Close Shave This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Shaving is the only thing I have completely given up trying to do correctly. I have irked through Walden, the chapter on interactive processes in my math book, and mastered the intricacies of walking and chewing gum at the same time. Somehow the art of leg hair removal remains elusive.

I began shaving the summer I turned eleven. The reason why still remains clouded in my memory, but I think it had something to do with my mother. She had not permitted me to shave, citing the hassle and stubble connected with the operation. Being an obstinate eleven-year-old, I did not believe one blessed thing she said.

So the night came. I had just gotten off the bus (where the younger kids were belting out the tune of choice) from day camp and was alone in the house. For dinner, Mom had left out a package of macaroni and cheese, but had neglected to realize we had run out of milk, rendering the meal inedible until she came home to remedy the situation. I was hungry too, not in the mood to be told dinner would have to wait for another half-hour. Who told her she had the right to starve a poor little girl who had been almost fricasseed on the volleyball court that day? Anger and resentment rose high in my young spirit; I was going to be rebellious, to do something I had wanted to do for a while, but was told by the same woman who forgot THE essential ingredient of macaroni and cheese, never to do it until SHE voiced her consent. HA!

Off I trod to the bathroom. I got her razor from the shower caddy and pulled out the shaving cream from underneath the sink. It was then I came to my first block: how was I going to go about the procedure? Should I undress and hop into the shower and shave while balancing on one leg or should I sit on the edge of the bathtub? The latter seemed to be the safest choice because my sense of balance was such that I would not trust myself with a blade while on one foot.

So I sat down on the edge and spent a good three minutes trying to shift around until I found a semi-comfortable position on the three-inch wide strip of formica. I shook the can and rubbed on a good inch of cream. I was ready. After the first attempt, which was stalled by my hair, which had landed in the cream, I ran the razor up my leg and shook off the excess. I continued this until all the hair was removed, then started on the other one, nearly clogging the drain with the cream and hair. By the time I was done, the once half-full can was empty. It was then I heard my mother's key in the lock, causing me to skitter off to my room and put on a pair of jeans, even though it was a damp ninety degrees.

Mothers, I find, have this inexplicable sixth sense about them, which I believe they pick up in Lamaze classes during breathing exercises. I had jumped into bed that night and had the covers pulled up to my chin when she came in. After all, it had cooled down to eighty. She walked in and a grin oozed over my face.

"You shaved your legs," Mom said.

I laid in my bed, dumbfounded. How did she know? I merely nodded, expecting a barrage of chastisements, but instead received a smile which gave the message she knew something I did not. I was not able to sleep much that night.

The next day I thought I knew what she had smiled about. Running my hands down my formerly smooth legs, I found that they encountered tiny pinpricks on their upward journey. Stubble. Well, no matter, I thought, I'll just shave again tonight. The second time I made the mistake of shaving in the shower, stumbled a little, and gashed myself. Now, a shaving cut is a lot worse than a normal one because all the water spreads the blood around to make it look like you were losing half of the blood in your body. It took ten tissues and five band-aids to stop the bleeding.

Since then things have not improved. Mom always shakes her head, claiming I look like I have been beaten because the number of scabs I have given myself while shaving. During the winter, I have reverted to shaving only when truly necessary, and each time I do so, I fear that I will be harassed by Greenpeace for conducting deforestation acts, for who knows what unknown species live on my legs.

Two years ago I tried using a foam depilatory which sounded like the answer to my prayers. All I needed to do was leave it on for fifteen minutes and presto! all my worries would be gone. Of course, one needs to be still for it to work. I thought I had found the ideal place to sit; on the toilet with my creamed legs stretched out, resting on the extreme edge of the bathtub, That was all right for the first three minutes, but then I could feel the top of the tank bearing into my back, and my toes froze because of the blood rushing out.

I am now back to shaving only when I am going to be in a situation that requires it. Last year I took up modeling, and the gods were with me as I sat down to shave. It was the only time since I did not gash myself. That miracle occurred shortly before I was photographed in a bikini and has not been repeated. Perhaps it was a mixed blessing. Mom said she wants to sit down and tell me how to shave properly. All I can do is wish her the best of luck to correct years of blood-letting.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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