Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Shaved My Legs For This?

I Shaved My Legs For This? SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
{edited from the archives}

The sixth grade sex-ed nurse had over-teased black hair, an upper lip that kept getting stuck above her front teeth, and little spots of white that would gather in the corners of her mouth, growing thicker as she told us all about the beauty of the uterus.

“You blond girls have a definite advantage,” she told us - almost as an after-thought while we passed a tampon around the room like it was a hot potato. “Your hair is so light and fine - it’s nearly invisible. You’d be best not to shave your legs because the moment you do it’ll come in coarser and darker. Leave it alone and no one will even be able to tell you haven’t shaved. You're so lucky!

I believed her. And why wouldn’t I? Anyone who could hang a four foot poster of a man’s ‘special bits’ beside a spelling list of adjectives with a straight face demands some respect.

And so my blond legs faced the world unashamed for nearly a year.

But then it was seventh grade and it was floor hockey season {just one more sport in an almost endless list of athletics I’ll be quite happy to never participate in again}.

The Durham District gymnasium smelled of prepubescent sweat and the gritty scouring powder they used to clean the desks. The catwalk along the back wall beckoned but no one risked the wrath of Mr. McIntire and his whistle. Showers - untouched ghosts of DDC’s high school glory days - dribbled slowly into drains so caked with lime scale that they were almost nonexistent.

Our class was four people too big for a team so we took turns rotating out. I was sitting on the lip of the stage. Sitting beside Jeff MacMillian. Swinging my feet, sneakers banging out a rubber beat against the paneled doors that hid the folding chairs they brought out for graduation. He was watching my legs, his red hair plastered to his forehead sweat, his freckles so thick it would have taken all day and a sharpie pen to mark and count them. He matched his own sneakers to the rhythm I’d set and grinned at me. “About time you started shaving, isn’t it?” he asked. And then I was blushing to match my own freckles and I lost my rhythm and jumped off the stage to take my stick - suddenly a hockey enthusiast.

Really, Ms. Sticky Lip? Really? No one will ever be able to tell I don’t shave? REALLY????

Because I’m pretty sure Jeff MacMillan just called me a Yeti!!!

I used my dad’s razor - and let me tell you, this was no Gillette Fusion Power five blade phenomenon. I bled in the bath water. I bled on the towel. I bled on the jeans I pulled on to try and hide the trauma. I privately groaned through my first bout with razor burn. I may have single-highhandedly kept the Band-Aid brand in business through the early 90’s. And I did it all with an aura of pride because surely now I was a real woman. A smooth legged, grown-up, honest-to-goodness, twelve-year-old woman in a rainbow training bra.

I am womanchild - Hear me ROAR!

And so began my affair with the cursed tradition.

What price we pay for beauty. What scars we so boldly bare. What monotony. What vanity. What habit. What ridiculous triviality.

Maybe I'll move to France.

"Vous n'aimez pas mes jambes poilues?"

So here’s what I know: I’ve been shaving my legs for 22 years. One minute a day in the shower. 365 minutes per year.

That's 8030 minutes. Shaving.

Dear Jeffery MacMillan,
You owe me five and a half days of my life back.


{p.s. November is National Novel Writer's Month and I have joined a global community of crazies who have made a commitment to write every day with a goal of 50,000 words between November 1 and 30. Come on over here if you're interested in seeing how I'm doing...}

8 comments :

  1. The lesson here...Never take advice from someone who needs to be told to wipe their mouth.

    Coconut oil makes shaving more enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right! I should have known better. Never tired coconut oil - I'll bet it smells delicious!

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  2. I would never make it as a girl. I only get out the razor every 3 months maybe. I has a lot more minutes this way.

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  3. Really enjoyed this, Alanna! Loved the precise description of the sex ed teacher and her effect on you. She is partially right-- it is advantageous to be fair in the shaving department. No one has ever criticized me for not shaving my arms, for example. But a lot of girls with dark hair waste angst & shaving time on their arms too. As for being worthwhile... What does your husband think? This is seriously well written, Alanna.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carol. Arm shaving? I can't even imagine!! I remember watching an episode of Oprah years ago when she was interviewing Tyra Banks who admitted to shaving her fingers! I thought it was the strangest thing! So yes, us blonds are lucky and yes, I believe my husband appreciates the few minutes of effort I take into having smooth gams - so I guess it is worth it :)

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  4. Oh the dreaded shaving . Conditioner also works well and less expensive 😀

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    Replies
    1. I empty the last bits of my conditioner bottles into a mason jar all for the sole purpose of shaving - so much cheaper than anything else and yes, it does a lovely job!

      Delete

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