Tag Archives: grooming

Follicular Follies More Like Hair Horror

By Jason Menard

If ever someone decides I need to be punished, may I suggest forgoing the electric chair – any chair at a nearby hair-cutting establishment will suffice.

Normally, I’m fairly vocal in expressing both my preferences and my displeasures, but when it comes to hair cuts, I clam up and watch silently as untold horrors are wreaked upon my follicles. Maybe it’s the proximity of razor-sharp implements to areas I consider vital, such as the eyes, ears, and windpipe, that keeps me quiet. But I know I’m not alone.

I’m usually good in social situations. While I don’t seek them out, I engage in conversation casually and with dexterity. I consider myself knowledgeable about a wide range of topics and feel confident in my ability to express an opinion based upon fact and personal conviction. But that ability appears to get sucked out of me the second that little smock gets wrapped around my neck – its clasp the visual representation of my internal chains that render me helpless.

Trust me, there’s no Fabio-esque long-flowing locks here. I have the definition of low-maintenance hair. In fact, I only recently emerged from the 1980s and gave up the discount bin-dwelling, little-used gel for the more expensive – and contemporary — “product.” Something that goes by the name of moulding putty. I step out of the shadow, tussle it a little to encourage it to return to its upright position, and go. That said, there’s not too much one can do to my hair.

It’s straight. I mean, straighter than straight. You could calibrate instruments off of just one strand, because there’s absolutely no deviation or curl. And it’s fine, so there’s even less to deal with. Yet still, my head seems to be a magnet for hairstylist mistakes. In fact, I’m pretty sure the head mannequins used in beginner hair styling courses are modeled after my cranium.

Yet still every venture to get my hair cut ends in tragedy. And for this indignity I still feel obligated to leave a tip! I once had a regular barber whom I liked. I went to him for two years before we moved away. And, even though he prefaced my pre-Christmas haircut by sharing a 10:00 a.m. round of Ouzo shots, I trusted him.

My most recent venture into the chair of nightmares commenced with a debate about what clipper size I wanted to start with. My best hair cut (and, due to its rarity, I remember it fondly) involved me using a 2 1/2-sized clipper. Now, I’ve tried to replicate this request in other establishments and it appears that location was in some mystical netherworld where dreams can be realized because everyone else looks at me like I’ve asked them the question in Aramaic. Perhaps the key is to bring Mel Gibson with me – or simply ask Mel where he gets his hair done…

So, after settling for a 3, the next five minutes progressed with the futile search for the elusive size. Apparently, the same demon that gets my socks absconded with the 3, and I was strongly recommended to try a 2. As I watched the pale flesh tones slowly reveal themselves through their salt-and-pepper curtain, I realized that this was yet another chapter in the horror novel of hair.

Conversation was stilted as she apparently was at the same time both interested in penning my biography and avoiding actually listening to the answers I’ve given. I understand disinterest – after all, the feeling was mutual – yet at least feign interest or allow me to undergo my suffering in respectful silence.

The cut itself turned out OK and I remained optimistic that there would be a light at the end of this tunnel – until the moment the gel was broken out. Before I could utter a word – not that I’m sure I would have – I was Gel-saulted. Drenching what limited hair I had left in a mountain of gel that would have Pat Riley blushing, I was sent out into the world looking all the more like a wet cat.

And if that weren’t bad enough, the gel rapidly hardened on my head, like that chocolate coating on ice cream, leaving me with a lid that looked and felt suspiciously like Butch Goring’s mid-80’s helmet.

I survived to tell the tale, and I continue to search for that elusive Holy Grail – the good hair cut. Until then, I will bow my head in shame, or at least put on a hat.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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New Year – 10 Per Cent More Gay

By Jason Menard

Jan. 16, 2006 — I went away over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and came back a changed man. Yes, the numbers 2006 add up to 10 per cent more gay!

Now before you go all a-titter – and for those of you who are sitting there saying, “I always thought he was gay” – I’m still happily married to my wife, and the instructions on my hardware still read insert Tab A into Slot B. No, my transition in to the world of homosexuality has been facilitated by and limited to one word: product.

A revolution in personal grooming from the Neanderthal to the Metrosexual is upon me – and I’ve never felt better.

Like many guys, I’ve never place a priority on myself in terms of grooming. Sure, I’ve styled my hair (with varying degrees of success) and take a shower every day (I even use soap). But the idea of using specific products for various tasks was foreign to me. In fact, I always thought that the forces behind the grooming industry were just these Machiavellian marketing execs laughing as they invented new terms – and with them new products – for our grooming needs.

That was until I tried a few. Now I’m hooked.

Like a senior citizen being dropped on the Information Superhighway, I was flummoxed and lost every time I found myself confronted with concepts like moulding putty and exfoliation crèmes. And just as that senior will run back to the record player to return to the comfort of their Tommy Dorsey 78’s, I returned to the relative security of my cheap gel and bar soap.

But slowly, quietly things started to change. I would make gentle forays into the world of personal betterment. If I ran out of my soap, then I’d reach for my wife’s body wash. And with what was I to apply it with? A loofah of course. It didn’t hurt, so I was able to be more bold with my metrosexual ventures.

Even television conspired to help me through the transition. Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy showed not only that certain products and procedures could help men look and feel better – but also showed you how to use them. Knowledge was growing and all I needed was the opportunity.

And then came the New Year. Staying at the home of a gay couple, opportunity availed itself to me. A host of products just waiting to be used, exploited, and enjoyed. And, with my wife eagerly encouraging my experimentation, it happened.

First it was a bit of moulding putty in the hair as opposed to cheap gel. With a, “welcome to the 21 st century,” my wife supported my transition from my 1980s comfort zone to the world of technology. Next came an exfoliant and a moisturizer. And the transformation was complete.

Well, almost. You see, I’ve retained enough of that Neanderthal man in me to resist paying the ludicrous prices that companies charge for these products. So I’ve baby-stepped into the world of affordable skin care.

It’s a difficult transition for many men to make, but it really shouldn’t be. After all, when technology brings us the next gadget, don’t we run out and get it? While we’re playing our PlayStation 2s aren’t we secretly wondering what the next generation console will be like? Look at the crowds for the Xbox 360 when it was released. Why do we not get as excited when technology advances our grooming products?

So while we’re comfortably on the cutting edge of certain aspects of our lives, other parts live in the dark recesses of our consciousness. Damn it, we used gel in high school, it’s still good today, right? Well, yes and no. Many of us also used mousse in the 80s and few of us are willing to relive that Flock of Seagulls feathered do again.

No, styles, products, and attitudes change. The rugged Marlborough Man transitioned into the singing Irish Spring guy, who has now followed the evolutionary path all the way to metrosexuality. These days, rugged must be seasoned with a healthy dose of refinement.

I’m slowly buying into the idea. I still draw the line at eyebrow tweezing, but that’s less about aesthetics and more about pain. I’m 10 per cent more gay and it feels great! And best of all, my wife likes it – and that’s a reward in itself.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

The Importance of a Good Beard

By Jason Menard

I’ll admit it. I have facial hair envy. I, like many of you reading this, have had it since we were young and it’s a condition that will afflict us for the rest of our lives.

I dream of growing a beard. Not just a well-groomed, dainty dusting of hair along the jaw line, but a full-on, Unabomber-esque, all-encompassing facial flora! I want birds to be able to nest in my beard. I want hermits to come out of hiding and accept me as one of their own!

Of course, I also want to stay married to my wife and not scare my children, so that dream stays held in check.

I’ve been blessed/cursed with the ability to amass a solid growth of facial hair in very little time. Generally I get through life wearing a modern goatee (which is actually a van dyke – true goatees only consist of chin whiskers.) My wife prefers me with that little bit of facial hair and I hate shaving, so it’s a good compromise. But every so often, I get the urge to experiment with facial hair. To dream about what I would look like with a little more growth here and a little extra trim there.

The growing of facial hair is a right of passage for many men. When we’re younger we’re desperately hoping for those first chin whiskers to make their appearance on our face so that we can justify shaving – because shaving is cool, it’s manly, and there’s nothing more a teenaged boy is dying to be than to be manly. There may only be two little hairs poking through the skin, but they’re enough to break out the razor and cut our last ties to our youth!

Beyond the perceived need to shave, nothing signifies manhood more than finally being able to grow a noticeable amount of facial hair. Whether it’s a goatee, a van dyke, a beard, or a mustache, facial hair equals virility! Few young boys dream of growing up with a cherubesque, Dorian Grey-smooth visage. We don’t want to be classically beautiful – we want to be ruggedly handsome, and a beard is the best way we know to signify manhood.

So desperate is our desire to cling to that vision of manliness that we’ll put up with the ugliest, rattiest displays of facial scruff in the known universe. How many times have you seen some kid in their mid to late teens sporting this embarrassing, Fisher-Price-My-First-Mustache growth on their upper lip that consists of about a dozen, stringy, long hair.

Yet, while we all look on with amusement, inside that boy is standing a foot taller. His shoulders are pushed back, his chin is held high, and his confidence is soaring simply because he has a mustache. To the rest of the world his facial hair may be reminiscent of the fur on a wet dog, but to him he has a Tom Selleck-eque growth.

And speaking of Selleck, recently to celebrate a Hawaiian shirt day at work, I decided to take the opportunity to channeling my inner Magnum. I shaved off the majority of my facial hair, leaving behind only the mustache – the most maligned of facial hairs. Yet I could only handle it for a day. To my dismay I was less Tom Selleck and more Ron Jeremy. Yes, for that one day I was the not-so-proud bearer of the dreaded Pornstache! The fantasy in my head couldn’t live up to the reality on my lip.

In our minds, we can all grow the perfect beard or the divine mustache. In my youth, one of the most popular players in baseball was Rollie Fingers. And I’m positive he was revered less for his handle of a curveball, and more for his handlebar mustache. Lanny McDonald? Good player, great ‘stache! Sean Connery was dapper in his youth, but distinguished with the advent of age and a beard. As men, we see how they pull off this dramatic facial hair with flair and élan and, in a follicular leap of faith we figure that we could do the same.

But the reality is that very few of us can pull off facial hair at all – and even fewer can make the risky leap into mustache territory without looking like a used car salesman. We’d all like to think that we can sport thick, lush beards – but really most people out there are plagued with bald spots, patchy growth, and feeble growth.

So now I’ll just grow back my beloved goatee. And I’ll be content knowing that I can grow a nice, full van dyke, even if there are a few more flecks of white and grey in it than I’d like.

But I know that contentment will be short-lived. The lessons I’ve learned today will be washed away like yesterday’s whiskers, and I’ll make my next foray into follicular fantasy. After all, how hard can it be? Right?

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Aging — It’s as Plain as the Nose on Your Face

By Jason Menard

It finally happened. The last, slender thread that tied me to the thought of youthfulness has been severed. And the instrument that finally cut the cord? A nose-hair trimmer.

I’ve jumped the shark. Really, when you’ve made the purchase of something to remove what is delicately referred to as “unsightly hair,” there’s no turning back. Although I’m not yet at the point where I’m buying sans-a-belt slacks that come up over my navel, I’m certainly much closer today than I was last week.

Physically, I’m still young – or youngish, at least. At only 31 I really don’t have a right to be complaining about aging. In fact, those of you older than me are probably thinking – rightfully so – that I should quit my bellyachin’ and be happy with what I’ve got.

And I am… It’s just that an emotional threshold has been crossed. I’ve had friends who found turning 30 difficult, but I was not one of them. At 30 – and even at 31, until what I’d like to refer to as the Remington Incident – I embraced my youthfulness. But now, emotionally, I’ve come to a crossroads in my life. It seems that getting to the point where shaving and hair cuts are no longer enough in terms of grooming is nature’s way of letting you know where you stand.

I handled the graying at the temples with aplomb, turning to Maurice Richard for inspiration (“I keep a touch of gray at the sides – my wife likes it!) I battled the bulge and am now in better physical shape than I was at 21. And while marriage and two children have matured me, I was still able to retain a semblance of youthfulness in my mind.

But now that’s changed – and it all started so innocently. Recently, walking through one of those ubiquitous grocery store/mega stores looking for a hair dryer I picked up a “personal trimmer,” and looked at it with amusement. That was, at least, until my wife peered over my shoulder and said, “That’s a great idea, you should get one of those!”

Now, I’ve never been overly hirsute. I’ve never been afflicted with the monobrow and my back is relatively free of hair. Sure, I’ve got chest hair but nothing out of the ordinary. And maybe my 5:00 shadow tends to show up a little earlier. I’ve been able to make jokes about my appearance for years – saying the wisps of hair that grace my neckline are, in fact, reinforcements on the way to battle the receding hair line! But when my wife suggested that I was in need of extra grooming, I was a bit taken aback.

I tried to laugh it off, but she persisted, her delicate finger pointing towards my previously pristine (or so I thought) proboscis. It was at that moment, with a simple gesture of caring for my appearance that those last vestiges of youthfulness drifted away. I had reached the point of no return.

Really, I should have seen it coming. If I haven’t fully embraced the concept of metrosexuality, I am aware of it presence and I don’t go out of my way to ignore its teachings. I’ve watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and taken a few mental notes. But I was blinded by this follicular revelation.

In fact, my wife’s even tried to gracefully prepare me for this moment. A few months back, she caught sight of an overly-ambitious eyebrow hair that didn’t know its place in life. I had always assumed that eyebrows were like a little socialist collective – all working together on an equal level to do whatever their job it is to do. But no, one decided to aspire to be something greater than it was – perhaps looking for a promotion to the scalp – and needed to be plucked. And there, I thought I was done.

But no, The Remington Incident (as I type this, it’s growing in importance to me – hence the capitalization of the T) begat the savage pillaging of the facial hair. It seems my socialist collective of eyebrows spawned a few breakaway republics which just didn’t do. And my wife, seeing my acquiescence to the concept of more fastidious personal grooming, leapt upon me with tweezers in hand.

Alas, I can see this is just the beginning of another – much more painful — stage in my life. If I can adjust to the concept of self-inflicted pain (is there no better way to remove hair than forcefully plucking it from its happy home?), I can adjust to my transition out of youth.

Because now the nose knows the truth. We go through many stages of life, many of which we mark in terms of achievements: a first day at school, getting your drivers’ licence, voting, a first home – but maybe a better indicator of where we are is as plain as the nose hair on our face!

And don’t think I haven’t started to keep an eye on my ears – I’m not ready for a mid-life crisis just yet!

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved