Dedicated to @MrsHamster1
It was still early. You could tell by the way the penetrating sunlight fell on the bedroom wall, the shadow of the bellowing net curtain dancing to a silent tune and heralding a new dawn. I had that usual momentary groan as I contemplated another day where my world ended at the front door, save for the usual safe passage through the local park, dog lead in hand and a series of distant nods to other inmates as they passed by on their way back from where they started. Life had been pretty circular for the past year, the only progress to be expected was to be back at the beginning again – others had not been so lucky – we had to remember that.
I took a deep breath and readied myself to begin again towards that familiar conclusion. Stumbling slowly down the stairs, the cool tiles of the kitchen floor a welcome relief from the hot, sticky summer air. As the kettle boiled and the coffee machine chugged into life, my foot began to tap along to the unpredictable rhythm that it generated, and a feeling, small to start with, but increasing with every beat, began to rise up from my tapping feet, and in a flash it had reached my amygdala, igniting my synapses like fireworks on Chinese New Year! I remembered this feeling from a time long-since passed; I had almost forgotten that it existed, its name had not been spoken for so long – optimism. This wasn’t just another day, this bright summer morning was something different – this was the first day of the new era – The Beginning of all beginnings – we had finally reached the Elysian Fields of post-Lockdown III:
Welcome to Tier III!
Well, I was certainly awake now. I didn’t know where to start; what does one do with a day where there are choices, places to go and people to see? I tried to calm my frantic mind, to recall those halcyon days when going out into the world was such an everyday occurrence. Preparation, that was key. Once I had injected the requisite amount of caffeine into my already over-stimulated systems, I headed back upstairs to start the day again. A shower was surely called for, real life encounters demanded such delicacies; I even broke out the Molton Brown shower gel as a special treat for my long-since-neglected body. It was as I stood there in the shower, excited about what the future might hold, that I noticed it. Dense and unkempt, we had all become used to a more continental approach to body hair. It was less of a fashion statement and more of a reflection of the times. The long winter of 2020/21 required comfort, warmth – a cushioning from all the misery and hopelessness that pandemic Britain was, well, that and we couldn’t be arsed to pluck and shave and wax – when there was no one to notice. Grabbing my towel from the rack and wrapping it around me, I hurried over to the bathroom cabinet, rearranging bottles of products gathering dust on the shelves, and hunted for my clippers. This situation called for some serious equipment – the Nicky Clark Series 2 with adjustable blades and assorted combs. I turned from the cabinet and giddily stumbled into the bedroom and over to the wardrobe, I was sure Nicky’s clippers were stored in here. I had a shelf dedicated to bottles of creams, lotions, perfumes, but where were Nicky’s clippers? It had been so long since I had any use for them, I couldn’t think what I could have done with them.
Then it hit me, of course, they had been boxed up and sent to the storage unit, safe in the knowledge that I would have no immediate use for them, and that during lockdown I had a greater need to generate enough space for me, my partner and my two children to all work from home. In the absence of the clippers I would have to find alternatives. Don’t get me wrong, as a middle-aged man in Western European culture, I didn’t have a lot to worry about in the body hair department, but we were dealing with a situation where it wasn’t clear where my mustache ended and the nose and ear hair began. I had long-since started waxing it all into one in the hope that it wouldn’t be so noticeable on Zoom that I had let myself return to nature. Now though we were talking about a live appearance in bright revealing sunlight. During the long winter I had been able to disguise the shoulder and neck hair coming up from my back to meet where I once used to grow it on my head (that was most certainly no longer a problem at least), by employing the use of my collection of 1990s polar-neck jumpers – but now in the height of summer? No, that would never do – and the thought of plucking any hair from my body – what extreme torture! Surely such a thing was not called for?
Of course there was always the alternative to concealment or removal and that was to embrace my furry side; to walk out with confidence into the post-apocalyptic Covid world, proud of my hirsute state as a representation of nature’s fightback as we all locked down and hid away, finally aware of our state as powerless beasts in a universe running its own program of events, not matter what we might want or desire. What was I worried about anyway, we all saw each other differently now. Had we not just spent the last year as witnesses to each other’s unabridged lives, kids fighting in the background as we tried to Chair a meeting in Singapore or London, or forgetting to mute as we bickered with our partners about how much bandwidth we were using. I mean who are we kidding, there was to be no more pretense, no more gloss – now was the time to walk out hairy and proud! Conceal your body hair? Remove your body hair? No! Curl it, shape it, dye it – make a statement with it. Tell the world, this is me – emerging from my long hibernation, fuzzy, furry and ready to embrace this new dawn – warts and all, because I am alive and I am free.
Besides, the lock up is only two minutes down the road, so I’d probably have time to fetch those clippers before I went out anyway.
© @SobrietyMatt 2021