April 15, 2009

Camping Fears

I'm delaying my conclusions about mineral oil as a shaving medium. I just want to see how it goes for another week. Some days I think it's better than shaving foam, some days I think it's worse. I can't make myself decide.

Here's a wonderful current struggle of this particular bearded lady. I spent Sunday with some extended family. I used to camp a lot with my uncle and cousins in my younger years, and now they've got a boat so they have been making the most of their summer. They want to include me in their plans. Sun, lake, forest... water sports, tents, campfires... highway fruit stands, coffee to stave off chilly mornings, unbelievably starry nights. I love camping.

So it feels so wrong to shy away from it because of a lack of facilities. It's just not me to be all, "Eww, no showers?" Were I not worried about body hair on the trip I'd be sleeping in at my leisure, then downing some coffee and running with the kids right down to the lake. But instead, even if we managed to book a campground with shower facilities, before doing anything else I'd have to run to a dark, rickety shack infested with spiders, enduring the mockery of family who thinks I'm just being prissy and fastidious, shave blindly and hurriedly without mirrors in a cold, piddling stream while others wait impatiently for their turn, and know that the next morning I'd have to do it all again. In addition, with the warm weather reducing clothing and lake water eroding any make-up, I'd be unable to hide how my skin loathes "roughing it."

But try finding a way to handle being asked if I would go camping this year. Repeatedly, every five minutes. In front of everyone. The first couple of times, I had a good joke to distract from the question--make it sound like I wasn't really turning it down, but discouraging the question from being asked again. After a while, though, it began to pain me to have all eyes turn to me and have no witty retorts to divert the tension. I mean, I couldn't just say "no" after others had said "yes," and have people think I'm a killjoy. Nor could I keep insisting I don't like the shower facilities--I'd never hear the end of that one. They were already picking up on the spiders and running with that one. By the way, arachnophobia is nothing to joke about--and I'm not nearly as bad as some.

It's frustrating to think such a harmless, physical thing prevents me from doing what I want, but I also have to realistic. It won't be a very enjoyable holiday if I worry so much about how well I'm hiding things, or know that people are waiting impatiently for me while I try to bring myself to some semblance of normalcy. I can resolve to adopt a different attitude about it, and pretend it doesn't bother me as much. But it's hard to control your feelings when you're holed up in a dingy shower stall, waiting for spiders to drop on you and feeling your way across your face with desperate sudsy fingers and a razor. Just like you can't rely on others to accept something that's important to you without judging you for it. I know if I wasn't given a hard time about wanting to shower every morning before breakfast--if people just shrugged it off and let it be--that type of holiday would be much more appealing.

But they couldn't even tell when to stop bugging me on Sunday, even when I gave them a long, pained look as I tried to think of something to say to divert the conversation. It sucks to be unable to trust your own relatives not to see the line between teasing and bullying. How could I trust them with the real issue?

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