I first met my friend Rita in the Navy. We were the original all-female team assigned to the F-18 Super Hornet, operating under code name Blisters. It was sort of like a real-life Top Gun and, just like Maverick and Goose, we pulled some real shenanigans. It was late one night in the mess hall, and over a bowl of stale gruel we realized that we shared the same childhood dream of one day becoming mommy bloggers. Right then and there we made a promise to each other that if we ever made it out of that god forsaken war alive we would guest post for one another regularly. Or at least once. I started my blog here, she started a slightly funnier blog called Fighting Off Frumpy. So without further adieu… here’s Rita, the war hero.
My name is Rita. I have four kids, two dogs, a cat, a mortgage, and one hell of a sweet tooth.
Oh yeah, and a beard.
Look, I didn’t ask for facial hair. And I didn’t always have it. (And I don’t have a mustache, thank goodness, though I keep my upper lip waxed just in case it decides to turn manly on me like my chin did.) I just have a beard. It’s not Duck Dynasty or ZZ Top-caliber, but it’s there – and since I’m a woman, that’s not exactly awesome.
I blame my kids. Partly because it’s easy to blame your kids for things (like, it’s totally their fault I’m still holding onto this “baby weight” that has absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned sweet tooth), and partly because I did not have a beard until my first pregnancy.
What’s worse, I didn’t even notice the beard until I was like eight months pregnant. Probably because I was busy gaining ninety pounds and trying my best to ignore the general public gaping in awe/disbelief/disgust at my gargantuan belly. I didn’t have a baby bump; I had a good Lord, woman, how many are in there? So a beard was the least of my worries – it wasn’t even on my radar. Until one fateful day when I stepped out of the shower and, for whatever reason, grazed the underside of my chin with my fingers.
And that’s when I felt it.
Dry skin? I thought, hoping against hope, when deep down I was fairly sure a snake couldn’t even have skin that abrasive. I clambered over to the sink as fast as I could, hoisting my bulging abdomen up onto the counter so I could get as close as possible to the mirror. Heart pounding, breath heaving, I hesitantly lifted my chin to get a better look.
And the beard was all, “Haaaaaaay.”
I think I might have screamed at that point. It wasn’t a couple of stray hairs, or fine blonde fuzz only visible in the right lighting. It was like … a dark, coarse, pube-y patch. It was reaching goatee status and I hadn’t even noticed. My mind raced, trying to recall my every social encounter for the past – hell, who knew? This beard could have been there for months. I mean, they don’t just grow overnight. Had I been inadvertently making myself a reputation around town as The Bearded Lady, a walking one-woman freak show? I struggled to remember the details of each conversation I’d had recently: did their eyes keep darting downward, like they were wondering why I didn’t do something about the fact that my chin looked like an armpit?
Nobody ever said anything, but I was traumatized.
To add insult to injury, the amount of hair on my chin has increased exponentially with each pregnancy. I’ve got four kids, y’all. You do the math. And, in a twist of irony, those four kids – who are to blame for the beard in the first place – are the exact reason I’ve never been able to afford to pay for some sort of permanent hair removal. I swear when they read my will, there’s going to be an addendum: “… And your inheritance is hereby decreased to cover the costs of electrolysis.”
Despite my best efforts, my beard reappears regularly, as predictable as the plot of a cheesy Lifetime movie. Maybe someday I’ll be able to let it grow out and reach its lush, bushy potential. Perhaps by the time I’m, say, sixty years old, facial hair for women will be all the rage and my chin-thicket will catapult me to the height of fashion. Or maybe I’ll just stop giving a shit and grow it out until I can use it like a scarf.
Hey, a (bearded) girl can dream, right?