Pubic Hair and Business Trips

Isn’t there a list
Of unbreakable rules? No??
I’m starting it now.


So… what went through your mind when you read the title? Perhaps you thought this would be yet another rambling account of a bathroom escapade that I felt, once again, compelled to share with you?  It occurred to me to just stop with the title and haiku and let you fill in the blanks… see whether your image of what it means would come close to the reality.

Instead I’m going to tell you all about it. For I feel like I need to confess… to cleanse my soul… to get reassured via the comments that I’m not crazy (or at least less crazy than most).  I thought the passage of time would help scour this from the crevices of my being, but it didn’t.  Now I come here, in hopes that the speaking will lessen its hold on me. So, deep breath, here goes.

While on a business trip a while back with two other women*, the subject of pubic hair came up. When I say “came up” I don’t mean that it was an obvious next step in the discussion or just a phrase that slipped out by accident (“so I was in a workshop about pubic hair – oops! I meant public fairs…”).  Granted I understand how she made the connection, but the person who brought it up had to make a conscious decision to make a hard swing around in the conversation to get to this particular avenue.  And then she had a choice whether to proceed with the topic down a side street or not. And yep, she did.

I have, in all my business travels around the world, never been so uncomfortable. I have been in China before Westerners were common and been stared at, open-mouthed.   I have had colleagues I work with break wind loudly next to me and not skip a beat of the dialog. I have been in a McDonalds bathroom when work mates came in and started talking about me (it wasn’t positive) and watched their faces freeze in horror as I emerged (that was fun, actually)… but never have I been so completely uncomfortable as I was that day.

I was stuck, so to speak (think middle seat of airplane), so I had to retain some composure. Here is just a sampling of the conversation in my head as the external conversation unfolded: “did she just bring up pubic hair? My god, she did. Jeez, I didn’t need to know that… what? How many people were naked? Oh please, stop there, I don’t need to know about… thanks for sharing about junk maintenance… ahhh… that was a nice transition to your husband’s grooming habits.  Wait, now both of you are talking about it? Am I alone in thinking we’ve gone beyond girl talk?  Oh great… now I can figure out how many sexual partners each of you has had… get out get out get out of my brain I don’t want this in active or long-term memory… holy crap! Now I’m participating? Why in god’s name did I just say that …   aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

This is what I actually said: “oh really….. (very long awkward pause)… uh huh…..   ha  ha (said as a Vulcan might say it)…… oh, junk maintenance…..   yeah, ok……. Really… Manscaping …… I guess so – perhaps it makes it look bigger……. Uh, I’m going to go to the bathroom? Anyone need anything?”

Have you seen the movie Crazy Stupid Love? There is a scene in a moving car when Steve Carell just opens the door and rolls himself out. I wanted to do something like that – just exit dramatically and definitively from the conversation (faint, grab my chest and slump over, vomit).  If I didn’t want to make the whole thing even more uncomfortable, I might have done this.

In any event, the conversation ultimately steered itself back into workplace-safe topics.  My pulse returned to normal and I began to think, about 30 minutes later, that perhaps I would be once again able to look either of these women in the eye again.

*The exact scenario has been changed in the off-chance that either of these people read this blog (who am I kidding, they’ll know who they are instantly) or someone I work with might recognize what I’m talking about. I don’t believe my travel companions know I write here. And I’m trusting those of you I work with to have some decency and not try to guess who or when this happened. I will not share.  My therapist says this is the last step required to bring this episode to a close and I intend to leave it that way.

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