Monday, February 22, 2010

Heavy traffic in the metro area OR Men are conditioned to be dirty

I have kind of a tumultuous relationship with conditioner and other hair products. It’s kind of like a forbidden romance.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not, like, passionate about hair products. Mostly you could describe my main hair product emotion as “conflicted.” I didn’t use them much until several years ago. I was getting my hair cut one day and the hair cutting person (I don’t know what to call her, and I don’t want to call her a “stylist”) told me that my hair was frizzy and that I needed to start using conditioner and “product.”

“First things first,” I said. “What the heck is ‘product’?”

She explained product to me and sent me on my way. I started using conditioner and felt OK about it. A couple of years later female friend started making fun of me for it and told me that using conditioner is girly and “metro.” Yeah, but a girl told me to do it! It's not like I'm trying to get better “shine” or “bounce” or anything.

So which is it? Should I be Pro-Conditioner or Anti-Conditioner? It’s what I like to call “The Conditioner Conundrum.”

Perhaps it is a problem with how we perceive sexuality and hygiene. Anything gross and messy is masculine and anything nice and orderly is feminine, right? So then unibrows are technically manly because they are, like, wild and untamed, and it would be “metro” to buy tweezers and try to make two eyebrows out of one.

But women don’t want gross and messy, nor do they want nice and orderly. Men need to walk a fine and ever-shifting line between complete and utter sloppiness and being “metrosexual.” It is very confusing. has several definitions for the word “metrosexual.” Most of the entries were similar to this one, which says, “a heterosexual male who has an impeccable sense of style, belief in designer hygiene and a willingness to emote.”

The designer hygiene thing cracks me up because the “belief” part makes it sound like a religion or something, like these men belong to the First Church of Clothes, Cologne and Product of Saint Ryan Seacrest.

Other definitions are comical in the amount of detail they contain, like this one which says, “an urban male who takes care of his appearance from head to toe by bodybuilding, styling his hair, waxing his eyebrows, using lotions, wearing perfume and tanning. Has a keen interest in fashion, cooking, brand names, interior decorating and nice cars, especially convertibles.”

Women seem to be simultaneously desirous and fearful of these “dapper” men. On the one hand women are attracted to men with good style, but these same women are also unsettled by the fact that the men they are attracted to have a better handle on fashion and hair than they do and are kind of jealous and intimidated. Thus women continue to have a love/hate relationship with metrosexual men.

I don’t consider myself metrosexual by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm not really that into hair. However, I don’t really think it’s fair that heterosexual men aren’t allowed to use conditioner.

Why can’t men be into hair and fashion? And why can’t women be into, say, power tools? And why are men supposed to be into power tools? And why are women supposed to be into hair and fashion? Around and around we go!

I think “The Conditioner Conundrum” will continue to puzzle sociologists, philosophers and hairstylists for years to come.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We'll make it up to you in the year 2000 OR Year of the late-bloomer

Just the other day I got a jarring revelation from an old friend that had me huddled in a corner in the throes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Remembering high school always does that to me.

What happened was my old friend asked me, “Are you going to go to the 10 year reunion?”

I laughed and laughed and laughed some more until I was crying. “10 year reunion!” I giggled. “That’s funny! We haven’t been out of high school for…”


I counted them out on my fingers just in case I was wrong. I wasn’t. This May marks the 10 year anniversary of my advent into the cold cruel world, the end of one set of problems and the beginning of a whole new bigger, better set of problems.

First, let me say that those ten years have gone faster than beer in a frathouse. Second, I want to ask, “How did I get so old?” Granted, 27 is not very old but the thought of being graduated that long is just so brain-meltingly strange to me. Time seems to pass faster and faster the older I get, like it's picking up speed.

I can only think of two real reasons to go to a high school reunion: First, you peaked in high school, haven’t done anything of consequence since and want to relive the glory days; or second, you were not that cool in high school but have really made something of yourself and want to rub your late-blooming awesomeness in the faces of all the people who made fun of you back in high school.

I am neither, and the thought of returning to high school, even if only for one night, makes me shudder. I definitely didn’t peak in high school. High school was more of a “trough” time in my life, if you were to go to the trouble of graphing it out. I am doing alright for myself now but haven’t become so awesome in the past 10 years that I need to flaunt anything. I’ve also grown enough as a person to not care what any of the useless people I knew back in high school think of me and wouldn’t care to flaunt, even if I had something to flaunt.

Mostly I just want to put those dark days of bad clothes, bad hair and bad skin behind me. A college degree and Proactiv have given me a new outlook on life and I am not looking back. Ever.

An internet study showed that people surveyed about their high school reunions defined the true sign of success as riches, looks or an attractive mate. Yuck. That sounds just like high school. Incidentally, I have settled in my hometown of Rio Rancho and when I go to the gym I run into a surprising number of my fellow Class of 2000 classmates at the gym, although we never acknowledge each other.

There is a small handful of people from high school that I still keep in touch with. Besides them, I don’t really care to keep in touch with anyone else. The tricky part is that the invention of Facebook has made it super easy for high school people to track you down, which yields some very mixed results. Sometimes it's “Hey, it’s good to hear from you” and other times it's “You must be thinking of a different person. Please don’t contact me ever again.”

And in a bizarre and shocking turn of events, someone has taken the liberty of posting everyone's senior yearbook pictures to Facebook, mine included, with all of its aforementioned bad hair and bad skin. Thanks for nothing.

PS - Miss Chief is also having similar reunion woes. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
PPS - This cartoon cracks me up. And this one.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Valentine's Day Carol, in which I shamelessly rip off Charles Dickens

Sorry if I confused anyone with my last post, but it's not my fault. I blame the ghosts.

People who know me personally know that I just got engaged last week. I bought a ring. I am invested. Thus it seemed strange for me to post a super-bitter beard blog, but let me explain. First, the beard blog was facetious (as are all of my blogs), and obviously the girl I plan on marrying is the exception to the beard rule. Second, the love/beard idea came from my super bitter days, back when I used to be, well, super bitter. That's where the ghosts come in.

I will say right off that I have rarely had a girlfriend on Valentine's Day. If I'm unsure about a relationship I usually break it off right before Valentine's Day comes so I don't have to buy them anything. Consequently, I was sitting at home alone on a Valentine's Day when the ghost of Jacob Marley showed up and told me that my consistent Valentine's Day hater-ism was ruining the holiday for everyone. I asked Mr. Marley if he weren’t more of a Christmas thing, but he said he comes around whenever someone is getting really obnoxious, regardless of holiday.

As soon as he left, the Ghost of Valentine's Day Past showed up. He looked like a giant conversation heart that said “Text Me.” He showed me visions of the past, and I saw my pimply, awkward teenage self striking out with girls. I saw my older and slightly less pimply (but every bit as awkward) adult self date all the wrong kind of women and grow frustrated and cranky.

The Ghost of Valentine's Day Present obviously came next. He had a fat face, rosy cheeks and wore a bright red t-shirt that said “I am loved.” Mostly he just showed me people who were in love that were exchanging Valentine's Day gifts.

“These people are so annoying,” I complained. “Valentine's Day is a second-rate holiday like Groundhog Day or Flag Day. It is a commercial hoax, an excuse to sell diamonds and tacky cards.”

The Ghost of Valentine's Day present looked hurt.

“Really, it’s nothing against Valentine’s Day itself,” I said. “Love is also a hoax. People in love are only good for being too affectionate in public and making their friends feel awkward. They get married, take each other for granted and fight. They make themselves and everyone around them miserable.”

The Ghost Of Valentine's Day Present left shaking his head and was quickly replaced by the Ghost of Valentine's Day Yet To Come, who wore a black hooded robe with dark mist swirling around him. He did not speak, but he pointed to a horrific vision with a bony claw.

I sat all alone in a small apartment on a stained couch wearing an equally stained bathrobe. I looked older and grayer. I was watching television, and I ate from an open carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. The floor around me was littered with empty cartons. Roughly 20 cats milled around the room, mewing and shedding. Cat hair was getting into the ice cream, but I continued to eat without noticing, and two or three of the cats were eating out of the same carton I was.

“Spirit!” I cried. “Tell me these events can yet be changed! I’ll stop talking trash, start believing in love and the hold the Spirit of Valentine’s Day in my heart always!”

The cats in the room started to multiply. The air was thick with cat hair. It filled my lungs. I was suffocating...

I awoke with a start. Everything was back to normal. I was a changed man.

It is good to be realistic, but cynical bitterness is not the answer. Also, you can love someone, but you don't have to be annoying about it, and you should never take them for granted.

God bless us, every one.

Monday, February 1, 2010

To beard or not to beard OR Love can get hairy

Over the years I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with beards. I grow one, for some reason or another I shave it, then I grow it back again. So on so and so on ad infinitum.

It’s kind of like being in a relationship. When I don’t have a beard I’m thinking, Wouldn’t it be cool to have a beard? Beards are so awesome. It’s been a long time since I had a beard. I kind of miss it.

But after I grow a beard it’s like, Man, this kind of itchy, annoying and makes me break out. It’s actually more trouble than I thought it would be. I miss the carefree beard-less days.

At first having a beard is cool. My beard and I go and do stuff together and have a great time. We go to movies and parties. We laugh together, we cry together. We start making plans for the future.

All of my friends inevitably have an opinion about the beard and inevitably share it without being asked. Some love it, some hate it. Some have had bad beard experiences and are bitterly anti-beard. Some wonder what I see in my beard, some think I should shave it into a goatee, some think I should just shave it all off. When I tell people I am just trying it out to see how it looks a lot of them tell me I need to just settle down and decide already because my facial hair waffling is annoying to them. Then I tell them it’s my face and I can do whatever I want.

Then, after much thought (or sometimes very little thought) I get crazy, squirt out the shaving cream and shave it all off. Sometimes I feel much better and sometimes I feel much worse. Either way it’s always hard getting used to looking at your own naked face in the mirror after you’ve been walking around with a beard for a few weeks or months.

After that I have to be clean-shaven around friends and co-workers who have gotten used to the beard and it’s awkward. They see the change but nobody wants to say anything. They are thinking to themselves, Is he happy about it? Was it mutual? Who shaved who? Did he have some kind of shaving accident?

Somebody will eventually get up the courage to ask what happened and then I have to re-hash the whole awkward shaving business all over again. I think about growing the beard again, but decide we’re better off as friends.

But after a while I’ll find my self thinking, Wouldn’t it be cool to have a beard? Beards are so awesome. It’s been a long time since I had a beard. I kind of miss it…

However, a beard can’t get annoyed and just walk right off your face, whereas a the other person in a relationship can do just that. Leave it to me to make an awkward facial hair love analogy.

One day I will find someone that I don't get sick of after a few weeks who also wants me around. That will be a good day.