This is a really long story about the traumatizing effects of hairy legs in childhood. I apologize if it’s boring.
When I was 15 I was required to take the bus to and from school. Most kids that age had 16 year old friends with driver’s licenses who would take them, but since I was a social outcast I had to take the bus. I always felt like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles except at the end of my day I never had a hot football player waiting to eat cake with me on my dining room table.
I hated taking the bus. I was forced to sit next to kids who either didn’t like me or didn’t know I existed. They’d look at me in a way that suggested, “You go to this school? Are you sure? Why are you trying to sit on my lap?” I always felt uncomfortable and alien, probably how Lindsay Lohan would feel if she were attending a Mensa meeting. I’d desperately try and fit in with the other kids, but I was so socially awkward I could barely function and desperately needed to drink a bottle of vodka to loosen up.
A cluster of girls would be oohing and aahing over how cute Pacey Whitter was or gushing about the intense drama of Ross and Rachel on Friends and I would lean over causally and say something like “Did you know the word dork means whale penis?” They’d turn and look at me like they were slowly coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t invisible and I was an actual living, breathing, mentally disturbed girl sitting in front of them. After a few seconds of blank staring they’d blink their eyes rapidly, in a way I’m guessing was to go back to believing I never existed so they could forget I had just mentally raped their brains with images of whale penises. They’d go back to their conversations and I would nod and smile self satisfactory to myself like I had just accomplished a major feat by engaging in real human conversation! “Ooh I made some best friends!” I would squeal while giving myself a mental high five. I could already picture us having pillow fights, attending square dances, getting matching back tattoos and doing whatever else teenage girls do together. Of course none of this would ever happen because they’d probably prefer to play hide and seek with Roman Polanski in a closet at a children’s hospital than ever be seen in public with me.
One Winter day I was on the bus and just absolutely dreading my impending day at school. It was a couple days before Thanksgiving so the weather outside was cold, icy and dreary. It was the kind of day where you felt like running off to Vegas and eloping with an elderly high school janitor just to get away from it all. Unfortunately, Clarence had repeatedly turned down my marriage proposals so I had no other choice but to go to school.
We arrived at school and as we were unloading from the bus I slipped on an icy step and spiralled out into the cold Cleveland morning. As I flew through the sky I felt like a flightless bird, I think I even flapped my arms a few times. I must have looked like a fat penguin trying to fly away from a hungry polar bear. I hadn’t even hit the ground yet and I was already mortified and embarrassed. A few seconds later I crashed onto the pavement into a crumpled heap of shame and self loathing.
"Oh my God! Are you ok?" the girl behind me asked concerned.
I didn’t know yet, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let anybody know that. “Oh I’m totally fine!” I said while my cheeks flamed red with embarrassment. The bus could have run me over and dragged me ten blocks while I clung helplessly to the bumper and if somebody would have asked me if I was OK I would have laughed self effacingly and said “This happens to me all the time! Don’t look at me!”
The girl looked at me for a moment like she wasn’t sure if I was lying or not, than shrugged her shoulders and walked off. I think I was in a state of shock over what had happened. I was still on the ground, but I had propped myself up into a sitting position. That way if anybody else asked me if I was OK I could tell them I was fine and simply enjoyed lounging on a sheet of ice in frigid temperatures. I didn’t fall! I’m attempting to get pneumonia silly! I’m just having an impromptu picnic is all!
After the remaining people on the bus unloaded and stepped carefully over my broken body, I tried to get up. I realized almost immediately that something was wrong. My right ankle felt weird. It wasn’t excruciatingly painful, it just felt floppy. If I put any pressure on it it felt like it was a balloon and about to pop. I needed medical attention. A sense of dread overcame me. What the fuck was I going to do now? The nurses station was at least 100 feet from me and the hallways were crowed with students. I limped a few yards into the school and it was unbearable. That wasn’t going to work. So I tried dragging my foot behind me like Tim did in Jurassic Park after he was shocked and flung from the electric fence. That didn’t really work, but I felt as dramatic and looked as disheveled as him. I resorted to my last option. Hopping on one foot. I felt like a complete and utter asshole as I weaved my way between students and hopped myself to the nurses station. A few people looked at me, but I just smiled nervously at them and whispered “It’s an old Nam injury acting up!”
By the time I reached the nurses station I had resorted to crawling on my hands and knees. I was drenched in sweat and my ankle was swollen to the size of a softball. I flung open her door and fell into her office.
"Oh my God! What happened to you?" she asked with concern.
It was than I realized how ridiculous this whole thing was. I had fallen off the bus! Nobody pushed me. I had tripped over my own two feet and fell. Off a school bus. That wasn’t a cool story. I tried to think of something more dramatic I could tell her. “Logging accident! Fell off a skateboard! Hurt myself running away from all the hot guys that were trying to ask me out!” Those didn’t sound plausible so I said, “I’m really not sure! I just woke up this way!”
After looking at my ankle she decided it was sprained and I needed to get x-rays at the hospital. I would need to call my dad to come get me.
"Daaaad!" I wailed into the phone. "I broke my leg!"
"Nope. No you didn’t. You probably just sprained your ankle!" the nurse said in the background.
"Daaaad! I think I might be a paraplegic now!"
"Ok. Give me the phone now!" the nurse said.
After wiping my tears off the receiver she spoke a few hushed words to my dad and than hung up.
"He’ll be here as soon as he can."
"Thank God! Do you have any morphine or access to some?" I asked her. The pain in my ankle was starting to come in waves and I knew I needed drugs.
Thirty minutes later, after unsuccessfuly trying to make small talk with the nurse (“Did you know dork means whale penis?”) my dad arrived. I got on my hands and knees and prepared to crawl out of school with him when the nurse told me it was school policy that I be carted out in a wheel chair. I would have rather my dad carried me out piggy back style, but after a few objections I relented. The wheelchair wasn’t that bad. I felt classy, like a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The nurse helped my dad put me into the car and than ran back into the school, relieved to be rid of me.
"OK lets get you to the hospital," my dad said.
"Nope!" I replied. "We need to go home first!"
"I need to shave my legs!" I shouted insanely. It was winter time and since I was lazy and didn’t have a boyfriend (shockingly!) my legs were as hairy as hell. It was like Chewbacca on Rogaine down there. My legs were a complete disaster and no hot doctor was going to be looking at my hairy ankle. Seriously my leg looked like this:
"I really think we should just go to the hospital" my Dad tried again.
I turned to him Exorcist style full of rage and embarrassment. “I am not going to the hospital with hairy legs,” I said calmly. “If it comes down to it I’d rather amputate myself at home!” Sensing I was losing my mind he relented and took me home.
After I dragged my exhausted body into the house my dad looked at me expectantly.
"Sooo…" he started while looking at my ankle which was slowly turning the same color as Michael Jordan’s elbow. "How are you going to shave your legs? Do you need my help?"
The thought of my dad helping me place my fat, naked body into a tub full of bubble bath so I could shave my legs made me gag. I would sooner drown than let that happen.
"Nope! I think I got things under control!" I said. I didn’t.
"OK! I’m going to go watch TV than!" he said and let out a long sigh of relief. This day was already so traumatizing for the both of us.
I knew with my ankle being the way it was I couldn’t possibly fanagle my body into the shower. Luckily I came up with a genius idea. I had my dad get me a bucket of water, I rolled my jeans up to my knees and happily shaved my legs in the garage next to an old oil spill. Thirty minutes later it looked like a drunken sailor had attacked me with a razor blade. My legs were covered in cuts, but I was proud with what I achieved.
After some x-rays it was discovered I did indeed sprain my ankle. Unfortunately there were no hot doctors waiting for me at the hospital, but after all my hard work I was desperate for some reassurance. I turned to my x-ray technician and asked her, “Would you like to feel how smooth my legs are?”