Columnist for Friday, 3/9 - Cindy

A Zen Riddle

As we're in week one of Ascetic month, I find myself searching for meditative questions to empty the mind, murdering conscious thought, so that the western dualism of mind and body can be extinguished in favor of a more holistic world-view. So I bring you a Zen Riddle of my own making:

Does Martha Stewart trim her pubic hair?

The question is fundamentally unanswerable, but answering is not its purpose. The truth is to be found through the journey.

Martha Stewart is fanatically neat. Everything in her presence is carefully arranged. This is the basic truth of her nature. As such, it would be hard to envision any aspect of her being left to nature's whim. At the same time, she is an inherently asexual being, like a block of polished marble or your grandmother. Her training is to ignore anything below the belt, excepting the shoes and whether their color is appropriate this close to Labor Day.

So, when you peel off those white khaki pants and strip away the inevitably practical-yet-lacey cotton undergarments beneath, are we looking at a hairy gorilla-esque nest of tousled fur, or a neatly trimmed pelt of silky, Nexus-conditioned hair?

Naturally, I wouldn't suspect Martha of a tacky pubic arrangement. No heart shapes or arrows, or the ever popular Playboy-centerfold pubic Mohawk. But it seems well within the realm of possibility that she might aim for a topiary scene. A clip here, a little gilt there, and you'll see a little giraffe traipsing across a low hill or a toucan nesting in the crook of a tree. Perhaps the face of a lion cub, complete with antique button eyes, just like grandmother had once upon a time. No dogs or kittens, of course -- far too common and inelegant -- no elephants, no grizzly bears, and certainly no beavers.

Shaving is quite out of the question. While it fulfills the basic impulse to pluck out that which offends, it requires frequent maintenance to prevent unseemly stubble, and Martha is simply emotionally ill-equipped for that level of intimacy with her nether regions.

At the same time, Martha's essence would lead her to go through life afraid to touch her pubes. She spends most of her day bending window dressings and wicker trellises to her will, followed by a fanatic assault on her pantry, forcing common foodstuffs and bits of dead animal flesh to take form as graceful, low-fat delicacies. Martha herself is inviolate, untouchable. She is master of her domain, but where her pubes lie on that domain is a tricky boundary. Are they part of the world Martha must conquer, or are they part of Martha, which is inherently perfect?

There is, of course, the outside possibility that Martha was gifted with a naturally neat little patch that can be left alone without much attention. This seems unlikely. No one is that fanatical without a secret to hide, and hers is almost certainly a mons venus that looks like Maleficent's bewitched bramble thicket from Sleeping Beauty.

Quite possibly, Martha would simply tell herself that her bush was naturally trim, and be horribly wrong. We all see what we want to see, and it's much easier in the case of something only you are allowed to see. As for intimate relations (she was married, once), I'm betting that Martha's a strictly lights-out kind of girl. And her adult daughter was almost certainly a classic home-birth with attending midwives, all of whom either signed strict confidentiality contracts or are now pushing up gladiolas in Martha's garden.

It comes down to this: Martha, being Martha, could not leave her pubic hair untrimmed. But the act of trimming pubic hair would cause Martha to cease being Martha.

Ruminate on this. Let it fill your mind with possibilities, and let those possibilities blink each other into nonexistence. Let the contradiction flow without conflict throughout the center of your being. You are one with the universe, there is no universe, there is no you. There is only the twisting vision of Martha's crotch, and the sound of one hand clapping.

It's a Good Thing.


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