I was known in high school for my legs. I didn’t win any awards or receive any accolades. I haven’t done anything that merited the school’s recognition. I wasn’t bright or handsome or popular or athletic, but man, I had nice legs, modesty aside. Not one of my batch mates can remember my name today, but many of them can still recall “that dude with ridiculous legs.”
You know what people say about time: It changes us all. That’s definitely true. Time has certainly changed me in innumerable ways. But I wonder why it spared my legs.
So it didn’t surprise me very much when my girlfriend finally confronted me about it one night.
“If you love me,” she said. “If you really, really love me, you will grow hair on your legs.”
We were at an intersection waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Next to a newly-built condominium was a huge Svenson billboard which featured a local celebrity with abundant hair.
“Babe?” I said.
“You heard me,” she said. She folded her arms across her chest and continued gazing out the window.
“I love your legs just the way they are.”
She turned and faced me. “This is not about my legs. You know that. I’m talking about your legs. It’s not normal for a guy to have flawless legs.”
I narrowed my eyes and tried to peer into her legs, but it was too dark inside the car.
“There’s nothing I can do about it, babe. Nature has given me…”
“Don’t bring Mother Nature into this. There must be something you can do about it.” She lowered her arms and her voice grew tender. “Have you tried shaving them?”
“Uh, no. Why would I do that?”
“Shaving might stimulate your hair follicles. Have you tried taking biotin supplements?”
“No, what are those?”
“They’re water-soluble vitamins that can help increase hair growth. I’ll drop by the pharmacy tomorrow after my shift. Have you tried rubbing your legs?”
“They can help increase blood circulation, you know. Have you tried exfoliating them?”
“Removing the dead skin cells from your legs. They may be blocking your hair follicles. You can use a loofa. Do you even have a loofa?”
“Of course, I do.” I lied.
“Good. Have you tried applying eucalyptus or rosemary oil on your legs?”
“You must try that, too. I’ll check the Chinese drug store if they have any of those. What time do you go to bed every night?”
I glanced at the clock on the dashboard. It’s almost ten-thirty.
“That’s too late. You should sleep earlier than that. You need to get proper rest if you want your body to maintain its functions optimally. You don’t have to drive me to the hospital every night.”
“But your shift starts at eleven.”
“I can manage.”
“I’m not comfortable with you taking a cab at night.”
“I can ride with Amir.”
“A fellow intern.”
“The Iranian guy?”
“The guy with the beard?”
I tightened my grip on the steering wheel. “No, I can take you to work myself.”
“I told you, you need adequate sleep if you want your hair to grow.”
“I can wake up late.”
“But you have work in the morning.”
“I’ll ask my boss for a change of shift.”
“Why do you always have to complicate things? Let’s keep this simple. Don’t be so stubborn.”
She always had the last say on things.
I dropped her at the hospital and didn’t kiss her good bye. She didn’t ask for it, so I didn’t give it to her. She slammed the door shut without saying a word. She climbed up a flight of stairs and disappeared into the Emergency Room.
For the next few days I focused on my project. I took two capsules of biotin daily. At work, when I wasn’t entertaining clients, I would reach down under my desk, pull my slacks up to my thighs, and massage my legs. One time, I even brought a razor with me. It was during lunch break, and I had just finished eating my meal. I made sure I was alone in the office, then I pulled my pants way up so that I could get a better view of my legs. I took my shoes off and placed my left foot on the chair. I began shaving my calf, moving carefully from the back of my knee and down to my ankle. Then I moved up to my legs. Just then my boss appeared behind me.
“What on earth are you doing?” she asked.
I turned around abruptly and dropped the razor on the carpet. The situation was kind of hard to explain. I didn’t know where to begin.
“Oh my gosh, you’re bleeding,” she said.
I looked down and sure enough there was blood on my leg. It trickled down to my foot, soaking my sock.
I reached down to my pocket and took out my handkerchief. I pressed it against my wound.
“I’ll get the first aid kit.” She rushed outside the room in a sort of panic, and was back in a few seconds. She then knelt down beside me, put on a pair of sterile gloves, took out some gauze pads and bandages, and began dressing the wound. She was very methodical and serious, as if she had forgotten that she’s a bank manager and not a medical intern or nurse. She applied Betadine on the area and covered it carefully. This was my first ever leg injury.
She stood up, removed her gloves, threw the used cotton and gauze pads on the garbage bin, and disinfected her hands with copious amounts of alcogel.
“You know,” she said, “for a guy, you have unusually admirable legs.”
I stopped shaving my legs after that incident. I just let them be and hoped things would improve in the coming days.
I haven’t seen Samantha since that night outside the hospital. She explicitly instructed me not to call her unless it was an absolute emergency, like if my life was threatened or something. She said she needed to focus on her review as their board exams were drawing near. But I couldn’t stand it anymore. This was some sort of an emergency. I felt like I’d die if I can’t see her soon.
So I went against’s her orders and dialed her number. “Babe,” I said.
“Why did you call?” she said, a bit impatiently. “This better be important.”
“Babe, I miss you so much. When can I see you?”
“I told you not to call me unless it’s a matter of life and death.”
“But this is a matter of life and death. I’m dying to see you.”
“Don’t be melodramatic.”
“You’re so cute when you’re angry.”
“I’m serious, why did you call?”
“I haven’t heard from you for such a long time and I miss you so much. You haven’t called me, you haven’t replied to my text messages, and you’re always out of your apartment. I miss you so bad. When can I see you?”
“I already told you, after the board.”
“But that’s still three months from now.”
“I already explained this to you, haven’t I? Every single day, every single hour counts. We already talked about this.”
“I know, I know, but… Can I not see you for at least an hour? Or if that’s too long, can I at least be near you for 30 minutes?”
She was silent.
“Fifteen minutes? I promise I won’t disturb you while you’re studying.”
She still wasn’t speaking.
“Ten minutes? Not even ten minutes? You don’t even have to talk to me. I’ll just sit next to you and watch you read. I promise I won’t bother you.”
“How are your legs?” she said finally.
“Oh, oh, my legs,” I said. “Babe, I have great news for you. I did everything you told me. I’ve been taking 5 capsules of biotin every single day; I’ve been maintaining a well-balanced diet; I’ve been rubbing my legs at least three times a day; I’ve been exfoliating them twice before bedtime; I’ve been using generous amounts of rosemary oil; and I’ve been sleeping at exactly 9 o’clock every night. And you know what? This morning, I noticed the tiniest signs of hair on my legs! Isn’t this exciting? I’m so thrilled. Actually, that’s the reason why I called you. I couldn’t wait to share this with you.”
“The tiniest signs?”
“Yes. I had to use a magnifying glass to make them out. But make no mistake, they’re there. No doubt about it. The situation looks very promising.”
There was again dead air.
“Babe?” I said.
“Jay,” she said finally.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
I don’t know why, but there’s something about the tone of her voice that chilled my spine. I didn’t know what was coming, but already I felt like I was about to be clobbered.
“Yes, babe?” My heart was racing, waiting. “Babe? Still there?”
“Please understand that this is very hard for me.”
“What’s very hard for you?”
“The fact is, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you this, that’s why I haven’t called you. I don’t have the strength to break this to you, Jay, but now you must know.”
My heart has risen above my chest and was stuck in my throat. “Know what, babe?” My voice has shrunk
“The truth is, babe, I haven’t been sleeping because of this.”
“What are you saying, babe?” The suspense is killing me. “What’s wrong? Why are you talking like this? This doesn’t sound like you. Where are you now? I must see you right now. I simply must. I insist on it. Tell me where you are.”
“Who? Amir? What’s he got to do with this? Did he hurt you or something?”
“No, he didn’t. I’m okay.”
“Then what? Tell me now.” I was freaking out. “Where are you?”
“Something happened between us.”
“What!” I shouted.
“It’s nothing physical. Nothing like that. I’ve fallen for him.”
“Babe, this is crazy-talk. This doesn’t sound like you. Where is my baby? Where is my Samantha? I must see you right away. I can’t bear to be away from you like this. I’m going to go mad. Are you in your apartment? I’m going there now. Wait for me. I won’t take no for an answer. I won’t let go of you ever again.”
“Jay, I’m so, so sorry, but it’s over.”
“I’ll show you my legs. I’ll show you how hairy they are, okay? They’re pretty hairy! Just wait for me, baby. I’m already inside my car. I’m looking for my keys right now. I’ll be there in a minute. I think I’m going to cry. Babe? Baby? Sam?”
The phone slipped from my trembling hands. I reached for it but I couldn’t find it. I reached down further beneath the car seat and there, on my tear-soaked legs, I rested my head and wept.