She emerged from the murky lake water, dark hair dripping and water glistening on her olive skin. Her smile was triumphant and proud. She had not backed down, refused to hesitate, and met the challenge.
"Umm, that's not Lake Minnetonka," The Kid informed her.
Triumph dissolved into mortification as she realized her mistake. She had been duped into disrobing in front of a man she had known mere hours.
"You! I'll kill you!" she screamed, trying to wrest leather pants over her wet thighs.
At five years old I couldn't quite grasp the subtleties of what had transpired between Prince and Appolonia as the VHS tape played. What I did know was that I wanted boobs just like hers. Round, ample, perky boobs that bounced when I ran. Even without a lesson on puberty I knew that although my chest looked no different from my older brother's, one day fleshy orbs would grow where none existed.
Then it happened. My best friend KP got her first training bra. She was eleven, I was nine and completely jealous. Although it made sense for her to develop first, I was desperate to play catch up. I spent the entire summer staring at the buds that pressed against her bathing suit's nylon fabric while lamenting the way my pink polka dot bikini top sagged against my body.
The next summer was the same. She kept blooming and I remained dormant. By the time I turned evelen a year later my patience was wearing thin. Fifth grade sex education had taught me about more than just the boobs I desired. I learned that a monthly period, body odor, and pubic hair were going to accompany them. So when I noticed a faint dusting of curly ques sprinkled underneath my arms, I was pretty excited. I was positive that my long coveted breasts were sure to follow. And sure enough they did. That summer two definitive bumps materalized on my chest.
"Do you want to come over and go swimming?" KP stood on my front porch with a beach towel in her hand.
"Yeah, let me go ask my mom."
Within seconds I had permission to play in the new underground, heated pool her grandparents had put in at their home across the street. Immediately I changed into my new black and green two piece. Eager to show off my new figure to the neighborhood kids, I left the T-shirt I normally wore over my bathing suit inside before I sprinted out the door to join the fun.
"Hey! Watch this," I screamed.
I took a running start and jumped off the diving board, tucking my knees to my chest to form the perfect cannon ball. Water flew in all directions. I surfaced and swam toward the shallow end. My next door neighbor, Puny Gonzalez, created a similar splash seconds later, followed by KP's younger brother BP. We dunked each other under the water and sent gallons of water flying onto the surrounding patio. It was sunset when we finally tired of the swimming pool.
I grabbed my towel off a lounge chair and stetched it behind me like a cape.
"Eww, what's that?" KP asked, pointing towards my raised arms.
"What?" I looked around me for a slimy creature of sorts.
"No! Under your arms."
I looked at my armpits to see the the straggly hairs that had been there for the last several weeks. I had no clue what was grossing her out.
"You have hairy pits!" she shouted. "Hey everyone, look at Liz's pits."
Immediately, I clamped my arms to my sides. Puny and BP rushed to where we stood, curious to see the cause of the commotion. KP grabbed my right hand and thrust it into the air.
"Pits!" she yelled. Puny and BP stared at my underarms as she doubled over in laughter.
"Ah, gross. You got bith under your arms," BP said.
I struggled to wrest my hand from her grasp. They were laughing, but I found none of it funny.
"Stop!" I commanded. I jerked away from her and wrapped my towel around my body, wishing I hadn't left my trusty T-shirt at home.
Children have short attention spans, so they left me alone to focus on other endeavors.
"Who wants to play Bloody Murder?" BP asked. The last strains of daylight were fading and the time had come to play our favorite game.
"Yeah, I'll get the other kids," Puny offered. Without waiting for a response he ran off to find The 6 Grade Heartthrob and his younger brother The Verbally Challenged Youth. I ran home to lure my older brother out of his bedroom.
Minutes later we reconvened on my front lawn, KP, BP, Puny, The Heartthrob, TVCY, my brother, and me.
"Who's gonna hide first?" The Heartthrob asked.
Wanting to be the first one to scare the pants off everyone else, I shot my hand into the air.
"Me! I'll hide first."
"Pits!" KP screamed, once again pointing and laughing.
My body tensed and I quickly lowered my hand. I had forgotten to put on a T-shirt while I was in the house. Everyone seized upon me at the same time. For the second time that day, KP lifted my arm in the air to expose my burgeoning pubes.
"Pits!" BP and Puny joined the chorus.
"That's gross," The Heartthrob said.
I tried to wriggle away from KP, but this time she was too strong. She waved my arm in the air and giggled. Under the glare of their ridicule, the hair that I had once been so proud of became toxic.
"Why do you let it grow like that?" BP asked.
I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to "let it grow like that." When the teacher taught us about body hair, she neglected to mention anything about hair removal. Desperate to stop their teasing I rushed inside my house. I ran up the front stairs two by two and headed straight to my parents bathroom. Opening the drawers on my mother's side of the vanity, I searched for the tool to end my problems. I found it in the bottom drawer.
Within seconds, the electric razor was against my armpit removing all evidence that I was in the throes of puberty. There wasn't much hair so the mission was completed within minutes. I cleaned up the hairs that had fallen in the sink and placed the razor back where I found it. I examined my armpits once more to make sure every last hair was gone. Satisfied, I returned to the front yard where everyone was waiting for me.
"What did you go inside for?" KP asked.
I said nothing. The few minutes I spent inside did nothing to curb her desire to tease me. This time when she reached for my arm, I didn't fight her.
"Pits!" she yelled as she hoisted my arm over my head.
A smirk tugged at the corners of my mouth. There was no way they could make fun of me if there was no hair to poke fun at. Their laughs turned to whimpers soon enough.
"Oh, she shaved," BP said. Disappointment tinged his voice.
"It doesn't matter," KP declared. "You're still Pits."
Everyone laughed at her assertion. Although I had rid myself of all evidence, there had been witnesses. It wouldn't matter if I shaved my underarms everyday for the rest of my life because to them, I would always be the girl with the hairy armpits. The humiliation followed me through junior high and most of high school. And to my ultimate dismay, while the armpit hairs grew steadily, my boobs did not.