If you are not in a woman over 40, do not read any further. Just turn the page. You won't get it. You'll find the whole thing strange and disgusting. You'll probably laugh yourself stupid over the absurdity of it all. The real danger here is that some woman 40 years or more will catch you slapping your knee and howling with laughter, and she will proceed to assault and batter you. Furthermore, if she gets a lawyer who is a woman over 40, and the case is heard by a woman judge of a like age, you have no hope. Your attacker will get off scott free.
Okay, I think that they're gone. You probably all have similar stories. Probably 10 years ago, or so, I was pondering the great mysteries of life, stroking my chin in a thoughtful, ruminating fashion and noticed, much to my shock, a long dark, thick hair sprouting out of the side of my chin. I plucked that sucker out immediately, with an uneasy feeling. You see, I remember my grandma, God rest her soul. That woman had some whiskers. She probably had more whiskers than my Grandpa. Being ever practical, she solved HER problem by grabbing hold of the first tool at her disposal, namely Grandpa's Norelco. I remember my aunts yelling at her, "Leave Dad's razor alone. You don't shave!" I thought it was pretty funny stuff back then. I was a teenager. What the heck did I know?
Well, after my shocking discovery, I scanned my chin regularly, nervously, prayerfully ('Oh please, oh please, God, don't let me inherit Grandma's chin'). And for awhile, it did seem like my prayers were heard. I had just that one whisker reappearing on a regular basis. I kept it plucked, kept on praying. At some point, I apparently fell out of favor with God. Or maybe He was being bombarded by so many other petty prayer requests like 'world peace' or 'grant wisdom for our leaders' or some such trivial thing. I'm not sure. All I know is that suddenly, these lousy stinking hairs began sprouting all over the place, lighter ones sprouting on my upper lip. God displayed His infinate sense of holy humor by simultaneously giving me 40 year old eyes, which meant that I could not see these darned hairs without reading glasses, and even then, I was peering into the mirror contorting my neck this way and that, trying to pluck those hairs. The most discouraging thing was that I would think that I had gotten them all, only to find myself sitting in a well lit place, thinking, thoughtfully stroking my chin in a ruminating fashion, discovering even more whiskers. I decided to quit thinking. I also began to be a bit depressed.
I shared this personal burden with a few close woman friends. I discovered that I was not alone. My friend Karen says that she and a friend have a pact. Whoever winds up in the nursing home first will be visited by the other who will pluck those strange hairs out. Now there's a friend. That's a real friend. I immediately thought of my best friend, my soul mate, heart of my heart, my husband Tim. He was standing next to me while I was contorting this way and that with my tweezers in front of the bathroom mirror. Testing the waters, I said, "Tim, can you give me a hand here?" My husband responded immediately, and I quote: "EWWWWWW!" he said. "Don't ask me to pluck your whiskers! That makes me sick to my stomach!" I want to point out that this man hunts. He fishes. I've seen him gutting stuff and he's going to get squeamish about WHISKERS?!
My friend Dixie was very impressed with Karen's special friendship. She would be glad to help me out. However, she lives in Philadelphia. We're also the same age. Years from now, I can't visualize either one of us driving 8 hours, tweezers at the ready. None of my friends nearby are volunteering, no doubt worrying about charges of elder abuse. ("I heard a scream, officer, and we came rushing in. Poor Debby was holding her chin with tears running down her poor wrinkled face (Fingers point accusingly) and there SHE was, standing over the bed holding a pair of tweezers!. Arrest that sadist!") That's what happens when you hang around respectable folks who don't want to read about themselves in the police blotter.
Knowing that I was on my own on this one, I began to try depilitories. The first time, I ended up with chemical burns. Burns with hair sprouting all through them. I put the box in the medicine chest and suffered through my self inflicted agony. One bit of advice. If this happens to you, I would strongly suggest immediately throwing the unused portion away. Do not put it in your medicine chest. Why? Because several months after this disaster, you might find yourself, like me, having another fit of depression about your whiskers. In the throes of your whisker fit, you will see that box in the medicine chest, and you will say to yourself, "You know, this is a nationally known brand name. A product like this would not be on the shelf for long if it did not work. Why, I'll bet that I did something wrong." Yes, my friends, sadly, it is true. Filled with foolish optimism, I sat down with the instructions, read them carefully, over and over, and tried the experiment again, only to end up with yet another round of hairy chemical burns. This time, I threw the box with the remaining solution away. My mama didn't raise any fools...just bearded daughters.
I discovered wax strips. For the uninitiated, these are little pieces of wax that you press on your face and then rip them off. It worked a lot better than the chemicals. Downside? Oh, my gosh, does this process hurt. By the time I was finished, my nose was running, the tears were flowing. The other downside is that your whiskers have to be of a certain length before the wax will work. I was not excited about letting them grow until they were long enough to harvest again.
This brings us to the miracle cure. I was at the K-mart checking out the clearance rack. (Yes...not only does this stuff work, it was on SALE! It really was just the best day ever!). This stuff microwaves, you slather the hot stuff on your upper lip and chin. You let it cool, and then you rip it off much like the wax strips, except, oh my stars, this hurt much much worse. You know why? Because it's ripping every hair off your face. All of them! Not missing a one. After ripping off the first piece, I stood there looking at the other two spots of hardened goop on my face. It took a while to get the courage to finish the job. My eyes watered, my nose ran, and I clung to the bathroom sink for support. I took a deep breath and completed the ripping. It was a miracle...my chin was just a smooth as a baby's bottom. I put the box in the medicine chest, hardly daring to believe it.
The following day, I went back to the store. I went back to the clearance rack. I bought every last box of the product they had. All of it. I scanned the checkouts, looking for the oldest cashier, one who would certainly understand. The last thing I needed was one of those perky little teenagers who would find my purchases hilarious. (Headline: Local Teenager Assaulted at Register. Assailant Described as Mature Woman With Amazingly Smooth Chin and Hairless Upper Lip.) I picked a line, and waited. I can't be quiet for long, and soon found myself laughing with another mature woman. She described a friend who plucked her eyebrows, and then expressed a fear that maybe she should stop just in case her eyebrows never grew back. "Oh, they'll grow back," my new friend assured her. "Probably on your chin." We were laughing good and hard by the time we got to Anna, the nice K-Mart cashier. Soon she was laughing as hard as we were. When we parted, we assured each other that our days had been made by our encounter.
I thought about it driving home. As I get older, Mother Nature really is winging some curve balls at me. I've found that she's winging the same curve balls at everyone. It is a joy to laugh at things with others who understand. It does make your day. I made up my mind that in just a few months, when I am 50, I will buy myself a red hat, and I will gladly join a group of high spirited women who will show me how to deal with these changes. And how we will laugh!