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.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Stephen, how many woes!

    That hair may seem a burden during the earth's warming, but when the sun finally exhausts itself you are going to be one of the few who can bear our having extincted all the creatures that once provided us with fur coats.