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Dear Gentleman Scholar,
Kate Upton, at the behest of Gillette, has recently informed the world that she prefers gentlemen who trim their body hair. While the odds of Ms. Upton having a chance to assess my grooming habits are admittedly low, I feel it's always best to be prepared.
Should a gentleman manscape? And if so, are there preferred methods for doing so?
A (Potential) Gentleman Gardener
Thank you for your letter.
A gentleman's primary depilatory obligation is to avoid grossing out other reasonable people. It is therefore essential for the no-longer-young gentleman not to succumb to simple denial when he notices that ornery filaments have begun to sprout from his nasal channels or auditory canals. If, during his regular confrontations with the medicine-cabinet mirror or the still surface of a woodland spring, he notices that that his nose hairs or ear hairs have gotten unruly, he must resolve to rule them harshly, with mustache scissors, at whatever interval is necessary, until the morning of his 80th birthday, at which point to hell with it. (Same thing goes for moles.)
The beach-going gentleman should be wary of grossing anybody out with an unsightly overgrowth of hair on his dorsal side, be it a dense pelt stretching from nape to waist or simply a scut-like feature rising from his anal cleft. If the hair on a gentleman's back is not insignificant, he should ask a trusted friend whether it is gross and, if so, exactly how gross. Depending on the answer to the latter question, he may choose to thin things out with a $30 electric razor or zap his follicles into submission with $3,000 of laser treatments.
A gentleman understands that the matter of whether the front of his trunk is bare has no bearing on his status as a gentleman. Unless there is a possibility that an observer might confuse his chest for a titi monkey, nothing genuinely objectionable will be happening there. (The closest thing to grossness that might be going on is an asymmetrical growth easily addressed with scissors or a safety razor.) It follows, therefore, that the shirtless gentleman should flaunt the smooth golden skin of his waxed abdominals or the downy platinum hairs netting his porcelain belly as he best sees fit. True, there is copious evidence that ladies of Ms. Upton's generation tend to prefer the tonsured torsi favored by Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs, not to mention floundering mayoral candidates, but it is plain to see that the hairless abdomen of an averagely flabby fellow is a minor aesthetic nuisance. When deciding whether your body hair would benefit from a minor tidying trim or a wholesale deforestation or some intermediate measure, thou art advised, as ever, to know thyself and thine audience and what best flatters thine physique. But, hey, your body, your rules.
When it comes to pubic barbering, always give a proper hearing to a bedmate's expressed preferences: Open communication is essential to a healthy relationship and a necessary prelude to getting into kinky stuff. Try going along with whatever she's into, probably, unless her suggestions offend your dignity, your moral sense, your instinct for self-preservation, or all of these at once, like if she voices a desire to reshape your bush in the image of an insignia of the Schutzstaffel while fanning a butterfly knife.
The well-read gentleman is familiar with Christopher Hitchens' account of submitting to the male equivalent of the Brazilian wax at a salon operated by the women who invented the term: "The combined effect was like being tortured for information that you do not possess, with intervals for a (incidentally very costly) sandpaper handjob." The gentleman infers therefrom that waxing is not a preferred manscaping method and proceeds cautiously to evaluate depilatory creams, rechargeable trimmers, and saying, "To hell with it."
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