In my twenties, I trimmed down my pubic hair into a smaller and smaller patch until Normal Boyfriend told me it looked like a Hitler moustache and then I shaved it off, and kept it that way for years. But my hairlessness freaked Handsome out (he of the doll penis), so I grew it back while I was in South America, figuring when I came home by the end of the summer it would look normal and not like the upper lip of a boy trying to grow his first wispy moustache.
Growing your pubic hair back in is the single itchiest thing that will ever happen to you. I was in Santiago, and every chance I got, I would stick both hands down my pants and scratch the stubbly area with my eyes half closed, making growling noises. This is not the way to boost the reputation of Americans abroad.
Now, back with Sketch again, he has suggested getting rid of it, but I keep putting it off. I’ve decided it looks not like Hitler’s moustache, but Charlie Chaplin’s, like it is pratfall-prone, like my vagina is wearing a blindfold and roller skates, no idea how close it keeps swerving towards disaster.
Finally, I just take a razor to it, and my vagina is undisguised once more. I think it looks strangely bereft, like one of those pampered Manhattan purse-dogs, quivering after a shearing.
This weekend, I wake up after another night of little deaths with Sketch. We have the kind of sex where you have to put the mattress on the floor, and the next day you need to wash your hair twice to get all the oil out. Sometimes there are clinking accessories. You can track our progress around his studio by the drool. I’m having the sort of orgasms that shave points off my I.Q., and I walk around all dopey, forgetting the words for things. Little deaths. I wonder if when you die, it feels like the greatest orgasm of your entire life, one final pulse of supreme pleasure as you trade in the last of your intelligence for sleep. It’s a nice thought.
But when I wake up next to Sketch on this particular morning, I find a half-moon shaped black mark on my labia, like a bruise left by fingernail. I can’t tell if it actually hurts or not because it looks so painful, and I have to put my contacts in to inspect it more closely. The mark is slightly raised, and I wonder if I have given myself diseases in this last promiscuous year. I am terrible with condoms. I went for an HIV test last year, and the nurse who administered it turned out to be the tiny Chinese mother of one of my students. (I really need to stop pursuing my sexual health at the hospital near my school; I went for an annual, and the gynecologist was the father of one of the kids at my school, and I didn’t find out until afterwards, and now he has been in my vagina). The nurse gave me my results (negative) and an enormous shopping bag filled with those NYC Department of Health condoms. These condoms are the death of fun. I haven’t managed to put a dent in my supply, not because I haven’t been having sex, but rather because the NYC condoms are particularly terrible (think dishwashing gloves) and because there is a peculiar twist in my thinking where I believe that after I have had sex with someone three or four times that they must be disease-free. (Afterall, it’s been two weeks without some guy’s dick turning black and spouting spiders or something, so clearly we can dispense with the condoms.)
The black mark on my labia looks like some horrible disease that you get from being a French prostitute in the eighteenth century. I hunt around for the phone number of my new gynecologist, who is not the parent of one of my students. I go on the Internet and type in the key words “labia black mark” and within moments have diagnosed myself with vulvar melanoma. With mounting horror, I read about someone who says as part of her treatment, she has to have her clitoris removed, “right down to the bone.” I didn’t know that the clitoris even had a bone.
When Sketch wakes up, I tell him the bad news about my vulvar cancer. As it wasn’t there last night, this must be a particularly fast-growing cancer. He brings me a magnifying glass. Up close it looks even scarier. Feeling sick, I get into a hot shower. In my head, I am already reconfiguring the new shape this blog will take, as I become the sex addict who has to have her clitoris removed. When people hear that my pussy killed me, they will say, That’s how I always imagined it would happen for her. I wash my hair while mentally being interviewed by Oprah.
When I get out of the shower, the black lesion, which apparently was some kind of bed-lint mixed with lubricant and body fluids like a moustache made of spirit gum and cat hair, is gone. It feels like the grand reveal at the end of a detective movie, when, clever disguises cast aside, the culprit is identified. I feel like I’m supposed to have learned something here, some life lesson, but I’m not entirely sure what it is, and Oprah is not here to tell me. I’m optimistic that I will figure it out on my own, eventually.