2:41 pm
Mon April 5, 2004

Straight Eye Hip Tips

It may still be true that real men don't eat quiche but, as David points out, in our brave new world they can moisturize.

Wilmington NC – [Click the Listen button to hear David's commentary.]

Last week I was in a hurry to find a birthday present for a friend. What do you get a former linebacker who loans you his chain saw, lets you drive his sixty-nine Corvette, and wakes up at five-fifteen in the morning to run with you when it?s twenty-nine degrees out? It was obvious: eye cream. I hear you: ?What?s so obvious about that?? And you?re right. Would he want SPF fifteen or thirty? Retinols or alpha-hydroxy acids? But he?s not fussy. He?d like anything that came from me, so long as it reduced the appearance of fine wrinkles.

Thanks to the popularity of makeover shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, men are experiencing a renaissance of style. Not far from my house there?s a new salon called Sports Cuts, where guys can cover with banter about RBI?s and free throw averages while secretly comparing Redken styling wax to Sebastien Twisted Taffy. (The taffy gives you a shinier, more moldable look.) The fact is men have always wanted to look better, we were just afraid if we did someone would call us a sissy.

But the guys on Queer Eye have liberated us so America can be free of unsightly nose hair. ?Here we are,? they say, ?we?re gay and we?re proud! You couldn?t be like us if you tried, so don?t worry! Now go wax that unibrow!? Then, just for good measure, Kyan, the darkly handsome hair stylist, beats a Marine in a pushup contest. It?s for these moments my wife and I gather on the couch with the kids every Tuesday night.

Of course Queer Eye doesn?t exist in a cultural vacuum. It seems America is roiling with ambivalence about the societal roles of men and women. More men are, like me, married to women with greater earning power. Is it any surprise we?re meeting each other at the park on Tuesday mornings to spike juice boxes and compare the four-wheel off-road capabilities of our jog strollers? Women are exercising their right to rate men like pieces of meat, sometimes in televised contests like Average Joe. It?s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and if that?s what it takes to win then darn it, I?m getting a manicure and a facial! And if you laugh I swear I?m coming over there to scratch your eyes out.

So it?s no wonder men are a little uncertain about where we stand. I feel like my friend Tom?s four-year-old son, who turned to him recently and said, ?Dad, we?re men, right? We like motorcycles and chicken and women?? Yeah. Now bring your motorcycle while I cook some chicken for the women.

And what about men who like chicken and motorcycles but aren?t so into women? It seems that not since Stonewall has so much attention been focused on the cultural role of homosexuals. To many in my generation it?s almost quaint to call homosexuality a ?lifestyle choice?. Even as a child, when I lived in a neighborhood that was Memphis? answer to Chelsea, I had a hard time believing the guys next door consciously decided to be ostracized and ridiculed in return for, what, nice sweaters?

So then does it follow they shouldn?t be allowed to lead a congregation or visit each other in the hospital? I understand some people feeling squeamish about gay marriage, but honestly I don?t see how Rosie O?Donnell is going to degrade the sanctity of matrimony worse than Britney Spears. And I?m confident enough in my own marriage not to feel threatened. I can?t see a lot of guys going, ?if I could have gotten married, well sure I?d have been gay!? Of course some guys will do anything to get free china.

I dream of a day when very well-groomed heterosexual men can freely offer advice on fashion and interior d?cor to married lesbian priests and no one bats an eye. But I fear that day remains far off. For now all I have to offer is today?s Straight Eye Hip Tip: use a thicker hair styling product like Twisted Taffy if you?re planning to bring your woman chicken on a motorcycle.

And remember: chicks dig men who wear eye cream.