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A Little Off The Top

by Stephen Lautens


August 25, 2000

A little while back I saw another landmark decision for equal rights reported in the paper. After a complaint a Canadian judge ruled that it was sexual discrimination for a public swimming pool to require women to wear tops.

That's right - its discriminatory to not let women go topless. I must have missed that section of the Charter of Rights. The right to jiggle in public must be wedged in between free speech and freedom of religion.

It was probably put in the Charter by our elder statesmen after a few too many Jello shooters at Hooters.

What going topless has to do with equal rights, I have no idea. And as you can tell, I've thought about it - a lot.

Of course it's one of the cruel tricks of fate that for the most part, the people who insist on going topless are the ones you least want to see, whether it's an important statement about fundamental human rights or not.

So with that battle for civil liberties now behind us, I guess we can get back to those less important equality issues for women, like equal pay for work of equal value.

Personally, I think we have a far more serious problem - male toplessness.

Maybe it's because the Lautens physique is nothing to write home about. One of us with our shirt off looks more like a posterboy for Tim Hortons than anything else. The skin is pasty, the love handles will soon require a forklift, and the only way we're going to get rock hard abs is if we accidentally swallow cement.

It has been commented that I don't so much have a chest as I have a really tall stomach.

Maybe my problem is there wasn't a lot of bare-chested role models for me growing up. I had no proof that one of my grandfathers even had arms. I never saw him once out of a long-sleeved shirt, let alone in a bathing suit. In Florida he sat under an umbrella and wore a white dress shirt and tie. For all I know, his entire body consisted solely of a pair of hands and a head.

My personal shape and feelings aside, the fact is unless you're at the beach men look goofy without shirts. I don't care how hot it is, a guy wandering around town topless is either a Chippendales reject or looking to be arrested on the next episode of 'Cops'.

If I've learned one thing from watching Cops, it's that the guy running around without a shirt is definitely going to jail. Usually right after someone with a badge stands on his neck and asks why he was running if it really is his cousin's car.

Walking around shirtless in public is the same as advertising that you've been forced out of your trailer because the young 'uns have friends over to watch themselves on 'The Best of Jerry Springer'.

Then there are the tattoos. For some reason shirtless men and tattoos go together like politicians and taxes. And they both get under your skin.

And don't get me started on men with nipple rings. They remind me too much of human hand grenades. The urge to yank and take cover is almost irresistible.

So do us all a favour and cover up.

As a wise man once said - no shirt, no service.


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