This is a true story. There is not one word of a lie, no single misleading statement nor exaggeration included herein.
I was going to start this post with “Honestly” but remembered that is a sure fire way to know that there’s a lie coming your way. Maybe not a pack of lies, but at least one, hidden away on a plate of full and half-truths. And really, honestly, I just would not do that.
Ha! See what I just did there? But again, a lie, no. Humour, yes. Poorly executed, perhaps. Well intentioned? Definitely.
I can already see that this post has gotten off to a very tumultuous and scattered start, so I will begin again. Now.
My daughter is, what we now know of as a “tween” but when I was her age, we called “eleven.” She is growing up, getting taller, discovering new interests and just generally not shadowing me as she did when she was younger and I was her whole world. *insert ugly cry face here* I’ll finish boo-hooing about that later, maybe over a litre or two of Moose Tracks because this post isn’t about her. This post is about me. So, when I started thinking about how she is growing up, I remembered myself at her age and that made me think about shaving. Shaving my legs, to be specific. I was probably 11 or 12-years-old when I first lathered up my baby-skinned, peach-fuzzed leg with a bar of soap, popped the plastic cover from the disposable pink double-bladed Daisy razor (that I likely found under the bathroom sink), and giddy with nerves, made that first long drag from ankle to knee cap up my right leg. No doubt that it was within the first three swipes of that deceptively innocent razor, that it bit into my previously un-scarred, taut ankle skin that kept my bones from protruding from my body in such a way that would have prevented me from wearing conventional clothing, like, well, socks or pants without making a bloody mess.
I remember seeing the shock of red oozing from my ankle and feeling the sting of the slice as the soap mixing with the water ran down my leg and over the cut. Today, such an injury may deter me, for I am now old and wise. But then, I was young, foolish and believed that hairless legs would change my life, so I preserved and finished the leg, with two more hateful bites from my razor to serve as proof of my bold and new-found hairless womanliness.
With hardly more trepidation than a toddler with a fork and an open electrical outlet, I lathered up my left leg This time, Daisy attacked immediately and the skin just beside my inner ankle bone split and began to bleed. Refusing to quit, because the thought of walking around with one shaved leg and one reverse-mohawked leg was not only unthinkable, but more because it did not occur to me that I could quit at that point, I carried on. I believe I had a total of seven incisions by the end of that shower.
My pride was bruised, my ankles were shredded, but I had done it. I felt battered but damn it, I was not beaten.
Over the course of the next twenty or so years, I steadily improved my skills until reaching the point of never cutting myself while shaving (preparing food was bumped up a notch as the activity I was most likely to bleed to death while doing. Progress, see?). Of course, by the time I could shave my legs, unscathed, with my eyes closed, my hair growth slowed down, I got old, and it really was not as important anymore because mini skirts and shorts were not a viable option anymore. Irony, see?
Back to it though, in thinking about how my daughter will, likely one day fairly soon, ask to start shaving her legs, I was flooded with these memories of my own introduction into one of the (million) self-injurious practices in which girls and women were (are?) encouraged to participate in order to avoid social ostracism. I decided that I would respect her life choices long ago, respect her autonomy and encourage her to fully own her decisions over her life and body, and even though it may sound absurd, choosing to shave (or not) falls squarely into this category. So when/if the time comes I will arm her with shave foam (or ratchet bar of soap for my girl!), a razor (with a lovely gel strip attached), and carefully show her the ropes, so to speak. It will be a Hallmark moment. Or at least, that is my plan.
Like all good plans, a snafu has come up. Last week, while I was so busy patting myself on the back and marvelling about how far I have come, in just a few short decades, I looked down and realized that I was probably due for my monthly leg shaving ritual. This time, I did not procrastinate (progress, see?) and I remembered to lather up before getting out of the shower (I take every win, no matter how small, gratefully). Wielding my five-blade, moisture-strip-having Gillette Venus razor in my right hand (freebie received in the mail – holla!), I reached down to begin. All the while, still full of a sense of pride and accomplishment, not really paying attention to what I was doing, because I’m aces at shaving, right? Top drawer, really. The first three passes are routine, and then right at the beginning of the fourth pass, it happened. A sting, so foreign and yet somehow also so familiar to me that I failed to fully process it and so I carried on, until I was almost done that leg, and then it hit me. I was bleeding. I was cut. I had cut my ankle shaving. “Ah hell, no!” I said to myself (and probably said it out loud because I was alone and talking to myself just happens sometimes) and I lathered up my other leg, childishly refusing to even look at the first leg, and to acknowledge the shame it had just delivered unto me. First pass on my left leg resulted in immediate ankle injury and I was so throughly shocked and disgusted that I lost the motivation to care about the possibility of bleeding out on the shower floor and just finished it up, barely glancing at that leg either.
My feelings of self-loathing, disappointment, and sheer unadulterated humiliation threatened to overwhelm me as I turned off the water in the shower. I dried off, but refused to allow the towel to even graze my calves, for they had so let me down, they did not deserve the comfort of being dry. Then, it hit me. I could turn this around. I could take this stupid, humiliating, humbling moment and turn it into folly for others. In that way, I could take shit and turn it into sugar. Or something like that, right? Metaphors, much like shaving (apparently), are not my thing. Plus, if you will recall, I recently lost a lot of blood (don’t let the appearance of teeny incisions fool you), so I am not working under ideal conditions here.
The moral of the story, you ask? It is this: When you begin to think that you have this adulting thing all figured out, when you are almost giddy at the thought of how capable and proficient you are at [fill in the blank], when every fibre of your being is urging you to treat yourself to a reward (trip, vat of ice cream, monster diamond ring) for being so accomplished, so pulled together, don’t. Just don’t. For it is at that precise moment that you (or the universe) will find some way to almost sever your Achilles tendon with a grapefruit spoon that you don’t own or know why you have in your kitchen because you hate grapefruit and its pink sourness or make an online bill deposit and accidentally put the decimal point one space further to the right than you intend to, thus paying $2500.00 against your $250 hydro bill and thereby proving once again that you are in no way, shape or form ready to be left unsupervised with pointy objects or financial decisions.
My friends, I just couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried (and yes, I have tried *sigh*).
Oh, and if ya’ll maybe want to say a little prayer for my daughter, that would be great. I have a feeling she’s going to need all the help she can get with me at the helm (I think that’s a sailing metaphor, but I could be wrong, see admission of ignorance above).