Sunday, March 30, 2003

I hesitate to post this blog. It might be even a little too offbeat for me.

The other day someone was telling me that people still ask whether or not I shave my legs. I find this incredibly amusing. But it’s a bit of a story exactly why anyone is curious, and exactly why I find it so funny. I fear that the telling of this story will showcase some of my worst personality traits. But I guess I’m always looking for more to confess, so it’s all right.

As is rather typical of young girls, when I hit a certain age, say sixth grade or so, it became imperative that everyone start shaving their legs, whether they needed to or not. It was a matter of every day public discourse who’d started when and all that, and woe to the poor girl whose mother wouldn’t let her. Not doing it meant you were a freak, and a monkey girl, and nobody liked you.

As is typical for my miserable life, one otherwise ordinary day, somehow, the rumor got started that I didn’t shave my legs. And being as I always wear pants (a totally separate personality quirk which I’ll share another day), no one could tell for certain by the sight whether I did or not. So it became a regular thing to make fun of me for not doing it.

Now, I know you’re thinking, this should be an easy thing to clear up. Just show the little bastards your legs, and they’ll have to let you alone, right?

Well, wrong, because I don’t work that way. My righteous anger was somehow raised in the midst of all of it. I didn’t see how it was anybody’s business whether I shaved my legs or not. Since no one could even see my legs, it isn’t as if anyone even had so much as the right to complain that I was being somehow anti-aesthetic if I didn’t do it. And obviously, there should have been no problem if I did. So, rather than just end all of my problems, in one foul swoop of bearing my poor, white, Irish legs to the world, I flat out refused. And I suffered for it. Good Lord, I suffered for it. The middle school court of public opinion is a harsh arbitrator of justice, you know.

Now any eleven year old in her right mind wants to be accepted by her peers. And I won’t pretend I was an exception. But I simply wouldn’t have people dictating my actions as if they deserved control over a part of my body, or even control over the knowledge of a part of my body. My legs were mine, and by God, I decided I’d go to the grave with my totally accidental secret in tact.

So to this day, though nine long years have passed, my poor, white, Irish legs have been utterly cloistered. And it’s all mostly because I’m too damn stubborn to budge on the principle of the thing. I endured torture for the cause, as an early adolescent, and I’ll be damned if I’ll move on the issue now that I’m more comfortably a young adult.

So, what are the lessons we’ve learned from this story? I’m a godawful moralist, for starts. Compound it with my miraculous secretiveness, and my obvious stubborn streak, and I don’t come off sounding very nice. But you know, when the chips are down, it’s not always the worst thing to have a stubborn, moralist, who can really keep a secret, on your side. I don’t know if it redeems me from the utter insanity that is this story, and so many others from my odd and eccentric life, but it’s worth the old college try.