Friday, June 20, 2008

if dry skin is my cross to bear, then I guess I have it easy

      When I was a little girl, I really hated having dry skin.  Not so much because I was vain about it, or even embarrassed; I hated it because it meant after every bath, my mom would coat my body in a layer of slippery, slimy lotion.  Ugh.  I detested the feeling.  I remember just waiting for her to leave the room so that I could run and grab the nearest towel and begin wiping myself down.  I tried to remove all of that lotion, but it would be too late; a lot of it had already soaked in.  Sometimes my mom would come back in and catch me doing this.  She would stop me and tell me that my skin was very very thirsty and if I listened closely enough I could hear it saying, I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty!  in a high-pitched little skin-like voice.  

    Well, as creepy as that sounds, my mom was right about me needing that lotion.  Once, when asking her why God gave me such dry skin--and other kids I knew had perfectly soft skin that felt like a baby seal without so much as a drop of lotion (hi, Christine and Erin...)--my mom had a ready answer:  Well, Jess, if God had given you perfect skin, then you'd be an altogether perfect little girl and there is just nobody perfect on earth--nobody but God.  That did shut me up.  But, it didn't keep me from trying to rub lotion off of me whenever I could.  Somewhere down the line, though, I started loving lotion--probably when I became self-aware enough to realize that soft skin was something that females are supposed to have.  Also, I saw the connection between applying lotion and my skin not itching so much.  So, between my vanity and a desire for comfort, I was hooked on lotion.  But, I was still self-conscious about my skin.  It didn't help that I was made fun of for it a little bit, too.

   One girl who I grew up dancing with at my studio would always make a huge deal about my dry skin (I will call her Lenora).  She would run up to me and give me a great big bear hug (which made me uncomfortable enough to begin with, believe me; Latshaws aren't exactly known for giving bear hugs--or reveling in receiving them, for that matter.  We mostly just suffer through and hope that it is over soon).  She did this without fail pretty much every time she saw me.  And we saw each other a lot.  She would hug me, pause mid-hug for the inevitable feeling of my dry skin, then begin to back away slowly.  As she took tentative steps back, she would start with a loud inhalation of breath then begin to say something along the line of, Wow. You still have just the driest skin I have ever felt...Oh really, Lenora?  I do?  Because I thought maybe by now--in the two days since you last commented on my overly dry skin--you would have met somebody to top me.  Good to know I still have got everybody beat.  Thanks, thanks a lot.  

  Now, what I have failed to mention is that Lenora didn't have it so easy either.  She was very overweight, had thick curly black hair growing on her arms and legs, and last I saw her was growing a beard.  But did I ever examine her mid-hug and then tell her that she was still one of the biggest, hairiest girls I had ever felt...?  Um, no.  I didn't.  Because that would have been rude.   Another group of girls at my studio would ask me if my skin would go snap, crackle, pop during the night and keep me up...Yeah, a pretty lame thing to say looking back on it, but at the time it really embarrassed me. 

   I really don't care so much that I have dry skin.  Except when I am running late and would really like to not take the time to apply lotion.  But other than that, I am ok with it now.  

   And Lenora is now a really good singer.  And she shaves her beard, so you can't see it too much.


Joshua blueSTATE said...

i thought i was the only one who feared hugs.
oh it comes. breathe through it. the hug will be over at some point....

KathieK said...

I empathize, Jess, but not because I have dry skin. We all have something we wish was different; I am clammy. The time between the first warm day in spring until the last warm day in fall is affectionately dubbed my "clammy season" by my husband. How can someone so pale and moist survive out of water? How can skin, which seems to be moist enough already, STILL need moisturizing? You would think my skin would be gurgling and sputtering, "enough already, you're drowning me!", but it doesn't. If I don't moisturize from head to toe I feel itchy, too. Go figure.

Les Michaels said...

Hi Jessica, It was wonderful having you at Open Mic Mondays at Vermont. I see that you posted your experiences at Rainbow's Open Mic. I hope you had a better time with us. Maybe you will write a blog about us? You were wonderful and I hope you will come back again during your run. I have tickets for July 26. I also wrote about you in my Weekly Life Is A Cabaret Newsletter for next Monday. You can see it on June 23 at