THE BOULEVARDIER: Monkey moments

Photograph by Giovanna Castiglione.

You know that things have changed in your life when you find yourself being groomed by that special someone. Yeah, that National Geographic-Mutual of Omaha-BBC guy with the Shakespearean voice monkey moment.

Snow drifts down over the natural hot springs, steam rises along the ice-crusted water’s edge, and the camera pulls back to show two Japanese snow monkeys. Gently, one strokes and grooms the other. The voice says: “The female grooms the male as a form of contact and bonding; these physical manifestations solidify their relationship.”

Watching that, I found myself thinking about male grooming. In fact, I found myself wandering through the pharmacy looking for a puff pad. Seriously. Just a quick word to big advertising: Men don’t want to purchase anything with the words “puff” or “pad” on them unless they are prefaced, respectively, with “cream” or “brake.” Anyway, a puff pad is a handheld exfoliating scrubby device not for your dishes, but for your visage.

(I was buffed the other day, and I must say that my skin did feel better. However I’m drawing the line at the caffeine-filled eye rollers that McDreamy of Grey’s Anatomy is flogging.)

To me, grooming is all about your hairstyle, whether you use product or no product, and your facial hair. I cut my own hair, use no product, and employ a number 2 guard when the beard itch gets to be too much. I remember being out in Vancouver as a kid and hearing my grandmother saying horrid things about men who kept their hair long. “Oh, I can’t tell the difference any more, men and women, have they no sense of decency, no respect?” If she only knew that within the year I would be sporting a mohawk. What can I say? She was from New Jersey.

I’ve had long hair, shaved hair, permed hair à la Robert Plant, mohawks, buzz cuts and, of course, lots of colours—my favourite being creamsicle.

Gentlemen, use your hair, enjoy it, long, short or whatever. Just remember to keep it clean and if you dye it, don’t let it fade. There’s nothing worse than roots or a sad, faded blue.

I feel the same about facial hair. If you’ve got it, have fun with it. Grow it, trim it, go for sideburns, lamb chops, Grizzly Adams, a full beard, a five o’clock shadow, a moustache, a porn ‘stache, a Fu Manchu, a handlebar, a Van Dyke or a soul patch. Keep it neat and clean—clarity of style is essential.

A creative moustache on the Ossington bus. Photograph by Sarah Hicks.

Then there is the rest of your body to consider, as Marcello Cabezas told me about a month ago: “A man should be trimmed above and below the waist.” The only area of the body where grooming really irks me is when men shape their eyebrows. So strange in my books. Frankly I’m not even a fan of it on women.

A final word on the subject: Have fun with what you have, just take the time to care. Be like a baboon and not a goon.

The aforementioned exfoliating puff pad.

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