It’s December 15th, a Tuesday, and I’m traveling to Panama City, FL for a job interview. My very good friend arranges to accompany me on the four-hour car ride. We leave in the late morning and arrive around 3:30 pm.
The interview went swimmingly — so I thought. I was shown around the workplace by my potential boss, I was introduced to my potential colleagues. I was dressed in the perfect combination of business casual. Bright white sneakers paired with a bright white tank top and black and white pinstriped wide-leg pants.
I thought, this is the essence of me. The best-dressed professional version of my work ethic, yet still true to myself. I decided against a blazer as I thought that might be over-the-top for this work setting interview.
I was 4 weeks into my ~waxing schedule~ aka I was hairy! My armpits were grown (and quite noticeable) but it didn’t bother me. I do my own waxing courtesy of Ultas’ wide arrange of hair removal products and my particularity to how I like my hair to grow. Shaving my armpits are a no for me (I’ve come to fall in love with the smoothness I get from ripping out my hair.) So I made the executive decision to go into this highly regarded interview with grown-out pits. Sue me.
I was consumed with my image going into the interview. Be presentable yet relatable. “I’m down-to-earth but I’m also a natural-born leader in my work,” I think to myself. Our conversations were wonderful. My potential boss was open-minded and thoughtful and respectable.
We ended it with directions to my hotel — I was to stay in Panama City Beach. My friend and I drove out, only a 20 min ride. We checked in and settled into our room and were high off of the potential. I think I just secured the job I tell her.
We change. I stay in the same outfit but put on a pink corduroy moto jacket as the temperature dropped when the sun went down, and some black pumps.
We head to a decent restaurant and eat locally caught seafood — we cheer with a celebratory drink. The table next to us — whom I paid no attention to — had supposedly noticed my friend and I sitting at the bar and approached us, said he was heading to a local watering hole after dinner. You should meet us there, he says. Feeling elated and wanting to explore my potential new living area, my friend and I close out our tab and we look up the next spot on my phone. Only 15 minutes away.
We enter the dive bar. I feel as though I’ve walked inside with a fruit salad on my head — I’m observed as if I’m obviously not from the area. Bar patrons look at me head-to-toe, size me up. Pool and darts are the names of the game, and I don’t play either. We find an empty space at the bar and an older woman who looks to be my grandmothers’ age approaches us. What’ll you have? My friend responds, What do you like to drink? The bartender says I like Blueberry vodka and Redbull.
We’ll take two, says my friend. My eyes widen, as I rarely drink liquor OR caffeine. But….when in Rome. She makes our drinks and the gentlemen from the previous restaurant find us. One has a unique square jaw and the other has a shaven head and is 2 inches shorter than me. We exchange names and polite business. I explain I’m in town only for the night — a whimsical look overcomes them both.
We share enough meaningful conversation that we venture to the neighboring bar — which also doubles as a liquor store. There’s a Latin DJ on the rooftop patio and my friend and I dance with one another. The gentlemen latch onto us, buying our drinks and squawking compliments. One suggests to my friend that they take us to a strip club — I unwittingly agree and the next thing I know we're in an Uber. I’m the only one wearing my mask.
We enter and I feel the excitement, my first time at a club. The guys buy a bottle for the VIP section and we settle in. I take off my jacket. We cheer to unexpected friendships. I look beyond our roped-off section towards the entertainment and I feel eyes on me….the eventual comment emerges to the surface, I like a natural woman, he says ….hmm? Is he commenting on my armpit hair? I laugh it off, take a sip of champagne, thinking how silly he sounds.
He reaches out and touches the inside of my bicep. My eyes were saying wtf but my conditioning forced a smile.
Letting my armpit hair grow out isn’t so much a conscious decision as it is just procrastination ’til the next wax day. Mine isn’t that sweet, light estrogen body hair either. It grows thick and bushy, baby. I own it. I don’t mind the hair but it certainly draws in eyeballs from both men and women. It’s taboo to see I suppose but I will politely say to you now, it’s none of your f***ing business. I see you staring and I don’t care — Don’t comment on my body hair