This is apparently the age of the metrosexual man. It is no longer just the prerogative of gay men to be charming, polite, well-dressed and sophisticated. The average man, who always wanted to know about chocolate wax but was too afraid to ask, can emerge out of the closet and exfoliate. He can buy pink shirts and pluck his eyebrows. It would be a pleasant change, I have often thought, to have a man who was stylish and impeccably groomed, who knew a cravat from a collar, who knew his Moschino and Molton Brown. He could offer an opinion on mud packs, he would accompany me on shopping trips and know the difference between fuchsia and mauve. Buying shoes together could be a wonderful bonding experience.
Wait a minute, I am getting ahead of myself. The man I have around is the kind who thinks that shaving once in three days and a haircut once a month qualifies him to be presentable to the world at large. He belongs to the old school, which thinks that soap and water are cosmetics. He thinks he is overdressed if his shoes and belt match. He believes that using a moisturiser is like putting on makeup. The contents of his closet are fit for a museum. He hoards old clothes like sacred treasure and would rather have a root canal than go shopping for new threads. I have had to secretly dispose the shiny pleated trousers that haven’t been in style for a decade so that he wouldn’t commit a fashion blunder. Left to himself, he would lounge around unshaven in a pair of grungy shorts and T-shirt.
Of course, I love my husband for his inner beauty, golden heart and all that stuff, but it wouldn’t hurt him to augment his wardrobe and look spiffy once in a while.
"Don’t you need some new shirts?" I ventured to suggest. "The ones you wear to work are looking a little shabby. You need to add some colour to your wardrobe."
"I have colour," he replied opening his cupboard door with a flourish.
"Yes, there is white, off white, sort of white, almost white, was white, could have been white once.."
"I also have a blue." he declared. It was the shirt I had given him for his birthday 10 years ago.
"You also need new shoes. You have been wearing this pair for ages. It has become an antique now."
"In that case, I am not throwing it away. It could become very valuable in a few years." He neatly dodged the one I threw at him.
He is quite happy to wear the same pair of jeans and shirt every time we go out, expecting that everyone else will also have short-term memory loss.
"You wore this T-shirt to A’s party three months ago and also to B’s dinner last week. Please change." I would try to tell him.
"How does it matter?" he would ask.
Here I was trying to get him to be smart and sophisticated and he was asking existential questions which had no immediate answer. What is worse is that what I wear and how I look doesn’t matter to him either. These things are just not on his radar.
I brought this up during the group therapy session with the girls.
"You are lucky," wailed a friend, the wife of one of the best-dressed, well-groomed men in our set. "Mine goes completely overboard when we go shopping. I have to wait outside the trial room and comment on everything that he tries. While other men are investing in life insurance policies, he is putting his money in Louis Vuitton luggage. Do you know he has 14 pairs of cufflinks and 20 pairs of shoes? I don’t have any space on our dressing table. The bathroom cabinet is completely occupied by his lotions and potions. I wish we could go back to the days when a simple bar of soap was all that a man would use to get ready for the day."
I can just imagine the scene if my husband morphed into a metrosexual! He might actually look at me when I ask "How do I look?" before we go out anywhere. He may say, "I think the Blazing Burgundy Matte lipstick will suit your blouse colour more than the glossy Lush Lavender." Since I am conditioned to hearing, "Fine, let’s go now," from the front door in response to this question for more than 17 years, I could have a small heart attack which would not be good for my health.
He might buy more clothes and shoes than will fit into the shelf allotted to him and encroach into my two cupboards which would not be good for my well-being. He may start advising our daughter on what to wear, weakening my motherly rights over her wardrobe, which would be detrimental to my position of authority on child rearing matters.
I think I am better off with my Marlboro man rather than any Maybelline Man!
Nirupama Subramanian is the author of Keep The Change and Intermission. She is also a professional facilitator and coach in the area of leadership, change management and communication. After 17 years of marriage, she has realised that her efforts to change and coach her husband have had little effect
From HT Brunch, December 2
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