Our bodies — and when I say “our,” I mean mine — have gone to seed a bit over the winter. Heavier clothing has disguised the fact that some of us (me again) have grown a little larger amidships.
So the usual remedies have to be tried — dieting chief among them. America is remarkable as the only country in the world where everybody seems to be dieting but people get fatter all the time.
Of course, some people exercise so they can be fit and miserable in the interests of calorie reduction. They pound away on treadmills, but for me the metaphor is too depressing — you know, working hard to stride all those miles and never really getting anywhere. When I want to work for hours and get nowhere, I just come to the office.
How can we make ourselves more attractive for the coming summer? Women are much better at this than men. Arguably, they have more to work with, but they also know much more about grooming. They have beauty care secrets we men can only dream of.
Here’s something women know but men are oblivious to: The eyes are the windows of the soul.
For centuries, women have used eye makeup to attract men to look into those windows, see the enchantment sparkling therein and be rendered helpless. This is how Cleopatra landed the famous Roman general Richard Burton.
That is why I am urging men to consider wearing eyeliner and eye shadow so that we can participate with equal advantage in the battle of the sexes.
I realize inviting a woman to look into the windows of a man’s soul may not work as well. A man’s soul may very well resemble a man’s bedroom: some soiled laundry over here, unmade bed over there and the glint of old sports trophies on the sideboard.
As it happens, I stumbled upon the secret of women — the power of eye cosmetics — by accident. As some readers may remember, I was a pirate named Jamaica Jim in a recent community theatrical production, with only a few lines that mostly involved the word “Arrrgh!” My costume consisted of a big wig, a vest, pantaloons, a buckled swash and, to set it all off, eyeliner.
My first clue that the eyeliner had powerful magic came in a tavern scene in which the saucy dancing girl directed to sit on my lap didn’t seem to mind the experience, which made no sense at all. After the play ended, and in a rush to get to the real bar, because saying “Arrrgh” gives a man a thirst, I forgot to remove the eyeliner.
To my further great surprise, many pretty girls smiled at me and batted their own eyelids. “Hello, sailor!” they seemed to be saying. It was then that the words of the poet Coleridge came to mind: “Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! ...”
But I think it is probably best if some of you younger fellows go first, as I’m not great at starting trends. For example, my literary efforts to promote wooden neckties came to nothing.
There is precedent for eye makeup for men. Members of the rock band Kiss were very popular with the girls, if memory serves. However, I am not suggesting any man go to their extremes. No, just a little eyeliner, maybe a little shadow for the eyelids — at least until people stop laughing.
Oh sure, the first male eyeliner pioneers might want to be discreet until the trend is established. Eyeliner and shadow are probably best avoided in VFW halls, lumberjack camps or rugby scrums.
Some of you men are no doubt thinking that I have gone off the old rocker for certain. But consider: The choice in the quest for attractiveness is between searching salads desperately for a chop hiding under the lettuce, doing hopeless exercises like yoga that will only leave you bent out of shape, or applying eyeliner that entices gals to jump into the hammock with a salty old dog like you.
Go on, have some faith in your masculinity and say, “The eyes have it.” I’ll be right behind you.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Herald-Gazette.