Red on the head, fire in the hole. Firecrotch. Burning bush. Rupert Grint's thin-lipped sister. Les pubes rouges. My downstairs Conan.
OK, some of those I just made up. But the rest are some of the myriad names that have been attributed to my ladycave and her variety of haircuts.
My parents were among the first people to people to be shocked by my red hair, clipping it off at regular intervals throughout my infancy and saving their specimens in tiny plastic bags, certain that they would have to prove to the tall, blond daughter they expected, given their genetics, that she had once been a ginger.
After a massive haircut at age 10 necessitated by the summer at sleepaway camp where I allowed my hair to take its natural shape (one enormous, gutterpunk dreadlock, if you must know), my parents once again kept the three odd feet of hair that had been hacked off. My father, an avid fly fisherman, used it to tie flies.
While being a ginger has been bemoaned by many, particularly those who are determined to make a political statement about racism (?) toward redheads, or to bring awareness to the rampant bullying that affects tens of ginger individuals each year, the true shame of the redhead is not her fiery locks and pale lashes, it's their Irish downstairs neighbor.
I was, somewhat mercifully, a late bloomer. Up until my mid-20s, my breasts still resembled something you might see on a Russian gymnast. I managed to maintain a steady stream of boyfriends throughout my teens by making up for what I lacked in secondary sex characteristics with cherry print mesh thongs that tied on the side, a closet full of napkins that posed as shirts, and a beauty routine that included any product involving the words "berry" and "wet."
It was during this time that my body gave its first indication that someday, despite my protests and Hello Kitty Hair clips, I would become a woman. While I imagined the girls around me to be growing shiny strips of Barbie hair or dense, chesnut 70's porn afros between their legs, my body did me the indignity of daubing the tiniest smear of strawberry on my otherwise ungarnished muffin.
So, like any young girl ready to experience the adult delight of pube shame, I precociously waxed, shaved, and even plucked every one of those God-forsaken red hairs out until my crotch looked like the nether regions on a Baby Alive.
Boyfriends and guys who bought me Bacardi Breezers at Peter Gatien clubs would marvel at its smoothness. "I guess I'm just not a hairy person," I would shrug, lying through my teeth, praying to God my skintight outfit wouldn't give me razor burn.
I continued my overzealous grooming routine until my arrival at college. On my first evening in that strange New England town, I saw more naked women that most people see in a lifetime. There were girls of all shapes, sizes and colors dancing around a bonfire nude, proudly showing off everything from unkempt pubes that virtually obscured everything from thigh to thigh to John Waters-style pencil thin mustaches.
It was art school, so the weirder you were (naturally or not) and the less of a shit you gave about it, the better. I had never seen so many naked bodies or people so OK with parading them around in front of strangers. I was transfixed.
It was then and there that I called a truce with my pussy.
I let 'em grow. Over the next four years, I experimented with everything from the landing strip to heart shaped pubic patches to shaving my boyfriend's initials into my pubes, because hell, I'm a romantic.
And despite my initial reservations, I found that men were not appalled! Most of them had never a seen autumnal pubic hair in person and were somewhat amazed by the science that would create such an amazing crotchular display. I was naked and weird and had a "Riddler" question mark shaved onto my crotch and dudes dug it and everyone survived.
So maybe there's no real moral to this story; maybe it's just another "Love me, love my dog/body/gang affiliation/firecrotch" kind of deals. But to the redheads out there reading this, please know one thing: You have the Rolls Royce of pubic hair at your disposal, and it would be a damn shame not to show her off.