I Shaved My Legs For This?

by - March 27, 2010

I Shaved My Legs For This?
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 as she told us all about the beauty of the uterus. “You blond girls have a definite advantage,” she was saying, almost like an after-thought, as we passed a tampon around the room like it was a hot potato. “Your hair is so light and fine it’s almost invisible. You’d be best not to shave your legs because as soon as you do it’ll come in coarser and darker. No one will even be able to tell you haven’t shaved.” I believed her. And why wouldn’t I? Anyone who could hang a four foot poster of a man’s ‘man parts’ beside a spelling list of adjectives with a straight face demands some respect.

One year later. Seventh grade. 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. MacIntire 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.

Floor hockey. Just one more sport in an almost endless list of athletics I’ll be quite happy to never participate in again. Our class was four people too big for a team so we took turns rotating out. I was sitting on the stage beside Jeff MacMillan, feet swinging, 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. “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-handedly 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 18 years. One minute a day in the shower. 365 minutes per year. That's 6570 minutes. Shaving.

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

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