Thursday, November 16, 2006

Below the Belt

Maybe it’s time to remix the old phrase to ‘Waist not, want not’. Actually, not maybe, but definitely. And, for once, this isn’t about the female waist struggling to slip into a size smaller, skin-smooching skirt. This one’s about the good ole male waist…

Or, to be sartorially accurate, his belt. Yeah, that inch-wide cummerbund that’s meant to hold up his sagging trousers. Like most things around us, the belt too has morphed into realms of utility far beyond its original purpose. Like its other cousin, the shoe.

History has it that the shoe was originally meant to cover the hunter’s bare feet and protect him. Today, the more supple the shoe, the farther it is from protection, the more it is valued. Women, they say, will willingly suffer the agony of squeezed (almost amputated) toes to wriggle into tiny pieces of leathery lingerie for their feet just in case some hunk does look at them from top to toe.

If the belt was meant to hold up trousers once, it’s multi-tasking today. But, then, aren’t we all? If the ‘over the shoulder boulder holder’ has evolved from discreetly supporting drooping breasts to being brazenly displayed from under contrastingly-coloured spaghetti-strapped tops (beau peep, R.I.P.) why should the belt remain where it was?

Today, a man has to carry a few essentials that go beyond what’s already in the belt’s third cousin, the wallet. There’s his mobile phone – or phones depending on whether he’s a tycoon or a terrorist – plus his Blackberry plus an MP3 player plus a digital camera (on vacation, at least) plus a belt-pouch for some essential chewies, passport et al plus the case for his designer glares. That’s five items already looped into the belt – get the idea?

However, there’s just one problem: while we busybodies sweat to lose flab by sitting at desks for 14 hours and then running on stationary belts in air-conditioned gyms, the very waists we work on end up bulging in the oddest ways. Did you ever see Clint Eastwood look weird with holsters on either side tucked into his belt?

I mean, two attachments around the belt are just about all it can take. But five? Have a life, guys! And don’t get withdrawal symptoms just because the man ahead of you in the queue at security check is holding up everyone while he gingerly takes off his belt and places his prized jewels in a plastic tray for everyone to ogle at. When did you last see an intelligent, beautiful lady eyeing a man’s digital assets? If it’s just a man thing and you’re not a lisping film director showcasing a particular superstar in every one of his films, then why load yourself, darling?

Rest assured, my friend, the action is always below the belt. Or, at best, above it. Not around it.

And don’t waste another moment wondering. Get going on those abs, tighten the belt another notch and you won’t be left wanting.

(First written October 18, 2006; waiting patiently to be published since)

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