Archive | 12:18 am

Memoir Mondays: First Dance

9 Jun

Shaving.  Shaving is a rite of passage that teenage girls must go through in America.  I first shaved under my arms when I was 12.  We were spending the summer with my grandparents in Westhampton Beach on Long Island.  Oh, it’s not as fancy as it sounds — they were townies for a couple of generations.  But, it was good fun.  We went to the Swordfish Club everyday and swam until our skin was deep dark brown with white blonde hair.  Well, except the hair that was sprouting under my arms.  My grandmother is an odd woman.  She firmly believes that body hair will stop growing if you NEVER shave it.  Living in Santa Cruz county in California, I can show her many, many women who prove that theory wrong — also, never plucking those old lady chin hairs will not stop them from growing either.  At any rate, the hair under my arms was to be ignored until it went away.  Idiot woman.  Sigh.  Thankfully, the woman we took swim lessons from realized that I was on my own here and helped me out.  She got me a Flicker razor.  Very cool razor with some sort of safety stuff coiled over the blade so it was easy to cut hair but hard to cut yourself.  Nice thing for a 12 year old who was experimenting without Grandmop finding out. Given that she never knew I shaved, she probably figures the lack of hair on my legs when she sees me proves her theory.  Hmmmm.

Fast forward half a year.  We are now home in the high Sierra mountains, as far from Long Island as one can get.  I’m going to my first school dance — at a tiny mountain school.  This school is kindergarten through 8th grade.  My grade only had 8 students in it so they lumped us with the grade behind and taught us the same stuff we’d learned the previous year.  Still, a first dance is a big thing.  Dress laid out, panty hose at the ready.  Time for a shower and, as it is a first dance, I figure I’d better shave my legs.  No Flicker razors here so I use my step-father’s razor.  How different can it be?

Well, it can be different all right.  Different enough that I removed a half inch wide strip of skin up the full length of my shinbone.  That kind of different.  Different enough that I had to put a row of band-aids up my leg from ankle to knee.  Pretty damned different.

I still shave my legs in the summer and on special occasions in the winter.  Everytime I shave them now, I inwardly flinch and very gingerly shave up my shinbone.  Turns out you don’t need a lot of strength to shave the tiny hairs off your legs successfully.  Live and learn . . . and then wear band-aids under your pantyhose.

Memoir Mondays is hosted by Two Writing Teachers.