the gift that keeps on giving
There is a new toy in the house.
It’s not really a toy, but I have to look at it that way, or I start to feel… worried? No, maybe it’s jealousy? Hmmm… no, I guess worried is a better word.
This new toy is a hair trimmer.
Eric is admittedly a vain person. It’s a quality about him that I like, because he cares how he looks, he’s confident about his looks, and he’s never worried that I’m not attracted to him or that I wish he was someone else. It gives our relationship a very comfortable feeling. Eric is also vain enough that I can tell you this story, and it won’t bother him. Any press for E is good press, after all.
Having said that, I will elaborate and tell you that this is a nose hair trimmer.
I’m a short person. I spend much of my day looking up the noses of people that I’m talking to. I have to admit that I’ve never noticed that Eric had any problems with his nose hair. But apparently it’s a problem that’s been plaguing him for years. Two years ago when we first started dating, Eric had a goatee for a show that we were doing. I couldn’t really remember what he looked like without it. It is a testament to how much I liked him that I dated him with a goatee because I find them rather disgusting. When I kiss someone, I don’t like hair in my mouth. I don’t like getting my face all scratched up by hair. My skin is very fair, and even the slightest makeout session will leave burns on my face and neck that you wouldn’t believe if the fellow I’m fooling with isn’t baby smooth.
But, I stayed with goatee boy because I thought he was special. We joked about his “fox mouth.” It got that nickname because a girl in his past dating life (who is my favorite ex-girlfriend of his) told him that his goatee smelled like an old fox. Goatees smell like that. Foxes. They gather spit and food and particles in the air– it’s just not hygienic, I think.
And when it was time to shave off the foxmouth, I was worried about what was underneath. What if he had no lips? What if he had a weird mouth? What if he looks totally different?
But he didn’t. He looked better. I was very happy with my new-shaven love.
But then I noticed that he would look in the mirror and tilt his head back all the time. I thought he was checking to see if he had shaved that little space right under the nose. It wasn’t until we were watching Seinfeld one night and I felt the futon start to shake that I learned what his obsession was. There was this jolting on the couch every couple of minutes. I looked over to ask him if he felt that, and I saw him–
Look, relationships are beautiful, wonderful things. You learn so much about yourself, about the opposite sex. You learn about boundaries, and what makes people uncomfortable. You learn about your own issues of space, and how familiar you want to be with a person. You learn how much you can share without being a freak. You learn what you do that drives people crazy, and what you do that makes them admire you.
It was at this point that I learned that men go through the same kind of pain that women do. I’ve never plucked my eyebrows. I have thin eyebrows naturally, and I’ve never wanted to tamper with them because I saw how painful it was and saw that it’s something you have to do all the time to keep them in line. So, I’ve left them alone. But when I looked over and saw Eric yanking out his nose hairs with his fingers, I was filled with emotions that I’ve never felt before. First it was horror. Sheer horror. How painful that must be! What the fuck is he doing? Is that some weird tick he has? Some sort of compulsion? Then I felt confusion. Why would he do that to himself? Then I felt fear. Is he gonna try that on me? Is this something that he likes to do? Is it comforting? What the fuck is he doing? Then I felt pity. Man, men do go through pain.
So, I asked him. “Sweetie? What are you doing?”
“I hate nose hair. Why didn’t you tell me I’ve got all these crazy hairs hanging out of my nose?”
“I didn’t notice them.”
“Oh! They’re EVERYWHERE!” And then he got up and went to the bathroom mirror to finish the job.
And as I was sitting there alone on the couch, I wondered if this was the beginning of me finding out his quirks. Is this the part of the relationship where I learn little things about him that I find endearing? Is this a male secret that I didn’t know? I wanted to help. I wanted to be a part of the solution.
“Shouldn’t you use something other than your fingers for that?” I asked him. “I mean that has to hurt.”
“I have to stop them,” he muttered, leaning back to look in the mirror, his fingers trembling with anticipation. He yanked another.
“Oh, man!” I said. “You have to stop doing that!”
“Maybe you shouldn’t watch.”
“They make clippers for that,” I told him. “Electric ones.”
“But maybe it’s like an epilady and would just hurt worse, I don’t know.”
“I should get one.”
And that was it. He didn’t get one, he just kept pulling them every other week or so. I couldn’t watch it. But, I was stuck in an interesting situation. It doesn’t seem like a very romantic gift. I couldn’t just wrap one up for a birthday, or an anniversary. I couldn’t stuff one in his stocking, since we always have friends around when we open our gifts. I had to just sit back and ignore the fact that he would yank out these hairs– and it really is the most painful thing I’ve ever seen. His eyes get all watery and everything. It makes my nose hurt.
Then it turned ugly.
“Baby!” He came out of the bathroom one night a few weeks ago. “You didn’t tell me I’ve got hair coming out of my ears.”
Suddenly I’ve done something wrong in the relationship. I wasn’t part of the solution. I wasn’t holding up my end.
Jesus! I mean, there’s hair out of my ears!
It’s not really out of your ears. It’s on your ears.
I know! It’s disgusting!
They are blonde hairs.
LONG blonde hairs!
I’ve told you about them before.
And I’ve asked you to pull them.
I’m not pulling your ear hair out. It’s on the lobe of your ear. No one notices.
Except if I’m backlit on a stage maybe, with a big fucking halo around my head of ear hair.
I refuse to pull out hair. I am not a chimp. I don’t groom my mate. I don’t want to inflict pain on the person I love. I can’t do that. I know that he couldn’t see the hairs, and I had mentioned them before, because I thought they were kind of cute. It would just be one long hair, and it was sort of tucked behind his ear anyway– it shouldn’t matter. It’s not like he’s got bushes coming out of his head or anything– but it was the last straw for Eric.
He bought a nose hair trimmer.
The second we got home from the store he pulled it out of the package and tried it. It’s a little battery operated machine. I don’t really know how it works. Something spins around and it somehow yanks all the hairs out at once. It makes a little whirring noise. Purr-rrrirrirr-rirrrirrir-purrur-riririr-rurururu. And you can hear the nose hairs coming down. pit-a-pit-a-pit-a-pit.
“That’s a terrible noise,” I said, squinting in pain looking at him.
“Oh, man! This is great! Why didn’t I get one of these sooner?”
“Could you do it in the bathroom as opposed to over the table?”
He ran to the bathroom and kept going. Purr-rrrirrirr-rirrrirrir-purrur-riririr-rurururu. pit-a-pit-a-pit-a-pit.
“Oh, yeah, baby! This is it!”
And that was the beginning. About an hour later I was cooking dinner and I heard “Purr-rrrirrirr-rirrrirrir-purrur-riririr-rurururu. pit-a-pit-a-pit-a-pit.”
“Are you playing with that thing again?”
“I just don’t think I got all of them,” he shouted from the bathroom.
Another hour passed.
And another hour.
“Okay,” I said. “I think you got them all.”
“I love this thing.”
The next day I was getting ready to go out for the evening. “Purr-rrrirrirr-rirrrirrir-purrur-riririr-rurururu. pit-a-pit-a-pit-a-pit.”
“Baby!” I shouted. “Leave your nose alone! They can’t grow back this fast!”
“No, I’ve got to beat them to the punch!”
“What is left in there that you’re spinning around? There couldn’t possibly be anything?”
“Sweetie, aren’t those hairs in there for a reason?”
“To piss me off.”
“No, I think that they are there to protect you from getting sick. If you get rid of them all your boogers will just fall right out of your nose and on the floor. That’s not a very good first impression.”
It didn’t matter what I said.
Three days later.
“Did you read the instructions for that thing?”
“It didn’t come with instructions.”
“Well, I bet it would have if they had known you were going to use it so often. You’re just shaving skin at this point.”
“This is the best invention ever.”
Two days later. We are sitting on the couch. I’m cuddled on his chest. I looked up and saw some sprouts of nose hair just under the tip of his nostril. He’d never see them in a mirror. I wanted to keep it a secret. I thought I’d give some of the little guys a chance. I wanted him to have some sort of hair, before he started shaving everything off like that guy in The Wall. I giggled a little at my joke.
“What? What is it?”
“Get off me. I know what it is.”
So, now there’s a new toy in the house, and I have nothing to do with it. I’ve looked at it, and wondered what it could do for me. I don’t have strange hairs coming out of holes on my face, so it really holds no purpose for me. But I wonder what it feels like. I wonder why Eric gets such satisfaction out of it. I picked it up and looked at it. It’s this weird gold metal thing with like a ball in it and some sort of zig-zaggy edges. It looks like something a dentist would use. I put it down before I tried something stupid.
“Does it bother you that I’m obsessed with getting a new car?” Eric asked me the other day.
“I think it’s healthier than some of your other obsessions,” I replied.
“Oh, nothing. You know, other things.”
“Like smelling my socks after I take them off?”
“Yeah, baby, something like that.”
“Oh, you mean–”
“That reminds me…”
My boy has the cleanest nose in East Austin. You better recognize.