Craig Kent on the agony of being a ‘fit’ Jewish husband

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 15.06.24“EXFOLIATE… EXFOLIATE” may sound like the words of a Dalek with a speech impediment, but they are in fact the nagging sounds expressed by my wife as I head to the gym hoping to not just look relaxed and fitter, but also to resemble someone more akin to the man she settled for all those years (and beers) ago.

Look in the mirror – what do you see? Tall, dark, sophisticated, handsome – a real catch (or so your mother would tell you).

The reality (or what everyone else sees) is something closer to a short, receding, grey-haired bloke with not-so-designer stubble protruding from places hair was never meant to protrude. Oh, and very often, there’s a folding stomach containing the legacy of a good woman and the recipes passed down from one heartily-fed generation to the next.

Yes, behind every moderately overweight, balding Jewish man is the woman he chose to love, obey and be nagged by about the state of the hair on his head, earlobes and nostrils until he (me) can take no more and enters the lonely yet peaceful world of senility.

Until that day comes though, let’s take a moment to reflect on the role played by our beautifully-groomed wives with regards to how we present ourselves in public and at parties.

I asked the men out there (my friends) what they do to improve their appearance while their wives are out spending on weekly visits to the hairdresser, manicurist, threader, masseur, personal trainer etc. The response from most amounted to a monthly visit to the barber and a bottle of Just For Men as we believe mother nature, good Jewish woman that she is, looks kindly down on us as we swagger through the health club changing rooms, safe in the knowledge that we look as good as we want people to think we feel.

But there’s another kind of Jewish man. One who goes to the gym a lot. That guy – regardless of age -is deeply-tanned from driving around in his Audi A5 convertible or sitting outside cafes on the Broadway. He wears old Abercrombie for workouts (the ones he modelled in Eilat a few years back) and keeps his iPhone in his pocket. When he isn’t on that phone, he is moving at the speed of a tortoise on the treadmill, while holding on for dear life, hoping to attract the attention of the opposite sex, but more likely to attract a paramedic.

All Jewish men want to look like David Beckham but, let’s face it, most of us look more like Larry David, no matter how many hours we spend hauling (as well as looking like) dumbbells as we cycle ourselves half to death in a spin class surrounded by other men who are all after the same thing – eternal youth and a good view of the instructor’s behind.

It’s not just real life that matters these days either. We have a virtual profile to upkeep – showcasing pictures taken 20 years ago that we try to pass off as ‘current profile’ images to people who wouldn’t recognise us if they saw us in the street. The objective is to look cool – even it means sitting on ice-pops. If our women had their way, we’d be posting on Facebook for fitness instructor recommendations, mobile barbers or someone to come round and spray tan us bronze from head to foot, while someone else does our nails for the nephew’s bar mitzvah!

It’s true what they say – behind every relatively presentable Jewish middle-aged man is a woman – and the stronger that woman, the more likely the man is to own a comb and a nasal hair trimmer. If any of this rings true for you, ring me, we can talk about it – slowly on the treadmill.

“What you see is often not what you get in reality”