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A Very Public Lesson in Body Hair

A Very Public Lesson in Body Hair

Growing up is a very vital part of life.

Luckily for me, I had a great, and thankfully patient, teacher in my mother.

Like most little girls, I was curious. Always asking the hard-hitting questions, I’m sure I proved to be the most obnoxious of the three of us girls. No matter how  incomprehensible the questions I posed could be, my mom was willing to constantly bestow the answers which I would later come learn were 73% BS to get me to hush up for a few minutes of peace.

I remember the day I learned about the human body’s fascinating ability to grow body hair like it was yesterday. And when I say “I remember it like it was yesterday” I obviously mean my mom has retold this story so many times, especially in front of new people in my life who are interested to know what Jess was like as a young girl, that it was probably brought up yesterday so that’s why it’s so fresh.

It was sometime in the 80s or early 90s and we were tearing it up at a shopping mall as people of that era were wont to do. Mom had to pee something fierce so we were off to the restrooms in the food court. You know, the ones the mall builders had nestled right there between Hot Dog on a Stick and that iffy Mongolian Grill place you always said you wanted to try but got so full on Orange Julius and gum balls you never did get around to tasting the beef kabobs. (Save for the samples under the 10-watt heat bulb by the register. Always so chewy and shockingly cold.)

The mall wasn’t hip to the ways and convenience of the coveted “Family Restroom” yet, so we were stuck sharing a non-handicap, normal one person stall in the massive women’s restroom. In other words, things were about to get intimate in a way I don’t think my mother could have ever imagined, let alone in a public bathroom.

Things started out innocently enough. Mom pulled her pants down to do a number oneskie while I, in my youthful, barely literate glory, tilted my head ever so slightly to read what it could be “Tammy was” that was so important someone had to carve that she was that thing into the metal door of the stall. Perplexity and a quick tinkle, tinkle later and mom was all done with her private business that was about to become REAL public.

Mom: ::stands to pull up her pants::

Lil Jess: ::eyes wide:: MOMMY! YOU’VE GOT HAIR DOWN THERE!

As my mother’s face turned from a porcelain shade of white to redder than a beet with a sunburn, she quickly tried to shush me to no avail. I couldn’t believe my innocent eyes. What could that possibly mean? That she has what looked like a full head of hair in her no-no zone.

Had she done something wrong?

Was she really a bear who’d dedicated her life to hiding her bearhood so she could lead the life she always wanted as a human woman?

Obviously there was no reasonable explanation for such a trouser situation. That is until she whisper screamed at me to a) keep my voice down and b) very swiftly give me the “womanhood” talk, roughly ten years earlier than she’d planned and right smack dab in the middle of a room where anyone who needs to buy sensible loafers, club wear, or a Wetzel Pretzel could drop a deuce.

I vaguely remember drifting through the next few weeks of my childhood unsure of any of the truths I’d been told up until that point. I certainly couldn’t be expected to practice my NKOTB rolling keyboard songbook lessons or organize my Lisa Frank desk-cessories with something as life altering as this on my mind. I needed a little bit of a break. I strapped on my rollerblades and glided awkwardly into the cul de sac to clear my head.

“It grows down there when you hit puberty…” ::push left, right, coast::

“Some hair will grow on your legs and in your armpits, too…” ::inched circle, wobble, catch balance::

“…you’re Sicilian, so you’ll grow it on your chin and upper lip if you’re lucky…” ::heel brake, sigh, weep::

Suffice it to say, the woman was right. I did grow up to grow hair in all those places. Caterpillar eyebrows always wanting to shake each other’s hands not excluded. Now the routine is pluck, rip, wax, shave, neglect. Okay, that last one is really what happens most.

I do have intentions to do the other four regularly, but there’s something so relaxing about braiding the hair on your big toe and finishing that bad boy off with a craft bead, y’know?

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