be yourself

location, location, location

Last night I brought my new license plates to bed with me, and I admit I felt pretty pleased with life. It has taken me more than two years to finish replanting myself and to grow some shoots after a long period of defoliation, so there was cause for delight. During the time of my walkabout, I had no permanent address — not that any address is permanent in the grand design — because I had sold my condo, which would have floated down river had it been any more under water, and had set out to find my future.

To begin the adventure I slept for several months on a friend’s scratchy couch; by my choosing, we are no longer friends. I stayed with my daughter under a few roofs, and we soldiered on, but barely. I lived for a good stretch in a sad hotel with a kitchen, and I almost got used to the brown carpet and the plastic plates. Finally, I ended up in a boarding house for the unhinged, where even the cats had lost their minds, and I knew then that my wandering days were coming to a merciful close.

I wouldn’t recommend dislocation to most people since human animals typically tend toward amassment and above all seek comfort and safety, but I can say to those who have an interest that my experience taught me to loosen my grip on all things earthly, except for Keurig’s Dark Magic coffee, and to seek a higher, more ethereal location. Still, as I looked at those license plates resting where another might find her lover, I understood that they were an emblem of my transfiguration, and I was more than a little pleased to share a bed with them.

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Caitlyn, waxing, MRSA, and me

Body Wax

Body Wax

Jon Stewart’s by now famous show segment on “being a woman in America” had me thinking about being a woman in America—and, in particular, about being a sometimes denuded one.

After watching his clip regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s 22-page Vanity Fair spread, I began reflecting on the barbaric act of waxing one’s pubic hair and found myself typing “waxing why?” into the Google search bar.

Not surprisingly, the first nine results returned to me included links to 1) skin care centers that would happily wax my parts for up to $80 a pop; 2) an article about “what guys really think of a woman with a Brazilian wax” (hint: “When I’m going down there, I don’t want no hair,” says one); and 3) a piece on whether waxing is better than shaving. (“With the hair removal market estimated to [have been] worth $2.1 billion in the US in 2011,” guess which way the author of the latter was leaning?)

I was happy to see, though, that the tenth search result contained a link to an article in which Dr. Emily Gibson, family physician and head of a UK student health center, calls “for an end to the ‘war on pubic hair'” and claims “it is increasing the risk of infection and of sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people.”

We have been cowed by an Internet porn industry “[that] gave a generation of men a lot of exposure to ladies who are completely bare down there,” and women have ignored their own health in the dim hope their husbands, partners, and one-night stands would wish to ravish them upon seeing their baby-like bare belows.

I, for one, have put myself at great risk the times I have had a Brazilian wax—coming away each time with increasingly alarming infections. The last time I did it I went for a “Hollywood wax” and several days later was diagnosed with MRSA, a bacterial infection that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics and that can be fatal if left untreated or if unsuccessfully treated.

Although one could die from a MRSA infection, and although it took several courses of antibiotic to rid myself of what was a very frightening infection, I cannot say with certainty that I will never again wax that fragile region. So strong, it seems, is the magnetic pull of conformity—especially where sex and loneliness are involved—that I could once more find myself powerless in the face of it.

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