“Hi, I’m Kim. What brings you in today?”

“Make it stop. I don’t care what it takes. If it hurts. What it costs. Just make it stop.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not quite following…”.

“I pluck and I pluck and I pluck, pluck, pluck, pluck!”

I realized I sounded like the Grinch – “all the noise, noise, noise, noise!” And honestly, I was feeling pretty Grinchy at that point. My dermatology aesthetician Kim just smiled and nodded. Clearly she had heard this before.

I was twelve years post-hysterectomy. It had been about two years since I discontinued the transdermal hormone replacement patch. The patch, like other forms of HRT, is meant to keep a lot of the negative side effects of menopause at bay.

I have never been a girly girl. Not by a long shot. I never wear makeup except to the obligatory wedding or funeral and then only a little cover stick and blush. And I hate every minute of it. A quick flick of the razor has always kept my unibrow separated into two voluminous dark caterpillars and a daily application of Oil of Olay since the age of twenty-one has kept the wrinkles at bay for decades.

The lack of makeup however, does not necessarily translate into a lack of vanity. I absolutely do care about my appearance.

As a psychotherapist I have adopted a posture of holding my chin lightly cradled between the thumb and forefinger of my left hand. It’s comfortable and I like to think it makes me look deeply thoughtful. One day as I was pondering the complexities of what was happening in the life of one of my clients, something poked me.

Huh. I moved my forefinger and it poked me again. I was putting great effort into staying engaged with my client, having significant eye contact and listening intently. But…… a part of my attention had split off and was focused on this pokey thing.

What the hell is that? Am I getting a zit? No, it’s much too… well, pokey to be a zit. Do I have dried food on my chin? Eeewww, gross! I tried scraping it with a fingernail. Nope, still there. OK, not food. So what? Is it a splinter? It feels like a little splinter. How in the world did I get a splinter there? Well, I was rummaging in the attic last night, could it be fiberglass? That must be what it is. Is fiberglass toxic? I’ll have to Google that….

Yes, yes I am listening. You were saying your brother used to chase you with a sock on one hand and a pack of Oscar Mayer bologna in the other hand. Yes, I agree that is unusual but without context I can’t say whether it’s pathological. And I’m afraid we’ll have to pick up here next time.

I saw him to the door all the while keeping the pad of my finger on the offending splinter. I made my way to the bathroom mirror, grabbing tweezers from a drawer. I took a look and then gave it a tug but it didn’t slide out like I thought it would. I tugged harder and it hurt.

Oh. My. God. It’s a whisker. A whisker! A thick, white freaking whisker. On my chin. My not-quite-yet-fifty-year-old face had grown a whisker. No. Just no. This cannot be happening.

My next client was already in the waiting room so I took a deep breath, grabbed it with the tweezers and yanked it out. Owwww! The damn thing had a root twice as long as what had been poking out. I went about the rest of my day and by dinnertime I had completely forgotten about it.

Until the following morning. After my shower I was leaning over the sink neatening up my caterpillar eyebrows in the mirror when I noticed it was back. That’s impossible. Hair removed by the root takes two to six weeks to regenerate. That’s why waxing is so popular. Everybody knows that. Well maybe not everybody, but nerds like me know it because it might be a question on Jeopardy one day.

I leaned in and took a good long look. And that’s when I realized this one was about a half inch away from where the previous day’s whisker had been. Apparently an entire crop was about to emerge. That was an understatement. Over the next few months they came in droves. White ones, silver ones, black ones. Thick ones, thin ones. Under my chin in spots where I couldn’t see them until they got to be an inch long. Dark ones on my upper lip that made me look like Errol Flynn (Google him, you’ll see what I mean).

I fought back valiantly for over a year until my dermatologist informed me that I was doing serious damage to my skin with all the plucking. He recommended permanent laser hair removal which is what led me to my appointment with Kim the aesthetician. Best. Decision. Ever. One year, six treatments, all gone.