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By Aliza Sherman

I want to talk to you about, well, my bush. You thought this was going to be about the president, didn't you? Not by a long shot. After extricating myself from a nine-year relationship and hitting the dating scene again in 2002, I discovered something completely astonishing to me.

Let me go back to the beginning. It all started when I relocated to the Rocky Mountain region. I hadn't made many friends yet, and I started dating a young stud I met on the Internet.

So here I am in bed with a guy ten years younger than me (in his 20's), and I notice something odd. A lack of hair "down there." Not that he was "bald," mind you, but he was certainly very close cropped. A man shaving his pubes? I was shocked, to say the least. Why, I thought to myself, would a man remove his curly cues?

I asked my sister the same question. She didn't have a clue, but then again, she has been in a dating dry spell for years so maybe we both just missed some new fad. She asked her friend, a sex columnist for an alternative paper, for an explanation. Her friend was flummoxed so she included a question about men shaving in her next column.

Men wrote in with thoughts on the subject ranging from the joys of "petting the dolphin" to suggesting "if you want people to play in your yard, you've got to trim the lawn." We still didn't feel the mystery had been solved, but I chalked it up to getting old.

When the next guy I got naked with had the same thing going on, I began to think this shaving thing was part of a cult ritual. Or maybe men in their 20's were just weird about personal grooming. I finally got up the courage to mention this to a few of my new girlfriends one night over dinner. I suddenly realized they, too, were part of the cult.

"Well, you shave down there, don't you?"

What? Me shave? Down there? Sure I did the occasional groin and thigh hair whacking for those very rare bathing suit occasions. But trim it down? Wouldn't that itch?

"You mean you don't shave your bush?" they screamed in unison.

I shook my head, half stunned that we were actually having this conversation, loudly, at Outback Steakhouse.

"Do you?" I asked them, and all three of them nodded furiously.

"I would never go out of the house without a very trim crop," New Girlfriend #1 proclaimed.

"I've even done shapes and special designs. Like a heart for Valentine's Day or my boyfriend's initials," said New Girlfriend #2.

New Girlfriend #3 was still staring at me slack jawed. "You mean you really do have a...bush??"

"Yes," I replied, totally ashamed.

"You mean you actually have pubes sticking out from the leg holes of your underwear?"

"Yeah," I admitted weakly.

"Oh my God!" they screeched.

I began to think back on the two young men I had bedded and realized that when they were asking to shave me, they weren't harboring some latent prepubescent fixation after all but were actually trying to give me a hint that my bush was too, well, bushy. I was horrified.

Why didn't someone tell me that I was supposed to shave the privates? Why was this important information not in any of the women's magazines? I had bought Cosmo to re-learn how to give a blow job (hey, you might think it is like riding a bike, but after nine years of missionary, and rarely at that, BJ technique doesn't just come back like a long lost friend), but even that sex-laden rag didn't tell me I was supposed to trim the crop.

The next day, in the privacy of my own home, I went onto the Internet and ordered a bikini trimmer on the advice of Girlfriend #2, the bush artiste, who insisted that razor shaving is a definite no-no. Electric was the way to go.

Needless to say, I began to keep a close shave. I do let it go sometimes, like I let my legs or my pits go on occasion, but for the most part, I am nice and short. Who knew it wasn't only clean underwear you need to worry about in case you are in a car accident? I can only imagine the look on the medical staff's face if they were confronted with a monstrous bush. I shudder to think.

By the way, men in their 40's like an untamed bush. I've been dating one of those. And lately, I've noticed a few hairs peeking out of my undies. He doesn't mind a bit.

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