Most mornings I greet the day by taking a two-mile run/walk (mostly walk) around the quiet parks and streets of my neighborhood.  I covet this time.  If I rise early enough I can trek without the barking of dogs or the roar of lawn mowers.  I can contemplate my day or meditate without distraction.  I become focused; more balanced.  Serenity and calm take over the anxieties created from a hectic life pace.

Picture if you will, a morning sky filled with white puffy clouds, an air temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and a dazzling but lazy sun just peeking up from the horizon.  The song of robins and cardinals singing in the light breezed filled air.  Perfection, until horror strikes and yanks me from my happy place faster than an automatic sprinkler.  As I round the corner of my final meditative workout, my eyes lock on an extraordinary site. A paunch, middle-aged, haired covered man wearing nothing but his ill-fitting tidy (almost) whities.  The site is completed by his generous and drooping mid-section which only serves to exaggerate the exposure of his backend crevice.  As he bends down to grab the mornings newspaper, he spots me, gives me a sluggish wave of his hand and a leisurely “Howdy do”.  Momentarily stunned, I respond with “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it?”  How ironic.

The week following this real-life encounter, I began to notice additional specimens of the same phenomenon.  An 80 year-old man sauntering down the street with only his new, white Sketchers and too-tight, polyester running shorts.  A teenage boy mowing his parent’s lawn with only ear buds and an iPhone clipped to his sagging jeans.  A wannabe Lance Armstrong bicyclist peddling bare-chested along the busy highway with sweat dripping along his very white and shiny, hairless back.  Apparently, my veil of ignorance has been lifted along with the arrival of the warm and short northern summer.

As a child, I can’t recall witnessing shirtless men unless it was the neighborhood fathers exiting the community pool.  When did this phenomenon of masculine bare chests become the norm rather than the exception?  Once again, I must have missed the progressive movement.

Gentlemen young or old, slim or heavy,  Ryan Gosling or your average Joe are not exempt from etiquette fashion protocols.  Unless you are sitting in your recliner in the private confines of your home, at the beach or playing a game where skins and shirts are opposing teams, cover it up boys.  Just because you can, does not mean you should.  This is not a prudish viewpoint but rather one of civility and respect.

Neanderthals you are not.

shirtless man

K. Martini