If there had been a hairy legs contest when I was in the sixth grade, I would have been its grand champion. I’ll admit to being mathematically and directionally challenged, but I’ve never been follically challenged. Queen of the mammals.
So when God put a disposable razor into the U.S. mail, addressed to me (“Resident”), I took it as an unmistakable sign from the heavens that my furry angst would soon be resolved. My mistake – one I’ve never repeated, BTW – was asking my mom for permission instead of forgiveness.
Standing between me and that glorious feeling of freshly shaved legs was my mom, who didn’t give two flips about which of the other 35 girls in the sixth grade were shaving. (Fun fact: All of them.)
“No!” she snapped, unbending to the rapid-fire pelting of my pleas, negotiations and threats of dying if I didn’t shave my legs that very night.
My mom was using the oldest method of hazard prevention known to humanity: the Mom Card, a swift, non-negotiable, preemptive strike against all questionable decisions. My siblings and I gave her plenty of practice in playing the Mom Card, which trumped every argument.
Can I join Bluebirds? No.
Can I get my ears pierced? No.
Pleeeeeease, can we keep this puppy? No.
Can I get my hair straightened? No.
Will you buy me a camper and let me live in the driveway? No.
Can we sleep on the roof? No.
Can we have Fritos for dinner? No.
Can we adopt a baby? No.
Then can we get another hamster? No.
Can I build a stage in the driveway? No.
I’ve enjoyed playing the Mom Card so many times with my own kids that I’m thinking of laminating it.
Can we dive off the roof into the pool? Nope.
Can we watch “Rugrats”? No.
Can I get a blink-182 CD? No.
Can we ride our bikes across May Avenue? No.
Can we jump in the ball pit at McDonald’s? Not until you’re 25.
Can I get a navel ring? Not while I’m alive.
Can I have a drum set? Hell, no.
Can I cut my hair into a Mohawk? Not while my mom’s alive.
Can we have Fritos for dinner? Mehhhh … don’t eat the whole bag.
Occasionally, the Mom Card is essential to the very survival of the species (e.g., Can Jennings and I get some real swords?). More often, it’s essential to the survival of Mom’s sanity (e.g., Can I get a harmonica? Can we throw some firecrackers into the fireplace?) The challenge is knowing how to strike a good balance: keep the Mom Card in your pocket too often and you could end up posting Junior’s bail a time or two; pull it out too often, I’m convinced, and your kids will turn into pole dancers.
It was the Case of the Disposable Razor that proved to be my mom’s undoing. Whether she’d pitied me for the unholy pelt pressed under my L’eggs suntan pantyhose on Sundays or she just appreciated not having to buy the razor that would finally shut me up, I’ll never know.
But I do recall that the sound of her buckling to my plea was nearly audible. “Once you shave your legs,” she reasoned while tucking away her Mom Card, “you’ll have to keep shaving your legs for the rest of your life!”
“I’m in!” I assured her as I lathered up my woolen calves.
Years later, when my equally mammalian daughter asked, as a sixth grader, to shave her legs, I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes,” but “Rugrats,” blink-182 and navel ring? I’m sticking with my Mom Card for the win.