There's a new store a few blocks from my house. I'd like to be happy about it. It fills up a previously vacant building and it may be an indication that the economy is picking up. Its white signage is new and shiny -- very inviting. Which is part of the problem. Because this latest venture, located in sight of the public library and on the way to Little Dude's school, is named "The Pretty Kitty." Which is an awesome name for a pet store. Except it's not a pet store. Our new neighbor is "The Pretty Kitty: Brazilian Waxing."
I'm not trying to go all Tipper Gore here and call for a ban on personal grooming. Brazilian waxing is not my thing, but if it makes someone feel good, go for it. Wax on, wax off, I say. The Pretty Kitty's owners also get points for being clever. The sort of clever I'd appreciate if I were a hip 20-something in the city. In which case, I'd probably drink a Cosmo to pluck up my courage and book an appointment. Sadly, my 20s are long gone and instead of cocktail hour, I'm wondering if it's mean spirited to assemble a mob of parents to force the owners to change the name before we all have to start explaining to our kids that this place doesn't sell guinea pigs and cat food.
This is one of the few times I'm glad my son hasn't learned to read.
Because let's be honest. You know some kid is going to see that sign and walk in looking for a new puppy. Even Google gets confused. The search I ran yesterday returned hits for the salon and AND a lost kitten in our area. As an aside, The Pretty Kitty is hiring, in case anyone is looking for a new gig. I can also report that the kitten was reunited with its owner. There is nothing you can't learn on the Internet.
I'm dreading trying to explain to my son 1) what Brazilian waxing is and 2) why some people refer to vaginas as "kitties." I know I can't force people to avoid anatomical slang. I'll admit that naming a waxing salon "The Naked Vagina" doesn't have the same ring, not to mention that marketing is probably easier with a sexy picture of a cat. But if I tell Little Dude that kitty is slang for vagina, do I have to expose him to all the other words that make our body parts sound childish or silly or cute? Am I required to pull out vayjayjay and beaver? (Please don't make me include the others. The magic Internet and I came up a long list, but this isn't Jezebel, and despite what some people have said, I do care that my kids might someday read this stuff. Not to mention I'm probably embarrassing the hell out of my husband.)
But as a parent, I made a decision to call a penis a penis, a nipple a nipple and a vagina a vagina. That doesn't mean everyone else has to, but I think there is value in demystifying our bodies and not cloaking them in nicknames. That ability to name something has power. I don't want my son to see the human body as embarrassing, salacious or dirty. Miraculous, yes. Mysterious, no. I don't think the Pretty Kitty owners are particularly shy -- I think they're savvy. I just wish their branding didn't expose my son to a concept I'd rather he not learn until he's older. And by older, I mean, out of preschool.
I'm not a prude. I anticipated Little Dude would get exposed to this stuff in junior high. Because I am Type-A, I've started to prepare myself for the sex talk. Am I being unreasonable to ask that businesses in suburban neighborhoods don't use double entendres to sell spa services? Am I insanely naïve? What's next? "The Long Schlong Skateboard Shop"?
I drive by this place every day on my way to Little Dude's school and wonder how long it will take for him to notice it. Because he has the attention span of a flea and can't read, I'm safe for a while, unless they start putting a giant red fire truck outside. (And no, that's not some suburban slang for the female form. My kid just really likes fire trucks.) But a friend's 13-year-old daughter on her way to church last week did notice. My friend described their subsequent conversation as a "memorable" parenting moment. I don't know that the "memorable" was meant in a good way. I'm just glad it wasn't me.