The Polka Dots of Pain

Today, something triggered a memory of an event that happened some 29 years ago. It was the summer of 1985. My Esteemed Spouse of only four years was in Zambia for the whole summer on a mission trip. I stayed here in Texas and spent my summer getting pneumonia, having to sleep bolt upright, and coughing and puking a lot. It was a rough, rough summer spent alone in our little house.

So, you can imagine how excited I was as the time for my husband’s return came closer. I couldn’t wait to go pick him up at the airport, and naturally I wanted to look my best. For some reason that is lost in the mists of time, I decided that merely shaving my legs would not make them attractive enough, so I shelled out the dough for some of that fancy hair-remover cream that was always being advertised on television.

According to the commercials, this cream would painlessly remove my leg hairs, leaving behind silky smooth skin that would not sprout any new hair for a period of weeks. Doesn’t that sound nice?

My husband’s plane was not due to arrive in Dallas until the evening, so before I left for my three-hour drive, I slathered that lotion all over my legs. I waited for the prescribed ten minutes, and then tested a little area to see if the hair had dissolved. (I kind of wonder why I had no qualms about covering my skin with a chemical that dissolves hair!)

There was no sign that the cream was doing anything at all, so I left it on for another ten minutes. And then another ten. By then my skin was tingling a little, but I hated to waste the money I’d spent! After about 40 minutes I got in the shower and rinsed that stuff off. The good news was that at least some of the hair was gone. The bad news was that I now had an open bleeding wound in place of every single hair follicle. And I STILL had to shave to get the rest of the hair removed.

Desperately, I blotted my bleeding legs with paper towels and tissues over and over. Picture pale white legs covered with hundreds of little bleeding polka-dots. It was not a pretty sight, and it really, really hurt.

I was running out of time. I did not at that time own any jeans or long pants that I could cover my legs with, and it was time to leave for the airport, so I had to wear a skirt. I stopped at a drugstore on the way thinking maybe I could find some opaque nylons to cover up my wounded legs. The only opaque nylons they had were white–presumably for nurses. I bought them, and then put them on in the bathroom.

Guess what? They weren’t really opaque. With a sinking heart, I drove to the airport to meet my husband. His plane was late. Really late. Several hours late. And there I sat in the airport waiting with my reddish skirt and my white nylons and my hundreds upon hundreds of bright red open sores. I’m sure anyone who saw me must have thought I was suffering from some horrific skin disease. I still cringe every time I think of it.

Of course, eventually my husband did arrive, and after giving me a big hug, the first thing he said was, “What did you do to your legs?”

I have never touched that hair removal stuff again, and I never will.

Today was a pretty good school and crafting day. I started knitting a new muff during the kids’ piano lessons and have made some headway. I am hoping to have a few muffs done in hopes that people might want to buy them.

I’ve already hung out here too long–I have a ton of class prep and grading to do. Not to mention making some icing.


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