I visited a mall on the weekend. Yes, an infinitely stupid idea I appreciate, but it was either that, or the humid confines of the indoor kids playground that smells like a cocktail of excrement, bean sprouts and burnt sugar.
The mall management has evidently been clever about how they rent their space. Not only are there shops on either side of the corridor, but there are now people selling things and offering services in the corridors themselves. Peanuts and a variety of chocolate coated nuts (yes, a really good idea in a mall frequented by kids who could potentially go into anaphylactic shock at a mere whiff), D.I.Y yoghurt sundaes, a woman selling pseudo vintage tat, and about four young Indian girls doing threading, to name a few.
Threading is a procedure whereby hair, specifically facial hair, is removed with a piece of ordinary cotton string being sort of see-sawed back and forth between the threaders hands and mouth. Apparently it's been big in India for decades. It's quick and I have to admit, rather precise. I like to get my eyebrows threaded, when my lovely Polish beautician is on holidays that is. She'd never forgive me if she knew because she doesn't believe in threading - says it breaks the hair. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.
Anyway, so I walked past this threading booth on Saturday and there was a woman getting her moustache threaded while her husband played with his phone and looked bored.
OK, stop the bus, hang on a second...
I have difficulty with grooming in public to begin with. When I apply lipstick or powder in front of people on a night out, it's always with a flicker of trepidation. I don't know, it's just, well, kind of intimate, and people don't generally like to be privy to that sort of thing. Having my eyebrows threaded in a mall with a bunch of people looking on as they walk past - that is pushing it. But having my moustache (I mean, people aren't even supposed to know you have one of those!!!) removed in front of said husband and hundreds of strangers in the middle of a mall?
In that moment, I knew, like you know about a bad melon, that the magic and mystery in their relationship was long gone.
I appreciate this is a long standing (yawn inducing) theme with me - the whole cringe and want the floor to open up if my partner sees I have a spot, or knows I wax my bikini line, kind of thing. But in my defence, now that I have kids, I have genuinely mellowed. I mean, you have to when you are bent over removing poo from the bath, or having a conversation about why eating what your body excretes is a bad idea; "Because it gets rid of that stuff for a reason. Why would you want to put it back in again???!!!"
But I still believe that not a hell of a lot of effort is required to keep a few things to yourself when it comes to your relationship. Your partner really doesn't need to know your facial expression while making a number two, do they? Is it crucial that they see you plucking, squeezing, clenching, pushing, grunting, burping, etc?
My kids do this kind of thing because, quite rightly, they have absolutely no vested interest in impressing me or maintaining a degree of attraction, mystery and sexiness between us. But having an access all areas policy with my husband? Well, it's a bit like being asked to sign up to a Pyramid scheme; it just feels like a really bad idea on a gut instinct level.
At this point I always include a caveat which is that without doubt this stuff becomes pretty trivial and redundant when we are ill or getting older, and we hope to be afforded the dignity we deserve even when our bodies have their own ideas. Likewise, one should never make someone feel embarrassed about the day to day business of their functioning. And I parent my kids accordingly - i.e. that it's all fine and dandy and biology and stuff.
I do however make a special exception for people who feel it OK to purge their phlegm in a gelatinous puddle as I happen to walk past on a street or sidewalk. Bloody hell, haven't you heard of a tissues or a hanky? This is how disease is spread people.
But this is not what I'm talking about. I talking about being with someone for 5 months or 15 years, and still taking that mere fraction of a second to close the door when you go to the loo. To groom in your own time. To emerge from the bathroom looking dashing and lovely to your partner without them knowing that 30 seconds earlier you were wrestling with an ingrown hair.
It reminds me of a visit I made for the first time to the casino in Monaco. I know it sounds completely ridiculous, but there was a part of me that was genuinely expecting men in white dinner jackets, and women with sequenced floor length dresses - cleavage and jewels on display. I wasn't particularly well travelled, and I had romantic ideas based on films and TV. How incredibly disappointed I was to discover the majority of people to be tourists - all shorts and flip flops playing slot machines. Really? You're in one of the most romantic, glamorous, and cinematic places in the world that you've evidently paid a good deal of money and effort to come and see. Couldn't you stick on some chinos, a shirt and shoes?
I appreciate that this little Monaco burst bubble anecdote probably has a much bigger analogous potential (with appropriately witty psychoanalytical interpretation), but it's late and I'm tired.
Recently a friend told me about a completely prior to this undiscovered tribe being spotted by a plane somewhere extremely remote. I had the same reaction to this as I have to the nightmarish scenario of my husband ever happening upon me while I am on the loo - No no no no no!!!!! Keep moving mister. Some things are best left undiscovered and unknown.