Also known as banana hammocks.

I had so many plans for this last week of summer vacation – the pool! the zoo! the amusement park! – and the weather has been beautifully warm. It would be a perfect week for all those things! Unfortunately, the city is hidden in a giant cloud of smoke, courtesy of the wildfires out west. The air quality is so bad that we’ve been housebound for days; five minutes at the dog park on Monday, and we all had burning throats and eyes, and Mark was wheezing a bit. It doesn’t smell exactly like being downwind of the world’s largest campfire anymore when I open the back door, but the boys and I just walked down the street to get their hair cut, and now I have a screaming headache. Well, maybe tomorrow will be better. Hold on for one more day, and all that.

Over at Throwing It Back, Hannah wrote about Pump Up The Volume, and it has thrown me into a flurry of nostalgia for movies of my youth. Oh, how I adored Christian Slater. Oh, how I loved that movie. Isn’t it interesting how movies back in the 80s and 90s would never be made today? Think about Heathers: accidental murder, suicide becoming trendy, and homophobia. Oh boy! Just last night my husband and I were talking about Vacation. Can you imagine that being made today? Family road trip ends with enraged man holding Wally World employees at gunpoint so that he can ride all the rides. Well, possibly this movie would be made today but it wouldn’t be a comedy. It would probably star Nicholas Cage and end with the promise of a sequel; a pumped-up and tattooed Clark Griswold, looking like Robert DeNiro from Cape Fear.

Side note: I do know that there is a remake of Vacation – I haven’t seen it yet, although Chris Hemsworth in his underwear is enough enticement, really. I feel fairly sure there isn’t the “holding employees at gunpoint” plotline though.

Meanwhile, the boys and I are still tucking in for our daily episode of Downton Abbey. All this re-watching of it had me puzzled about – of all things – underarm hair. While discussing plot lines of feudalism, estate planning, male heirs, and rape with the boys, I have been secretly thinking about underarm hair.

Nicole says: Well, the reason that note is so important is that Lady Mary actually didn’t have any rights to the Abbey, because she’s a woman. I know! But that’s the way things were back then. Everything went to the boys.

Nicole thinks: They are all wearing sleeveless dresses. Was shaving a thing back then? Or did they all just let it all hang out?

After literally YEARS of wondering about when shaving underarms became a thing, I finally remembered that there is this handy thing called the Internet, and on that Internet is this handy thing called Google, and I could probably stop wondering and get some answers about this very important issue.

The great thing about the Internet is that there is not only a Wikipedia article for practically everything, there is also a website or blog for every single thing. I found a whole article devoted to when women started shaving their underarms, and indeed, it was in the 1920s when sleeveless dresses became popular. Hooray for Downton Abbey and their attention to detail.

Interestingly, leg shaving wasn’t really a thing until the 1940s, what with women wearing longer skirt lengths until that time, which makes sense. Apparently, bikini waxes were first popular with Muslim women in North Africa and the Middle East, when brides would get all their body hair removed pre-wedding night. I had no idea. And here I thought waxes became popular with the rise of the string bikini.

Speaking of which, my friend Candace over at Life in Pleasantville posted a discussion about Speedos, which spurred a comment along the lines of if we say anyone can wear a bikini, why can’t anyone wear a Speedo? This is an interesting point. Why indeed? On the beach in Maui, I would estimate 95% of women are in bikinis, and I think that’s awesome. Rock that bikini, sister, I would say if anyone asked. I celebrate women of all shapes and sizes embracing their figures and wearing any kind of bathing suit they feel comfortable in. And yet, my first response to a man wearing a Speedo is revulsion.

Is this a reverse sexism thing? I don’t know. I mean, there was an incident in which I was sitting by the pool and an older gentleman in a green Speedo bent over in front of me and I got a full glimpse of his testicles, which was disturbing. As much as I want to be open minded, I do not actually want to see a strange man’s testicles. And yet, I have accidentally flashed a nipple while swimming, so the same could be said about me. Maybe I disturbed someone’s inner peace that day, in the same way that gentleman very innocently did to me.

So what is it about Speedos that get us ladies all riled up? Not everyone is flashing their testicles, although the suits do leave very little to the imagination. Of course, bikinis – and, for that matter, most bathing suits – do as well, hence the popularity of the bikini wax for those itsy-bitsy bikinis. Why do we hate Speedos so much? I can’t reconcile my to-get-a-bikini-body-put-your-body-in-a-bikini self with this. In the extremely unlikely, hypothetical event that my husband buys a Speedo, I would burn it, and yet if he did the same to one of my bikinis, it would be mur-diddly-urder around here. HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION, MY HUSBAND WOULD NEVER BUY A SPEEDO OR BURN MY BIKINI.

I don’t know. Maybe I need to work on my open-mindedness. Om shanti.


  1. Here is the thing. ANYONE can wear ANYTHING! Totally. Of course. Obviously.

    However, may I just point out that testicles are NOT nipples. We can agree on this point. I know we can.

    So, if my sexual organs were flopping around outside my bathing suit bottom I think people would be aghast in general. Right? Picture yourself pulling on your bikini bottom – make it ill fitting for my example please and thank you – now imagine you just stuffing a couple of ovaries and fallopian tubes and your uterus into it… you know… as one does when one carries their reproductive organs on the outside.

    Mmm hmmm. Let that sink in.

    So, maybe it comes down to that. By all means wear what you wish, but maybe wear two… or be fitted by a professional. It isn’t about the size or fitness level of the person. For me, it comes down to science.

    Divers and swimmers have at it!

  2. I had never thought about when women started shaving their underarms, and immediately HAD TO KNOW, so I’m glad you had the answer.

    I am fascinated by this “gross men in speedos”/”don’t DARE say a woman is gross in a bikini” thing. I think it is partly what Peady says. I DO agree on that point. I DO.

  3. For me it always comes back to what Elaine on Seinfeld said about naked women vs men – a woman’s body is a work of art, a man’s body is utilitarian, it’s for getting around, it’s like a jeep 😉

  4. Ha! What Maggie said. In other news, I totally wanted to marry Christian Slater as a teen. I’m sure I’ve seen Pump Up The Volume 100 times. I’ll have to leave a comment for Hannah over on Throwing it Back – he has some new show on Starz called Mr. Robot which is apparently awesome (according to Entertainment Weekly, who I trust). Hope the air has cleared and you’re able to get back outside!

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