Thursday 29 Sep 2016

A Postage Stamp Bikini
Sjef Frenken

"What's the matter with everyone these days, trying to get rid of their hair," said Jack, shaking his head.

I said I hadn't noticed, but the reason my hair was short was that if it grew longer than an inch, my scalp got itchy.

Jack said, with a bit of a snarl, "I'm not talking of the hair on your head; I'm talking of body hair."

I assured him that the only part of me I shaved was my beard, again because it got itchy if it was longer than three days' worth of growth.

Jack paused a moment to figure out a way to clear up the confusion. "OK," he said, "women have been shaving their legs for a long time. I don't know why. Frankly I like a little down on a female leg or arm. Much better than running your hand against the grain of some stubble. And I've spent enough time in Europe to appreciate a little armpit flora: gives you a hint of things to come. So to speak."

I said I appreciated his point of view.

"I can even understand why wrestlers shave their bodies: an Indian burn is even more painful when there's hair involved. And swimmers figure they can -- pardon the pun -- shave a microsecond off their time by streamlining their body by getting rid of their fleece."

"So?" I said, hoping to get Jack to focus on his main point.

"So," said Jack, "I got an eM this morning from a friend who took a few snapshots of some girls on a beach. Now, I'm not easily taken aback, but that was an eyeful."

"Jack," I said, "you've been to Europe; you've seen the topless ladies along the coasts of France and Holland; you've cavorted on nude beaches around the glove, what's to surprise you?"

"It wasn't even the tiny bikinis. Tiny isn't the word; we're talking a thong back to front, with a little patch the size of a small stamp hovering two inches below the navel. Two patches of the same size covered the nipples, but not the areolas."

"Again, my friend," I said, "what's the surprise?"

"No pubic hair," said Jack, gesturing a discovery with his hands and a wondering look with his face. A total, thorough Brazilian wax job. Picture that!"

I said "I'm not sure my aging mind can handle such a picture. That must itch like hell when the hair grows in. I guess once you start you have to keep at it. But still, why does this bother you?"

"Alright," said Jack, "let me approach my concern from another angle. It's something I've been wondering about for a long time. Song lyrics."

"What about song lyrics," I asked.

"You know, as far as I can tell, only in the English language do lovers call each other 'baby' or 'babe'. And I don't mean 'babe' in the sense of a gorgeous 'babe'".

I said "I think songwriters in Tin-Pan alley started that trend, way back."

"That's no excuse," said Jack. "And what's even worse, there are songs that invite the object of the singer's affection to 'come to Poppa' or 'come to Momma'. When you stop to think about it, that's pretty sick."

I said "I guess it falls within the ambit of an artistic licence. But still, I don't quite see yet where these song lyrics have a bearing on the hairless bikini wearers."

"Don't you see," said Jack. "Don't you think there's just a hint of pedophilia in all this?"

I was about to say "Honi soit qui mal y pense", but then I thought better of it. Maybe Jack has a point. After all, Jack is more attuned to popular culture than I am, and he keeps a constant finger on the public pulse. Or some other sensitive and often private part.

Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.

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