So we all know that feeling. That burning sensation you feel when you’ve walked a little too long in a day. You chose to wear that skirt or jeans or whatever, not thinking anything of it, you wear them all the time right? You keep walking around, everything seems fine, maybe you’ve walked a mile, maybe five and everything seems okay. That’s until that all too familiar fiery pain begins with each glide of skin on skin contact. The burning pain that can only come from the friction between the skin on your all too filled out thighs. In an attempt to stop the pain from getting worse you begin to walk like a penguin straining to keep your thighs from touching. But let’s be real, they are going to touch no matter how far you try to spread your legs while you walk. Or you might have figured out that if you take smaller steps your legs won’t rub together quite so much.  You attempt to walk by only moving your leg from the knee down which doesn’t really work. This is that moment when you really understand what it means to be chafed.

Many of us know all too well what it means to be chafed. Well some of us do. The ones who’ve never experienced the novelty of the “thigh gap.”  The feeling you get when your legs have rubbed together for hours and you are now waddling hoping above all else that salvation will soon come in the form of a chair, if only to rest your legs long enough to stop the terrible burning you experience from the friction between your thighs. But you know that once the chaffing has begun it will only get worse. .

I am quite familiar with chafing. My first memory of this phenomena is a family trip to Valley Fair. I wasn’t super heavy then, only about one hundred and eighty pounds. Which for me being five feet eight inches wasn’t too bad, really. I had chosen to wear a pair of jean shorts. I hadn’t even thought about it at the time because I hadn’t really realized I didn’t have the thigh gap that I’d had my entire childhood. By mid afternoon I knew, my childhood and the gap between my thighs was gone.

My favorite ride was Thunder Canyon and I had finally talked my family into going on it. I was so excited watching us each get drenched in turn. I even laughed as I got off the ride and couldn’t wait to run around to go again. I hadn’t thought about the consequences of beginning the day soaking wet. It was summer who would’ve thought about anything besides getting cooled off by the refreshing waters from the ride. Of course that wasn’t enough. We continued on, riding the flume, the wave and anything else which could keep me soaked all day. Oh man what was I thinking.

I was walking by the pirate ship, off to the next ride when I noticed a slight burn between my legs. At the time I shrugged it off ready to venture toward the next ride. My brother loved roller coasters and so we were heading to every one. Walking from one side of the park to the next, But as I walked the dull burning began to worsen. Turning to a full on throbbing pain. I had to stop walking, I couldn’t go on.The friction caused by each new step fueled the fire, I didn’t want to take another step. I begged to stop walking, pleaded, could we just take the train back to the entrance and my salvation, the car. Within the hour, I was walking with my legs so far apart that a Saint Bernard could have walked comfortably under me. I could’ve been riding a horse with my legs straddled so far apart. Seriously I must’ve looked ridiculous. I complained to my mom but her only response was “I told you not to wear jeans.”  She was of course the expert on chafing. She had known better.

Here I was walking with my legs as far apart as I could get them so that my thighs wouldn’t touch and we were all the way on the other side of the park. We had still planned to be there for hours, HOURS!  My brother was running and dancing around us because we were walking so slow. He was excited to go on more rides. I, on the other hand, just wanted to go back to the car. I couldn’t believe just walking could hurt so bad. I thought that I would never recover.

But of course I did recover. My parents finally agreed to go back to the car and we went home. I rejoiced in each step closer to the car, knowing that I wouldn’t have to endure this agony for much longer. I celebrated when I reached for the handle of the car, knowing that it would be at least a whole forty minutes until I would have to walk again. Oh the relief of being able to hold my legs apart, stationary for the entire car ride home.

When I reached my house I waddled to my bedroom to assess the damage I had done to the innermost part of my thighs. I thought I had to have worn the skin clear off. But to my relief I had not. My skin was bright red with purplish tinges. Some of the skin had begun to flake away at the center most part of where my legs touched. I tried to rub lotion on the skin but that only made it burn more, I couldn’t believe it.  I laid in my bed with my legs spread wide across the mattress. When I fell asleep I cringed every time the skin on my thighs touched. I vowed to never wear jeans to Valley Fair ever again. But this kind of memory fades and of course I would wear jeans again not realizing what was to come until it was too late. Experiencing that all too familiar pain caused by the friction that accompany my fuller thighs. So I begin my story Chafed.

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I'm a middle/high school teacher by day, writer by night.

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