I have a very distinct memory of reading this advice column when I was in high school. I don't know if it was Dear Abby or what, but it was right around the time I was (and I know this phrase is stupid) developing a feminist consciousness. I know. But still, it was the first time I really thought about the sociological implications of dowries and rings and women as chattel and financial dependence and blah blah blah. I think I'd just for some reason read First Wives' Club. I don't know, man. I grew up in Texas. Anyway so the point is that I'd decided that no man was ever going to change me, and that I'd never be dependent on anyone, etc. And I read this advice column where a guy wrote in to ask about his girlfriend. She refused to move in with him, and not because she didn't like him, but because she liked to have the alone time and space to do things like wax her legs. The columnist was kind of like "she should get over it, if she really needs to wax her legs alone you could leave or something."
Which at the time outraged me-how dare this lady tell some other lady to give up her freedom! -but with the wisdom of the years I have come to realize that what should have upset me was the concept of someone waxing their own legs. Which, what? Are you nuts? That is not something I would ever trust myself with.
But I digress. The reason that I bring this whole thing up is that for some reason that column has always stuck in my head, and even after I relaxed a little with my feminism (it turns out that many dudes are just as nice as ladies, who knew?) I realized that there's some truth to the girlfriend's concern. I bring it up because I am sitting here writing this with a plastic bag on my head, red hair dye splotted all along my back, and a towel awkwardly wrapped around the rest of me. PS: It is very cold in here.
This is a monthly ritual I've engaged in for about the last eight years. Essentially everyone I have ever lived with has had the chance to laugh at me with the bag on my head. I won't get into the mechanics of why the bag is necessary, but trust that I've gotten this thing down to an art. A really stupid looking art.
Since I've never been able to afford not to have roommates, I've never really had the luxury of having a bathroom to myself for a few hours to perform my own root canals or do my own acupuncture, but I think we can all agree that there are some things everybody does as part of their regular upkeep that are sort of weird and embarrassing. Whether it's nose hair maintenance or stinky foot spray or cold sore medicine or clay masques or zit cream or that teapot thing that you put in your nose to flush out the snot, nobody lives a life completely free of things that could potentially skeeve out a partner. Of course we would all prefer to do these things alone, away from society's judgey eyes, but in a one bedroom apartment, society's judgey eyes are pretty much everywhere.
The funniest part is that the advice columnist was totally right. At the end of the day, you do just have to get over it. For twenty-five minutes a month I have to sit with a bag over my head, and Frank has to live with bathroom tile that has little red spots all over it. I think it's worth it. And if fourteen-year-old feminist me thinks that's selling out, well, she can suck it. What does she know? She's a virgin who can't drive.