By Tracy Beckerman
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In what might go down in history as one of life’s greatest ironies, my teenage son and I both started to sprout chin hair at the same time.
The similarities were remarkable. For both of us it seemed to happen overnight, neither of us were expecting it, and we both had only three hairs. There was one big difference, though: he was overjoyed about his chin hair and I was mortified about mine.
I could understand his delight. For a teenage boy, the onset of facial hair is a big deal. It marks the beginning of his transition into manhood. For a woman in her late 40s, the onset of facial hair just marks the beginning of electrolysis.
Bad as this development was, I felt I was mature enough to handle a few errant chin hairs. I was fairly certain I could contain the damage before small children began referring to me as “Sir.” The thing that concerned me, though, was the possibility that I was not getting chin hairs because I was perimenopausal … but because I was having a sympathetic puberty.
I know this is scientifically possible because when I was carrying my first child, my husband went through a sympathetic pregnancy. He gained thirty pounds, retained water, and had inexplicable cravings for Sloppy Joes and Candy Corn. Of course I gained 60 pounds, so he was only half as sympathetic as he could have been. Still, the intent was certainly there.
This being the case, I wondered if having a sympathetic puberty meant I might exhibit other symptoms of male adolescence? I was less concerned with the possibility that my voice would deepen and more troubled that I might have the impulse to start wearing my jeans down below my butt. Was it possible that I would become unable to utter anything more than a grunt when addressed by family members? Would I only be able to communicate by text? Would I suddenly start to crave little square hamburgers and want to play video games where I kill zombies 24/7? These are the questions that kept me up at night. That, and the sudden desire to order a pepperoni pizza at midnight and eat the whole thing while I binge watched Breaking Bad on Netflix.
Deeply concerned about my possible future as a teenage boy, I sought the counsel of my husband.
“Honey, I think I’m having a sympathetic puberty with our son,” I informed him. “We are both sprouting chin hairs at the same time.”
“Let me ask you one question,” he said. “Have you had any sudden desire to douse yourself in overpowering body spray?”
“Can’t say that I have,” I replied.
“OK. You’re fine,” he said. “Now, can you order in a pizza? I’ve got to go kill some zombies.”
Follow Tracy on Twitter at @TracyinSuburbia.
Lost in Suburbia: Taking it on the chin
By Tracy Beckerman