"Do you ... trim?"
That's how the conversation started, with such a ridiculous emphasis on the word "trim" that I knew we were not discussing upper body hair. We were in a pub, having just finished a pint and a discussion on the new Bond film. And now this? I sighed a deep sigh.
"I trim when required."
"You trim when required?"
"What do you use?"
"What do I use?"
"Yes, to trim."
"Can you stop saying trim like that?"
"You're saying it weird."
"It's not a big deal, I'm just interested in what you use."
"As it happens I have a special pube shortening machine."
"No, of course not really. I use scissors like everyone else."
Now at this point I should've gone to the bar, for it is written that men should not discuss their pubic hair with other men. Don't get me wrong, we can discuss female pubic hair until the cows come home: brazilians, landing strips, Hitlers, jungles, baldies and "Brian May's plughole" - it is an endlessly fascinating subject amongst men. But we never discuss our own shameful topiary. This is pub chat not pube chat.
Well until now.
Now I have to ask.
"So if you don't use scissors? What? Nail clippers? Safety matches? A specially trained goat?"
"I just shave it all off."
"Please God make it stop."
"It's brilliant - the chicks love it."
"The chicks? The chicks? Okay Fonzie, when did you do this?"
"Why man why?"
"Well, for one, it makes your old man look bigger?"
"Please don't call it an old man."
"What's wrong with old man."
"What's right with old man? It doesn't look in the least like an old man. If I look like my own penis when I am an old man I will hide myself away from women, I won't hang out at bars winking at them. Women don't find old men that attractive, if they did then Last of the Summer Wine would be more popular."
There is a pause here while someone "wins" on the fruit machine and the entire pub stops talking to listen to the chugger-chugger of his winnings while he tries to look casual and fails. It occurs to me that coming to the pub on your own and hitting the jackpot on a fruit machine is another good example of how you can be both a winner and a loser at the same time. He scoops his winnings into his pockets and staggers out of the pub. The landlord looks a little miffed. Conversation resumes.
"And? Does it?"
"Make your old man look bigger?"
There is another pause here. A thoughtful honest pause.
"Well... It makes the old man look... younger?"
"Very young, in fact."
"And women like that do they? Old men and well endowed babies? What have you done to yourself?"
"I don't know!"
And there is panic now in his eyes.
"It looks so weird, not like I thought it would look at all!"
"It will grow back mate - don't panic."
"I"M NOT PANICKING! But how long do you think it will take?"
His voice drops to a whisper "It took me 14 years to grow the first lot."
"A few months, that's all. It's not as if you have a steady girlfriend - be grateful for that."
"I will just keep my head down for a few months, concentrate on the gym, get myself in shape yeah?"
"The gym? Communal showers might be tricky."
"BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE ANY PUBES."
Sadly I have just said this loudly in a natural lull in the pub's background noise, the landlord looks at us and smiles then goes back to serving the two gay men at the other end of the bar.
"I can't go to the gym? No! What am I meant to do just sit at home getting fat?"
"Correctamundo. Getting fat AND HAIRY. Chicks love that."
I order him another drink.