Smooth op­er­a­tors

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - OPENERS -

There are many peo­ple in this world I don’t pre­tend to un­der­stand but prom­i­nent among them are those who say, when it is 42 de­grees, “Oh don’t you love the heat? Isn’t it great sum­mer is fi­nally here!”

No, I do not love the heat, nor do I un­der­stand why any­one would be look­ing for­ward to it – or, es­pe­cially, run­ning around in it. And yet there they were, the Crows, on the front page of Tues­day’s Ad­ver­tiser, all buffed and cut as they burned calo­ries and, I sus­pect, a few mil­lion skin cells, in the name of pre-sea­son train­ing.

I’d be tempted to say it was all a bit hairy-chested of the Crows to be out in that sort of tem­per­a­ture, ex­cept I’d be very wrong. Be­cause, as the pho­to­graph showed all too well, not a sin­gle one of them ap­peared to have any hair on their chest at all. Per­haps that is be­com­ing the sports­man’s sum­mer uni­form, be­cause Ade­laide United, pho­tographed at the beach af­ter their week­end loss, were also lack­ing a bit in that depart­ment. Some boasted curly locks on their breast but quite a few looked re­mark­ably hair-free.

Now, if they were swim­mers, I could un­der­stand it. When you can lose by mil­lisec­onds ev­ery bit of re­sis­tance counts. Or cy­clists, I sup­pose. Ap­par­ently it is im­por­tant to have hair­less legs to as­sist treat­ment of leg wounds in the event of an ac­ci­dent.

But run­ning around a foot­ball ground? Does it make them harder to tackle? Kick straighter? Take that high mark? It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily help you hit ten­nis balls. Rafael Nadal was re­port­edly waxed to re­move his body hair for a photo shoot for some high­class un­der­wear re­cently, but his Aus­tralian Open cam­paign suc­cumbed to in­jury and op­po­nent David Fer­rer.

Yet there was a time, and frankly I didn’t even re­alise it had passed, that a bit of thatch on one’s chest was a sign of man­li­ness. Take the le­gendary Den­nis Lillee, who had a chest rug of bib­li­cal pro­por­tions. And John New­combe, whose bushy top lip was just a hint of the for­est be­low. Even to­day, when you catch a glimpse of Roger Fed­erer chang­ing shirts, you can see that chest hair is not in­com­pat­i­ble with sport­ing prow­ess. Or sex­i­ness: some lead­ing ac­tors pre­fer their chests au na­turel – Clive Owen, True Blood’s Stephen Moyer, and Hugh Jack­man’s Wolverine are a few.

Frankly, it all sounds a bit high main­te­nance. It’s a pain shav­ing your face ev­ery day, never mind keep­ing an eye on your torso as well. The real worry though is that this fashion for hair­less chests, and good­ness knows what else, is more than mere van­ity but a wor­ry­ing re­treat from blok­i­ness it­self. Let’s face it, if you are in hav­ing a body wax, are you spend­ing enough time in the shed?

For­tu­nately, for to­day’s men, there are books that can help. One re­cently landed on my desk with the rather bold ti­tle, What To Do About Ev­ery­thing (Hardie Grant, $45). Author Bar­bara Toner prom­ises to tell the reader, per­haps as they re­cline in the beauty sa­lon, ev­ery­thing they need to know. How to sand a floor, paint a room, or change a washer on a tap. Men used to know know quite a lot about these sort of things.

There are other parts of the book likely to be of in­ter­est. Re­gard­ing cool­ing, it rec­om­mends the use of air­con­di­tion­ing when it is hot. And it com­pares the dif­fer­ent types of of hair re­moval. Shav­ing “costs next to noth­ing but the hair grows back quickly”; pluck­ing is “cheap but time con­sum­ing”; and wax­ing “re­moves the hair from the un­der-skin fol­li­cle, the hair takes four to six weeks to grow back and be­comes pro­gres­sively finer…but it can hurt”.

A tough choice, but at least the im­por­tant things are cov­ered.

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