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BODY WATCH : Hurray for hair. Lots of it. The thicker, longer or bushier, the better.


Today's important, thought-provoking topic is body hair and why it's so important for a guy to possess it. Lots of it. Torrents of it, erupting from every pore. I'm not really sure why that is. But any guy worth his weight in testosterone will tell you it's so. If he doesn't, he's either lying or suffering from the early stages of male pattern baldness.

Here's why: Whenever a guy spots hair on another guy, even something as innocuous as a thick bristle of nose hair, something happens. He thinks back to happier, saner times, long before the bubonic plague or organized religion or even golf.

It's all really subtle, kind of like an acid flashback, only without the part where your girlfriend begins to look like Alexander Haig covered in Day-Glo purple velvet.

Suddenly, a guy is transported back to the good old days, when his brain was no larger than a lemon-flavored Skittle and he and his buddies could spend hours shuffling semi-erect across a savanna, grunting: "You know, our bean may only be as large as a lemon-flavored Skittle, but at least we have hair."

And that somehow made everything better, especially for all those Cro-Magnon plumbers who were making a killing unclogging pipes.

Sadly, though, our brains increased in volume to something resembling that of a good-sized yam. And although this would eventually lead to the development of aerosol food products, it also marked the beginning of hairlessness as we know it.

And that's when all the problems started. Even though Heather Locklear was invented, life continued to get unbearably painful for most guys.

Why's that? Because body hair is like Novocain. He who lets it grow kills the pain of being a man. But he who lets it grow too long runs the risk of getting it caught in heavy machinery, a leading source of unpleasantness for many guys.

My very own highly interesting relationship with body hair started early. Like many guys, I was born without it. Owing to the fact that I come from a particularly hairless breed of Episcopalians, I stayed that way for a long time.

As a youth, I built a small shrine in my bedroom to a thick-bristled paintbrush I found in the garage. Each night, I prayed to Robin Williams, the Mirthful Deity of Hair Abundance, to grant me any sort of growth whatsoever. Anything at all.

One of those mutated, kinked mole hairs that my English lit teacher had growing on her chin would have been appreciated. So would a clump of eerily colored, menacingly textured rogue hairs, the kind that pop up from time to time in various places and convince you that maybe you and those in-bred folks in "Deliverance" had more in common than just a love for banjo music.

Eventually, though, I was rewarded for my perseverance with a couple of whiskers on my chin. Several were fruitful and multiplied up and down my cheeks. A few even took root above my lip. There was much rejoicing.

Then came the unibrow incident. My mother, a good woman with admirable although often somewhat warped intentions, became concerned that being in possession of a singular brow would keep me out of college.

"You wanna look like Leonid Brezhnev?" she'd wail.

So one afternoon she handed me $35 and sent me to her electrologist. I pocketed the cash, eventually went to college, cultivated a fairly successful Vandyke and even sprouted a few scraggly chest hairs. They may not be much, but in a few decades I should have enough to comb up--and over--to create a decent pair of sideburns.

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