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TO SHAVE OR NOT TO SHAVE

 

I have to shave my legs every single day or they could sand paint off a car. I shave for my own self-preservation. I want to avoid flaying my inner thighs. I don’t shave for political or cultural reasons.

My first experience under the daily razor came after a public shaming, which touched my psyche so deep that I abhor wearing dresses to this day. I talked my mom into buying me this hideous yellow, brown and blue plaid short skirt. It was so bad that if I could go back in time, I would tell myself to just pass on by. Do not purchase that skirt! I would also include a warning to rethink that unfortunate perm I got when I was twenty. I should’ve thought to write myself a letter to be opened in the future to apologize to my older self for these unfortunate fashion choices.

But I digress. I wore my new skirt with aplomb. I also had to put on pantyhose because according to the rules of fashion they were imperative when wearing a dress. I felt so grown up putting them on, sliding them across my calves and thighs. I tried to pull them up but no matter what I did the crotch stayed about mid-thigh. I tugged and tugged. I waddled to my mom’s room. I pulled up my skirt to show her the problem.

“Oh, well that happens sometimes. Here,” she said, grabbing the waistband of the pantyhose and lifting me off the ground and giving me a good shake up and down until the crotch was approximately where it should be. “Better?” she asked.

“Yes, but what do I do when I have to go to the bathroom?”

“I’d recommend staying away from liquids. Off you go.”

I thought I looked sophisticated as I strutted down the hallway at school. At recess, my confidence took a precipitous downward spiral. My little red balloon of fashion happiness popped when one of the mean girls pointed at my legs and said, “Oh, my god, look at all that hair. Gross!”

I looked down at my legs. My pelt was plastered against the mesh of my pantyhose. I was indeed a hairy beast. A crowd gathered and the public shaming was complete. I went home, my head low. “I have a pelt on my legs and the other girls made fun of me. I need to shave my legs and I don’t know how.”

My mother took me by the hand and showed me how. It was a bloody, brutal affair and still is some days, but finally I was clean-shaven and my legs did feel nice and smooth. Shaving wasn’t so bad, I thought, until I discovered that by the next morning the pelt had returned. Something had evidently gone terribly wrong. I raced to the kitchen where my mother was cooking breakfast. I pointed at my legs. “It’s back!”

shaving hand

“What’s back?” my mother said, handing me a plate of bacon.

“The pelt! It’s back. I thought we got rid of it.”

“Oh, honey. It doesn’t work like that. You have to do it on a regular basis. And…” she stared down at my calves, “in your case, daily. We come from a hairy family. Look at your father’s knuckles. It can’t be helped.”

I ate my bacon and shot dirty looks at my father. “Did I do something wrong?” he asked my mother.

“Don’t mind her,” my mother said. “She’s just being moody.”

“It’s your fault I have a pelt,” I said, jabbing my greasy bacon finger at him.

“Pelt?” he asked.

“She shaved her legs yesterday for the first time,” my mother explained. “She’s a bit on the hairy side.”

“Well, just be glad you don’t have a beard,” my father said, folding his newspaper and leaving the room.

“Why would I have beard?” I asked.

“That comes later, dear. No need worrying about it now. Off you go.”

I wouldn’t find out about the beard until I hit menopause but that’s another story for another time.

Only love can satisfy a hungry heart

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IN SEARCH OF THE ELUSIVE

We’ve got a woodchuck problem again this summer. Last summer we had three woodchucks living under our house. I researched and discovered the solution was fox urine. You sprinkle the stinky stuff around your house and the woodchucks pack their bags and skedaddle. I used a whole bottle last year, which meant we needed more. This sent Layce and I to Atwood’s Farm Supply store.

I walked in and saw the cashier was available for questions. I asked, “Could you tell me where the fox urine is located?

“The what?” the young cashier asked, her face a mask of confusion as if she thought the question might be a joke. As if we, two women in a farm supply store, would joke about such a thing. Fox urine is no joking matter.

“Fox urine, you know, you use it to get rid of woodchucks,” I said.

“Woodchucks?”

ground hog

Oh, my, this wasn’t going well. “They look like mini-beavers and one of them has taken up residence in my garden shed. Some people call them land beavers. They’re kind of cute but I don’t need another pet,” I said.

“We don’t have urine for sale,” the girl said.

I try another thing on my list. “Do you have dehumidifying crystals? We have a moist closet.”

“A moist closet?”

“A moist closet and a woodchuck,” I repeated.

“We don’t have that either,” she answered too quickly—an indicator that she’d like us to go away.

“Let’s just look around,” Layce said. She was squeezing the orange candy circus peanuts. I’ve been craving them. I saw it as a sign of love that she was searching for the freshest ones.

We went hunting for fox urine on our own. No luck. I went one way to find help. Layce went another. I found a clerk. “Do you know where the fox urine is?” I asked. The young man looked at me like I might not be right in the head.

Another clerk came around the corner with Layce in tow. “Do you where we keep the fox urine?” the other clerk asked my clerk.

My clerk said, “What’re the odds, two women looking for fox urine?”

“Do I know you?” I asked Layce.

“Not unless you’ve found the fox urine.”

“You know, why don’t you go ask Rod in the gun department,” the clerk said. “He’ll know.”

As we made our way to the gun department, I said, “We’ve got most of the store talking about fox urine. It’s like a scavenger hunt.”

Layce said, “Do you think it’s weird that a man named Rod is working in the gun department? You know, how mobsters call their guns a rod?”

“It would be weirder if Rod worked in the fishing department,” I said.

“Or if Rod was a porn star,” Layce countered.

Rod, in the gun department, was delighted by our question. “We don’t carry fox urine, but you can order it online.”

“How exactly do they collect the urine from the fox?” I asked. I imagined foxes peeing in cups.

“I don’t rightly know. What are you looking to get rid of?” he asked.

“A woodchuck,” Layce replied.

“You know, they make leather shoelaces and banjos out of woodchuck hides,” he said.

“The surgeon, who operated on my mom, told me she put herself through medical school selling coon hides. She’d get fifty or sixty of them a week,” Layce added.

“There’s good money in coon hides,” Rod said.

“You’re telling me,” Layce said. “They paid for her medical school.”

I was getting a serious Silence of the Lambs vibe. All this talk of hides was making me nervous. “We’ll get it online,” I said. “I just want the woodchuck to go way, not make shoelaces or banjos out of its hide.”

“You know, coyote urine works even better,” Rod said.

Coyote_Urine_picture__88567.1487088210.332.500

“Right,” I said. “Next question. Do you have any…”

Layce pulled me away. “I don’t think now is a good time to mention our humidity problem.”

“Probably not.” I could see Rod from the gun department suggest we find some other weird substance online to solve our moist closet problem. (I found out later that you can get dehumidifying crystals at Lowes.)

When we got home Layce went online and ordered a 16 ounce bottle of coyote urine. We were set. In two days time we would be rid of the woodchuck. I dribbled coyote urine all around the shed. Within a day the woodchuck was gone. So were all the squirrels and cats.

The downside? I haven’t been able to use the shed because it stinks of pee. Alas, I should’ve just learned to live with the woodchuck. Lesson learned.

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DANCING LESSONS

My dancing career began with my shriek of indignity. I remember the moment vividly when my mother told me it was time to learn some “lady skills.” I had no idea what she was talking about as I jammed my hands in my little boy Toughskins jeans. I had to wear a dress at school, but when I got home off came the dress and the Mary Janes and on went the scuffed Converse sneakers and Toughskins. Think female Huck Finn.

I was a savage who’d just been told she was registered to take tap lessons. Let me say that again… tap dancing lessons. Where you do things with your hands and feet at the same time to the beat of the music. Needless to say, it was a disaster–a first-class disaster. Under the spotlights wearing a pink dress, Mickey Mouse ears, and shiny, black tap shoes, I single-handedly ruined the dance recital.

My mother’s next idea was ballet. Another pink outfit with funny shoes. I learned three positions, then I hurt my toe and my teacher left town. I don’t think it was because of me.  My mother gave up and let me take Karate lessons. I learned how to kick my brother in the balls using a reverse front kick, I’m not certain that is an actual thing, but it worked. I loved Karate.

My next dancing lesson came along when I started going to clubs where people danced, except I couldn’t dance. My friends tried everything to teach me.

“Move your hips. You need to loosen up,” was followed by, “And swivel your knees. You have to move your feet, too.” To be followed by, “You’ve got to stop staring at your knees when you dance and swing you arms around, you’re all stiff-looking.” Needless to say I don’t dance—period. Okay, when I’m alone in the kitchen listening to music I dance, but no one can see me.

So when Em thought she could teach me how to waltz, I laughed the laugh of the all-knowing. “No, you can’t. Believe me.”

“Come on, let’s try it,” she said. “Please.”

“All right, but I’m telling you right up front, it’s impossible to teach me how to dance so don’t be disappointed.”

box step

“Everyone can dance,” Emma said. She put out her arms and I took her hands. “Just follow me. Do what I do at the same time. We’re going to make a box.”

We made a box all right. She made her box and I made my box in the opposite direction. She stared at me. “How did you manage that?”

“It’s harder than it looks. I make it look easy,” I replied.

“Let’s try it again. Okay, one, two, three, four. Make a box. Just follow my feet.”

The problem was that she was going one way and I was supposed to go the other. We tried again. I did the backup part and then the other way around. Either way, back or front, I couldn’t get it.

“It’s because our feet are facing each other, so my feet think I should do what your feet are doing. See, you move your foot forward and I do the same thing and step on your foot,” I said.

“Why do you do that?” She was still trying to waltz. My feet just stumbled along with her.

“I’m on the wrong side of a black hole. On my side, everything is the opposite. That’s part of my right/left problem.”

Em stopped dancing. She dropped my hands. “You’re right, you can’t dance.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Laughter is the best medicine!

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WHO IRONS ANYMORE?

“What happened to your shirt?” Layce asked.

We were standing in line at Starbucks awaiting coffee. I was standing in front of her and blissfully pretending the whole thing had never happened—the power of magical thinking.

I sighed, looked around, and whispered, “I had an ironing mishap.” I didn’t want to go into the gory details. It was a brand new shirt. Much to my chagrin it wrinkled after washing. This new shirt was going to be a problem. I could tell already.

“It looks all burnt and melted,” Layce said.

stuff 2018 006

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said, keeping my voice low. We were three people from the front. If I could keep her distracted, the ironing discussion could be waylaid. “Look at that nice dog sitting under that woman’s table.”

Layce glanced at the dog and then went on again about the shirt. “How’d you melt it?”

“I didn’t melt it. The fabric is just like that.”

She kept staring at it. “Okay, it was wrinkled, so I ironed it. The iron was E-V-I-D-E-N-T-L-Y too hot and melted the shirt. I really think we have a defective iron. The dial is really sketchy. I mean why can’t it just say this is too hot for this shirt.”

“It’s still wrinkled.”

“I stopped ironing after I melted it.”

“It’s like a perfect triangle.”

“I’m aware of that.” It was our turn. “I’ll have a cappuccino.” I was never so glad to talk to a barista in my life. Layce ordered a latte and we sat down awaiting our order.

“I’ve never known anyone who melted a shirt before.”

“I do not come from a family of ironers. We do not iron in the Bennett household. If your shirt is wrinkled that’s just the way it is. I didn’t even know we had an iron until I was twenty-two. My first girlfriend tried to teach me how to iron and I broke a Waterford glass. And I don’t want to go into the details.”

Our order was ready. I went up and got it. Or should I say we, me and my melted shirt, went to get the coffees.

“Why are you wearing the shirt if you don’t want to talk about how you melted it?” Layce asked as I set the coffees down.

“I felt I had to own my mistake and warn other non-ironers that irons are evil. Some are defective, and some have confusing dials, and that you should get other more skilled people to iron your wrinkled shirts. That’s why.”

“That’s very considerate of you.”

“I feel it’s my social responsibility to warn people of the vagaries of ironing.”

“It’s still a nice shirt…if you don’t look at the back of it.”

“Thank you. Now can we stop talking about it?”

COMING SOON!

It’s almost time to get your laugh on!

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A new romantic comedy by Saxon & Layce

SAFETY CAPTAIN

“You shouldn’t do that,” Layce said.

“Why not? Brushing your teeth for three whole minutes is like being dropped into place where time has truly stopped and it’s not a good place. It’s a tedious and long and boring location.”

“You could puncture your soft palate,” she said, nonchalantly.

That got my attention. I was rocking back and forth on my Indo Board pretending I was snowboarding and working on my senior balance skills. And brushing my teeth. The image of my palate being impaled by my Oral B electric toothbrush was an ugly one. I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth and gingerly stepped off the board.

index

(okay, I wasn’t wearing heels)

“You’re not setting a good example. As the official Safety Captain, I say you should refrain from doing unsafe things,” Layce said.

“I’m safe. I’m safe all the time,” I said indignantly. Then I decided she was right. I didn’t tell her that, but I did examine my safety habits and took notes. See below:

I do sometimes get dressed on the way down our two flights of stairs, pulling a sweater over my head as I navigate up or down the stairs. I admit to occasionally texting while descending the stairs. I also don’t turn the light on in the morning, which means I go down the stairs under low light conditions without the benefit of a first cup of coffee. Good way to break my neck.

I was vacuuming and something got caught in it. I did not unplug it from the wall before I went digging around in it. Good way to lose a finger.

I fell in the pond because I was standing on rock and it tipped. Overreach on an unstable surface. Good way to drown.

I ordered Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Black Tea and when I cut the box top I drew the blade toward me. Good way to sustain a wound to an internal organ.

tea

If I caught Layce or Em doing any of the above activities they would be lectured on the importance of safety. I am a safety hypocrite. Do as I say, not as I do. That really should be on the Seven Deadly Sins list.

seven

Needless to say, I don’t use my Indo Board while brushing my teeth. Three minutes is a very long time, but safety first.

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THE SANCTIMONIOUS GROWN UP

Recently, I had a mad fit of organizational zealotry, which unearthed letters from my youth. I opened them with a niggling of is-this-a-good idea trepidation. I was about to embark on a journey to my younger self. The self I told stories about as a full-fledged grown up were full of the hardships of youth, my self-sufficiency, the ethical and moral teenager, you know, all the stuff we tell ourselves when you have a teenager in the house. Layce and I are fortunate to have the kind of teenager I thought I was growing up, but, apparently, was not. Memory is a strange thing.

So, here goes the real story as the letters revealed. After high school, I had a gap year, the one you take before the real world begins and you have to start behaving yourself. (This, of course, was yet another myth. I was about thirty before I behaved myself.) During my gap year, I went with friends to spend the winter in Salt Lake City to be a ski bum. The letters I found were from this particular period.

Apparently, I was in need of money. My mom writes, “I sent you the money order you asked for,” to be followed with “When you call collect, I’ll tell the operator I won’t accept the charges and then I’ll call you right back.” Evidently, I had tripled my mother’s phone bill, probably calling to ask for more money. Ski bums working at Snowbird did not make a lot of money.

Then there was the letter asking my mother to go buy edible panties at the adult store. And she did! Bless her heart. She wrote that she was the only person over the age of 25 in the entire store and to compound matters, the clerk insisted on showing them to her and demonstrating how they worked. I hope this only meant unwrapping them correctly. I don’t recall why I needed them. I do know they were for a joke. (I’m fairly certain of this, I hope.) I’m awaiting collaboration.

This was the same period where I gave up wearing underwear and a bra. I think it may have been a laundry situation, but I was going through an anti-establishment period when I thought that rules were a form of tyranny. I will leave off the stealing of toilet paper and the graffiti.

Then there was the nutritional period. I lived on a diet of cheese quesadillos and margaritas. As an adult, I am mortified by this. What about fruits and vegetables, vitamins, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Eight hours of sleep? How about wearing weather appropriate clothing? I have a photo of me wearing shorts in the dead of winter. I could’ve caught pneumonia!

The moral of this story is: if Emma did any of these things, she’d be grounded until she was thirty-five. My image of myself when I was eighteen shattered. I was a horrible teenager. I was a wild child, there’s no getting around it. The consolation, I tell myself, is that I did finally grow up. I no longer steal toilet paper because I spent my paycheck on tequila. I don’t buy edible panties. I only do graffiti on the inside of my own backyard fence and I wear under clothing. I have improved. I did manage to tame the wild child.

Note from Layce: I disagree. She’s still wild. It’s like I have two children. But I love her anyway. And I’m buying her edible panties for Valentine’s Day!

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MUSKRAT LOVE

Layce and I were listening to Captain and Tennille on vinyl. We were way old schooling it. I was just coming into an appreciation of C and T. There’s a lot more to them as musicians and singers than I had heretofore realized—a bit of jazz, a bit of blues, Toni’s vocal range and all that. But I’ve always had an issue with Muskrat Love.

 

CaptainAndTenille-SongOfJoyFrontCover

Tonight I gave it an honest listen.  I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the lyrics. I looked over at Layce, who was knitting and listening contentedly.  “Do you think Muskrat Love is really about muskrats or does it have a deeper meaning? Is it a euphemism for the vagaries of love?”

“I have no idea. I just like the song,” she said, not looking up from her knit and purl thing.

“I’m going to look it up.” Oh, the dangers of instant knowledge. I read, furrowed my brow and said, “It is about muskrats, anthropomorphized muskrats. The band America did it but Captain and Tennille made it truly famous.”

“Hmm…good to know,” Layce said, still knitting and purling.

“She makes it sound like they’re cute little otters, swimming around and shimmying. I don’t think otters or muskrats shimmy, much less have protestations of love. Have you ever seen a muskrat? They’re not cute.”

Layce refrained from comment. That just encouraged me. I mistook silence for agreement. “They’re swimming rats.” I looked up photos. “Big rats. They look like a cross between a guinea pig and  beaver with a rat tail that swims.”

Charlottenburg_muskrat

“You’re wrecking the song for me,” Layce said.

“They used to make nests under the docks at my parent’s cabin. Imagine swimming around and coming face-to-face with a large swimming rat that makes the top 40 charts. No wonder I have issues when it comes to swimming in lakes and rivers. Swimming rats, that why.”

I further perused the Internet. “And the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have winter hats made out of muskrat fur. Imagine wearing that on your head. I mean, who in their right mind wears rat fur on their head? What’s wrong with a nice knit hat?”

“I wouldn’t mention that the next time you visit your Canadian relatives,” Layce said.

The rats were now nibbling on bacon and chewing on cheese. “And muskrats do not eat bacon and cheese, nor propose marriage. I don’t care if they did it muzzle to muzzle.”

Layce put her knitting down and went over to the turntable. With one quick pluck of the needle, Muskrat Love was no more. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Did I ever tell you the story about me in the outhouse and the pack rat? Have you ever seen a pack rat? Imagine looking over in the dimness and seeing a pair of rat eyes?”

“I’m done with rats,” Layce said, putting on another album, one without muskrats.

“Well, at least pack rats aren’t immortalized in a song,” I muttered.

“Thank goodness or we’d never hear the end of it.”

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