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For the Syphilitic Who Has Everything

August 18, 2009

Shortly after I blew the roof off Facebook with the announcement that I would be starting a blog, a certain friend of mine, let’s call him Sergio, commented: “First up: a story about merkins.” I’m pretty sure he thought he was kidding, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t a ridiculous terrible idea. The pubic wig is making a comeback. And why not? In these stimulation-oversaturated modern times, the human attention span is about as long as Holy shit you guys did you know that Celine Dion is pregnant again?

A relationship is like a loaf of bread: it grows stale really fast, so you have to shove as much into your mouth as you can in the first few days. After that initial period of enjoyment, you have to continually come up with ways to make it palatable, even though it doesn’t look nearly as good as it did when you first chose it. Seemingly overnight, it’s dried out and lost its shape and softness, and strange new spots have started appearing… I guess the simile has gone about as far as it needs to, or arguably further. The point is, this is where a merkin can come in. It’s a fun, firmly-but-not-permanently adhesive way to make everything old new again.

The merkin was invented in the 15th century as a way for ladies of the night to cleverly disguise syphilis and/or combat crabs. Re the syphilis, apparently one of the symptoms is pubic hair loss. And re the crabs, they can’t live in hair that isn’t there. But it appears that the phrase “bald beaver” was not yet in common household use, and pre-Enlightenment johns preferred that their houses come with carpet as well as drapes. (One might well ask why the new occupant was so adamant that there be carpet, considering that he was planning to install hardwood immediately upon his arrival.) What were merkins made of? God only knows, friends. God and a handful of very highly specialized European historians whose works are not accessible via Google. Perhaps there was a pubic hair collection charity analogous to today’s wigs-for-cancer-patients organizations, or perhaps the morticians of the day were earning a little extra by selling the crotch rugs of their deceased clients in an underground pubic hair racket. The details are sketchy, and that’s probably for the best.

Antibiotics and lice shampoo conspired to condemn the merkin to obsolescence, and they nearly succeeded. Fortunately, manufacturers of sex products have begun to see play potential in what was once a very serious business indeed. Merkins are now available in an ever wider assortment of colours and textures, and thanks to the internet (see, for example,, they can be purchased anonymously. Sick of staring at the same old pubes night after night? Get your lover a hot pink heart-shaped merkin for his/her birthday. That’ll turn you on. Or save money by purchasing a multicoloured “party pack” containing merkins of many colours, textures, and lengths. Sequins anyone?

And nowadays, “merkin” isn’t just a pubic wig – it’s also a surname. Imagine what it would be like to be Barnard College graduate Daphne Merkin, or, more hilariously, Dr. Richard Merkin, President and CEO of Heritage Provider Network and the (?!!) Merkin Family Foundation. That’s President Dick Merkin to you! Feeling thirsty? Why not savour a cool draught of white wine from Merkin Vineyards? Love that smooth urogenital aftertaste.

Incidentally, Sergio’s wife is a mortician and she makes yarn on the side. It’s a very technical process that involves getting wool from someplace, then using a sort of spinning type thing to magically morph it into yarn. Nothing says “I love you” like a multicoloured, handknit merkin. Interested? Give me a call at (403) 555-PUBE.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 20, 2009 4:07 pm

    I wasn’t joking. I never joke.

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