The Hair Down There

Everyone ponders the alchemy behind good marriages. There are a few reasons that G and I have managed to stay together all these years. We laugh with each other, watch movies together, and take evening walks when it’s warm out, I also don’t underestimate the vitalness of keeping our checking accounts and our closets separate. But the thing that probably keeps our union buttressed against the ruthless elements is…

Pubic hair.

That’s not to say that I have a peculiar fetish for G’s pubic hair. Or my own, for that matter. It’s quite the opposite; the mere sight of an errant one upon the floor signals a tectonic shift inside my gut. I curl my lips in disgust and realize grimly that the acceptable lapse in time between vacuums has just arrived. In my present circumstances, pubic hair represents the need to clean and to take the Lord’s name in vain for including it in his human blueprints. In my college days, pubic hair signified my wish for my own printer since the one I regularly utilized resided in a dorm room belonging to four boys. The instant the printer transposed the ink onto paper and issued it into the tray, a pubic hair would materialize upon the page, as if by magic. And during my formative years, pubic hair meant only that I needed to start wearing pants around the house.

In speaking with my friends who are still dating, pubic hair has come to mean much more on today’s open market. It’s something to be manicured and sculpted, like the hedges that line the properties of affluent people. And like those handsomely tended yards, the pruning is outsourced to a professional, and occasionally, an entire landscaping team. To do a little weeding on your own no longer makes the grade. Those invited to visit want to be impressed by the terrain, noting not a leaf out of place. Forget sweeping the brush to unexplored areas of the property for every inch is scoured and even the gutters are expected to be immaculate.

I have experienced the singular pain of having my hair violently extracted from its follicles, but this was when the world, at least the occupants outside of Brazil, was dabbling in basic bikini line maintenance. There was no vernacular with which to request your procedure. No one demanded a Landing Strip or a Bermuda Triangle. These were still terms of aviation then, not things bandied about in a salon. When I was still dating, you went about a wax the way a teenager attempts entry to the explicit titles of the video store: with head down and a great deal of mumbling. You weren’t transacting with a woman of Swedish descent with a degree in Aesthetics, but rather a Chinese woman whose name was Dongmai but told you to call her Sue. You pointed at a menu and followed her into a makeshift room resembling the lairs of sexually perverse villains in movies. She dipped a tongue depressor into a cauldron of boiling wax while she barked commands in Mandarin over the partition to her harem of employees. She slapped the scalding resin onto your unsuspecting skin while you clenched your fists and questioned why anyone really needs a boyfriend or to wear a bathing suit or take vacations. You were roused by smelling salts and pushed out the door moments later. By the time you had traversed the distance back to your office, the sub-dermal hair that was spared beheading was already breaching the surface.

I stopped having the occasional wax done after I got engaged. I had that transcendent self-experience of hovering over my own supine body, observing the dystopian scene from an aerial perspective, at which point I thought, “Nobody puts baby in a corner, on a table with clothing pins on her underwear.” From that point forward, I retreated to my shower with my own rusted shears and took care of any unsightly edges on my own. That was eight years ago, and still no one has ever pointed out a thicket of underbrush creeping beyond the fence line of my bathing suit, although that’s probably because no one has seen me in a bathing suit.

The dating girls, by contrast, don’t have it as easy. They receive inquiries about their private preserve before they even pry open the gates, preferences are conveyed as is disappointment if the shrubs haven’t been cut back the way their paramour had hoped. No one is just satisfied that it’s spring time and they can take their shoes off and enjoy the grass anymore. This new set of grooming mores inspires within myself a terror at the thought of ever returning to the dating pool, so I draw comfort in my married state, comfortable in knowing the most effort I dedicate to pubic hair removal merely involves a dust buster. I am grateful that the only people to glimpse this fallow land are my ObGyn and my husband.

God knows if I wanted to be managing a botanical garden, I’d pick up a rake once a while.