Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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1114 words
SHJ Issue 2
Fall 2010

Old School Bush

T. Nicole Cirone

One summer, you find yourself reunited—and eventually in bed—with your college sweetheart. You are 36 years old and have been happily divorced for several years now, maybe because you’ve been thinking about the college sweetheart ever since you met up for lunch while you were still married and on business in the foreign country where he was living at the time. You must also note that you were lovers again after college, until he chose his career in the foreign country over you, and even though you never forgave him for that, you understood—yes, you always wanted to support him in his work, which was of international scope and worth every penny of his $150,000 Harvard education. But all of this is only backstory, as the real story begins this particular summer, in his bed, when you are exploring your now thirtysomething bodies—and neither of you has aged badly, really—and when things really start to heat up and he touches you there...but won’t go down on you. Now, you have noticed in the past few years a few strands of silver sprouting among the once-silky bouquet of curls that twined around that warm, sweet place that every guy wants in. But you never gave it much attention. The garden gate, overflowing with tendrils and vines that was so inviting but so exclusive. Most who wanted in your garden never got beyond the gate. But he did— and if your memory and your journals, in which you kept detailed accounts of your encounters, served you correctly, he’d never been shy about it before. Perhaps you might even use the expression “with gusto.” Yet, here you are, in his bed, in a passionate embrace, and not only will he not go down on you, he says, in a lighthearted way, “Maybe its time to shave.”

Immediately, you think of an Italian girl you went to Rutgers with, who was the talk of the department when she walked on the balcony in just a towel, displaying for all the world her nether regions, which one male student (who just happened to be in the room and who had once asked you to take a shower with him so he could shave your legs) called “old school bush.” So now you are lying here with the college sweetheart, and all you can think of is the Italian girl wearing the towel that covered her old school bush, and you say, “Are you serious?” And he says, “Well, yes, I think it’s time.” He smiles and says, “I think you’ll like it. We could do it together. That could be fun.”

You wonder what it is about you that has made now two men want to shave you. And you’ve seen Sex in the City and so know all about Brazilian waxes, but at the time that you saw the show, you were sexless in the city and had no need or desire for a waxing of any kind—probably hadn’t thought about what you looked or felt like down there in years because your husband stopped having sex with you when you stopped talking to his parents, and you didn’t have much opportunity to consider the fact that you were still a woman, for heaven sake. A young one. In her sexual prime, no less.

So, you excuse yourself from the college sweetheart’s bed and go into the bathroom, and since you are still naked, you figure you ought to have a look. And when you do, you wonder just when someone put that Brillo pad between your legs—because you are now all gray there and gray hair gray hair. “No wonder he didn’t want to put his face in it,” you think, and are momentarily convinced that perhaps the college sweetheart’s honesty has saved you from a potentially embarrassing situation in the future, when you will one day have a real sex life—with him or maybe with someone else.

But then you wonder if he finds you repulsive—because that kind of joke isn’t funny, especially when you are in bed, and then you think of the scene from St. Elmo’s Fire, which you may have even watched with college sweetheart once, when Wendy and Billy are kissing, and he reaches up her skirt and touches her girdle and says, “What is this, your scuba suit?” And you think that even though Billy says “You’re allowed to have fun when you’re screwin’” it isn’t fun to point out a woman’s flaws in bed—certainly not while you are in the throes of passion, and you wish you could say what Wendy says, “I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” But you can’t, because you are a sucker for this college sweetheart and always have been, so you decide to go back to bed and resume what it was you were doing before his unsavory remark.

Only now he is wearing his boxers, and you feel like Eve before God, aware of your nakedness and now self-conscious of the scouring-pad fig leaf you’re sporting, so you put your pajamas on and climb into bed next to him. “So,” he says, with that same smirk, “Do you want me to shave with you?” And you say “I’ll think about it.” But what you really mean is that you will think about what you are doing here, in his bed. And you will think about whether or not he will have this opportunity again. And you will maybe think about whether or not you ought to wax or shave your now-gray pubic hair so that you won’t have to face this issue in the future, and you will certainly think about researching what men want when it comes to that because this could be a matter of individual taste, after all—though you think that you can’t do this research on your computer because it’s not really your computer, it belongs to the company you work for. So you think about looking for a new job that pays you enough to buy your own computer so you can do such research without fear of being caught and fired for inappropriate use of technology. And then you think in the meantime about buying a copy of Cosmo, which you haven’t bought since college, probably, because you now have to think about relearning how to have a sex life. And while you are thinking about all of this, he is already asleep and his arm drapes over you slightly and you begin to think about whether, at this stage of your life, you want any of this at all.

—Previously published online in Perigee, Issue 26 (October 2009); reprinted here by author’s permission

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury