Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pretty Kitty

They say ignorance is bliss. That’s all well and good if you remain in blissful ignorance. Sometimes having your ignorance exposed can be enlightening or painful, or both! 

I don’t like to write about anything personal for fear of ridicule, embarrassment or the likelihood of being sectioned. Some topics are a bit below the belt but luckily this happened to a friend, well below the belt! I’ll write in the first person though because it’s easier than writing about a friend and their friends, it gets confusing and I have a no naming, and in this case, shaming, policy.

Usually, in a colder climate you only have to worry about your bikini line on your fortnightly foreign holiday or for special occasions and rare visits from gentlemen callers but when you’ve got a swimming pool in your back garden you have to keep things more trimmed… Otherwise it frightens the children… and neighbours… and hummingbirds try to nest in the overspill.

I simply had not realized until a girls’ night out in the UK that a mere trim was so 1980 and these days a full Brazilian was the order of the day. Initially I just thought the company that night was a bit risqué so I asked other friends. One friend stared in horror and disbelief when I shared the shock that the women I had been out with the night before all had shaven havens. I was relieved until it dawned on me that the horror was directed at me. I’ll never forget the derisory ‘You still have hair? There?’ She later emailed to tell me she had ‘totally’ (not just in passing, but totally!) thought of me when Cameron Diaz on the Graham Norton Show had described her friends 70’s style bush that floated like seaweed in the bath. I had thought the sway of ‘seaweed’ relaxing but I clearly needed to get with the times. Peer pressure succeeded where my husband’s begging had failed for years! 
Upon my return to Texas I decided to investigate the Brazilian! I looked it up on the internet and once I removed the moderate filters I got a mass of fanny images that have scarred me for life! Having always kept my own under generous cover and having never watched a porn movie I had no idea they were that ugly! I can understand men trimming to make it look bigger but that’s the exact reason women shouldn’t! Who wants to see all that gubbins? (That’s a rhetorical question!). Perhaps dehairing isn’t enough of a makeover. Maybe adding a bit of bling and sparkle by vajazzling improves the over all appearance. 
Not wanting to be ridiculed I decided to bite the bullet (not the little gold one from Ann Summers) and take the plunge, as it were! There are a few options for those, like me (remember its not me really, I’ve been bald for years!) who have never more than trimmed: You can wax, shave or use hair removing cream. I guess you could pluck or epilate if you were into self flagellation. 

A good friend got me a leaflet for The Pretty Kitty, a waxing venue which boasted ‘The Brazilian is our specialty’. They said they ‘remove it all, front back and everything inbetween’. I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a drastic transformation but I was encouraged by the promise that ‘we never double dip our sticks’. No girl wants that! It said the pain was ‘tolerable’ and ‘freshly waxed skin may be tender for a couple of days’ and ‘skin may break out in tiny bumps’. I didn’t want to look bald and diseased but it was when they started talking about ingrowing hair that I really went off the idea! I had an ingrowing hair on my little finger once, all septic and sore! I did not want to add that prospect to the red tender lumpy welt the wax might leave behind! Waxing is not for the feint hearted and I was feeling decidedly feint! 

Having trimmed, if not totally strimmed for years, I thought shaving might be ok but doing the back and everything inbetween with a razor seemed rather risky. Perhaps a combination of razor and hair removing cream for those difficult to reach bits is the way forward. 

The funniest thing I have ever read is the Veet for men Hair removal cream reviews on Amazon. They are eye wateringly funny. I assumed the reason hair removal cream caused such eye watering pain on men was because, being men, they didn’t read the instructions. I read the instructions. I timed 6 minutes precisely. I only put it on the parts I couldn’t reach easily, or see, and I only put a tiny bit on! Lighting farts and removing bottom hair with the blow back would burn less than hair removal cream! One reviewer said, upon application of the removal cream, ‘At first there was a gentle warmth which in a matter of seconds was replaced by an intense burning and a feeling I can only describe as like being given a barbed wire wedgie by two people intent on hitting the ceiling with my head’. The reviews are spot on, when you put a spot on! Thank heavens I had Sudocrem (used for nappy rash and minor burns) to put on to ease the pain! The reviews did say however, the end results were completely hairless. My experience wasn’t so successful. It looked like Steptoe’s chin…. Gurning! 

What my friends didn’t tell me was it becomes a full time job to keep it all in check. Regrowth is a nightmare. Sunday night bath time became a vital part of husbandry! The first time not blocking the plug hole with all the debris was a real challenge. At a certain length the stubble is spiky and itchy and I happen to think, in public places, a few stray hairs sticking out of your bikini is better than raking the constant regrowth itch! 

Still, the end result of deforestation was appreciated and I was no longer a social outcast! 

Moving to Sweden* presents new dilemmas. It is freezing! There is no pool. No skimpy bikinis. Do I need to bother with the upkeep? My hubby allows his habitual stubble to grow into a beard when he’s disaffected. Maybe I should do the same! Should I let the lady garden grow wild and free again? Unless I let it grow to my feet, where it can poke out of my thermal long johns, a sprouting pant moustache is no longer a problem. Also there is no bath. Getting yourself into a position to shave the harder to reach areas in a shower is much harder than in a bath and I aint never using hair removal cream there again! There are no humming birds threatening to make a nest! Oh… and did I mention, it’s cold? I’m sure the extra hair will help keep me warm! However, there is one important element that I need to remember, we have a sauna…Not sure if the neighbours call in for a social sauna. I’ve heard the Swedes are quite liberal. It might be embarrassing if I go into the sauna and someone thinks a small critter is hiding under my towel! Unless the Swedes are European in a German sort of way, I might have to continue something I wish I had never started! 

*what are the chances of having a friend with a hairy Mary that lived in Texas and has now moved to Sweden! What a coincidence! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Farewell to Arms... and other things!

I wrote this before I left Houston last month:

Things I’ll  miss when I leave Texas

I will miss Texas! Texas is a crazy place. My first impression of Texas was big, hot and scary! I have grown to love this place. I love that it behaves like and believes it’s a Republic. I wish I could wave St George’s flag with the same courage and patriotism.  I love (and fear) their absurd attitude to guns and Conservatives (with a massive capital C) and religion! I don’t agree with any of it but I admire their passion!

I will miss road kill! I have seen some incredible animals up close even if they were, regrettably, dead. Possums, skunks, deer, armadillos…. All weird and wonderful

Hummingbirds! One of my favourite things last summer was watching the hummingbirds, tiny, like fat bumblebees! Sweden is too cold for hummingbirds. That makes me feel very sad!

I shall actually miss the critters! It is easy to say I will miss the weather but there is a lot of nastiness that goes with hot humid weather so to show how much I’ll miss the weather I have to embrace all that goes with it! I will miss the sound of the kamikaze dune bugs that plop into the pool and splat against the windows at night and the clever little frogs that stick to the windows waiting for them.

Having a tan! I love having a tan! I may have grown a muffin top in America but even rolls of fat look better tanned! I am going from the sublime to the ridiculous! From 23°C in January, getting sunburned in sunny Sugar land to -23°C in Sweden, where there is no sun, for 6 months! …Maybe blue is the new brown!

The dang time difference. I will miss it! While I might feel lonely at wine o’ clock because everyone back home is asleep when I want to chat, glass of wine in hand, I have loved the drunken calls I have received in the middle of the day….
I haven’t appreciated the early morning ones though when people have forgotten the time difference!

I will miss having a pool! I really do appreciate how lucky I’ve been to live in a house with its own 9ft deep swimming pool in the back garden. I grew up on a shitty council estate and we had to share our bath water on a Sunday! I know how far I’ve come! You can take the girl out of Kings Norton!

I shall miss my ex-pat friends. I know someone who wrote a book (actually wrote a book and got it published FFS!) and I remember him saying something about wearing the same rock T-shirt gave you affinity with the other wearers. This might work at rock concerts but it doesn’t automatically work in America with Brits. Some Brits are americanised in the way that when Americans say ‘have a nice day’ they wouldn’t give you the time of day if you were having a shitty one. Some Brits speak to you initially because you have a British accent but then, just like the American wives of Azalea Lane, want to see if your saucepans are the right brand before they would ever dream of inviting you to dinner and even then, just like Americans, the evening would be over by 9pm. Some expats are a little like magpies… making themselves cosy in whatever nest has the shiniest things! Way too transient! My initial experiences of expats made me wary, and lonely!
In Sugar Land I had the good fortune to meet an amazing bunch (everything collective in America is a ‘bunch’) of expat ladies who have been all over the world and recognize that the short and transient nature of your stay somewhere makes it more important to embrace each other completely. They would do anything for me and for each other. I have laughed and cried with them, learned new skills (yes! I did make quilts!) and had such good fun. The best of times. Thank you! I am going to miss them dearly!

My blog! I have so enjoyed writing about my weird and wonderful experiences in America. The more depressed, angry or horrified I became, the funnier the blogs! I've been happy for months and the result has been bloggers block! My American blog will be something for me to look back on in years to come and marvel that it did really happen, to me, and it wasn't just some very peculiar dream!

I’m sat looking out across a frozen lake in sub zero temperatures, missing all of those things so much more than I ever thought I would. I couldn't be further away from Texas!  On the plus side I can see that weird and wonderful might be the order of the day again  here in Sweden, along with horror and depression! After finally finding a home in Texas, I am certainly once more a stranger in a strange land! I feel a blog coming on!