A hairy back is not for the thin-skinned — and I should know, because I used to have one.
It drew unwanted attention at the beach last summer when a smooth-torsoed guy said, “Man, you look like you fell asleep on top of a black cat.”
Then there was the date years ago, who talked about being grossed out by guys with hairy backs. Unsure how to respond, I laughed it off.
But there’s a certain carefree swagger that comes from being a hairy dude among a populace of man-scapers. Still, after a well-groomed friend sees my back and says, “Dude, you have to do something about that, ” I decide to take the waxy plunge.
That’s how I find myself stripped to my boxers and lying on a table at the Bliss spa in Soho. The unflappable aesthetician says my body would get a medal in the Olympics of hirsuteness as she snaps on her rubber gloves and jokes, “Welcome to the Thunderdome.”
I sense something warm and wet — the first dousing of wax. The procedure hurts like hell — wax is poured, then ripped off my skin, bringing to mind medieval torture.
As the 45-minute session winds down, she compliments me for not screaming or reflexively kicking her in the head — as one long-legged client did.
There’s a certain carefree swagger that comes from being a hairy dude among a populace of man-scapers.- Michael Kaplan
For days after, I experience a certain lightness. My back is sensitive and ticklish — in a good way. My younger daughter sees me and simply says, “You look weird.” A more positive review comes from my older daughter: “It’s good, but I see a few moles. You need to get them checked out.” I make an appointment with the dermatologist, take off my shirt and, for once, don’t make a self-deprecating joke about my hairy back.
I decide to test-drive my look with a visit to the Dream Downtown’s pool. In these situations, I usually keep my shirt on and spend most of the day on my back. But this time, I lie chest-down — reading’s so much easier that way! — and don’t feel self-conscious.
But the ultimate judge is my wife, who’s been away on business. When she returns, almost two weeks later, she touches my back and asks, “Was it waxed or shaved? It feels stubbly.”
I reach around and realize she’s right — the hair is growing back — but it’s just as well. My wife’s not sure if she’s a fan, anyway: “It looks odd for you to have hair on your chest and a perfectly smooth back.”