So we got the keys to our new apartment. After months of planning and dreaming, we were finally going to live in Copenhagen. My son wanted to celebrate.
As we wandered through the city, we came across one of those Fish Kiss spas. (For the uninitiated, you stick you feet in a tank and small fish nibble the dead skin off you feet. Like cuddly piranhas. Or Care Bears with fangs.) We’d tried it once before and had promised ourselves we would do it again. Now the time had come.
And, then, just as I swiped my card through the machine, I remembered. You had to roll your trousers up to your knees. And sit in a room full of people with their feet in tanks. You had to be on show.
Never normally a problem for me. Give me a mic and centre stage and I will talk and present projects and sell you concepts till the cows come home.
But the horror! It was April. And I hadn’t shaved my legs since the last time I wore a skirt. Which was probably February. On the optimistic side. It could have been New Year’s.
So I would be sitting there, on display in the window like some bargain rate Amsterdam hooker, with my very hairy legs exposed for all to see.
In my mind I could already see people pointing and laughing. The girls downstairs where you had to wash your feet. The girls upstairs. The other customers. The people out on the street looking in.
I was so close to telling the immaculately groomed Russian on the other side of the counter that we’d come back another time. Then I looked at my son.
And thought about the message I would be sending him, if I backed down and ran away, having just promised him – and paid for – a treat.
What would he learn?
That appearances are what matter.
That strangers’ opinions of how you look should govern how you live your life.
That you should always conform to society’s norms and expectations regarding your appearance and behaviour.
That’s not me.
That’s certainly not a message I want him to take out into the world.
So I sat there. Proud, hairy, sipping Moët Chandon and laughing at my son’s jokes.
A little self- conscious?
But a lot wiser.