I’m fixing my life by following self-help gurus around the world. This week: Matthew McConaughey!
By Ken Hegan for The National Post
I’m studying a rare Australian etiquette book called HOW TO BE A MAN. It’s a 1996 guidebook on the lost arts of hygiene, manners, and culture. The book lists “easy-to-follow instructions” for men on how to clean up, attract women, and bluff their way through talks about Picasso.
– “Vomiting is never polite”
– “When your underwear develops its first minute hole, it is no longer underwear. It is now a paint rag.”
– “Conversation comes before sex, not the other way around”
It’s a terrific primer on how not to be a Neanderthal. However, the book’s one flaw is that it’s a starter manual…and I’m a bit more advanced than that. I don’t want to just be a man. I want to be The Best Man in the World.
For that lofty goal, I need a real-life manhood guru. So I’ve decided to follow the teachings of the Greatest Man on Earth So Far. I’m referring, of course, to actor/surfer/beach yogi Matthew McConaughey.
Why not? He’s fit, rich, relaxed, and was People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2005. According to his website, in 1979 Matthew was runner-up in the Little Mr. Texas beauty pageant, he has won 16 water drinking competitions, and has been a wrestling champion in four African villages. He’s incredible. Matthew McConaughey is like a smooth-breasted version of the Dos Equis guy.
He’s clearly the man I need to become. So for the next week, whenever I find myself in trouble or doubt, I’ll simply ask myself, “What would Matthew McConaughey do?”
First up, I hosted a Matthew McConaughey film festival, watching 12 of his movies. This is what I learned:
-Matthew McConaughey calls women ‘doll’ or ‘darlin’
-Matthew McConaughey loves taking his shirt off
In his adventure film, SAHARA, he starts the movie shirtless and ends the movie shirtless. In FOOL’S GOLD, he’s shirtless throughout and carries a dagger in his shorts. In REIGN OF FIRE, he takes his shirt off then leaps in a dragon’s mouth. And in FRAILTY, Matthew is not only shirtless and smooth-chested but in the flashbacks to him as a young boy, EVEN THE KID IS SHIRTLESS.
Now, you can mock that all you want. But according to the Internet, Matthew gets tons of chicks. As a lifestyle and philosophy, Shirtless = Success.
So I went shirtless for a week. Here’s what happened:
Day 1 as Matthew McConaughey:
Driving to coast through sun-splashed mountain range. Stereo blasts ‘Radar Love’. Time to take shirt off. Ahhh. Nipples bare in the warm breeze. Five minutes later, my phone rang with an unexpected job offer! Then a cop pulled me over for speeding but let me off with a warning. And when I reached the coast, at the first stoplight a pretty woman smiled in my general direction. This self-help crap really works!
City bus driver tells me to put shirt on or get off.
I picked a cold and windy week to go shirtless. Useless male nipples = retreating.
Shirtless beach running. After 20 minutes, my chest burns deep red. No surprise, because my skin is so pale, albinos point and laugh.
Hot and sunny again. I’m shirtless in the gay part of town, so instead of attracting women, I’m more like “Matthew McConau-heyyy, baby.”
I blithely arrive shirtless to first date in park. Awkward hug and her bejeweled shirt snags my chest hair. We drink smuggled beers, watch sun set. Then I ask her opinion on my naked torso. She says it’s “nice” but given the choice, she’d prefer a hairless man like guess who.
I research chest waxing by watching THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN. Looks bloody and excruciating. But in How to Be a Man, the book advises, “Make a point of trying every experience once, except incest and folk dancing.”
Time for The Full McConaughey. I go to a salon and get my back waxed. HOLY HELL. Hurts so much. But this is what MM would do. I instruct Tiffany, my esthetician/torturer, to rip my chest hair out like she hates me. She smiles and does it. GOOD CHRIST. Feels like it’s the Middle Ages and I’m being flogged for stealing cattle.
Later, when I come to, I can’t deny how big my breasts look with the weeds gone. Then a friend calls to give me support. She tells me about a stripper she met who said, “I won’t date a guy unless he’s had his back, crack, and sack waxed.”
So I got my entire body hair ripped off. Every. Single. Strand.
Even got my nuts waxed, a procedure called the ‘Boyzilian’. The pain was staggering. Screaming heard for blocks. But the results? AMAZING. My skin is so smooth and strokable. I look so much younger. In fact, I look two weeks old.
That night I met my friend Jim for drinks. We bro hug and he slaps my back. I crumple in agony, muttering, “Nooo…. just got … body waxed.” He shoots me a look and says, “Buddy. What the hell.”
And that’s when it struck me. I’m doing it wrong.
Here’s the thing: Matthew McConaughey may be the Sexiest Man Alive if 2005 ever comes around again — but there’s a dichotomy between his public image as an easygoing, bong-hitting beach bum, and all the exhaustive workouts and plucking he endures to look like a beefed-up Malibu Ken doll.
Is this what my dear departed dad would have taught me? Would my dad, whose chest hair was thicker than a BP oil spill, a man’s man who fixed truck engines for fun, who didn’t wear a shirt from May through Labour Day, who didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about him, a man who designed and built our house with his giant, powerful, hairy Irish hands … would Dad have wanted me to wax my scrotum?
I’d ask him myself … but I can’t ask him for anything anymore. He’s gone. I’m on my own now and fumbling through life.
So I consulted the Australian guidebook one last time. No luck. It offers advice on ‘Whisky’ and ‘Women with Wooden Legs’ but refuses to discuss Waxing. Which I guess is an answer in itself.
The book does, however, share two excellent pieces of advice. Listen up, men:
#1) “Your number one sexy feature is your eyes”
#2) Don’t admit to silent farts: “Never acknowledge them, even if you happen to be one of only two people in an elevator. If you have let out a real toe curler in such a situation, fix the other person with a steely glare and mutter between clenched teeth, “You filthy little shit.”
That’s how to be a man.
— Ken Hegan