Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

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The Independent Online

Sitting in the posh men-only salon, I swear I can hear a baritone scream over the piped Sade, and I wonder if Grant regrets the day he uttered the fateful words: "It's just waxing, what's the big deal?" It started with a dare. Grant is a huge fan of the Hollywood wax that leaves one completely bare (perhaps because he is follicularly challenged himself). I also love the look and heightened sensitivity.

But as he lives abroad and we see each other only occasionally, I think there's something unfair in his expectation that I maintain this nether-region grooming 24/7. Especially when he's so furry I'm practically coughing up hairballs. So Grant and I did a deal: I'd continue the masochistic ritual only if he agreed to a one-off back, sack and crack waxing.

I love manly men with hairy chests, but his hair removal is limited to occasionally swiping a razor through his unibrow. This is a lot easier than putting my ankle over a strange woman's shoulder while she rips off a piece of fabric from an area that only my gynaecologist should really be inspecting.

I can understand Grant's aversion to pubic hair, though, because I feel equally obsessive about ridding men of all facial hair (except for three-day stubble, which is hot). One can only hope that Colin Farrell's porn-star moustache in the new Miami Vice film doesn't start a trend. It looks like a caterpillar dipped in motor oil. The only thing worse is a goatee; it's not a good sign if a guy can't even commit to a full beard.

Ever since metrosexuals brought the female obsession with body hair to mainstream men, most of my male friends will admit to pruning their downstairs hedges occasionally. But it's as much for the illusion of extra length as pleasing their partners. "I started trimming down there after I read something about how porn stars shave," my friend Michael confessed after several Coronas. "It's like a hall of mirrors - things look larger than they are!"

Like those scary women with eyebrows plucked so thin they have to be drawn back on, sometimes men go too far. Last summer, I went on a few dates with a cyclist whose chest was perfectly smooth. He admitted to shaving his legs - saying it helped aerodynamics - but he freaked out during a music festival with friends after he forgot his razor.

After 24 hours, I began to understand why. His five-o'clock chest shadow was razor sharp, and under the moon his body hair was sprouting faster than a werewolf's. The final straw was when he complained that his spray-on tan had started to get patchy and our intended day-long shag-a-thon somehow morphed into a lecture on exfoliation.

Forty-five minutes after I first heard Grant's shrieks, he emerged sweating, dabbing at the corners of his eyes. "Dear God," he said, shuddering. "No one told me that they tweeze after the wax!"

Back at his flat, I soothed his tender areas with aloe vera gel, biding my time for the perfect moment to tell him that I prefer the all-natural look.