"Retailers," the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year, "are seeing a booming market in cosmetics and skin care for men."
You read that right. Make up for men.
The story went on, "Men's grooming is one of the fastest growing segments in the beauty business. Chicago-based research firm Mintel forecasts that sales of men's toiletries will hit $3.2 billion by 2016, up from an estimated $2.6 billion this year and $2.2 billion in 2006."
This isn't just after shave folks. This includes make-up for men.
Where I come from, men don't wear make up. They didn't 50 years ago; I doubt many do today.
I don't use make-up what you see is what you get. You can understand, then, my distress the first time I had to wear make-up.
Part of my job is handling media relations for my employer, The Salvation Army, and that involves radio and television interviews.
Radio is fine. You can have one eye and two noses and in radio it doesn't matter. The visual component of television, however, demands more attention to one's appearance.
Some 40 years ago, when I was in radio news, I applied for a job as a TV reporter. I didn't get the job and my radio colleagues told me it was because I have a radio face. Forty years has done nothing to change that fact.
Four years ago I received a call from Bill, an acquaintance who works for the local cable company. He asked if I would appear in a five-minute interview about The Salvation Army's Red Kettles. He said the interview would be broadcast on several cable channels repeatedly during December.
"Of course," I said. It was an excellent opportunity for our organization.
Then Bill dropped a bombshell. "Be here a half hour before the interview for make-up."
Make-up? Now, I knew that television folks have to have make-up applied before going on the air but after failing to get that job 40 years ago because of my radio face I never anticipated having to wear make-up myself.
Besides, I had a meeting after the video interview and I couldn't imagine walking into that meeting with make up on.
Bill must have sensed my uneasiness. "The cosmetologist will remove the make-up before you leave," he assured me.
They say most of the things you worry about never occur. So it was in this instance. The cosmetologist was pleasant and the make-up went on easily and came off almost as easily. No one at the next meeting had a clue of what I had been through.
I have recorded at least one interview with the cable company each year since then. Having make-up applied for professional reasons, of course is no longer a big deal.
(For the record, at no time did I feel pretty.)
This year things proceeded normally. After make-up I went to the recording studio. The bright lights were on and I was chatting quietly with the interviewer. Just seconds before we were to begin recording the cosmetologist hurried through the studio door and exclaimed, "Wait! I need to touch up Arvid's make-up."
My big nose must be too shiny, I thought. No big deal.
When the cosmetologist neared I closed my eyes expecting work on my nose or forehead.
Instead I felt something on the back of my head. Oh my gosh! My bald spot was so shiny she had to touch up the back of my head so it didn't reflect the bright lights.
I had to drive to Fort Dodge after the interview. Windshield time is good for introspection. I recalled how my colleagues told me I missed out on the TV job because of my radio face and now I'm growing so bald my bald spot needs make-up for a TV interview.
Maybe there is something to men paying attention to their appearance. But what do I need worse make-up or a toupee?
Then I remembered something Dolly Parton said years ago and my spirit was bouyed. "I love bald men," Dolly proclaimed. "Just because you've lost your fuzz don't mean you ain't a peach."