Pretty much up until this point in my life, I have been something that the elders might term a “pussy footer”.
Tiptoeing through my existence; I have managed to avoid some of life’s more challenging puzzles.
Delving into the foggy recesses of my childhood memories, I came up with something almost resembling an explanation for this.
Before I could walk on my own, my parents were kind enough to supply me with that self-sufficient mode of transportation —the baby walker. I would be set upright in a sling surrounded by a protective ring (for adults, this would be to kinky effect) with tiny wheels. In this contraption, I could get myself from point A to point B with little stress.
While it allowed me a certain freedom of movement to compensate for my nonexistent sense of balance, I can’t help but fear that the impact of this babymobile is still being felt today.
The dilemma with my first vehicle was that my feet did not completely touch the ground. I relied on my curiously strong toes to get me from one end of the room to the next. Thus, I came to understand that this would be how I walked when I finally took my first steps.
Years later, the walk I had refined in my toddlerdom would become the object of great ridicule.
I remember one particular snot-nosed girl pointing and laughing at me in a supermarket, asking me if I was a prima ballerina. After that, I tried like hell to remember “heel first, toes last,” but I could not seem to keep a rhythm to my movement.
At some point, my tiptoeing surpassed the realm of the literal and began to affect the way I walked through life. With a wide eyed, untrusting stare, I strolled quietly and briskly from one moment to the next. Instead of venturing down darker avenues, I was content to skip down Lala Gumdrop Lane, tiptoeing through the tulips like a tightly wound pixie with a nervous disorder.
Since I made a commitment to shed my hermit ways and reintegrate into society and the gay community in particular, I have made great strides in keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground. I have met some interesting people, I have gone out on a few dates, opened myself up to the unpredictable and recently landed a wicked job. And yet, through it all, I am still keeping myself back.
The answer is really quite simple, if somewhat vain and idiotic. Body hair. That’s it. That is what is holding me back. At least, that is what I am certain of this month.
Everyone, so I am told, has at least one part of their physical appearance they would like to change. For some, it is the shape of their nose. For others, it is the size of their manhood. Quite content with both these features, the one ever-present threat to my confidence is the amount of hair on my arms and legs.
The incredible amount of brown follicles stemming from my body had been the subject of awestruck fascination in my past. In high school, I rarely wore shorts for fear of exposing my hairy secret.
The first time I realized this was a problem was when I was getting very passionate with another guy and he spent the better half of the affair picking hair from his mouth.
In some bizarre fashion, that shroud of unwanted hair became something of a furry, security blanket. It was as though I wanted to hold myself back and, thus, allowed myself to keep the wild mane. As I slowly devolved into my hermit self, it became a reliable excuse to avoid true intimacy.
My how the times have changed.
I was born during the reign of Burt Reynolds, when the measure of a man depended on how much hair covered his body. Coming of age, I believed that “real men” did not tend to the harvest unless they were Olympic swimmers.
At thirteen I was overcome with curiosity. How would it feel to shed these prickly strands?
I took one of my sister’s lady razors and shaved a strip on my right shin. The effect would prove difficult to conceal from my family and to this day I am not sure I have lived it down.
I will freely admit I have been duped by the fashion and beauty industries. Ever since Marky Mark pranced around in his Calvins, showing off that succulent physique, it seems the male world has gone hairless. There are so many models with silky smooth skin gracing underwear ads and fashion magazines that I have to wonder if Burt Reynolds shudders at the sight of it all.
I have come to see there is no shame whatsoever in doing whatever you need to feel confident and sexually enticing. I have abandoned my sister’s lady razors in favour of a grueling regime to keep my hair in check.
Strange that something so unapologetically superficial could help me keep my feet on the ground.