Down Home: Don’t criticize a woman until you’ve shaved a mile with her razor

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OK, first an apology to women worldwide. But let’s begin more specifically with my cousin Kerrie. Plus probably my mother, and certainly Joanna and our daughters, Lindsay and Molly. And undoubtedly a few girls I dated in high school and college.

I’m sorry for teasing you and, yes, sometimes scoffing. You complained about shaving your legs. You said it’s hard to remove hair without shedding blood. I laughed and said it can’t possibly be as challenging as shaving around an Adam’s apple. I was rude and insensitive. And—gasp—perhaps even wrong. Please forgive me.

Treacherous blades

Kerrie introduced me to the treachery of razor blades and female flesh.

This happened a gazillion years ago, when we were kids. My sister, Martha, and probably my little brother, Martin, and I took a road trip with our grandparents, Mom and Pop, to visit Kerrie’s family. That would be Uncle Norman and Aunt Jane, plus Kerrie and her little sisters, Jeanie and Leslie. They lived in Big Spring.

We walked into the house, and Kerrie’s legs looked like she’d gone 15 rounds with a Tasmanian Devil. I mean, they were ripped to shreds. Aunt Jane was, as they say about the queen, not amused.

Turns out, Kerrie decided—against her mama’s wishes—that was the day she should learn to shave her legs. What Kerrie learned was shaving legs is harder than it looks. Oh, and also that little nicks from razor blades can bleed. Copiously.

I must’ve misinterpreted what happened next.

Aunt Jane explained to Kerrie—in the inimitable style of mothers of precocious pre-teen daughters—several important truths. These include (a) Kerrie didn’t have permission to shave her legs yet, and this apparently had been the subject of numerous previous discussions; (b) shaving legs is complicated, what with the mixture of knees, ankles and razor-sharp, well, razors; (c) Kerrie needed supervision to carry a butter knife, much less rake a razor across her legs; and (d) towels are expensive, and leg-blood pretty much ruins them.

Knowing what you’re doing

What I understood Aunt Jane to say was (a) 10-year-old girls aren’t ready to shave their legs without supervision, but (b) leg-shaving isn’t a big deal for girls and women who know what they’re doing.

Across the years, plenty of female family and friends have tried to disabuse me of “(b) leg-shaving isn’t a big deal for girls and women who know what they’re doing.” But you know how hard first impressions are to shake. So, for a bejillion years, I’ve insisted shaving legs must be easy.

I mean, look how smooth girls’ and women’s legs are. How could shaving them be all that hard?

Unfortunately, I now know better.

Explaining how I know is sort of embarrassing. Suffice it to say I have experience.

Now quit thinking that. This had nothing to do with a Halloween costume.

Since last spring, I’ve been trying to recuperate from a torn plantar fascia tendon in my left foot. It’s quite annoying, because I can’t run. That, and my left heel sometimes feels like it’s going to explode and/or burst into flames.

So, I’ve tried resting my left foot and putting padded heel cups in my shoes. I’ve iced my foot and swallowed anti-inflammatory drugs. I’ve visited two doctors. And bought expensive insoles.

Kinesiology tape

My friend Meredith suggested using kinesiology tape, which is supposed to possess amazing healing powers.

I bought the tape and watched Internet videos about how to apply it. Then I realized my hairy legs would either mess with the tape or the tape would rip the hair out by the roots. As someone whose leg hair has been ripped out by the roots before, I can attest to the fact it hurts about as badly as a torn plantar fascia tendon.

One morning after shaving my face—successfully around my Adam’s apple—I figured, “Well, shoot, why don’t I shave the lower part of my calf so the tape will bond to my skin?”


Everything went smoothly, except for getting that little spot on the outside, just above the stick-out part of my ankle. I swiped at it and felt a little zip of a twinge. No big deal.

Until a couple of minutes later, when blood drained across the floor of the shower. And now two weeks later, I still haven’t used the kinsesiology tape because the gash in my leg hasn’t healed.

So, it turns out that shaving legs is probably as hard—if not harder—than shaving around an Adam’s apple. At least you don’t have to bend over and contort your torso to shave around an Adam’s apple.

All this reminds me it’s easy to criticize someone when you’ve never done their job. Sadly, this happens in churches all the time. But maybe we should save our criticism until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Or shaved our own legs.

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