Confessions of a leg-shaving virgin*

*Perhaps that should read: Confessions of a virgin leg-shaver. We are, after all, talking about someone who has never shaved his legs, not about someone who has shaved his legs and never, well, you know what.


Summer’s here and the time is right for dancin’ on the pedals, to misquote Miss Martha and the Vandellas. Time to strip off those long Lycra leggings and bare your lower limbs, exposing them to the wan light in the sky that the English call sunshine. And every year, as I reach this equinox, I once again ponder the question, should I shave my legs? So far I have chickened out every time. But surely, one day, one year, I’m going to cave in and head out onto the road, smooth-legged and silky limbed.

This year’s dilemma was sparked by reading an article by the artist Grayson Perry, who wrote: “Cycling is perfect exercise for transvestites because it gives you an excuse to shave your legs.”

Perry, you see, is an artist and a mountain biker who also likes to wear dresses. I don’t want to wear dresses (although there may be photographic evidence out there to the contrary). But I do think that smooth, well tanned and finely shaped calves would be an asset out on the road.

Perry, you may note, is a particularly odd breed, a mountain biker who shaves his legs. Generally mountain bikers eschew such niceties; it is only softy roadies that feel the need for smoothness. I am something of a cross-breed, one of the few who won’t be labelled, riding on road, off road, and anywhere else that the trail cares to take me.

Hairy legs, with an ever hairier cat, just for comparison.

Hairy legs, with an ever hairier cat, just for comparison.

But wouldn’t it be nice if, along whatever road or trail I cared to follow, I displayed a well-defined, nicely tanned, hairless pair of calves? Surely such panache would intimidate any opposition. Looking at my legs in mirror, they do have rather good, if a bit hairy, definition. It’s just a pity that the fine proportions don’t extend further up my body, say to my middle, at least. But hey, that’s life. I’ll just have to tuck away any saggy bits.

I could claim depilatory necessity on medical advice – both times that I rode in the Cape Epic I suffered the indignity of having to visit the infamous bum clinic (see earlier postings) to be patched up in places we shall not mention. In fact, on the second occasion the nurse advised that I should consider having a hairless a&$£ before again tackling a similar event.

And so, if I’m going to attempt to smooth out this rugged exterior, where do I begin, and more importantly, where do I end? I begin, of course, by reading the internet, where consensual advice tells me to begin with an electric shaver, to get the hair down to a manageable length. After that, the weapon of choice varies: razors, wax strips, epilator, Veet. But whatever the means of denuding yourself, the result will, without doubt, leave you feeling itchy, naked, exposed.

This doesn’t seem to help, so I head for the supermarket where I loiter along the aisle marked Women’s Hygiene when no one is around. When the coast was clear I inspect the goods on display. This doesn’t seem to help and, anyhow, I’m certainly not going to take a bottle of Veet to the checkout while that little blonde is there. I decide to forget all about it and go home. Besides, what will wife say about all this when she notices that I’m smoother-legged than she is? Will she even notice?

Anyway, I know that I certainly don’t want to end up with legs that look like they belong to a badly plucked chicken. And believe me, I know what that looks like. I’ve plucked a few chickens in my time. Badly.

So I forget all this madness, until this morning, when I go into the bathroom. I’m about to get into the shower when I see, there on the shelf, a box that proudly boasts: waxing strips, 20 sheets. It seems to be calling out, enticingly: “Use me, use me. I won’t hurt you. Much.”

Is this a sign? I look down at my legs for a moment and consider, but I know it’s impossible. Twenty sheets, not nearly enough.

And so I continue in my hirsute pursuit, unsullied and virginal.

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