On the eve of Sandy, I gather you here for a cozy fireside story.

Remember Rapunzel? How she lets down her golden braid so the Prince can climb it and rescue her from solitary confinement in her hilltop tower?

There are many such fairy tales of women sitting and waiting to be saved by a dashing suitor. Cinderella’s glass slipper whisks her from the clutches of her evil Stepmother to her new life as Princess (and in those days, summer holidays in France weren’t likely to be captured on film by roving paparazzi. Lucky her.) Sleeping Beauty was woken from a hundred year’s sleep (and, what would today, constitute a contemporary art installation) from another kind Sir.

But Rapunzel. It was her hair that saved her. That thick, lustrous hair that could take the weight of a grown man without her screaming out “Get down, you Fucker!”

How I wish I had that hair. Perhaps all women do. Unfortunately, my hair tends to be thicker on my legs than it is on my head. I recently, when taking the train to work, stood next to an older woman with obvious alopecia on her head. “That’ll never happen to me,” I said to myself, gazing at her scalp with a mixture of empathy and judgement.

Yes. Judgment. I tend to get judgey on the morning train. Thrust up against all those commuters with their dorky backpacks and circa 1980s pagers as they travel to their Brookline clinics. I know they are probably saving the world through cancer research, but can’t they at least drop the backpack and give me a little more breathing room?

But the universe has a funny way of teaching you a lesson just as you think you’ve got things nailed.

After all, after years of waxing, shaving and laser treatments on my body … as well as conditioning treatments and hairdresser-tips on how to maximize my natural curls so I don’t leave the house looking like Diana Ross … I thought I had this hair thing down. Keep it off the body, keep it ON the head.

And then, I went to the gym. And after my shower, while I put on some moisturizer under the mirrors that are lit far better than our bathroom mirror at home … I saw it.

The 3 strands of hair, dangling from a single source, like a maypole. Or a braid in waiting.

Only the strands weren’t coming from my head.

They were coming from under the right side of my jawline.

And I jest not when I say that these hairs were almost 3 inches long.

Horrified, I pulled them out instantly. How could I have not seen this?

And had people been staring at these hairs, just as I’d been staring at the balding woman on the train, thinking “Geez, does she not know?”

Or, “Poor woman, she must have some condition.”

Or, “Perhaps it’s a cultural thing.”

I mean, there’s facial hair that’s pretty bad — like hairs sprouting out of moles and grey moustaches sported by ancient old ladies — but this? This?

Unlike Rapunzel, there is no Prince on my horizon. Just my darling children, hubby and neglected cat. Perhaps if I’d let the hairs grow to their natural end, they would have trailed down to the ground, and I might have been rescued by some traveling hair removal expert who’d zap me with her laser gun.

But one thing I know is this. I will never, never, judge another for their facial hair. Even a pretty girl with a dark hair growing unceremoniously from her chin.  Though I might do her a favor and tell her to pluck it.

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