06/15/2010 11:10 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Chin Hairs and Charm

The first time Julia Child warned me about chin hairs, I was too young to comprehend this huge life lesson. Julia was a teacher, first and foremost. I should have been paying better attention. It took my gay facialist with a pair of pliers screaming, "Crap, I'm not butch enough for these piano wires" to make me really understand.

Chin hairs, the really tough kind that "mature" women develop are one of the first signs of estrogen loss. I've become less woman and more man. My husband has told me I had balls, but I don't want to grow any. I'm trying to simplify my life.

Estrogen is that funny little hormone that keeps women sweet, feminine and makes us want to cry. Yes, young women need it, if not, the human race would disappear. Biology, mating, kids, the cycle of life, yes; I'm talking about the heavy stuff.

As a woman of a certain age who "forgot to have children", I never thought much of estrogen until the chin hairs appeared and my charm disappeared. Simultaneously.

Charm. My Mother sent me to the Wendy Ward Charm School in 1969, held at a local Montgomery Ward to help me " find my charm". Charm, the adverb used at Wendy Ward, used to describe the act of handling people with "kid gloves," or on a warm day, be the "cool breeze."

Good manners, being polite, this was all part of a woman's charm. Charm was saying things like "how interesting" instead of laughing out loud at someone stupid, smiling even when you didn't feel like it, and never using inappropriate language.

Mother fucker, I miss my charm, and I'm constantly pissed off about it and reminded that I'm plum out of it when I'm pulling out my tweezers, shaver and hot wax to work on my chin.
I have whiskers! Forget my neck, breasts and thighs; they'll just have to fall where they may. I'm raising a Chia pet gone wrong.

The latest insult was a trip to my expensive dermatologist for a more permanent solution.
After two hours in her waiting room and twenty four dollars in parking garage fees,
her diagnosis was, "Oh, try to look on the bright side, we can probably do electrolysis
but I'm not sure you're ready yet. Let's see how long this will last?"

"How interesting" I replied. And then I smiled at the stupid bitch.

Denise Vivaldo is the author of seven cookbooks. She is currently writing her culinary memoir about 25 years of cooking in the Hollywood trenches. She believes that the stories have a lot of charm.