Now listen all you people, especially you girls
As Marvin Gaye calls the congregation to order, I have a very serious question for the ladies out there, particularly the German ladies, but really nationality is secondary to gender here, because I need some information only you can provide me with.
Right. Take a look at the gentleman below, whose picture is tied to every single lamppost in my neighborhood, since he's running for some local office on the CDU ticket. Never mind that he hasn't a chance in hell, just check out the picture.
Now, just what is your reaction to him as a sex object?
a) "Ohhhh, I am so consumed by lust!"
b) "Dang, he makes that ugly guy over to the right on this blog look like Paul Newman."
c) "Enh. I'm a lesbian."
If you answered c you're encouraged to stick around and contribute to the theoretical discussion, especially if you're Belledame222 or of a similarly cranky disposition.
But if you answered a, I have a question.
Now, actually, what's weird about this particular photo is that if you look at it closely, you'll see he's actually just cut his hair way short, and it's greying. But on the campaign photos -- and I've looked carefully -- he's been Photoshopped to a skin-smooth shave. And the reason for this is obvious: to increase his appeal, to glamorize his image. Plus, there's a threat involved, because the other posters he's put up in the past couple of days don't have his image on them, but, instead, three promises: More work, more art, more children. The "more work" is what every politician's offering in a city with 20% unemployment, and the "more art" implies he'll loosen the purse-strings for the starving cultural budget here, but I'm really worried about that last one. Is he planning to do this all by himself? And if so, is this why he's presenting himself looking like this, Photoshop or no?
From what I've been able to tell, this particular concept of male beauty is indigenous to Germany. I'm not talking about skinheads; they have their own costume, their own rituals, their own look. No, I'm talking about professional men, artists, intellectuals, people in or aspiring to the higher economic and social reaches. I've noticed this for years around here. And does it work? Boy, does it ever: you go to some event, look around for the most beautiful woman there, and dollars to doughnuts she'll soon float into the orbit of a suit with a pink knob on top of it and just go all limp.
Now, okay, there's a certain amount of jealousy at work here. I was doomed from the beginning. My dad and every one of his brothers was hit by male pattern baldness, and, starting in my late 20s just like the textbooks say, so was I. I have this fantasy of discovering our ancestral home in Devonshire, where we settled as Normans and changed from Oeuvrards to Wards, walking into the pub, and having it go quiet as they do when an outsider walks in, and dozens of similar hairlines all craning around to see who the intruder is. Naturally, the minute I take off my hat, they're all eager to know who I am.
But the thing is, I don't think my hair looks bad. Well, it does now; I'm in need of a haircut, and I'll get one as soon as I visit the States next month. But in general, given my genes, I like to think it makes me look distinguished, maybe even smart, like the hair evaporated due to the intensity of the thought occurring directly underneath it. And then there's that belief among African-American women that it's proof of extra virility (not completely a legend, since testosterone does play a part in balding, which is why you see so very few naturally bald women).
Still: do you suppose it would help my utterly moribund social life if I just took a razor to what little remains? I mean, I could buy a black scarf and a yellow sweater and go out on Halloween as a #2 pencil. Were I to do the Mr. Clean (Mr. Proper here in Germany), would the fräuleins flock around, all seeking to know my mystery? Would I be able to stand looking in a mirror, though, without feeling queasy?
I really don't know. It's possibly the most unfathomable of all the German cultural mysteries, and one I'll probably never solve. But I do know this: the image this politician immediately brought to my mind: the Martian Popping Thing.
Can I get a wi-iit-ness?