Shirtless Backlash

Matt Ma-con-o-hey

How does one spell that name?

I love picking on this guy. Saw him on Letterman last night. Pretty classic interview. Dave basically spent fifteen minutes making fun of him for always being photographed running around without his shirt on. And what truly made it funny is that Matty-boy was pretty much humiliated by it.

And that got me thinking (after truly enjoying his discomfort of course)…The problem was, was that he didn’t know how to handle a basic unspoken principle that I have come to understand. And here it is:

There is a real backlash for getting half naked in exercise *IF* one is moderately to exceedingly fit.

And this is how it works…

You are visibly fit. *As stated, that was a requirement.

You whip off your shirt and head out for a run. One, two, three, four, five…. You are passing people, because you are naturally faster than their walking pace, and well, you’re fit. At the same time, cars are passing you, because despite your fitness, they are faster than you. Six, seven, eight, nine…

Now… I would estimate that every ninth or tenth person that you pass, or passes you… is thinking, “put on a shirt douche”.

It is true, because I have learned this personally.

I take off my shirt for nearly every form of outdoor activity. It’s liberating. I feel freed by it. And without trying to sound conceded, I have made my way somewhere into the qualifying parameters due to my affection for exercise. It’s a byproduct of my hobby. What are you going to do?

But I know the rules of the game when I take off my shirt. I know I will have to deal with the silent ridicule and contempt of a percentage that will judge. Not the body, but the questioning of motivation for disrobing.

“Ooh, do you think you’re cool?”

And I don’t. Well at least not because of that. I would much prefer, would actually love to see no one when running shirtless. But that’s rarely an option. So I have to be exposed and ready to deal with the backlash. And it’s not always silent.

I found this out while running on a desolate Mission Trails road in San Diego a few years back. I was in full commitment mode up a steep hill of sticky asphalt when some dude passed me in a white pick-up truck, and yelled, “Yo, put on a shirt!”

I wasn’t taken aback. I actually smiled a ‘fuck you”, because I was too focused on the task at hand to do more. But what also kept me from reacting internally or externally, was that I knew how it worked.

Because I judge the same way. But being the nice guy that I usually am, I add on more caveats.

For example, if a guy is shirtless and is wearing a shell necklace, or a cap turned backwards, or both, he’s a homo and should put on his shirt immediately.

If he is unencumbered by such adornments, then he is free from my judgment, UNLESS his form suggests that he is trying to look all pumped up.

Arms need to be swaying loosely and freely. Legs need to be partaking in enlongated rhythmic strides. If he’s all tensed up, constipated looking, and shuffling his feet along…even without the cap or piece of shit bitch necklace, then he will be judged. -And to help those of you who partake in this shit, you’re fooling nobody in thinking that the five pounds of muscle that you sculpted with creatine is restricting nearly all your freedom of movement. You don’t look built. You look retarded. Now, take a deep breath and run like a human being, or if you can’t then simply put your shirt back on.

This is all part of the shirtless backlash.

Which takes me back to Mchonahuh.

He got hit by it hard, because his celebrity status as ‘cool guy’ probably gave him the false sense that he was forever immune from losing that title. That he would be on the hip/pimp list no matter what he did.

But uh-uh. He was mistaken.

This is how Letterman went….

Dave: Yeah. Here’s another photo of you. Hee hee. This is you delivering your baby without your shirt on. (Dave shows a doctored up photo of Matt in the delivery room. The fifth or so photo in succession of him bare chested. At this point, Matt looks like he’s literally been knocked over the head. I’m not exaggerating. He was totally rattled.)

Matt: (Long pause) (Half -but fully tense -smile) (blank stare) (Come on Cindy you know the answer) Umm….heh…. Yeah…. (Disassociation) … Look at that. (He looks to the crowd, powerless and radiates massive insecurity. It’s the first time I’ve seen this look come out of him,)

Dave keeps laughing.

It was something to watch.

In this case, the small percentage of shirtless backlash had exploded into a tempest of a storm out of nowhere cause Matt didn’t know how to deflate it. He was caught off guard by its power, and in an instant, he went from ‘cool guy’ to the furthest thing from cool. And more to the point…he knew it.

Now all he had to do say…and I can feel this out because I am not blinded by celebrity. I still have my senses. But what he should have said to neutralize it was something like, “Yeah, I know. I look sort of ridiculous, but what are you gonna do? I hate clothes. Maybe my mom drank while she was pregnant.”

Problem solved. He would be back in the crowd’s good graces by placating the backlash. It would have instantaneously gone away. But instead, he threw gas on the small flame and it ignited.

Never underestimate the power of the shirtless backlash my friends. It is a real thing. It publicly and ruthlessly pierced Mchannakuh’s ego last night. And I can guarantee he is still very bothered by it today. Maybe he will take the lesson from the public ridicule. Time will tell.


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