The other day as I was plucking my own nosehairs in my rearview mirror and sobbing quietly into my fist, I began to muse on evolution.
Am I evolving because I now remove my nostril hairs? Or am I devolving, because I have nostril hairs?
I’m inclined to think I am actually evolving, and let me explain why.
I once had the nostrils of Jennifer Lawrence, so bald were they. I had the nostrils of Scarlett Johansson! Now my nose holes resemble light fittings in the roof of an abandoned YMCA, where renegade thatch plants have taken root.
Once I could’ve been a nostril model, I tell you. My nose would have featured on billboards the size of train depots! They would have been advertising… I don’t know, nosebuds, or something.
While the entire package has never been much to write home about, in the pomp of my youth I could have been a body model for at least three parts of the anatomy.
I have awesome thumbs, elegant yet manly, and quite a sexy thumbprint, a policewoman once told me. My feet have a width and solidity seldom seen outside Tahitian stone-lifting. Also, my lips have an expressive charm, as if I am always in the middle of speaking French.
I could have been amazing – a thumb, foot and mouth model – earning thousands worldwide. But it was not to be. When I should have been at thumb castings, I was at large on the social scene, hitch-hiking, playing quarters, and jamming slap bass in an intergalactic funk band.
It was similar with my supermodel feet and my lips of the gods. I took them totally for granted. When those things were in their prime, I was setting sambuca shooters aflame inside my mouth and running half-marathons in my jolling sneakers.
No man knows he is young while he is young, GK Chesterton once stated, and he was right.
Being young is to be blessed with a planetary vehicle – a human body – fresh off the showroom floor and undamaged by the harsh challenges of life. You have no maintenance skills, because you’ve never had to repair it. For all you know, it’s going to last forever.
I think part of one’s evolution as a man involves realising your body requires careful navigation and maintenance, then learning to look after it. You spend a few years giving it flat box, taking the machine to its limits and seeing how it handles. Then you pull back and operate within your reasonable parameters and do what’s required to keep the show on the road.
Starting out, maybe you’ll go to one Oppikoppi and not sleep for 62 hours, just to see what it’s like. If you survive that, there’s no reason to do it again.
As you grow up, you get a car and you do less hitch-hiking and running. Cars also have limits, but you still need to find out what those are.
Maybe once, leaving Vanrhynsdorp on the 300km drive through the West Coast badlands to Springbok, you’ll think, “Should we check the oil? Nah, I’m sure it’s fine.” Then, you’ll run the engine bone dry for three hours, blow a gasket, pop a hose seal and crack the cylinder head. The vehicle will never be the same again and will require a litre of oil a month from there on out.
As with cars, so too with men. Our maintenance schedules evolve over time. Our looks become less youthful, but our stories become more interesting.
We need to work harder and harder on our grooming routines, and the goal is no longer “looking hot” but being well maintained. Grooming, once a sporadic act dabbled in more out of curiosity than necessity, becomes a vital routine.
When I first started shaving, every ten days I would announce to my housemates, “Oh well! Just going off to have a shave now!” Otherwise, they’d never have known I was even of shaving age.
Today, seasoned campaigner that I am, I darn well better shave and moisturize every few days, or I start to resemble someone you give your doggie bag to at the robots.
But I’ll be the first to admit that I have evolved. My growing up has forced it upon me. If you don’t evolve as you grow, you become the guy in the Limp Bizkit T-shirt at the awards ceremony. The only single dude at the braai. Not to mention, the scruffiest person in the staff photo.
Think of it as sticking to the service intervals in your body’s log book. If you do so, you can age with style and grace and still cruise like a champion.
Look, don’t overdo it! No one’s calling for male make-up or cosmetic surgery. But you, like your Polo, need a maintenance plan.
Learning to accept that is the first sign of evolution already.