Growing Pains

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t fifteen, my legs grew so fast my tendons couldn’t keep up. I’d moan as though someone had stretched me like Silly Putty. The growth spurts made me walk funny; imagine if you will, Charlie Chaplin in need of fiber supplementation.

For two months, I hobbled with a cane. The doctor assured me I’d survive, then he asked which flavor of lollipop I wanted. I informed him that fifteen-year-olds didn’t eat suckers.

So, he gave me a cigar and a shot of bourbon.

It was during this period of life I developed a thick layer of body-fur, common to species of timber wolf phylum. Almost overnight, I sprouted hair on my chest, face, and back. One of the girls swimming down by the creek took me aside one day. “Look,” she said. “There’s something you should know. Your body-hair, it’s gross. You should shave that.” And the other girls giggled.

I went home and shaved every damn hair from my body with a straight-razor, even the hair growing on the tops of my ears. Then, I looked at myself in the mirror, Band-Aids covering nicks on my chest, and I sobbed.

Mother found me. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m ugly. Just look at me.”

She wrapped her arms around me. “Oh, I’m glad you feel this way, honey.”

“You are?”

“Yes, it’s a blessing that things are so painful for you right now. The truth is, I’m happy for it.”

“Why would you say such a thing?”

“Because, as adults we’re supposed to be kindhearted and compassionate toward others. Encouraging to our neighbors.”

“Yeah. So?”

She touched my bandage. “People who’ve never felt pain have a hard time doing that.”