is a column for men, just in case you thought I would never
get around to writing one.
I’ve become interested in the idea of “metrosexuals.” A new
one on you? Then obviously you don’t hobnob with the Style
section of The New York Times or you would know
that “metrosexuals” are the latest mintage of the Sensitive
New Age Guy.
According to the Times, metrosexuals are “straight,
urban men willing, even eager, to embrace their feminine sides.”
But what separates the metrosexual from their SNAG forbears
is the element of mystery involved for heterosexual women.
Is he straight? Or is he gay?
And, oh, the joy for a straight woman happening upon a heterosexual
man who can fathom the meaning of “mauve,” right? Well, I’m
not sure that that’s really what women want most in a man.
Nor does it seem to me that using moisturizer or picking out
your own clothes really counts as embracing your feminine
But there it is: By these lights, a tasteful, civilized, cosmetics-conscious
straight man embodies the new male persona. He’s a marketer’s
dream, a babe magnet and a cipher to gay men who can’t trust
good grooming as a reliable indicator of sexual orientation
And if the market niche holds, metrosexuality will move from
the Style pages to the Business section in short order.
Maybe it’s being passed off as masculinity’s nouvelle vague.
But if you ask me, metrosexuals aren’t a new breed at all.
I’ve known my share of so-called metrosexuals over the years.
You may be one yourself. A guy in touch with your five senses.
An evolved guy, unafraid to feel the nap in a rug or wear
a scent other than Old Spice.
Maybe I just got off to a weird start. My college boyfriend
and his roommate, both arrow-straight, spoiled me into believing
that straight and sensual wasn’t such a hard combination to
Jerry, my beau, was into cooking. His idea of a pleasant evening
at home was to whip me up a little duck a l’orange while Joshua,
a voice major, would sing Billy Strayhorn and Noel Coward
as his cheesecake chilled.
I used to wonder how I could combine both of them into one
perfect specimen of heterosexual man. And then clone him.
Joshua was handsome; Jerry was brilliant. Joshua sang; Jerry
made films. Joshua was in ballet class with me; Jerry and
I took structural linguistics together. Joshua wanted children;
Jerry loved the kitchen. And they both wore clogs.
Little did I know that those were the last years I would see
straight men in clogs.
Whether or not you share my taste in men’s shoes—and an informal
poll tells me that there is no such thing as a straight man
voluntarily slipping on a pair of clogs—you get my point.
It’s fair to say that since my days with Clog Man and Mr.
Strayhorn, I’ve known a lot of men who seemed to shrink from
color and texture. I’ve known men content to dress in all
the various shades of mud. Men whose sheets and towels were
safe, gender- neutral colors—white, off-white, brown.
And though I did once convince someone to use Burt’s Bee’s
Milk and Honey Lotion on his face—after being assured the
scent didn’t linger for more than a moment or two—I’ve never
yet given a gift of body lotion without having the man think
it was actually a kind of roundabout gift to myself, a gift
that remained at my house, in my bathroom, to
be used after my showers. (Of course, there’s no denying
that it’s a great way to splurge on creams I wouldn’t normally
buy for myself.)
That said, I think that beneath most of you mud-color-dressed
male readers lurks a closet metrosexual. And secretly you
know that women like it: It’s a perk that you blow dry your
honey’s hair better than she does. Your wife really grooves
on the way you frost a cake.
You know who you are. Maybe you really care about thread counts.
About bathtubs. For that matter, maybe you actually take
baths. Maybe, from time to time, you use the words “sateen,”
“chenille” or “chamois.” It’s a stretch, but you might even
know what silk dupioni is. There’s no shame in this.
In your heart of hearts, I bet you know feng shui is not a
noodle dish. I bet you can tell the difference between an
aspidistra and a foxglove, between soft-paste and hard-paste
porcelain. I’ll bet you can tell a Cuban from a stiletto heel.
And none of that interferes with flipping between the hockey
and the football games while your honey is out sweeping the
So do you really need a market niche? Not really.
But maybe you need a little encouragement. Like Harrison Ford
on the cover of People magazine, Calista Flockhart
by his right ear and an earring in his left.
Or maybe a line of grooming products called “Sharps” will
mean you never have to borrow your wife’s raspberry-kiwi body
scrub again. You’ll feel it’s manly to mousse.
Maybe it will help to know that I know a man whose banana
bread is as tasty as the truck he rebuilt is reliable.
Condé Nast is trying to help you, developing a shopping magazine
targeted directly at you.
But I know you don’t need that. All you’ve got to do is step
out of shadows a little. Buy yourself an orchid to raise.
Learn to flip an omelette. Imagine your pectorals after 20
Metrosexuals, it’s safe to come out of the closet. Your soap-on-a-rope
days are over.
can contact Jo Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.