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.


11 Responses to “Memoir Mondays: First Dance”

  1. Beth 9 June, 2008 at 12:58 am #

    I remember flickers and not realizing the difference between them and a straight razor. My disaster also came right before a dance–my first night of ballroom dance lessons which, like the shaving, had been arranged behind my strict Baptist parents’ backs. I remember the humiliation of the bandaids under the panty hose. It still hurts–but maybe less now knowing that I wasn’t the only one. Thanks

  2. Stacey 9 June, 2008 at 1:23 am #


    Very timely for the change of seasons!

  3. KGMom 9 June, 2008 at 3:27 am #

    I am reading your blog, and cringing, saying OUCH OUCH OUCH–just the thought of removing the skin over one’s shin makes me cringe. Oh, so, been there done that!
    Great memory–I think many women can relate–the first time I shaved. I even wrote a poem about that experience.

  4. Kevin 9 June, 2008 at 4:20 am #

    I’ll give the male perspective sand say that shaving the face every day is no picnic either. I am always thinking I am going to skin myself (luckily, the years have given me some expertise, but still … )
    Sorry ya nicked yerself, though.
    Ouch is right.


  5. jayne 9 June, 2008 at 4:45 am #

    A Flicker!! Wow, that’s a trip down memory lane. Made me think of all the girls who simply decided to burn the hair off their legs with the old Nair formulation. “Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts,” was just another way for me to feel less than cool with my stubby legs on my 5’2″ frame. We graduated from a Flicker to a pink Daisy. I still hate shaving too, and half the time, can’t remember when I did it last until I start to feel like Sasquash.

  6. robin andrea 9 June, 2008 at 7:38 am #

    I have a scar on my shin from a very similar shaving experience. I went for years without shaving, but picked it up again just a few years ago. I was delighted to see that the new shavers really are easy on the body.

  7. Bonnie 9 June, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    What a great thing to be writing about. I would have never been back down this road without you Liza. I’m all about waxing these days, but as a kid my mom made sure to take charge and invest in something purple and electric.

  8. Trixie 9 June, 2008 at 8:47 pm #

    Ohhhh…ouch! I remember taking about 2 inches of skin off the outside of my leg just above the ankle. As the blood bloomed out of it I thought it look just like a potato peel. Ick!

  9. raehan 10 June, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    We love popsicles after school, too. We’re getting the same weather, north of you.

    : O )

    Thanks for all your comments over at my place. :

  10. Pam 10 June, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    OMG Flickers! I *loved* my Flicker!! They lasted forever and I loved how you didn’t really have to be too careful. In fact, I used Flicker up until about four years ago, when one of my very good (male) friends introduced me to triple blades with aloe, and now I love those.
    P.S. I used my Dad’s razor one to just try it, and boy did I get a nice close shave. However, when he went to use it again, he came out of the bathroom and said “it feels like someone shaved the cat with my razor!”

  11. girlgriot 15 June, 2008 at 9:18 pm #

    Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!!!

    I hate shaving! I do my underarms, but I’ve taken a totally Jamaican approach to my legs — I leave ’em be. (It’s convenient that I’ve also given up pantyhose, because hairy legs under pantyhose, not really bringing teh sexy!)

    This story brought me right back to being 12 years old and trying to get the hang of shaving without too much blood (no Flickers in my life, though I always and always wanted one)!

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