‘Mummy why don’t you have a tinkle?’ This is the question my eldest son posed to me while I was trying on jeans in a clothing store today. I was simultaneously trying to keep the insufficient curtain closed over the gap and pull myself into some high waisted jeans. My son was squished into the corner of the changing room surrounded by bags full of Christmas decorations. Being three years old the genital region is of constant fascination to him and I am often asked about ‘tinkles’. Today though, was the day he decided to notice that I do not have one. I was wearing very tiny sheer knickers (usually reserved for special occasions but seeing as I have no sex life I just grabbed them because they were clean). I suppose with very little fabric covering me I was in the firing line for such questions.
I decided to give a quick answer and move swiftly on. There was a gaggle of twittering schoolgirls in the cubicle next to me who had gone strangely silent when my son asked the question in a rather loud voice.
‘Mummy doesn’t have a tinkle because she is a lady. Ladies don’t have tinkles only boys do.’
Muffled girlish laughter from the cubicle next door indicated to me that my answer was funny (oh why did I ever find stuff like this funny when I was a teenager?).
‘Yes but MUMMY. Why do you have a BEARD instead of a tinkle?’
They didn’t even try to hold their laughter, they positively shrieked. I almost laughed myself, if it weren’t for the thought of surfacing from the cubicle and revealing myself. ‘Yes girls I’m the bearded lady. Have a good look.’
I decided then and there that a woman knows she needs to shave if her offspring confuses her nether regions with facial hair. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead without Veeting myself to perfection, these days I was sporting something rather more Amazonian. My ‘winter coat’.
The jeans were not going to be bought, so I swiftly got changed and put my head up high in the air as I walked past the schoolgirls, who were whispering things about ‘beards’ and giggling incessantly. I lugged my shopping bags in an ungainly fashion down the small aisle that led to the main shopping floor with my son also giggling behind me. I caught sight of myself in a mirror on the way past. England’s answer to the Hunchback of Notre Dam was staring back at me, scuttling around with straining shopping bags full of cheap Christmas decorations and a tribute to a dead squirrel between her legs. Fan-fucking-tastic.