I was working out at my boxing gym recently when my trainer stopped shouting at us and began swaying back and forth to a song that had just come on the radio. He was momentarily lost in the music, unaware of his surroundings and his students pounding away on the heavy bags. Such is the power of Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry." It's fair to guess that a 40-something former middleweight with a Philadelphia Flyers tattoo on his neck was not the demographic Fergie had in mind when she recorded that song. I'm truly not busting on the guy, in part because he has a left hook that could knock out a mule (or a writer for REDBOOK), but mostly because I, too, dig on many things that were created with women in mind. All guys do. I don't care how tough or macho your man is; he's secretly exfoliating with your loofah, or he's listening to your Lana Del Rey albums on the sly, or he's wearing your clothing (don't judge-I can explain). It's good and healthy for us dudes to get in touch with our feminine side, and thanks to you, we can. I will now shed the last vestiges of my masculine pride and give you some real-life examples of what I'm talking about.
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1. Your wardrobe--well, some of it
I love wearing women's T-shirts. Your T-shirts are the bomb. I learned this during a moment of necessity: I hadn't done laundry in a while and I got caught short when someone came to the door, so I threw on a University of Texas women's T-shirt belonging to my wife, Karel. It was a little snug, but, wow, it felt like I was being hugged all over by a fuzzy Labrador puppy. Men's T-shirts, by contrast, feel like wearing a layer of sandpaper. In order to get a guy's T-shirt to the standard level of softness and comfort that a woman's T-shirt starts with, you have to work out in it for three weeks straight, leave it outdoors through an entire rainy season, and wash it 65 times. Then you're rewarded with a month of happy wearing before it falls apart. And fine, I'm just gonna admit that I find the cut of a women's XL more flattering--not too baggy, but not too International Male catalog, either. I have learned not to buy T-shirts with cap sleeves, though. Cap sleeves look weird on me.
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2. The movies and shows meant to make you cry
From Steel Magnolias to Waiting to Exhale to The Notebook, we've all sat with a girlfriend or wife through a movie we quietly enjoyed, even if we felt strange about it later. Maybe your man silently identifies with Patrick Swayze's misunderstood outsider with an insatiable need to gyrate in Dirty Dancing, or he's really affected by Mandy Moore's role in A Walk to Remember. She saved that bad boy from himself-and she was really sick, you guys! Sometimes a chick flick comes along and kicks us right in the "feel zone" (or heart, as some people refer to it), allowing us to access emotions that are usually off-limits. During a viewing of, say, Terms of Endearment, it's cathartic to watch Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine articulate their relationship in ways that my mom and I never will. So what if I identify with Debra Winger? All I know is I'll never be her good-for-nothing husband, Flap, beautifully portrayed by Jeff Daniels.
3. Bath products that don't smell like an Irish spring
Dudes love to sample whatever you've got stashed away in your shower caddy. I might pull out a body wash and think, Yes! I've always wanted to smell like a rain forest! Rain forests apparently smell fruity. I won't actively purchase these products--I wouldn't even know where to find them--but when I was single, the greatest thing about spending the night at a woman's house (okay, the second greatest thing) was waking up the next morning and trying all the products she had in her bathroom. Now that I'm married, Karel buys multiples of whatever crazy product she's trying out, because she knows if she doesn't, I'll use it all. This month it's something called "shea butter." I think it's for hippies, but I don't care.
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4. Food not made of meat
In American culture, we like to try to assign different foods and drinks to men and women. Women eat salads and sushi! Men eat burgers and bacon! Women drink cocktails with fruit and umbrellas; men drink beer and bourbon. I like liquor and steak as much as the next guy, but on the advice of my doctor, I've learned to take pleasure in a finely crafted salad as well--especially when I grow the vegetables. It feels like I'm providing for my family. I imagine this is what it feels like to throw an animal on the table after a hunt, except it's an animal made of produce. Actually, a lot of guys like green stuff more than society gives us credit for, and if you add bacon and cheese, we like it even better.
5. Your very educational magazines
You can only read Off-Road Magazine so many times before you start looking around for new bathroom entertainment, and a guy could do worse than to pick up his wife's favorite women's mag. I've learned so much from REDBOOK it's not even funny. There's tons of information about money, health, effective ab workouts, and good dinner ideas. Also, hair-care advice, which I find strangely compelling; maybe it's a bald man's thing. You leave this copy on the back of the toilet and tell me if he doesn't look like he knows what you're talking about when you bring up hair oils later in the week. But if he attempts something unexpected with an ice cube in bed on Friday night, don't blame REDBOOK. He probably found your Cosmo.