My Hairy Chest Her Hairy Legs

MY HAIR CHEST

MY HAIRY CHEST HER HAIRY LEGS

EPISODE IN THE HAIR WARS

BY

DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS

My concern with hair has receded along with my hairline, yet I have present occasion, namely an episode of The Hair Wars, to raise the subject.

Like father like son: my father was half bald when he graduated from high school. I remember well how the barber clucked over my thinning hair one Saturday morning when I was merely twelve-years old, and told me I would soon need a rug to get along in life. And I recall now without too much discomfort how “baldy” was added to “fatso” in reference to yours truly. My hair loss was not entirely inherited: using Rit Dye to die my hair blue-black to imitate my friend Dino’s Italian mop certainly did not stimulate hair growth. In any event, as my hairline slipped further back, I simply attributed my rising forehead to superior intelligence: my father had clued me in to the derivation of the epithet “low-brow” during a visit to the Neanderthal exhibit at the museum.

There were naturally hidden hormonal advantages to baldness which I was not aware of until the advent of smart young ladies in my life: smart women know what baldness on top of an otherwise hairy ape really means.

I was seduced by a beautiful young Cherokee woman during a train trip from Chicago to New York. She had espied my hairy chest, which I had learned to display by keeping my shirt unbuttoned down to the fourth buttonhole. She moved across the aisle and sat down beside me, whereupon she proceeded to acquaint me with my rising fortunes. Inasmuch as the train had only one passenger car in which the conductor sat at the restroom end, and we had only a half-hour layover in Philadelphia in a very public station, I had to patiently and painfully await our arrival in Manhattan to take my final examination. But alas, as I frantically hailed a cab to take us to my hovel, she disappeared into the crowd! To this very day, I have the disappointing feeling that she had used the inequitable distribution of my hair against me while she teased it.

This all came to mind again recently when I was reading essays on the Internet; I ran across one written by Helga Ross on The Hair Wars>/i>’ wherein was addressed, amongst other hirsute matters, the life-hating statement of crew cuts–an image of Nixon’s team flickered in my mind.

Yes, indeed, I thought, there are all sorts of hair wars, blatant and subtle. I recalled the train ride as well as the Afro hairstyle I was seeing around the Upper West Side in those days along with the ethnic robes and long fighting sticks blacks were proudly sporting. I thought big hair and flowing robes were cool, but the walking sticks seemed menacing when I was paranoid from smoking pencil-thin Columbian joints. Afros were a sign of life for sure; several years later, when meditating on X’s autobiography, that fact really hit me.

Ten years later in Kona, circa 1980, my wife Kuilei came home with a big Afro hairdo. That was cool by me: because of the hair abuse I had received due to my condition, I had resolved to leave the hair business up to women. However, I must admit that her new do was stunning; I suppose her head took the Afro well because she is partly of Portuguese extraction. I certainly felt she was making a bold statement. We seldom discussed race relations, nor did we have much cause to, since there were only four or five blacks on the whole side of the island; but I know Kuilei liked them, and she was in fact sensitive to the plight of black people in general. In retrospect, I believe her Afro was a minor declaration of war, or at least the throwing down of a gauntlet.

But a major declaration was forthcoming. After we divorced, Kuilei stopped shaving her legs! I found it difficult to even imagine what the outcome of that would look like. When I was a young man, I had a shocking glimpse of a French-speaking woman with hairy legs while riding a bus in Chicago, but I figured she was with the circus, and I quickly put the sight out of mind. Of course, I knew women shaved their legs and used depilatories, but I had never seen the reason therefor; I once knew a woman who had a trace of a mustache and some hair on her chest, but I did not have a clue to the fact that a female’s legs could be as hairy as mine. Nor did I see Kuilei in her natural state during her hair war; but she did tell me a very amusing story about it:

Kuilei is a very attractive woman; she is one who looks much younger than she is. She recounted to me how she had been sitting on the beach one day with a blanket covering her hairy legs, when two high-school boys young enough to be her kids made their moves on her. They sat down; she courteously chatted with them awhile.

Finally, when one fellow was coming on strongly, she said, “By the way, there is something I should tell you.”

“What?” the boy asked.

Kuilei whipped the blanket off her shapely legs, exposing the luxuriant growth thereon. “I’m a man,” she declared.

Horrified by this blatant challenge to their sexual identity, the boys fled the obscene scene.

Someone recently told me many European ladies let their legs get hairy. But hairy legs in the United States are terrifying. Helga Ross is right: there is a hair-war on Life here. I wonder, Does revolutionary Life still live in France? I heard rumors the other day about a female writer in France who calls herself by a man’s name, George Sand: that she wears trousers, sports a mustache, smokes cigars, and admits to being a non-violent communist. I was told she cut off her long hair and sent it to her lover because he had admired it so much. Is that true? That sounds like making hair love instead of hair war, as if hair love could overcome the hair war on nature.

Pray tell, Does George Sand have hairy legs? Long Live George Sand!

Honolulu 2003

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