How do you compliment a naked man? You don’t. The Golden Rule of Sex is usually do others as you would have them do you, but not in this case. Women enjoy sincere compliments in the bedroom. Not over-rehearsed grunts or snippets of porno dialogue like “Oh baby, you’re so baby, baby.” In my personal experience, women also aren’t into dudes who’re effusive blabbercheeks. My poet’s heart was in the right place, but she informed me that I didn’t need to barf up bargain basement Byron.
Women are often at their most vulnerable when they’re lying fully naked next to a man, but this can be easily remedied by a spontaneous and enthusiastic whisper about her perfect breasts. That’s all that’s really needed. Because who doesn’t like a sweet, simple compliment? Men, that’s who.
When women look in the mirror, they focus on their flaws. But when men do it, we can’t help but see our awesomeness, illusory or not. Fat wrinkle or ab? AB! This is why during the summer, it’s always the hairy guys who look like two pumpkins in a condom who walk around topless in public. When you compliment our naked bodies we can’t help but think “Yeah, and?”
Vanity is not the most masculine of vices. (Sweeping gender generalization alert: hello, and welcome to the internet. My name is John, and I recognize that each and every one of you is like my mom’s oatmeal cookies, distinctly lumpy, individually misshapen mouthfuls of deliciousness. If I could, I’d write each and every one of you a personalized blog rant replete with grammatical errors.) There is no gender bias when it comes to vice. I’d say men and women are pretty evenly matched when it comes to selfishness and other moral weaknesses. But there are some vices that the mass culture encourages in one sex more than the other. Vanity is an unhealthy concern with what other people think of you. I dare you to read a fashion magazine and tell me that the moral at the end of every issue isn’t “be the prettiest or no one will love you!”
As for men, we’re a prideful tribe. Boastful. Pride is having a high opinion of oneself, and having done nothing to earn that opinion. Pride is self-esteem with a facelift. To be prideful is to believe that your farts make the flowers bloom. Look at the celebrities society respectfully suggests we aspire to be like: beautiful actresses who eat single crackers with forks and knives and tightly coiled athletes who refer to themselves in third person. The message: women should be obsessed with how they are perceived and dudes should think they’re amazing simply because they know how to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
Complimenting a man’s naked body doesn’t really push the same pleasure centers as it does in a woman. It affirms nothing. When we hear a compliment, we think, “Why is she telling me something I obviously already know? Is this some kind of nefarious subterfuge? Something is afoot!” Then the paranoia sets in. Men are less inhibited with being naked than women. But that doesn’t mean we’re any less insecure. It’s just that the spotlight doesn’t shine on us constantly. We’re less self-aware. Sure, we might stand naked in our window eating cereal. But that’s because we don’t have magazines with cover lines that scream “Be Ashamed Of Your Jiggly Bits.”
It might come as a shock to many of you, but I’m a pear, but one of those skinny Bosc pears, not one of those chubby Anjou or Bartlett kinds. So I have a belly, a healthy little bump with a Falstaffian jolliness about it. The crown jewel of my gut is my bellybutton, which is a half-outtie. Now, for years, I barely regarded this deformity. It just is, and on my best days examining it in the bathroom mirror I like to think that it’s some kind of ancient mark. At any moment in my life, a secret sect of Shaolin monks could burst into my office, lift my shirt, point at my half-outtie and declare “This is the One. The prophecy is true. He will slay the Thunder Dragon and bring 1,000 years of piece to the heavens!” But there was the girlfriend who would just not shut up about my “half-moon” bellybutton. I know she was just trying to make me feel better, but I was already feeling pretty great before she began to praise my screwy stomach dimple. She thought it was cute and she’d tell me… over and over and over again. It got to the point where if I could have spackled the thing closed with silly putty, I would have. I was totally comfortable with my bellybutton until it was paid far too much kindness.
Don’t compliment him when he strides into the bedroom wearing nothing but a sly grin. Resist announcing, “Here comes the monster wanger!” Don’t purr that he has a sick body, even if he does. He knows. And if he isn’t ripped, he still thinks he is. So don’t burst his bubble. Some truths don’t need to be spoken, and some lies don’t hurt anybody.
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