The other week my daughter (who is the length and build of a racing snake) commented that her thighs were fat and they should be covered up. She’s eight. And she’s not overweight. Still coming back from the stratosphere after last week’s Cartastrophe, I explained to all three of my children that hips, thighs and bottoms are very important, as not only do they hold your entire body up to permit you to move about, they also help to keep all of your internal organs in the right place. I spoke at length about how important it is that these parts of your body are strong, and looked after, and in order to be strong and looked after, they need to have a food source and also some muscle to them which involves exercising, because they have the weight of whole body resting on them. Who knows if they were listening to me? They probably weren’t given that they kept asking me to move out of the way. However, I spoke to Sister B earlier today and she said that Niece (also the height and build of a racing snake and aged eight) had made a similar comment whilst poking her thighs. This displeases me intensely.
In an entirely unrelated conversation, a couple of weeks ago a friend revealed to me that at the age of forty she was “going to get the legs out.” Rather than it being her issuing me with a warning to run for cover as she was about to strip off, she meant that she was wearing (woo-hoo) a dress with a short skirt. Now when I say a short skirt, I don’t mean a bum-skimmer. Just a perfectly decent and acceptable skirt above the knee. She had decided that she was not going to hide her legs away anymore. So after forty years of keeping them under wraps she has unleashed them. And they are perfectly lovely legs, which I am given to understand carry her about without any difficulties and have been known to run occasionally.
Inspired by the latter conversation and enraged by the former, last week, I purchased a pair of shorts. I can hear you wolf whistling now. And I don’t mind telling you that partly because I wanted to show my daughters that thighs without that ridiculous gap are normal and nothing to be ashamed of, and also because I too have spent forty years covering my legs up, I had all good intentions of wearing them. They’re not short shorts. Whilst I strongly believe that you should wear whatever the hell you like, as far as I am concerned, no matter how good my legs may or may not be, short shorts are only for anyone under the age of thirty and Kylie Minogue. It is to my (and that of Man of the House’s) eternal chagrin that I do not fall into either of those categories. Plus my legs are quite fair indeed; unlike Kylie’s, they are translucent rather than transcendent.
Of course, just by making a purchase, it is not as easy as all that for a woman to wear a pair of shorts. Men buy shorts, put shorts on, and they’re good to go. It’s like swimming. Men think to themselves “oh I fancy a swim, I shall take my shorts, a towel and a pair of goggles and make my way to the local swimming pool.” It should be that easy for women, but it isn’t. Women think “oh I would like a swim. But do I want to go through at least an hour of hair removal before I am fit to be seen in public? And where I am going to find this hour undisturbed so that I may gather my array of tools in order to shave, pluck and wax so that people will not gasp in horror or faint when I disrobe?” So I had to commence on the task that is not dissimilar to painting the Forth Bridge. Ladies of diminutive stature be grateful because whilst those of us on the taller side may be able to reach some things on the high shelves, not only do we continually bang our heads on the cooker hood, it also takes us bloody hours to shave our legs. Deary me you don’t know how lucky you are. So after a geological age, my leg hair was dealt with for at least twenty four hours. I could have got the shorts on and the legs out there and then. But I felt that it would be unkind to everyone, and especially unkind to the Hound who can only see in monochrome, not to do something about the glare.
I decided to set about dealing with this issue with some fake tan. I first had a fake tan only a few years ago. Man of the House had said “why don’t you have a fake tan before we go away?” Thinking to myself “Blimey, if he thinks I need to have a fake tan, I really do need to have a fake tan” I immediately booked myself in to a beauty salon. Someone stood me in a shower cubicle stark naked apart from the tiniest disposable pants in the world (me in the pants, they were professionally and appropriately attired for the task) and advanced on me with a spray gun. If I hadn’t have given birth to three children when I couldn’t have cared less if a brass band had been in the room, I might have felt a tinge of embarrassment. As it was, I barely flinched when I was asked to put myself in all number of ridiculous poses, which the therapist confidently assured me was to achieve the much-vaunted all over glow.
This year I thought that I could probably manage my legs myself. I had been advised by a friend that one should moisturise one’s legs prior to application of the fake tan to ensure even cover and no streaks. I placed a towel on the bed, myself on the towel, moisturiser on my legs and then the fake tan. I lay down to let it dry and closed my eyes. That was a mistake. I woke up to a little face next to me at the side of the bed, for whom a promising career in the diplomatic service awaits: “Mummy why are your legs orange?” She should have looked more carefully. They were orange at the front and stripey at the back. A wash did not improve them. So I am afraid that the shorts, and my not very subtle point about thighs are going to have to wait for a few days until the legs aren’t streaky and I can spend another eon shaving them. By which time Summer will be over and I can retreat to the comfort of my jeans. Thank God.