Chatological Humor: Monthly with Moron

Feb 25, 2014

Gene Weingarten chatted Tuesday, February 25 at noon for his monthly chat with readers.

See the results of the pre-chat poll about a previously forbidden topic:

- Female 28 and younger
- Female 29-41
- Female 42 and older

- Male 28 and younger
- Male 29-41
- Male 42 and older

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

About this chat:
At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. Although this chat is sometimes updated between live shows, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

His most recent book, "The Fiddler In The Subway," is a collection of his full-length stories. He is working on a new book, called "One Day," about the events of December 28, 1986, a date chosen at random by drawing numbers from a hat.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

Well, obviously there is only one topic worth discussing today.   A reader suggests that actually doing this poll will be so anticlimactic (haha.  much more double entendre to ... come.  haha!)  that it will essentially mark the Sharkjumping moment for Chatological Humor, an inevitable decline now that we have achieved the one Impossible Dream.   Perhaps.   We shall see.   At the moment I feel only euphoria of a dream long deferred becoming real.  


Another reader suggests that the results of the poll will be predictable and disappointing.   This is not the case.   As I type this it is 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, there are 700 responses, and they articulate some interesting sociology.   I will analyze them shortly.   But first, a note on the magnitude and emotional depth of the moment.


Shortly after I was granted permission to do this poll, I emailed a person with whom most of you are familiar: The great Liz Kelly, this chat's first producer and the first person, among many, to say "NO!" to the idea of this poll.    I will now reproduce below our IM conversation from Friday.


ME:  I have a secret.  Shh.

LIZ:  What?

ME:  We are doing the pube poll on Monday.


Me: Marty approved.  I wanted you to be the first to know.

LIZ: Well, thank you.


LIZ:  Can I be the first to take the poll? 


I almost teared up.  So we arranged it:  Liz was the first to take the poll.   And, for those of you of a nostalgic mind, it should be noted that at 42, Liz, once the baby of Chatological Humor, was now in the oldest age group.

(After voting yesterday, Liz emailed me this: "I took the poll while sitting in the Palm Springs airport, surrounded by old leathery people in golf attire. I am fairly certain they all have massive bush.")

How times have changed.



Now, as far as the sociology of the results so far, we can reach several conclusions, all significant if some were predictable:


1. The abysmal trend toward clear-cutting is in decline.  I deduce this by weighing the actual results of the poll against an off-the-record interview I conducted several years ago with a urologist of my acquaintance.  I feel freed to report the results of this conversation because the man has died. 


This conversation occurred years ago, when I was first contemplating doing this poll and wanted to know what to expect.  The doc estimated that 75 percent of his female patients under 35 were clear-cut, and as many as a third of those between 35 and 45.  Clearly (ha) that is no longer the case.


Observation #2:  Men are disgusting, part one -- A female reader noted something telling in the early returns.   Only three percent of men over 41 are themselves clear-cut, but 20 percent of these older men prefer clear-cut women.   This was disturbing to the reader, and, when I thought about it, to me, too.  I blame this on porn.


Observation 3.  Men are disgusting, Part 2.    This made me laugh out loud.   About a half hour after posting the poll and linking to it on social media, I checked in to see how people were voting.  The first group I checked was the first group in the poll, women under 29.    What I saw bothered me:  Though there were only a handful of answers, there were DOZENS AND DOZENS of people who had clicked on this particular poll but chose not to answer it.   Initially I was afraid this meant young women were repelled by the question, but then I remembered that there was a choice for that.  So, no.   What that second figure meant is that after voting, dozens and dozens of men immediately went to the young women's poll to check out their pubes.   The REALLY disgusting part is that there was no corresponding interest shown in the older women!   Men, you are hereby exposed for the slime you are.  As always, I blame porn.  


Observation 4:  The odd attraction of younger middle-aged men to "landing strips."   I don't understand this, but as of this writing more than a quarter of the middle group of men expressed this preference.  Perhaps we will get an explanation from them.  


Observation 5, and the only extreme surprise to me: Very few women wear their hair the way they do primarily because that is the way that pleases their partner.  I thought that would have been the runaway top answer, and am kind of gobsmacked that it isn't.    It's not that I think women are, or should be, deferential to men's wishes -- it's that from a practical standpoint, when it gets down (ha) to this particular matter and this particular matter only... isn't that REALLY IMPORTANT?  (And as the poll shows, it's not that men don't really care.  They care a great deal.)


So.  Okay.   


Once again, the Washington Post editors asked for a change in Barney & Clyde.   Specifically, yesterday's, which appeared this way in all other newspapers but  ... this way in the Wapo, as re-written by us.    Dan and I have to say we like this solution (we've done it before), and have a sneaking suspicion the results are better than the original. 

The Post's objection to this one is a little harder to understand than usual, but apparently they feel it is unacceptable to have a generally sexist event occurring, even if it is at the expense and to the embarrassment of the sexist who does it.    As always, we do not object to a newspaper editing its comics. 


Two final links, both sort of on topic.   First, courtesy my friend Valerie Holt, a bunch of GIFS in which Reddit users summarize their first sexual experience. 

And here, the greatest sequence of pictures ever taken in a drugstore photo booth. 

Okay, that's it.  The chat begins at noon sharp, Eastern time. 

I never get to read the chat in real time since I am a teacher. The week of this epic chat, I am home with borderline pneumonia, so I am hoping that reading it in real time will make up for the indignity and effluvia I am otherwise suffering.

God smote you for this purpose.   He works in mysterious ways !

What is all this concern about public hair? Who cares if someone ones to let it grow like Einstein or totally shaved like Charles Barkley? How is one's public hair such a matter of discussion?

You are a person without a soul.   A damaged individual.    It is as though you have been inexpertly lobotomized.

I object to being in the middle category. I am 29. I feel more like 23. Do I really have to answer the same question as a 40 year old? *sigh*

Think how Liz Kelly felt !

Whoa.... Romenesko, the big journalism blog, is all over this Special Day and has linked to the chat.   Welcome, first-timers.  

With your views on same-sex marriage having clearly won the day at this point in time, in both the court of public opinion and (soon) at SCOTUS, I’m interested in how you feel the vanquished should be treated going forward. I suspect there are many who continue to feel that the traditional function and definition of marriage has served society well for centuries, to the point of justifying legal discrimination between heterosexual and homosexual unions. They feel that that this remains a legitimate viewpoint, even if it is no longer shared by the majority or sanctioned in law, and don’t believe that they should be personally condemned or ostracized for holding such views and expressing them. Do you buy into this, at least for those who otherwise show respect and kindness toward homosexuals in other aspects of life? Or do you consider them to just be haters of another flavor, deserving of contempt similar to, say, the “God Hates F--s” crowd at Westboro Baptist, who’s views and actions are generally agreed by all to lie beyond the pale?

No one is in the same category as the Wesboro slime.

Well, as a gracious winner in this battle, I'd like to say these folks should be welcomed back into the fraternity of humankind inasmuch as their bigotry no longer hurts others.   I'd like to say that, but can't really get behind it.    Furthermore, I am guessing that as time passes and it become completely clear that gay marriage threatens no person or institution, many of these people will re-write their personal histories. 

I strongly suspect that by 1935 or so, no one admitted to having been opposed to female suffrage.  

In honor of the dearly departed and this chat's (somewhat-misleading) title, do you have a favorite line or two from the Harold Ramis ouevre? Two that come immediately to my mind would include "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son" (Animal House) and "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice" (Caddyshack).

Hm.   I am a big fan of Groundhog Day, so am partial to these:

  Phil: I'm a god.

    Rita:  You're God?

    Phil:  I'm a god. I'm not *the* God... I don't think.



Ned: Phil?

Phil: Ned?

[Punches Ned in the face]

You swore Liz, and by extension others, would ALWAYS be in the "below" catagory. Cad.

She left the paper !   All bets were off.

Incidentally, Liz is doing great.  Assistant managing editor at the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, CA.

The revision is certainly as good as the original. I don't like the Post's editing you that way, but it does result in some terrific humor.

There's no reason the comics should not be edited.  I have a disagreement with their level of primness, but that's a professional discussion, and they win the fight. 

The spokesman for Heritage Action, the very loud advocacy arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is Dan Holler.

Dan Holler should marry Jessica Yellin.

I generally agree with you that it's best not to choose baby names that you can remember them becoming obnoxiously trendy -- Madison, Nevaeh, etc. But I would have had no qualms about naming a baby Samantha, which is why this article surprised me:

Well, just as Madison was created by a surreal character in a  movie ("Splash" -- a mermaid ) a generation earlier Samantha was created by a surreal character in a TV show ("I Dreame of Jeannie" -- a genie).   In both cases the woman was spectacularly hot, especially to adolescent males.  The main difference, to me, is that "Sam" is a cute nickname for a girl. It seems timeless.   Madison is just ... Madison.

Wait, let me review approval of this discussion...

You have the right guy at the top, Jeff.

Gene - You tweeted that you were a hero because you glued your dog's broken bowl back together and that this was very big deal to the dog. What other hidden secrets does a new dog owner need to know? Is there a book to read/website?

Feed the dog regularly.    Love the dog always.  That's it.

As an ED doc (female, FWIW), I see a lot of examples of personal grooming. There is a reason that your mother always warned you to wear clean underwear. And I can confirm that the poll results regarding personal grooming choices are mostly accurate. Though for women under the age of about 25, the choice is well more than 90% for complete deforestation (as observed in several states, both red and blue). To the point where the presence of any hair is unusual. Leading to my having to treat some not so pleasant side effects (infection, cuts, lots of ingrown hairs, did I mention infection?, etc). Young ladies, take my advice: trimming the verge is fine, but the scorched earth approach will cause you a host of less than desirable "personal" issues.

Interesting.   So you think the young female readers of Chat Humor have a higher than average tendency to leave fur alone?  I wonder what that means.   I choose to interpret it as a higher  than average level of humor and intelligence. 

Re: gentlemen preferring their lady's bits to be clean-ish while their own go untended, I've always sort of felt there's a double standard there, maybe because of porn, maybe not. It's never really bothered me, but I have noticed that - knowing that guys aren't the best creatures at picking up on clues - the more I politely decline to stick my face into a fuzzy forest (usually saying that oh, I've already flossed today), the more quick a gentleman is to trim the hedges a bit. Another thing re: the female results, I've been paving a landing strip since I was 19, when my first partner gently suggested that it might make things more manageable not only for him but also for me. At first I was struck- how pompous of him! - but I realized he was right: not only does it look neater, but it feels neater, and it's pretty easy to maintain. I did think some years ago about letting some of it grow back, but after two weeks I couldn't take the itching of the hairs as they were growing back in mercilessly slowly. So, I went back to my regular weekly paving. Wow. Thank God this is an anonymous forum...

That is the magic of this forum!  Anonymity is the soul of wit.  However, from certain clues in your writing, I realize you are Clytemnestra DeNunkyhaven of Alexandria, VA.  Good to see you back in the chat, CDN !

I'm an under 28 female, and answering honestly about the "usual" state of my grooming didn't seem to completely give the picture, so for science!, I will elaborate. My hair is usually ungroomed, because I am lazy, and keeping things pretty is a lot of work. Of course just like legs and skirts, I usually tidy before wearing swim suits. However, every now and again, I will go clear cut (well clear waxed) because my partner enjoys it, and will keep that up for a little while because if you're going to do all that you might as well get a bit more longevity out of it.

Thank you for sharing, but surely, when forced to, you could decide what was "usual"?

Your poll was missing one important rationale for women's grooming: the actual wearing of swimsuits, which often have high-cut legs that require the removal of some hair.

Am no expert on this, but no swimsuit would require clearcut, right?  

So here's a question I'm only comfortable asking in the comfort of sweet, sweet anonymity. I am a guy, and I understand, conceptually, what the fly on my boxers is for. But I don't know that I ever use it when I'm going to the bathroom. I unbutton and unzip my pants, then just tuck the waistband of my underwear under my bait and tackle, and pee away. But having never compared technique with anyone, I often wonder if I'm doing this "wrong" and that the rest of the male world is fishing their junk out through their fly (it just occurred to me that "fly fishing" is an excellent euphemism for pleasuring oneself). I would think that on briefs the fly is even more useless in this regard, as there is much more fabric overlap and therefore a more circuitous route to freedom. Is there any purpose at all, really for a fly on one's undergarments?

We had a poll on this a couple of years ago.   As I recall very few men used the fly.   I do it the way you do.  Some men shoot out one leg! 

Isn't this chat great?


I would be interested in your take on the following story that appeared in our local paper: A Knox County schoolteacher has been charged with public intoxication after being found allegedly passed out drunk along a Blount County road Thursday. The women's lingerie he was wearing wasn't discovered until later, though. John ......., 53, of Knoxville was spotted shortly after 1 p.m. under an awning at the entrance of the Laurel Valley community near Townsend by Blount County Sheriff's Office deputies as they responded to a ice-related traffic crash near the golf resort, according to BCSO spokeswoman Marian O'Briant. 'The officer observed a strong odor of alcohol coming from him,' she said. '(.......) had slurred speech and did not know where he was. He said he couldn't remember how he made it out to Laurel Valley Road.' ....... is a technology lab teacher at .... Middle School, according to the school's website. 'We are currently awaiting information from law enforcement and will take action accordingly,' schools spokeswoman Melissa Ogden said Thursday night. Thursday was a snow day for Knox County Schools students and teachers. ......'s Mercedes was found parked about 50 yards away. His car keys were found on him, as well as a 2-liter bottle of vodka, O'Briant said. She added that, according to a property inventory report filed during his booking, ..... was wearing pink panties and a tan bra padded with falsies under his clothes. He was being held at the Blount County Detention Facility in lieu of $355 bond Thursday night. More details as they develop online and in Friday's News Sentinel. A number of letters to the editor are criticizing the reporter for including the details about the underwear, and saying there was no need to further humiliate the teacher (I've deleted the teacher's name from this post). What do you think?

Wow, this is a tough one.   Not about reporting the drunk thing: This is a middle school teacher; people have the right to know this guy had this dramatic sort of drinking problem.

Reporting his clothing is the sort of detail that could provoke a suicide.   I don't think it's something the reader NEEDS to know. 

So the question becomes one that reporters and editors face more often than you'd think:  Where is this fact on the continuum of interesting / harmful?    Something that is incredibly interesting, as this is ina lurid way, gets some consideration.   But I think the potential for gratuitous harm here probably is too great.

You know, cops sometimes don't tell the families the full truth when a man dies alone in a hotel room.   "Heart attack" is enough; the widow doesn't need to hear "heart attack with porn on his computer and a fish in his mouth," or whatever.


I'm female, and I dithered on the poll answers, but ultimately I said that Prudie's advice was about right. Here's why: it's not that the prospective father-in-law deserves to be outed or shamed for his particular sexual quirk. It's that the daughter-in-law will forever feel like her FIL is a creep, and won't be able to get past it. She probably needs to tell her husband why she doesn't have a warm relationship with the guy. I might be able to get past it if I just found a stash of undies in the FIL's bedside table or something, but if it were MY underwear from my laundry basket? No. It's a bridge too far.

You all remember what this was about, right?  The question to Dear Prudence about the awkward situation of a future father in law being a, un, underpants sniffer.  I remain fascinated by the fairly significant gender disparity in answers to this question.  I attribute it to this:  Men know better than women what men are capable of when they think no one is looking, and no one will be harmed because No One Will Know.  It's why men, and not women, tend to be peeping Toms and consumers of the crappiest kind of porn.

This is a terrible thing to say about the male of the species, but I think it is true.    Men analyzing this issue are not in the corner of father in law who did this creepy thing, really, but they are less inclined to conclude that it defines him as incorrigibly pervy, at least to the degree that it is worth strangling the family with shame.  To some degree, he is just being a guy Only More So, in a bad way. 

Having said that, I agree with those who argue (my daughter was one) that the main reason the woman should talk about this is that it is not fair that she should have to keep the burden of this alone.  Because of that creep. 

Many people of both genders sent me private thoughts on this, and they were interesting.   Two men confessed they could imagine doing this IF THERE WAS NO WAY OF GETTING CAUGHT (though not with their daughter in law, harrumph harrumph), and their basic reaction is that the guy was an irresponsible idiot for having taken that chance.  These men were in the minority.  Most were thoroughly outcreeped.   Two women told me that they would mostly have laughed if they caught there FILs doing this.   They also were in the VERY SMALL minority.

I basically just find the whole situation very interesting for it's permeating awkwardness.

Gene, I'm throwing down the gauntlet. Whether you realize it or not, you stole a bit from me and used it in your last BtB column. I once sent the Czar an Invitational suggestion, using "giggle of blondes" as one of my examples for the theme. He obviously shared that with you, where it's been hiding in that fire-hazard that you call a brain, for 15 years or more. You can expect my second to call on you, since the Czar will studiously avoid any attempt to deliver my challenge to him. Be prepared to defend your honor, sir.

I know you are joking, but this actually bothers me.  I live in fear of accidental theft, which is one reason I don't read humor writing people send me.  

Did the Invitational actually publish it?

Am a "younger middle-aged man". Have daughters. Have changed their diapers. Therefore, am repelled by clear-cut.

Well... yeah.

I have spent the better part of the last 20 years being repelled by this trend.   I am glad it seems to be receding.

The genie in "I Dream of Jeannie" was named, of course, Jeannie. Interesting side point -- not only did Samantha as a baby name take off like wildfire in Great Britain when the show was first broadcast there, so did Darrin, which was waaaaay down the list in the UK up to that point.


Wow, significant brain fart.

Yes, Samantha: Elizabeth Montgomery.

I hope you told Liz that we all love and miss her. And thank you very very much for making sure she's represented in this historic chat.

If Liz had been dead, we would have not done this chat.   Because as far as I am concerned, she would have had The Last Word in perpetuity.   That is the degree of honor Liz attained in this chat. 

Me, I always use the fly of the underpants. I was a bit disturbed once when I bought a package of boxer briefs before noticing that they listed having no fly as if it were an advantage. I guess some guys find it more comfortable, but to me that's just wrong.

it seems to unnecessarily add a step.

Wow. I thought I was the only guy... Never mind. I trim, and prefer the ladies trimmed.


Some swimsuits are so thin that (A) telltale secondary sex characteristics cause a visible bulge (B) hairs work their way to the surface. Me, I rejoice in being middle-aged and therefore unable to give a single damn.

Good for us !

I enjoyed your Sunday column about the cheerleaders in the Dallas hotel elevator. (I should probably rewrite that sentence. It sounds like the hook for a soft-core porn flick.) You put some great lines in there, like "85 pounds, including barrettes and scrunchies" and "intense full-body conversation, which required hand semaphors, swaying and bouncing." You put the reader in the elevator with you, although the watermelon perfume would probably have made me gag. Nicely done! It must have been a nice break from visiting Dealey Plaza. I was sad to hear of Harold Ramis's death, although the autoimmune disease he had sounds like an awful disease to have. I will have to watch "Animal House" again this weekend.

You put an awful lot of topics in this one post. 

This is the elevator column.  I loved these girls -- TOTES IN THE RIGHT WAY THOUGH.    Three weeks ago on Twitter I said that if  in three weeks they didn't see a column based on three minutes in an elevator, it would prove I am a talentless hack.   I was trying to goad myself, through fear of shame, into making this column work.

Thank you to Marty for finally allowing this poll! I am a 45 y.o. woman who got divorced last year. Last time I was in the dating world was before all this was even an issue. Now my single friends are telling me that men expect women to be clear cut, which makes me very uncomfortable, since I think it makes a woman look like a child. These polls show that's not true, at least for the men over 42. Only 15% of them expect that. I'm so relieved. You've done a public service.

Thank you!   When they try to fire me, I will cite this very post.  This is Public Service at its finest.   Hey, um, there IS a Pulitzer category for Public Service.  

In November, you said: "I refuse to defend or even acknowledge “intersectionality,” a word invented by academics in in 1989 that, according to Wiki, involves “modalities” and "the study of the interactions of multiple systems of oppression or discrimination." I hereby place "intersectionality" in the same vessel as "functionality" and "hermeneutics," and ceremonially bury both in vomit." This has been gnawing at me ever since. Are you rejecting the word, the concept or both, and if it is just the word, how else would you express the concept? I had a particularly strong reaction because as a lawyer practicing discrimination law, and as a person who has faced discrimination, I think the word and concept are very valuable tools in describing types of discrimination that exist but that aren't always well recognized or studied by mainstream academia. For example, someone may claim that they aren't sexist or racist because they hold no prejudices against white women, or against black men, but they nonetheless may hold views of black women as "welfare queens," or loud and ghetto and therefore less deserving. This was, and to some extent still remains, a major problem in discrimination lawsuits because courts would rule, for example, that since a company wasn't discriminating against white women or black men, they weren't sexist or racist and black women could not have a claim, no matter whether they were, in actuality, treated differently. The "academic" concept was developed in part to combat those sorts of court decisions and was essential in forcing racial theory to focus on the plights of females of color when so many academics and leaders focused disproportionally on discrimination against men of color, sometimes at the direct expense of women of color. So I'm curious - what's your beef?

A word is of no value if no one knows what it means; particularly if it SOUNDS like BS.   I suppose in a purely academic or legal context, if everyone knows what you mean, I wouldn't object to, or ridicule, its use.  But I deal in the arena of general public (and pubic!) discourse, and my job is often to make difficult things sound simpler, not the other way around. 

You hit a word like that, unexplained, and just laugh.   You are discussing a story in which I was examining the notion of "cisgender."

But I do like hearing women grunt.

Admit it.  You just like the word "grunt." 

I'm the person who asked last chat if it was finally time to have the pubic hair poll now that the NYT had an article on trends in sculpting it. Even if all my question did was to remind you to ask about this poll, I am considering it one of my greatest achievements ever that I played a role, no matter how tiny, in getting this poll into existence. Thank you. And as a 29 yo woman (did you seriously have to group me with the middle group? Sigh), I love seeing the results. So, next poll - men's sculpting habits, yes?

Men's sculpting habits are in the poll !

And yes, it was you who did it.  I asked Marty Baron because you suggested it.   You are a cultural hero. 

40+ man here. As someone who spent a (cold, desolate) embarrassingly long time not having sex (aka my 30s - OK also most of my 20s), it amuses me to think there are actually preferences for this sort of thing in a mate. Not saying I don't sympathize if a partner has hygiene issues, but in the (as noted) limited number of partners I've had it was furthest from my mind because I was gobsmacked with gratitude. Even now that I have a regular partner, I don't think twice what she's doing, though she has told me she does light maintenance.

I see where you are coming from (hahaha) but am skeptical.   You would have no problem if your mate suddenly went bare as a baby's butt?  You would not, on some level, think: Pedophilia?   

(I am not suggesting that men who prefer this are pedophiles, or wannabe pedophiles.  I AM suggesting that men who grew up lusting after ladies with hair would have a very strong preference for that, bordering on disgust for the other.  I think the poll supports that.  I considered asking that quesiton specifically but didn't want to press my luck.)

It would have been better to stay forbidden. I don't state this to be prudish. The discussion about the discussion will be more fulfilling than the actual discussion, our imaginations more salacious than reality. Once spoken, we'll lose this joy forever. Just ... think about it.

I hear you. 

However, there are some barriers that need to come down.  This is the Jackie Robinson, the Michael Sam, of chats. 

I have found in the last several years that with my age (61) I have lost a great deal of my pubic hair so sculpting is not really needed. Good for me because I wouldn't want to do much of it anyway. However, I do occasionally shave, lets say around the edges, but the next couple of days it does nothing but itch as it is growing back in. I hate it.

As a man one year older than you, I would like to observe that the best evidence that there is a God who loves us -- maybe the ONLY evidence --  is that pubic hair doesn't tend to get white.

Yes, and a great one.   I hope she becomes chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

I don't see the button to view the results without answering in my browser. I've answered for my group, I'm just curious what the others say. Will you make sure to post the official results in the chat?

I shall ask the estimable Jessica Stahl, the chat producer who is a worthy successor to Liz, to look into this.

Once the chat ends, the polls will close and you'll be able to see all the results on this page. Incentive to stay until the end!

Apparently, I do not have a soul either. Nor does my husband - neither of us care enough about pubic hair to do anything about it.

That means you care.   You care to the extent that you have a preference for less work.   I can get all epistemological here, too. 

Unbuckling belt and unsnapping/buttoning pants are extra steps. Then, you have to retuck your shirt, button/snap pants, and buckle belt. Additional steps.

Why would anyone unbuckle the belt?  It all happens through the pantsfly.

I had a long discussion about this with my wife, who was HORRIFIED that when I wear shorts I simply go through the leg. She made me ask my guy friends about this, and it seems about 50/50. I would love to say that "size matters" with this method, so maybe that is it?

Through the leg seems barbaric to me.  I can't really explain why.

Gene, Im 1 31yo in the middle group. I have scorched the earth for so long that pretty much nothing grows back. So now I feel i have to continue bc otherwise there are only a few sad pieces.

Wow.  That seems so . . . sad.

Gene! The poll finally happens and the age groups are botched! I'm a male, turning 35 this year. There is a HUGE cut off (pun somewhat intended) right around women born pre-1980 and post-1980. For a while, I dated women my age and older - trimmed was the norm. Then, for a while, I dated younger - clear! It held true the vast majority of the time. Your 29 - 41 group is too spread over the key transitional time!

And yet, and yet ...  the numbers of clearcut are almost negligible and insignificant, except in the very youngest group. 

I'm a little skeeved by the number of men who prefer "naked." Seems like they like little girls and that's creepy.

I feel the same but I fear that will upset several of the intelligent and sophisticated young women who do not consider themselfs little girls but who maintain themselfs in this condition.    To these ladies I ask: How well do you REALLY know your guy?

I am kidding about this, sorta, even if I don't get it.  I blame porn.   Are there any clearcut-loving guys out there who wish to defend themselves?

So a guy who is a ginormous tool tries to rehabilitate his image through a series of interviews and a miked wife. He mentions his dead brother and the person interviewing him follows up, trying to get him to say something coherent. It fails. The tremendously sensitive American public is outraged. Your take?

The NBC reporter did nothing wrong.  The teapot tempest was absurd.  The NYT criticism was ridiculous.  The social media criticism was ridiculous.  Also, it was a pretty powerful screen moment.

I think there's a reason it is such a great aptonym.  I don't believe one word of this story.  Included the researcher named Al-Salami.

Yes, great little falling out there. 

The column now has both their names.

Oooh, that reminds me.  On the day this all came out, this column (written by Bozell himself, I am reliably informed) was published.  I found it stunningly un-self-aware.   See if you agree.

This column, about a tragedy, reminded me about the joke about the religious man in a flood on the roof of his house, who sent away a man in a rowboat and a man in a helicopter, saying he trusted God to save him.   Then he drowned.   When he got to Heaven, he asked God why he had abandoned him.   And God said, "What are you talking about, you idiot?  I sent you a rowboat and a helicopter!"

Gene of course there is a gender divide on the poll from the 2/11 update! Women are putting themselves in the place of the woman and can't imagine knowing the FIL is a sniffer by themselves and not sharing the ickiness of it with their spouse. And the men are putting themselves in the man's place and thinking, dude, I really don't want to know my dad did that. Please don't make me know that. And they can probably also relate to how embarrassed the FIL would be to be confronted. Definitely changes your preferred outcome depending on which of the people you are.

Absolutely.   It's not so much that men could condone this behavior -- I could not -- but it's more that understanding  mens' minds,  they can imagine that their dads  or anyone else MIGHT do this, and never do anything else remotely like it.  

All of the attachments/links were considered unsafe for work. Bummer, have to read your chat at home.

Wow !  Your work email system censors by WORD content?  Where do you work, the North Korean embassy?

My wife and I are completely untended. A couple years ago, she asked me if I would prefer her to do a little gardening. I said that I didn't care as long as she didn't go too far. She decided not to. Everyone is happy. On a related note, she's convinced that the clear-cutting predilection in porn is a sign that most guys prefer prepubescent girls. I don't think that's true, but I can't come up with a better reason. On the other hand, there is one big reason why guys in porn clear cut: A tree looks bigger when it isn't surrounded by bushes.

Right, as I said elsewhere, "one visual inch" is supposedly added.

Female, 32 y.o. here. Never been waxed, and I mostly am completely untended and sometimes trim. I have never noticed a guy care, and never had one not go down there (if you know what I mean). I'm looking at the poll results and I cannot belieeeeeve the women just a bit younger than I am completely get rid of theirs!!!! I never did that when I was younger and can't imagine. How could it possibly feel good? What about while it's growing back?!?! Doesn't it itch? Do you wonder if these women will carry the habit through their 30s and into their 40s? See, this poll proves why I do not want to be lumped into the same generation as these women. I just can't relate. We are from a different time.

The closest I can come to an answer is entirely anecdotal and thus statistically insignificant.   A reader I know wrote in to explain her clear-cutting:  Essentially, she said, it was about sex.   Sex feels better, she said.  More sensation.

That was years ago.  The woman wrote back yesterday to applaud the poll and noted that she's no longer clear cut, for several reasons.  One, the cost of a Brazilian.   Two, the annoyance and pain of ingrown hairs.  Three, the thunderous, stunning realization that she is now married to a hairy guy, so WTF?    She did not revisit her sexual reason, and I do NOT suggest that it means that years of marriage tamps down passion.

Interestingly, the UNedited version is available on the WashPost site.

This is a very complex issue. 

I'm a Miami girl who went to high school in the early 90s. Since my friends and I were devoted sunbathers, we all made heavy use of our local salon's waxing services, as did most other girls we knew. It was considered a pretty normal beauty ritual, not much different that getting regular pedicures. Then I headed up to college in a tiny New England town and found out that maintaining my bare look was going to be much harder than I had thought. I called the five salons in town that advertised waxing services (this was pre-internet, when a landline and phone book were the only way to get this kind of information). Not only did none of them do bikini waxes, one woman told me that they didn't cater to "those kind of women." As a pretty dull person, I admit to getting a little thrill at the idea of being one of those kind of women. Now, of course, I'm sure that all those salons do brazilian waxes on a daily basis. But back then, I had to wait for a visit home to get things back into neat order.

I hope you have given up your sunbathing ways.  Not good.

Just yesterday, i was thinking how much i missed reading this chat and Liz. And boom, today, Liz and the most infamous chat topic finally discussed. Huzzah

I predict Liz is feeling your love.

As a man, I was with a true blond who had such fine and limited pubic hair, that it did not seem to be present at all. So even if women dye both, it is still different from a true blond

I feel you are dissing blondes. 

A blond can be a true blonde without being towheaded fore and aft.  

I'm not guilty of checking out just the young ladies pubes. After completing the survey myself, I looked at ALL the other polls.

You are a fine, upstanding man. 

Today's poll is the ultimate operational definition of Bush League.

Indeed, it is also a classic Pubic Opinion Poll.

I refuse to care about celebrity train wrecks, including the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow one, but I'm commenting on it because I think you are flat wrong to suggest to the gallery that this is different from the McMartin case because the victim was 7 rather than 3 or 4. (I don't say "alleged" because I think she's been victimized either way, regardless of which of the then-adults is telling the truth.) ADULTS can be manipulated into false memories of which they become fully convinced -- this happens quite often in criminal prosecutions. A vulnerable 7 year old absolutely could have been manipulated in the way Mr. Allen alleges. Please don't let your readers believe otherwise. That's not to say his allegations are correct, I have no idea, although the weight of the evidence not produced directly by Ms. Farrow would seem to suggest that. But the important point is that memory is highly unreliable.

I don't believe I said that; I was merely saying that it's easier to imagine manipulation with a 4 year old than with a 7 year old.  As you say, adults can be manipulated.  They can be manipulated to falsely admitting to murder.

This will probably go beyond the limits for even THIS chat subject but I prefer clearcut not so much for looks (I can't imagine any dude getting that far with a beautiful woman then turning her down because of hair, or lack thereof) but because when you perform a certain act down there it's easier if she's cropped or hairless. Maybe not easier, but more pleasant.

I can't imagine it getting published either, but if it were I would ask you why it would be any worse or easier and experience sans hair.  You find women's head-hair difficult or unpleasant to deal with or run your face through?

Yes, it does get white. I have many, and they are obvious as I am a brunette. My husband also has several. I am not yet 50.

Hm.  I wonder if this is common?

Just finished reading "Gulp" by Mary Roach. All about our digestive system, starting with the nose/mouth and working it's way down. Lots of great aptonyms like the woman studying ways to get people to eat testicles works at Ball State and the guy at the detergent institute named Grime. Many great moments. It is amazing to learn scientists are studying farts.

Sir or madam, I will have you know that I, and not Ms. Roach, was the pioneer in revealing scientists who study farts.  In my 1998 book on Hypochondria, he was half a chapter.   My favorite part was that his wife had sewn a pair of special Mylar underpants to completely trap the emissions for further research.   I called her the Betsy Ross of farts. 

what do you think about Richmond, VA's move to build a baseball stadium over historic slave marketplace?

Didn't know about it.  I would like to hear the opinions of the black community first, but I would think it could be used to great advantage:  Name the team the Greys, for example, in honor of the Negro league Homestead Greys, who played sometimes in D.C.   

I see what you're saying. If she was suddenly bare, I'd definitely be surprised, but since I know she's an adult, I don't think I'd feel pedophilish. This might have something to do with the fact that I've been exposed (ha) to the look through the occasional porn viewing, and we're familiar. And, again, someone wants to have sex with me! Do whatever you want!


Pubic hair is nature's graphite, a dry lubricant. Ladies who shave tend to develop a five o'clock shadow later in the day.

"Nature's graphite" would be a good name for a rock band.

I dated a guy who was really eager for me to shave. Not gonna happen! Too bad, so sad, I didn't care how eager he was, I've gotten ingrown hairs from shaving my bikini line and I wasn't going to get that (or nicks and scrapes) on my tender parts. As for waxing, we are not even going to discuss that. If HE wants to pull out all the hair by the roots from HIS tender parts, he can go right ahead. Me? Ain't happening. Was he disappointed? Yeah. Did he get over it? Oh, yeah!

Good for everybody involved. 

You know what would have ended this even quicker?  A disturbed look and a hint of a question about pedophilia.

It seems to me that guys retain an affection for the standards of beauty that were common when they came of age. I was a teenager when Pat Benatar and Joan Jett were big, and I have to admit that even thinking about them still gives me rise. At some point in the past 20 years, clear-cutting became popular, and so there will be a generation of guys who will take a clear-cut preference to their graves. Sad souls. One can hope we are now returning to more ecologically-sustainable ways.

I could not have said this better.  And yes, I blame porn.  I think we are due for a poll about the effect of porn on a generation.  Next poll !

No, the important point is that officials found the allegations against Allen to be credible enough that they were willing to prosecute, but it was decided that it would be too traumatic for the seven-year-old. This fact is not getting enough press.

Nor is another deeply disturbing fact:  Woody and the girl were not seen for 20 minutes.  The babysitters discussed this BEFORE any allegations were made.

Okay, a few of you are being clever and finding the poll results pages on your own. So as a reward for your efforts, here they are:

- Female 28 and younger
- Female 29-41
- Female 42 and older

- Male 28 and younger
- Male 29-41
- Male 42 and older

(Also, if you're really clever you will see the pattern and now know how to find results for all future polls.)

Why didn't you ask us our preference in partner grooming? You asked the men!

I had to do it all in four questions, max, for technical reasons.  Required some imperfect choices.  You got a preference you'd like to discuss?

I don't find running my hands through head-hair unpleasant. On the other hand, I tend not to lick a woman's head-hair.

Don't knock it till you try it!

As a 35 year old trimmer, I'm very happy with trend pieces saying the scorched earth look is going out of fashion. Not that I need the power muff to become the norm, because I really do trim for my own comfort. However, it gives me a great deal of glee that I did not join in on the laser hair forever removal train of a few years back. I'm hoping the next trend reversal is that tattoos are no longer cool!

Tats are going to take some more years to run that course.   They also bother me less.   I find em, in general, unwise but not creepy.


Can that whole story possibly be true? 

... and may I further note that, while I get the hair on my head dyed because it gets white, grey, and silver, the pubic hairs are either brunette or WHITE. Not grey or silver, but WHITE.

I love this chat.


I have counted two cases so far today of "it's" being used to mean "belonging to it", and one of them was you. Constant vigilance!

You know, in general I give allowances for chat.  Both for me and for posters.   This is a highly hectic event... especially for me.

Ya know, pubic hair is chock full of pheromones, so if you insist on having the intense visual portion of the experience (but really, they call it bumping uglies for a reason), keep in mind that you're missing out on the olfactory fun.


As a lesbian (just barely) of the middle group with a wife (just barely) in the oldest group, I feel the need to comment that there's never really been an issue with hair "getting in the way." One tiny move of the hand before engaging and it's taken care of. Maybe the men who are complaining are doing something wrong?

Thank you, expert.

I feel the same way.  (haha)

"It all happens through the pants fly." So you go through the pants fly but over the undies? That makes no sense. Unbuckle, unzip, pull down seems way easier to me. Best chat ever.

Agreed.  On chat.

It is a very simple move.   Unbuckling is weird -- you half undress at the urinal? 

I'm not sure I've ever seen pants down at a urinal, all the way down.

Anonymity problem: too many questions from one person, though at least the consolation (as well as, perhaps, the reason) is that the choice of questions is purely merit-based. You've now answered four by me in the first 69 (heh heh) questions of this chat.

That doesn't trouble me at all.  It's a meritocracy.  Back when I was assisting the Czar of the Invitational, we gave zero points for diversity.  If half the best answers were from one person, that was fine.   The Empress, I think, is a LITTLE more diverse-aware, but only a little.  It's always about quality.  

... for pubic service? How do I get started?

It's the biggie.   This chat should win, clearly.   The nomination should be "Post readers and staff," with special mention to Martin Baron. 

I don't do it, but I've seen it. The gentleman stands with his feet more than shoulder width apart, so that the thighs keep the pants from falling. More common with jeans-wearers than suit-wearers.

Cray cray.

Gene -- as a long-time DC resident, I got many of my life lessons from you. But I left after the paywall was instituted. WP finally lured me back by charging $4 a month for a digital subscription. I'm a hard-copy paper supplier to NYTimes (and so get the digital side "free"). I then pay additionally for access to The Wall Street Journal. The WP was in third "I-can't-pay-for-yet-another-subscription" place. Turns out $4/month is my sweet spot. Interesting business model.


"You got a preference you'd like to discuss?" Only a preference for gender equality. Both sides should be subject to scrutiny in this department. I don't think the tables are turned near enough on you gentlemen

Agreed.  But getting back to an earlier issue, if my partner had a clear preference for a certain look, and expressed it, I'm pretty sure that's what I go with. 

Thank you, Gene. Today is my birthday and this was the greatest gift ever!

Yay!!  Happy birthday. 

I am happy, too.  Irrationally exuberant over this.  And it went well. 

I (33 year old Female) opt for a neatly maintained triangle. I take that as the compromise position, where my husband would prefer the "nothing" approach. I chose the option for this being my personal preference since I do appreciate the feel and cleanliness, but I was also happy un-groomed back in the day. The nothing approach has many negatives (odd look, itchy, annoying to do, etc) but I'll do it occasionally for him and then revert to the happy triangle. Yes, men are gross and porn is a major blame.

I really do think this is about porn.  It might even go deeper than that and be about the VERY FIRST SIGHTING of porn, and what it happened to be.    A 15 year old boy is a time bomb.  And hugely impressionable.

I have said this before, but:  My first kiss, an explosive experience for me, was at 15, with a 14 year old very petite girl.  I think it set my preference in morphology for life.   (She is now a big-deal fertility doc in New York City.)

Please have your God call my God and tell him that the white pubic hair joke is NOT funny.

Haha!  I will.

Okay, we'll go out on this one.   This was so great.  And it birthed some more ideas.

See you all in the updates, where I will be answering some spillover (ha).  

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.

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