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.