Hairy armpits, South American literature, and the Eating and Forking bookclub

‘The scrapbook dedicated to the Chilean stud presided over the festivities. It was placed on a cedar console next to a vase of lilies, open to a page with a picture of Vicentini at the instant the referee raised his arm in victory. Wen swears that this image makes him hyperventilate every time he sees it, for few things in this world are as enticing to him as the armpit hairs of his favorite boxer.’

This is one of the opening passages in ‘The Last Masquerade’ by Antonio Orlando Rodriguez. I would have sex with the author based solely on his name but I digress. ‘The Last Masquarade’ is a page turning romp chronicling the lives of two South American aristocrats in the Roaring Twenties. Mr. Rodriguez combines memorable splashes of magical realism, a genre of fiction perfected by South American writers, in which magical elements blend seamlessly with the real world. This book and its assorted cast of eccentrics, boxers, actresses and horny homos and their adventures in a long ago world marks the first book in the official Eating & Forking book club.  We will explore passages from it from time to time. Like the character Wen, armpit hair thrills me beyond words. When watching a basketball game on television, I practically swoon at the assortment of hair visible in high-definition. I wait for a missed shot when the ball bounces off the rim, the players converge in the paint, arms going up all around the basket in a valiant attempt to snatch the rebound – that section of the court becomes a riot of armpit hair of all kinds – black, white, mixed, curly, straight, faintly noticeable, prominently visible. Once the rebound is secure in the muscled arms of the victor, I exhale and wait for the next missed shot.

Let’s examine the stellar hairy armpits of two athletes  – Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva and University of Louisville basketball star Chane Behanan. Danell’s armpit hair, like his nipples, are soulful even melancholy. They are shy, yet playful, subtle yet fierce when aroused. While easily spooked like a baby deer, once they are comfortable with you, it’s anything goes. Chane’s are the opposite – they revel in being noticed, the star of the show.  They would drive a car with simply one finger and play b sides of Wiz Khalifa – and know all the words. Regardless of demeanor, armpit hair is sexy for no discernible reason – which only intensifies their power. To accompany armpit hair watching whether on television, at the Olympics, or simply strolling down the streets of my neighborhood, nothing goes better than a simple flask of your favorite booze.  Sip, spy the sexy underarm fur, sigh. Repeat.

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