[This is one of a series of posts on Caitlin Moran's book How to Be a Woman. Click here for other posts in this series.]
In connection with “How to be a Woman Week,” and in the spirit of Caitlin Moran’s invigorating frankness, we share with you this guest post from a man known to us only as “Smooth Operator.”]
Reading Caitlin Moran’s memoir, How to be a Woman, triggered a forgotten memory for me. It was near the end of 1999, and my wife and I were reading in bed. She looked up from her magazine, asked me whether she should get a Brazilian, and what did I think. Since I had no idea what she was talking about, I assumed her question had to do with fine-tuning the performance of our new house cleaning service by paying for a more expensive option involving, perhaps, additional personnel from Brazil. Silently I wondered why people hailing from this nation were more tidy in the observance of their duties than those from other countries.
Curious, I asked my wife what the advantages would be. She closed her magazine, smiled, and said she thought it would make sex more enjoyable for both of us. I laughed nervously, picturing several possibilities ranging from exotic South American women wearing incongruous, yet fetching, French Maid outfits with matching black Swifters, to, say, rose petals scattered on top of a bed made up so tightly that a Marine would wolf-whistle at it, the pillows hiding dark, aphrodisiac-loaded chocolates tucked underneath.
I asked her how much it would cost, but I then remembered we were making more money now with my recent promotion, so I added that since it was only once a week it was probably not a big deal. She cocked her head and said once a week was not nearly often enough, which made me wince slightly, but then she said we’d save a lot of money if we just did it ourselves, and that it could be a fun little activity we could do together. Before I could respond she grasped my hand and pulled me out of bed and said, “Don’t be a chicken–let’s do it now!”
We went into the bathroom, which seemed like a good place to start. I asked her if she’d read about all this in her magazine, and she said yes, that it was always loaded with good ideas. Then she turned on both of the shower heads and stripped naked. Okay, I said to myself, you clean the house unadorned, that’s what people in Brazil do, like that lady who vacuumed naked in the Seinfeld episode. As I disrobed, I said I’d only do this in the bathroom, and she smirked at me, saying the only other place in the house where this could be done would be in the kitchen, but only if the kids weren’t home. I was left to conclude it was just two rooms that customarily get the extra treatment … in the nude, that is. While I stood pondering what type of bio-friendly cleaners we should use when removing soap scum from the shower walls, hoping that I could avoid the accidental splash of Clorox or Lysol on certain areas of exposed epidermis, I noticed that she was wet under the water and had lathered herself up in one particular place. Before I could finally confess my complete befuddlement, she reached out in my direction, a razor in her hand, and she said she was ready. I asked, “Okay, so, what is it exactly that I am going to do now?” A bit exasperated, she said, “You’re going to shave me, of course!” I then realized people from Brazil were in fact quite fastidious. I took the razor and began.
While completing the first half of this task on the surface area of skin that is on the same plane as your pants zipper, I was feeling pretty confident about my performance. It’s just like shaving my own face, I thought, but infinitely more … interesting. It was only when I contemplated the second half of this procedure taking place below the zipper that my self-assurance failed me. I remembered in the movie “Charade” an astounded Audrey Hepburn asking Cary Grant how it was possible for him to shave the daunting dimple on his chin, and I was thinking that was a piece of, well, cake, compared to the task that was then before me. As I looked up for a moment, the water from the shower pelting my face, I could see my wife’s growing restlessness.
Before I could begin again, she started shaking her head from side to side. She then put her hand on my head and told me to stop. I asked why. She said she had been rethinking the whole thing and was becoming increasingly worried about how she might explain this to the children. I asked why the children needed to know about this, suggesting that I didn’t think a person had an obligation to stand up, say, at dinner, and make a declaration about their intentions regarding their own pubic hair. She gently pushed my head away, and pointed out that she still took baths with our daughter, who was a very inquisitive two-year old. “This is going to be a rough, stubbly couple of weeks here,” she warned, adding, as an afterthought, “for all of us,” as she then brushed past me out of the shower and reached for a towel, leaving me on my knees still holding the razor, pondering my situation. I knew what was coming, I could foresee the implementation of certain austerity measures required to set things aright. I realize they could last several weeks, that the brunt of those policies would fall in, well, my lap. As I looked at her and my unfinished handiwork, I was reminded of a man who had decided to shave his goatee, but after the moustache was gone, upon second thought, the fellow decided to just keep the rest because he thought it was really cool. I wonder if Ms. Moran would agree.