Talk about a loaded word.
This could go so many ways… the fires in Victoria… that one guy who lived in the White House for a few years taking up space and choking on his own vocabulary… or, yes, you may have guessed the direction I am heading. Down. There. That bush.
Completely inappropriate, I know. And now that you are aware of the focus, feel free to forgo the rest of this tome. And for all you Pervy McPervisons out there, there are no photos.
It started out like this: I am in front of my locker at the yoga studio…and, like how people always do, all of us sort of use basically the same lockers everyday, or at least the same vicinity. As I am one of maybe three gweilos that go to this Planet Yoga, there is not a lot of conversation in general (cordiality for sure… and I am hoping to improve my Cantonese through auditory osmosis) but we generally just sort of coexist. And so I am there getting dressed. As I am half way to standing up there is a huge, and I mean HUGE bush right in front of me. This gives me pause for several reasons. First of all, most of the women at my yoga studio are modest to the point of waiting to change in one of three little dressing rooms. Secondly, this woman is tiny. But – Oh. My. God. The hair! Oddly, she has a towel wrapped around her chest. I am suddenly harshly thrown back to the horror, (the horror!) of the Edison Chen scandal that simply rocked Hong Kong. The locals were absolutely horrified by the girl’s behavior (some took issue with Ed as well, offering HK$50,000 to cut off one of his hands) but most people I knew were more shocked by the insane amount of bush. One of my male friends said he was not aware that hair even grew in the places that the photos depicted. I know, I am being gross. You were warned.
As soon as I could right myself and get out of the bush, it got me wondering. This is a subject that comes up far more than you might imagine in conversation; the whole ‘personal grooming’ debate. Actually, the frequency is a bit freakish. Waxing and manscaping have taken up quite a bit of discussion time in my book group, for example. And it works itself into lots of other discussions in strange ways. However, I feel comforted to know that we are not alone in this pubic fascination (okay, that may be overstating it, but you know I am prone to hyperbole.) Just a few weeks ago, the illustrious Jenny McCarthy said, “I only really read Playboy now to see what a pussy should look like. I need to know what kind of grooming patterns are popular nowadays.”
Some of the other ways this has worked its way into conversation? Take a look:
Talking about Burning Man an old friend told me his buddy had a stall shaving bush on the playa. I laughed and shared this story with another friend in Hong Kong who was asking me about Burning Man and she laughed too, and then said, “Wait, who even has bush anymore?”
Another time I was sitting with a friend who was telling me she had made an appointment with her wax specialist because her boyfriend was coming to see her. She was trying a new place and so the next time I saw her I asked her how it had gone and she said, “Great… when XXX saw it he clicked his heels and said, ‘Heil Hitler!'”
Another time a friend of mine who works at a spa was sharing a story of some drama associated with doing a laser Hollywood (that would be permanent removal of all pubic hair by laser, for those of you not in the know) and I said “Laser? Why would she want that?” To which my friend replied, “Why would you want pubic hair?” I replied, “It just seems like a big commitment. I mean what if the bush comes back? The Afro did.”
In a conversation with one of my manscaping male friends I was describing a date I had gone on. At which point he asked directly, “Does he manscape?” For a moment I had no words. So I ate some of my Thai beef salad and ruminated.
In my book group when we were discussing a particularly poor piece of literature the discussion made its way around to waxing versus shaving. To be fair, I have no recollection how it came up… but there we were making the one guy present a little squeamish. One comment was “My daughter wouldn’t dream of having hair down there. None, nothing.” The corresponding rejoinder was, “Seems a little weird to me, like trying to be a child.” Someone else said, “Do guys like it?” At which point all eyes turned to our one representative of said gender. In an (un)related note, he has not been back to the ‘book’group since.
When another revered friend of mine said “Why do I want to look like a plucked chicken?” on the suggestion of just giving it a try, a second friend said, “she just doesn’t understand.”
And you know all the topiary-like designs have names. As I already mentioned there is the ‘Hollywood’ – that’s taking it all off. Then there is the ‘Brazilian’ – leaving whatever shape you like in that one little spot. I am wondering what the other ‘styles’ I have seen at the gym should be called. I have some ideas. I will keep them to myself.
I suppose like everything else, it is a cultural thing. For those of you who have come over to the regionally-identified waxing procedures, you are aware of the level of intimacy involved… So perhaps some people just aren’t gonna go all the way for their aesthetician. That’s cool, I think I am just gonna have to find a new way to orient myself when I get dressed after yoga… because you know me, I am certainly not going to actually move my locker location, and I have to say, after the last eight years, I am way over bush.