In the twenty years that we knew him, Dusty Rusty changed neither
his clothes nor his habits. He was
always a little sour dishrag of a man who sat bolt-upright watching television
in his Cinema Noir fish bowl of stained
wallpaper and cigarette smoke. Everything about him was tidy-filthy, like the
perfectly folded Elliot Lake Standard he
used for cannibalized butts waiting to be rerolled into damp but serviceable
smokes. Age and loneliness had
made Russ a shower, and his uncanny ability to simultaneously entertain and
repulse never disappointed. Particularly so on the day he showed us his
From Sharp’s Q&A column, a pressing man-issue: bushy eyebrows – pluck or wax?
Let me take this one. First – grow a pair. Then slip into the chair for a haircut at Joe’s in Little Italy. Joe has been clipping my remnants these many years. He decides, unbidden, if my eyebrows are too bushy. Scissors flashing, he’ll suddenly freeze, blades hovering and open before my eyeballs, to study the evidence, then carefully reach forward to snip one briar, then (for balance) the other. He’ll even clip an errant nostril hair, or something suspicious inside my ear. Disconcerting, manly, effective – and pain free.
Of course any nutritionist worth their salt substitute could tell you a grapefruit is more healthful than Häagen-Dazs and blah blah blah. But what if it’s your charted destiny to consume coffee icecream blanketed in cinnamon, ideally having liberated it from Kitchen Table at 11:30 pm? (The walk there being exercise. Ish.)
Then, the pressing question for nutritionists is actually:
If, in a feat of extraordinary restraint, you’ve kept a quarter of the pint to scrape out of the container next morning for breakfast, wouldn’t mounding on 47 extra calories worth of grapefruit be somehow injudicious?
Saturday mornings are up at 8:15, dress, and drag my daughter to dance . . . except for the Saturday I awake to the realization that, although I took the wagon to school yesterday, I never did bring it home . . . it’s been out all day and all night, and I have no other way to get Nola to class in time. So today, it’s get dressed, rush to the schoolyard, and worry until . . . it’s still there! Five feet from where I left it—a rail is missing, but I find that nearby—like someone took my wagon out for a very short joyride.
Dapper fashionisto poses on Italian scooter, sockless, helmetless. Obviously, he lives life on the edge (helmetless – in the city!). A beautiful woman gazes quizzically upon him (thinking, “Is this it? I should have scarfed that tub of Häagen-Dazs last night after all.”). Another ad features a kohl-eyed boy in a frilly tux; most of his face is obscured by a whopper bang. He’s shilling for some chichi scent, but selling lifestyle.
Fashion slaves unite! Why seek inspiration from glossy manvertisements? Take my free advice. Forget the über-bang, and never, ever, smell like a girl. (I realize I’m becoming my Dad.)
What’s up with the Man Hats? Any knob can’t just enter Sherway Mall, buy a trilby and emerge a hipster. In fact, my friend Stephen who rocks a master-class wardrobe wouldn’t be caught dead in any of these lids. Sadder still, these heinous things can be spotted perched like plaid pixies on hairy toadstools while their douchie owners peruse a menu. Given my own wonky stylings, I shouldn’t cast sartorial stones, so I’ll just put this down to the priggishness of age: By all means Dude, wear your stupid hat, but take it off when you’re eating that fish taco.
This week, another glossy men’s magazine thumped onto my porch, concealed discretely between sections of my newspaper. Yes, a newspaper – how retro! And no, not that kind of men’s magazine. This one’s full of beauty tips and lifestyle advice for the modern man. On the cover, a banner announcing thirty-seven pages of power suits. (Wassa matter, pretty boy, yo’ momma don’t dress you no mo’?) Inside, man recipes, and a saccharine review of whisky, calculated not to offend any potential advertiser or region. Read up, and you too can namedrop.
What is a man without his own opinion? A market.
Citizens of the world! Before boarding any vehicle, look to your left. Look to your right. If you spot even one maple leaf patch in the queue, step aside. Studies have found Canadians on board in nearly every calamity in recorded history. When a twin-engine plane crashes in Sitka, there are six Canadians on board. When a cruise ship sinks in the Antarctic, six again. When the Jamaican tarmac is overshot, a Colombian bus veers from the road, or lightning smites an Air France jet: Canadians on board. In threes, in twos, in humble ones. It takes just one Canadian.
Last time I saw Rob, he’d just finished a course in legal ethics. He was studying to become a lawyer and had been taught, for instance, that it is wrong to take on a divorce case and use information you receive from the husband to seduce his wife.
Remarkably, he told me this one week after I’d broken up with my first girlfriend, one week before I learned he’d taken all I’d told him of that relationship and decided to ask her out.
He, at least, knew what he was getting himself into, but I wonder if she ever did.
And so it was, years later, that one of my many spies encountered my first girlfriend’s next boyfriend downtown and reported back that he had gone to fat. Forget that she and I were last together a lifetime ago, and ignore the fact that she and her fat lawyer had by then lived together longer than she and I had ever dated, even now these furtive sightings help pass the time over beer with my high-school friends as they tease out the small lingering pleasure I can still enjoy hearing the details of the poor choices she made after me.