When I was growing up, shaving your legs was a political act. Shaving was one of the things we were liberating ourselves from. If we shaved our legs, we were on the side of the Establishment. Our consciousness was not raised. We had bought in.
Of course, I was picking up all this sloganeering from my older sisters, and was torn, so terribly torn. I wanted to shave my legs. Desperately. I remember convincing myself that I had super-hairy legs and that I couldn't be grown up until I had permission to savage them with a sharp object. This was back when we had parents who monitored these kinds of things.
A sweet little pink ladies' razor won out over politics: a harbinger of my later life. (My sister's the labor union president; my brother is the policy wonk.) I loved that little razor so much. I got it as a present for my 12th birthday. And I must have shaved my legs at least eight times before I realized what a sap I was for buying into this particular aspect of personal grooming. Shaving your legs wasn't political for me. It was just hard work (those cuts!) and relentless (it grew back!) and time consuming (I could have been reading Little Women!).
This morning, I forgot to shave my legs in the shower. I usually don't -- turns out I don't have such hairy legs and I have pretty much reduced shaving to Memorial Day and 4th of July. But tonight I was headed to the publication party for Dan Brown's new book, The Lost Symbol, which is represented by our agency. I thought that shaving my legs was the least I could do. That's when the little pink razor came back to me.
The party was elegant; the cake was fanciful (a replica of the Capitol); the speeches were polished; and nobody noticed what shape my legs were in, except me. We all got a copy of the book, signed, and I was home in time to start reading. Tonight, my politics will take the form of chasing around D.C. with Robert Langdon. Tomorrow, I'll air-kiss the razor goodbye till next summer.
And at some point, I'll tell you where I stand on lipstick.