The Male-Pattern-Morning-Ritual

Your morning bathroom routine, much like your ear hair, is something that never stops growing until you die. By my reckoning, this process, when fully explored over the course of an average American lifetime, slowly grows, then dips greatly, then begins its true slow rise from a process that takes roughly ten minutes every morning to a well-choreographed routine that take upwards of 30 minutes, maybe as much as an hour…and I’m just talking about men’s morning rituals here. (Women’s routines are a whole different matter, but I’d guess the pattern mostly holds, despite the gender.)

So, you’re born. Congratulations, you are now a human being. Your first routine, other than learning the fact that bawling your ass off will get you fed, is when you’re tall enough to start learning how to go to the bathroom anywhere outside of your own pants. It’s a pretty important lesson, one which will last you a long time, until it is, once again, no longer possible for you to control when and where you go to the bathroom. Ahh, the circle of life.

You “potty train,” and then once you’ve pretty much gotten it down, you start using the potty every morning. Soon, you begin to add brushing your own teeth to your daily AM activities. A little later you add washing your face to the morning resume’.

Then you hold steady for a number of years…until you become a teenager. Sorry, you’re now a teenager. It sucks, but it doesn’t last forever, thank God. As a teenager, you slowly add two new elements to the ritual: deodorant and shaving. These two will slip seamlessly into the routine. Their benefits are obvious and undeniable. Personally, since children tend to smell like crap, I’d be all for bumping deodorant a little earlier in the process, but I’m not a parent, and nobody’s really asking me. But if any Old Spice employees are reading this, call me and we’ll discuss my being a spokesman for New Spice, your newest product, the kidoderant which could double your sales and make the world smell just a tad bit less like feces.

Then comes college. The whole ritual goes out the window, as do a lot of things in this magical four-year period. Hopefully you retain the childhood lessons, including the deodorant and shaving, or at the very least the brushing your teeth. I live in a college town and I can attest to the fact that college kids smell roughly as bad as infants, the men anyway. College girls no longer want me to smell them…for some reason.

After college, however, the ritual begins to settle in for life. Wake up. Brush your teeth. Roll on your deodorant. Shave your face. Wash your face. Have a day. Go to sleep. Wake up and repeat this ritual.

This pattern holds, generally unchanged, for on average around twenty years. In your forties, however, the ritual tends to get a heavy dose of steroids. You still brush your teeth (Let’s hope.), but now you feel the need to add some morning exercise (to avoid “Dunlop’s Disease” — when your belly done lops over your belt) and add some vitamin supplements (For general health, but again mainly for vanity—I know female vanity gets all the press, but dudes are vain, too, especially in this century as the gender norms are slowly merging.). These two new additions, exercise and vitamins, will stick with you for life.

The next phase of addition to the morning ritual is almost ALL about vanity. Mouthwash usually comes into play, as does some form of tooth whitening (since you long ago added morning coffee to your after-you-leave-the-house-for-work ritual, a different routine, to be covered in a different article). Unless you’re so paranoid as to not own a bathroom mirror, you’re probably going to notice a disturbing follicle trend. Your hair has begun to migrate from the places you want hair (head, armpits, legs, maybe a little chest) to places where hair has no business hanging out (ear, nose, back, & massive chest expansion that tends not to stop where you wish it would). Something having to do with retaining what hair you have left on your head or, preferably, adding some back into the skyward-facing mix, while at least keeping the newly-conquered territory from expanding too much. In your 20’s, you probably had some chest hair, an acceptable amount, but recently you’ve noticed that it’s not sticking within the boundaries of what you could realistically call “your chest.” You’ll still call it chest hair, because that sounds a lot better than the truth. You’re becoming a caveman, but you don’t want to admit that. Believe it or not, there was a time in the not-so-distant past that chest hair was considered a sign of male virility (because it actually is), and it will likely cycle back to that at some point, but for the moment, metrosexuality seems to be what America is pushing us to think is sexy, probably in order to sell more beauty products.

You may add in morning medication. You may expand the definition of “shaving” to include trimming nose hair or pruning ear hair. You may expand your exercise routine. You really should, you’re starting to look pretty soft, dude. You may add prayer to the mix. If so, consider praying for an end to nose hair. Sure, God probably has bigger things to worry about than your hairy ass, but it’s worth a shot, right?

By the time 60 rolls around, your once-five-minute ritual has expanded to the point that it now takes you 30 minutes to an hour…but, my friend, those are thirty minutes well-spent. Unless you want to look like a Sasquatch with Yeti-pattern baldness and smell like a toddler with adult sweat glands, do not abandon your ritual. It may be time-consuming, but it beats smelling like crap.