“Dear Armpit Picker,” by Ragna (Ronia) Smits

Jan 11th, 2017 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

Dear Armpit Picker,

Ignoring the “ick” factor, I am astounded, if not awed, by your devotion to personal grooming: shared so generously with everyone in the compartment (bar those glued to their iPhones). Let me applaud you. While your three female companions, shrieking gleefully like starving coyotes over a kill, chose to disregard the no eating or drinking signs posted above them, by cramming their faces with burgers, fries and noisy slurps of bucket-size soda, you remained the outsider, the iconoclast, quietly picking away at your armpit, save for the occasional “shit,” “fuck,” and intensive “motherfucker.” Eyes straining, nay, bulging, tongue hanging out in deep concentration like a thirsty bloodhound. Yours was a very long tongue! I mean, for God’s sake, woman, have you no shame, taking it out in public? Anyway, I jest—and forgive the canine comparison. Undoubtedly, like a bloodhound (and under more auspicious circumstances), you are kind, patient, noble, mild-mannered and lovable. You are certainly persistent!

Now back to the picking. Frankly, your armpit became an obsession. It certainly “raised” the question: Did it harbor one errant hair or several? Your repetitive movement, like someone methodically plucking the feathers off a dead chicken, indicated a loner: One stubborn, yet slightly bereft, lonely armpit hair, a remaining, sad stalk of corn in a recently plowed field. I found myself wanting to burst into “The Pheasant Plucker” song. As old English, tongue twisting and patently ribald as you’re going to get, and a favorite in British country pubs, apparently, after a night of heavy drinking. More specifically, should you be unfamiliar with the lyrics: “I’m not a pheasant plucker. I’m a pheasant plucker’s son. I’m only plucking pheasants, ‘till the pheasant plucker comes.” In fact, had I done so, the whole compartment could have joined in for a jolly old sing-along.

Going by the colorful string of superlatives of you and your companions, regarding someone called “PJ,” and his “homeboys.” How you’d all love to “lick motherfucking ice cream out of those motherfuckas’ perfect assholes (except for fat Bernie’s, whose butt’s, like, fuck?),” you and your merry band of bottom-lickers were headed out for a night on the town—or at least for dessert.

I understand your frustration. There you all were; all gussied up, quite fetching, in fact–a take-no-prisoners, teenage sisterhood of vanilla and bleach. You were ready for action, and this had to happen! Not to worry, many a time have I inadvertently examined my pits after showering and thought, Oh Christ, the razor missed a bit; yet was too lazy to finish the job. It never occurred to me, as it obviously had to you that someone might actually want to inspect my underarms. Might actually notice even just one teensy-weensy hair, would act like an army drill sergeant reprimanding a recruit for crumpled, un-ironed buttonholes or unpolished boots, or, God forbid, an untrimmed nose hair. However, you were proactive. You saw a problem and went straight for the jugular (or should I say, armpit?). You sought perfection. Yes, by golly! Besides, for all I know, this presumably spotless, exotic ice cream vessel by the name of PJ, or one of his equally accommodating homeboys (“except for fat Bernie’s, whose butt’s, like, fuck?”), operated in the curious manner of a cat, and had an armpit licking fetish. Therefore, what you were probably thinking was, better to keep him happy—quid pro quo—a smooth armpit in exchange for ice cream!

 I’m all for helping a fellow sister, even in matters intimate. Hell, you want to borrow lipstick, a tampon, or some lubricant gel, I’m the one to ask—don’t be a stranger. Had I my little Swiss Army Knife on me, with its surprisingly effective tweezers, rest assured, I would have offered it up for your plucking pleasure.

Regrettably, it was not to be. When I stood up for my stop, you were still at it: a determined little trooper to the finish. A rare member of the never-give-up club. As I passed you by, I fleetingly checked “the pit.” My heart bled (and I mean that most sincerely). It was worse than I thought—poor lamb–a red raw minefield of un-depilated stubble, surrounding one indubitable, potentially tongue-puncturing spike. We made eye contact, you winced, your eyes bleary, as good as crossed with the weariness of it all. A seemingly never-ending marathon of a plucking session and one hell of a cricked neck. Not wishing to come over as having malicious intent, say, a desire that the roof of the compartment would suddenly open and both you and your war-weary armpit would be sucked into oblivion, I smiled sympathetically, angling my head. You bared your teeth and hissed, “Fuck you!” (Obviously addressing the pit hair!) I like that. For not only did it extend your vocabulary beyond the commonplace “shit,” “fuck,” and “motherfucker,” but by use of the pronoun “you,” it showed spirit. It showed that despite everything, you would beat this thing! Pluck out that clingy, unwelcome part of yourself even if it killed you! Because the promise of ice cream, cupped so deliciously in a cute boy’s butt, was worth it.

I understand your pain, sister. I really do. Had you been double-jointed, you could have plucked it out with your teeth. One vicious yank and problem solved! Oh well, tra-la-la. Soldier on you pheasant plucker!


Ragna Smits


Ragna (Ronia) Smits is an Anglo-American writer and artist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her humor has been published in The Yellow Ham, and she’s represented by The Garden Gallery (www.artonmain.com). While she doesn’t like to boast about it (being exceedingly modest!), she’s had three very favorable rejections from The New Yorker. When she isn’t writing or painting or doing the normal things that people do, she sits around, making herself thoroughly miserable, reading hate mail from her mother-in-law. Pondering on a childhood spent in England, the Middle East and Africa, she is currently working on the next Great “British” Novel.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.