On my list of Top 10 Things I’d Never Say, #1 is probably, “I love shorts!” It’s not just that I hate them as the foolish style they are, the way half-fabric dangles around middle thighs. Sure, there’s that. It’s not just that I hate my legs, even though I suppose I should be grateful they carry me. Okay, I’m lame. But also shorts force me have to deal with calves. And I don’t want to cry all summer long.
Calves look funny no matter what. It’s like they’re meant to be hidden, then suddenly, peek-a-boo, there they are. Exposed and vulnerable. Too much hair. Too much skin, untouched by sun. Weirdly shaped posts revealed by shrunken partial-pants.
We try to change their form, don’t we? And what excellent little liars calves have become, making promises they can’t keep despite our efforts. Bodybuilders at the gym lift up and down on the edge of a step, eager for stronger and thicker. Ballerinas at the studio point their toes high on the bar, stretching so they can twirl better and spin longer. And small girls like me, we run and run and run on empty thinking we can lengthen somehow, willing ourselves to be longer and leaner. But calves stay the same, damn it.
Stocky and round, my heart cracks. Puny and wirey, my heart crumbles. Whatever your shanks look like, the realness of a calf is too much for me. Even the perfect ones, the ones in the Victoria Secret catalogues, even they make me sad. (And also very jealous.)
So I’ll keep mine tucked away in my jeans, thank you very much. And when we’re at a BBQ and you show me your new cut-offs, I’ll pretend to look but keep my eyes above your knees. Those knobby suckers are my lastima-shields.
p.s. You can make me cry in two words: cargo shorts.