I saw my nipples for the first time in a decade. 

I ignored my back. 

Around the end of the 90’s I started cutting my own hair.  I got some barber’s sheers and buzzed it all to the same short length.   I did it as a lark at first but it was so easy – no shampoo, no combing – it became the norm. It was around this time too that children, marriage, stress and age turned the lawn on my chest snow white.   I went from Sean Connery to Santa Claus over night.   This seemed like adding insult to injury.   Women - and it all comes to women in the end, doesn’t it? – might be able to abide a sleek otter -  well, not sleek – okay, not even an otter – panda bear maybe – but a grey one?   Not likely.  Thank God, I was married.    My wife was used to my body hair – or resigned to it – she didn’t care.

But what if she left me?  What would I do?  What, if in my fifties, I had to start dating again?   The thought was panic inducing but still, knowing how impossible it is to live with me, I decided I’d best be prepared.

And so taking my buzzer, I buzzed my chest and shoulders.  Not too short, but short enough.  My wife hated it and threatened to leaved me.   I was now prickly.  I was giving her entire body a razor burn.

There was no winning.

And there was still that hair on my back mocking me.   And ears.  And nostrils,   Even the hair on my head teased me as it left.

An on line website suggested I wasn’t the only man dismayed by his fur coat.   They suggested solutions.

Shaving.   Easy.  But lasting at most four days.    As one who could now grow a full beard in a week, I had no desire to shave my body.    Besides my wife finds it “prickly”.

Lazering.   Expensive.   Ridiculous.

Waxing.   Excruciating.   (Anybody seen The Forty Year Old Virgin? )  

Plucking!   Why what a good idea.  Tear each hair follicle out by the root.  It would only take about a month.

Electrolysis.  A combination of lazering and plucking. 

Depilatories.    Cream/chemical hair removers.   Like battery acid.

Alas.  My poor back.

All right, just to see it once.  

The other day I asked my dear wife to take my dear buzzer, take off the dear clipper and remove the plantation on my back.  She acquiesced if I promised never to do it again.

My back is dappled like a peach.  I have a mole beneath my shoulder blade.   Two sweet dimples above my belt line.  Several pimples that have seemingly have been hanging around since adolescence.  I obviously couldn’t reach them to pop them.

I look ridiculous.  My stomach and chest if trimmed, are still hairy.  My legs and arms are hairy.  I have eyebrows like awnings.   My back, naked and pale looks as if it belongs on another body.  

I am a bear, not a dolphin.   So it will ever be.

Esau is a hairy man.  And so am I.

Men live lives of quiet desperation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fish With Wombs

A friend sent an e-mail/blog recently (notes from zone ten - blayney colemore) that told about being on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego when, low and behold, when told they could move about the cabin, penguins, bound for Sea World, began to stroll up and down the isle.  He had pictures to prove it.   (Being in his sixties, he never talks on a cell phone but finds it a handy portable camera). 

I was immediately reminded of the can-do penguin commando team in the Madascar movies.   

Mission accomplished, privates.  Not only are we going to Sea World easy street but we’re going first class.”

All the passengers were giddy with surprise and delight.   The penguins look relaxed and inquisitive and very much at home.  As a matter of fact, they look like house pets, cute and feathered.   I liked the fact that unlike dogs, they walk themselves.   I wondered if penguins shed.

Personally, I would like to see a walrus move about the main cabin of an airplane, begging for peanuts.  

(Wait, actually I have.   I was in the middle seat, Atlanta to Dallas and she sat next to me.   It was like sitting next to an overstuffed  mattress only you couldn’t sleep on it.)

I like walruses.

I like their size.  Their dignity.   At Sea World, which for the most part I detest – seen one fish, seen them all - they sit there like kingly Buddha’s, heads high, tusks forward, unruffled, dozing and wise.  In truth, of course, walruses are mean, territorial sons of bitches who will fight at the drop of a hat.

Walruses don’t seem to enjoy walking at all.  In fact, they look like they avoid exercise all together.   Good for them.

Walrus bulls maintain harems.  Good for them.

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings.

Sounds like a congressional hearing, especially when you consider the fact that walrus like to bellow, snort and blow.  When they get in one another’s faces, their heads move forward and back like seesaws.

A walrus’s scientific name translates as tooth-walking sea-horse.

A dolphin’s name, taken from the Greek, translates as “fish with a womb”. 

I mention this because I like dolphins even more than I like walruses.  Dolphins seem to be laughing and playing all the time.   The first time I saw real live dolphins was on a boat out of Miami bound for Bimini in the Bahamas.  We crossed the gulf stream, the water turned aquamarine and suddenly there they were, surfing off the bow.  It was as if they’d come out to escort us in.

The Cove might be saddest movie ever made.  It is a documentary about Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are corralled to be sold alive to aquariums and marine parks, or are slaughtered for meat.

Dolphins have been known to commit suicide  because of the stress of being in captivity.  They go under water, they don’t come up.

This, and because of the seventy dollar ticket price, is another reason I detest Sea World.   Dolphins should not be in a place that is half water park.   Let’s not even talk about the trick killer whales.

To be fair, I also detest Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knottsberry Farms and Leggoland – all places I’ve been forced to go because of my children.

And also to be fair, one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen happened at Sea World.   They had created a short lived program for children on the autism spectrum where the kids got into wet suits and then were taken into the Dolphin pens by the trainers.   The dolphins, ever curious, came up to the children and allowed themselves to be touched and even climbed upon.   I’m not sure if they didn’t give the children quick rides around the pen.  I’d like to think they did. 

Children who rarely made eye contact with fellow human beings communed contently with the fish with wombs.

There was one boy in attendance.   Deep on the spectrum.  Non-verbal.  Disconnected.   When he saw the dolphins, his body and soul shook with ecstasy.    His parents and trainer took him down to sit at the edge of the pool and the dolphins approached and he reached out and he touched them. 

Dolphins, he cried!   Dolphins!   And he laughed.   It was one of the most joyful laughs I’ve ever heard.


It was as if he was recognizing and greeting long lost relatives. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guilty, guilty

I’ve heard it said that guilt is anger turned inward.    I’ve read that guilt is caused by condemning yourself for being angry and inhibiting the natural expression of that anger.

I must be one pissed off guy.

I am inordinately self involved (would I be writing about myself all the time if I wasn’t?).    Yet, my self involvement  seems selfish to me.  I often feel I am not being mindful of the needs and wants of others.  I am not fixing things, righting wrongs, solving problems.    Selfish, selfish.  Guilty, guilty.

My lovely wife tells me I am delusional.   Some things can’t fixed.  Life is a messy business, she says.   Many things are not and will never be fixable.  And besides, she tells me, when you feel you have to make things better and you don’t really want to or can’t in less than two minutes, you get angry and make things worse.

This is correct.

And I feel guilty about it.

Because I want things to go smoothly.  I want people to be happy.   And it pisses me off, pisses me off at them, when they’re not.  Because yes, I do feel I have to do something about it and my wife is right; I don’t really want to. 

The truth is I want things to fix themselves.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

If I’m winning at tennis, miraculously playing well, I feel bad for the guy across the net.   Maybe I should throw a game or two.   Guilty.    

When I see a homeless guy at a street corner, begging for money I feel bad for the guy and I wish he wasn’t there to remind me how lucky I am and how unlucky he is, how unfair the world is.  Maybe I should throw him a buck or two.   Out of guilt.

I am not the guy you’d want to be stranded on a desert island with or stuck in a foxhole with.   I would complain you to death.   I am not a leader.  I am not a follower.  I am Lear’s fool.  I am the annoyed, aggrieved, sardonic presence off to the side saying it’s your problem,  you deal with it.    Just let me know when the party starts.

I don’t find this admirable.   It makes me feel guilty.

I’ve read that guilt is narcissism.  It’s all about you.  You feeling guilty.   Well... duh!

I don’t want to be a narcissist.  Especially a guilty one.

I’ve read that guilt is thinking we are separate from God, and therefore, God has withdrawn His/Her love from us. 

Oh, bullshit.  Mom, maybe.

There is a dingbat on the dog path who tells me that all ailments, physical, emotional and psychological can be traced to misfortunes in past lives.  Stomach problems are because you were tortured with a white hot poker.  If you have asthma you were burned at the stake.  If you’re afraid of dinosaurs, you were attacked and eaten by a pterodactyl in the middle of the night.   

If you are a dingbat, you were a dingbat.

Having said that, I wonder if guilt isn’t on some level about loss.   Something happened, something precious was taken or lost and you feel you could/should have prevented it.  You tried but failed.   Or you were overwhelmed by the circumstances and you didn’t try at all.   Maybe it wasn’t your fault but regardless, you feel there is no one to blame but yourself. 

Perhaps this is why I'm perpetually pissed off

I feel guilty that I’m perpetually pissed off.

And yet.   Sometimes I come through.

Yesterday my wife said to me – I could use a little help here.

Why, yes, my dear.  Whatever can I do?  It was a small trivial thing and I did it with grace and good cheer and she was pleased.  And I was pleased that she was pleased.    Because when others are pleased I am pleased.

That’s how I roll.

But then it occurred to me that because it had gone so well, she might ask me to do something again sometime.

I immediately felt put upon.  I could feel the anger rising.

It made me feel guilty.

Men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life on a Leash

As usual this morning, I took the brain dead idiots – excuse me, the dogs – on their morning stroll.  Only this morning I was told by my lovely wife not to take them off the leash.   This is the time of the year, she tells me, for foxtails - for plants and burrs that dig into dogs like insidious barbed wire.   I explain that our dogs – doodles; part lab and part poodle – have the coat characteristics – and brains – of sheep.   That tails and burrs cling to the outer coat to be washed, picked, licked and chewed off later.   She tells me that said burrs and tails can get up the nose or into the ears of dogs and kill them.   I tell her that if a dog is stupid enough to eavesdrop on a foxtail or snort a burr, it should accept the consequences. 

This doesn’t fly.

Walking one dog on a leash, I suppose, is fun.   I see people walking one dog on a leash all the time.   They amble along at the same speed; the dog occasionally stopping to sniff, the walker occasionally stopping to chat – it all seems very civilized.  One could do it on a Paris street.  And then one could pop by the local bistro, have an espresso and read the paper while the dog curled up under the table and went to sleep at your feet.

My dogs would eat the paper, whiz on the table legs and puke gastric juices on my shoes.

Walking two dogs on a leash is a bit more challenging but do-able.   Off we go, a dog on either side – a noble knight accompanied by faithful squires, eager to do your bidding.   Two ponies pulling a surrey with a  fringe on top – me.

My dogs would tip over the surrey looking for moose sign.  Then they’d whiz on it.  And me.

Three dogs on a leash, especially my dogs, turns a light, morning walk on a lovely spring day into a death march walk to hell.   I immediately find myself wrapped up in leashes as each idiot jockeys for position, trying to decide which side of the noble master they wish to be on.   I switch hands as they move, I switch as they move back  – a hand gets caught behind me and now I am towing a dog.    One dog, making a dash for the post position, gets his legs wrapped up in his own leash and stops, hog tied.  

 I wish it were his neck.

All the dogs leap to the front and suddenly it’s the chariot race out of Ben Hur with wild Arabian stallions dragging stunt men to their death.   I pull back seeking to slow the crazed bastards but I might as well be pulling against three nose-to-the-ground tractors.  Abruptly one of them stops to squat.  It’s as if someone threw a rock into a fast moving assembly line.   Everything shrieks to an abrupt halt.   The two dogs that are not yet in defecation mode throw evil looks at their embarrassed pack mate.

Trying now to hold onto three doggie leashes, I attempt to get out a doggie bag, open it and pick up a small mountain of steaming doggie poo.   And as the dogs heave and pull and the scent of doodoo fills my nose. I can’t help but think that in Korea people eat dogs.   

It’s true.   They’re considered a delicacy.  Dog chops for dinner!  

Too bad the lovely wife is a vegetarian.  Ah, but wait!  Maybe when she leaves for Switzerland – another story - I’ll just fatten them up and eat them all by myself.  Better yet, the chip off the old block son will join me.   Like his father, he’ll eat anything if it’s medium rare.  Never ask permission, always beg for forgiveness. 

Warming to the idea, I venture on.  The doggy days – and the doggy walks – are numbered.

Fate has a way of taking things by the hand.

A short time later, at the edge of the field where the idiots are usually off leash, I see the woman I call “the psycotic hysteric with the boob job” approaching.   This is the slim woman in jogging clothes who, when she sees my dogs, always screams out at the top of her oversized sized lungs, seemingly terrified – “control your dogs, control your dogs, control your dogs!!!”   This is truly demented as her dog is a pony sized German Shepard and my dogs may be stupid but they’re not dumb.   They always ignore her and Rin-tin-tin and move off towards the far side of the field searching for scents and spores to whiz on and disgusting things to roll in.

Today, however, I’m holding the dogs on leash as the hysteric approaches.   She stares straight ahead her mouth quivering, as if it galls and infuriates her not to be able to tell me to “control my dogs!!”    Her Shepard, who now seems to be smirking.  wrinkles an upper lip and growls as it passes, obviously assuming it has the upper hand.   As one, my three hounds snarl and in one bound leap to the end of their leashes, teeth bared, slavering and howling.   The Shepard leaps away –“Gott im Himmel!", it seems to say.  Its retreat yanks the hysteric off her feet and pulls her screaming, two body lengths through the air.   The sound of the hysteric hitting the turf is that of a watermelon tossed from a rooftop. 

Goddammit, she says.  Your dogs --- !

Were protecting me, I say.
God-f*&%-dammit, she says.

Please.  Not in front of the dogs, I say.

Motherf*&%$goddammit, she says.  She gets up, slaps the Shepard up side the head and stalks away. 

Next time, control your dog, I call after her.

F*&%$motherf*&%$dammit!   She doesn’t look back. 

My dogs watch her go, tongues lolling.  They look up at me.   


What can I do but smile back.   Goodly dogs, I say.  Such glorious, devoted, handsome hounds, I say.   I scratch their soft, luxuriant ears.  I give them each a doggy treat.  I take them off leash and send them off to search for rabbits and disgusting stuff to roll in.   Go, I say.  Foxtails be damned.  Live long and prosper.


I have calls to make on my cell phone.