Back in middle school, my BFF Sarah and I would spend Friday nights on her four-poster bed, a fan pointed directly at us so we could snuggle under all of the covers no matter the time of year, talking into the wee-est of hours. Our favorite game was “What would you do?” and it went pretty much as you’d guess – one would ask the other the question, invariably about a boy’s action. The game almost always began with “What would you do if [insert boy-of-the-week’s name here] put his hand on your leg and told you you needed to shave?” This led to a flurry of giggles and protestation from the person being questioned because neither of us would ever be caught with less than silky smooth legs when boy-adjacent.

Oh, how times have changed.

I wince every time I catch a glimpse of the pelt on my legs presently. It’s only a couple of weeks’ growth; I am a quarter Italian, so genetics are against me in the battle against body hair. Until the past year I usually could muster up the energy to shave a couple of times a week, if not every other day. Now just standing under warm water long enough to shower thoroughly can leave me with barely enough energy to dress myself after. Wielding a sharp tool partway through the process is ill-advised.

Facial hair used to be managed with the excellent bliss Poetic Waxing kit (a joke I literally just got), but, when waxing sessions ended with my sink covered in green goo but my lady mustache intact, I switched to wax strips. Even that grew too difficult, so I’m now stuck with depilatories, the stink of which send me back to middle school faster than wondering what I’d do if Benji Barton put his hand on my hairy leg. Still, that cream gets the job done, and I am grateful . . .  until I spot a rogue hair requiring plucking.

Intention tremors are the enemy of good grooming, and nothing underlines that like trying to pluck a single hair. NIH says intention tremor “is produced with purposeful movement toward a target, such as lifting a finger to touch the nose. Typically the tremor will become worse as an individual gets closer to their target.” So when I aim a pair of tweezers at a single hair in my eyebrow (yeah, that’s the ticket, my eyebrow), I activate a hand tremor that makes it damned hard to get purchase on that hair no matter how coarse and dark it may be. Add my head tremor to the mix, and it’s amazing that I haven’t poked an eye out.

(Speaking of eyes, my interest in real eye make up–not just a swipe of mascara–sadly coincided almost exactly with my tremors’ onset.)

It would be disingenuous to bemoan MS’s effect on my hair (that which grows out of my skull, that is), as even in my liveliest, steadiest-handed days, I’ve never had much skill in the styling realm. Wash and wear has always been my way, barring a brief and failed flirtation with late 80s peacock bangs. That said, often I can manage merely a half-assed blow dry once shower fatigue has set in.

So what’s a vain girl trapped in an uncooperative body to do? Here are a few things that work for me.

1. Enlist an ally. I found Andre long before MS reared its ugly head. He’s the only person I’ve allowed to touch my brows for over a decade. Without him, my entire forehead would be one big eyebrow. He also is in charge of special occasion make up, because, lord knows, the chance of my expertly creating a smoky eye once is less likely only than my doing it twice in a single sitting.

2. Throw money at the problem. I lasered the hair off my underarms a decade ago. It didn’t go away completely, but I can now go a full month without shaving them before entering dirty hippie territory. Do your research to find a reputable place and keep your eyes peeled for Groupons.

3. Sit yo’ ass down. If you’re going to be vain, you might as well get yourself a vanity! You can buy a proper one or DIY. Mine consists of a smallish table with a desk lamp and mirror atop it plus all of my make up and jewelry. Sitting to primp is less fatiguing than standing. Yay! Plus, bracing my elbow on a table steadies it a bit, making it less likely that I stab myself with a mascara wand.

I imagine a different (and perhaps better) woman would say “Screw it!” and embrace her hairy, unadorned body with acceptance and love. Instead of leaning that way, I’ve gotten vainer. I accept the fact that I will fall in public and that people will think, “Oh, that poor lady! What’s wrong with her?” I just hope the word “pretty” will cross their minds, too.

“Who was that dazzling woman on the mobility scooter?”

One thought on “What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing on a Scooter Like This: In Which We Examine Life with MS for the Vain

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