I slowly pull along the curb; put the car in park and look around, taking in the grayness of the day. Sitting in silence, I pull in as much air as my lungs will hold and ready myself before stepping onto the sidewalk. I stand before an establishment. A glance at the card in my hand confirms I am in the right place.
This is it.
My first time. I have never done it out before, choosing instead to do it myself in the sanctity of my own private space. But, as so happens when an amateur attempts a professional’s job, things got unruly and I finally sought help from a friend. With a knowing smile and an “it’s about time” pat on my shoulder, Zoe handed me the card I hold now, standing before a business I passed a hundred times but never noticed. I don’t know. I’ve heard stories. Horrific tales of pain from others who’ve tried it.
Oh, come on! Zoe said. You had two babies! You’ve been through worse.
I pull the door open and walk in. Not because the woman at the counter is looking at me suspiciously. And not because she picked up the phone (surely) to call the police as I stood hovering at her entrance. I walk in because I know I cannot go home a coward. I had talked it up to almost anyone who would listen. And having created this monster, I have no choice but to follow through.
The suspicious woman places the phone down as I enter. Her hair is slicked back so smoothly it looks painted, yellow and deep brown stripes along her head and tied in a pony tail that hangs efficiently to her shoulder blades. Her eyes are also pulled back slightly and I hardly believe it is the work of the coif style, though I can’t be sure. My gut tells me she is not from around here.
Ken I help yoo? She purrs.
Um, I don’t have an appointment. Do I need one? I can come back…. I point to the door to assure her (and myself) that I know the way back out.
No. We hiv an opening. Plis, sit one moment.
With a nod, she disappears behind one of two doors.
So I sit strategically choosing the seat closest to the exit. Just in case. My eyes glaze over the plethora of pamphlets spewed along the table next to my chair, various procedures available to me to better myself or make my problems go away. A woman steps out into the waiting area where I sit. Another exotic woman, wearing a white coat, follows.
I watch as the white coat steps behind the counter. The first woman quietly places her purse down and pulls out her wallet. While the transaction takes place, I try to discern a dried path of tears down the payee’s face, but I can see nothing. Oh, how well she masks her pain! Not a shred of evidence of even a sniffle! Words are murmured back and forth and each takes her leave; one out the door to blessed freedom and the other to the ‘employees only’ door in the back, leaving me alone again, unbalanced, hovering on the edge of a cliff of uncertainty, warily peeking over, fighting the temptation to run out the door.
The pony tailed woman steps out then and looks to me with another nod. I’m sure she must have mentioned her given name between the time I arrived and this moment, but in my unease, I cannot recall what it is. I stand and make my way to her. She smiles. To lure me in, I’m sure.
What ken I do for yoo?
Um, I would like a bikini wax?
Okay, so it didn’t come across as convincing as I played it out in my head. It never quite does, does it?
Pony Tail’s smooth, razor-thin eyebrows express their disappointment as clearly as if they speak aloud. How does she do that?
A bikini wax?
Ken I interest yoo in a Brazilian?
Now, I’ve heard of this before. Zoe had gotten a Brazilian last year for her husband’s birthday. She attempted to describe it to me post-wax, but I cut her off mid-explanation as my groin started to hurt as if offering associated pain to hers.
I shake my head. No thank you. I would like a bikini wax please. Stay strong, I urge myself.
Pony Tail offers a hint of a smile and slight nod. Is that pity I detect?
Well, may I recommend an In-Between?
An In-Between. Eees little better than bikini. I will make you cleaner. Come. I show you.
I allow myself to be escorted into the room as an ignorant cow to its slaughter. The space reminds me vaguely of a massage room but with a row of large vats of wax. Lined up neatly in front of them are flat wooden sticks of varying degrees of thickness and length. I’m not in Kansas anymore.
Tik off everyzing waist down. She instructs.
Yis. And she is gone.
Alone, I look at the table and to the vats of wax, back to the table and to the vats, trying to assess my situation. In all of the many scenarios whisking haphazardly through my head, I keep returning to the same conclusion – I am screwed.
Pony Tail returns as I stand mostly naked, neatly folding my undies into my jeans. I don’t know why I find it necessary to hide my unmentionables when this stranger is going to have access to my most hidden secret. But nevertheless, I finish my task, stalling? maybe, and after carefully placing garments on a chair, turn to her for further instruction.
Wordlessly, she pats the table. Obediently, I hop on and lay down. Now, up to this moment, nothing truly shocked me. Okay, the naked thing is a bit unsettling. In any typical salon establishment, underwear stays on, to be manipulated this way and that in order to remove hair lining against it, so I’ve been told. But this is no ordinary salon and this is no typical employee. This is a Brazilian woman. I mean, her people invented this, no?
Until now, I was merely uncomfortable. I had stepped outside of my safe box. However, the next words to fall from her lips blow me away.
Pet your feet together.
I look at her as if she just spoke in her native tongue. So, she says it again and accompanies her words with her hands, pushing my knees apart so the soles of my feet touch. To say I felt vulnerable is an understatement of epic proportions. I would have felt less intimidated if you asked me to join the Queen for her afternoon tea. My pinkest skin lie exposed to large amounts of hot wax. I am in the hands of a complete stranger. Suddenly my gynecologist seems shy.
Why then, do I trust this woman? Is it because she possesses the assertiveness I so sorely lack? Perhaps. My answer leans more toward the large pots on the table. She must do this all day long. That’s a lot of peepee’s to groom. I watch her pull on tight rubber gloves, suddenly thankful for small gifts, and expertly stir one of the cauldrons. While she does this, Pony Tail turns to take a look at me, lying in all my splendor and feeling quite foolish. With a shake of her head, she lets out a pitying “tsk”. Now, when someone is standing over your, ahem, personal stuff, making disapproving sounds, it can really play with your psyche.
Thankfully my husband never reacts this way. I try to joke, attempting to hide the hurt. Although, I don’t make it a habit of keeping lights on when I disrobe. It’s a rule in my house; Lights off when clothes off, he he.
Pony Tail ignores my rambling, turns back to her thick soup while I squeeze my eyes shut and pretend I’m anywhere else and then faces me again.
How are yoo feeling? She asks with a smile.
I’m fine. I lie.
Goood. And with that, she takes a dry towel covered in powder and begins to rub me everywhere. And I mean everywhere. My inner thighs, my very inner skin, that portion under the torso that you sit on, and yes, even my lips! She rubs me like she is scouring burnt pasta off of a pot instead of handling my most delicate area. Next, a large, very warm slab of wax is poured onto the bottom skin. One piece, front to back. You’ve got to be kidding me. She pats the wax for a full minute until cool and set. Being a relatively new recruit into Catholicism, my parents were mixed, a tale for another time, I try my best to retrieve from recent memory the precious few prayers I know. An overachiever, I attempt the Novena prayer, make it to the second verse before faltering, and eventually settle for the well known Lord’s Prayer.
And just in time too. Pony Tail glances up at me with a sinister smile, the devil is in there somewhere, and proceeds to rip in one fell swoop the entire slab of wax from front to back. …and forgive us our trespasses…Yikes! I am sure I am the only one who can hear them, but there they are, my hair follicles, howling in agony, one by one, as each piece is mercilessly yanked from its root. Tiny screams can be heard in a wave as if each hair stands up before the next like tiny spectators at a football game. WwwwwwAAAAAaaaaahhh.
Immediately after the wax is ripped off, Pony Tail presses her rubber hand to my searing skin. Oh Lord, give me strength! I am tempted to cut my losses and limp out of here half-bald but I fear I may walk lopsided or my jeans might fit unevenly. It doesn’t help that my clothes are out of arms reach and I am sure she would catch me if I try to escape, adding to my humiliation. She still had to do the other side! I think about Zoe comparing my angst to childbirth.
Do you think I can have an epidural?
Pony Tail smiles as she drapes a thick slab on the other side. She decides now is a good time to enter into conversation.
So, what do you do?
I enjoy the warmth on my body while I consider the question. What do I do? Oh, how to answer. Well, I’m sort of between two careers right now. One I do to make some money and the other I desire to do in order to feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, they are not the same. In the end, I give her my stock response.
I’m a telemarketer.
She already knows more about me than most. I want to keep something for myself.
Wow. Eees tough job. You get rejected much, no?
You have no idea. Yeow!
I don’t see it coming. She is so smooth, repeating the process, although this time accompanied by a trickle of perspiration and okay, maybe a tear or two. I may have let out an expletive, though I can’t be sure. Embarrassed, I attempt to mask my discomfort with a Phew! Glad that’s over! Like I just endured a fourth grade band concert of Allegra instead of pain comparable to walking over hot coals.
When another slab of wax is placed across the top of my pubic region, I nearly pass out. We aren’t finished? Do I have anything left down there? It turns out I do. The same ripping sensation, the same roar from my follicles. About this time I begin to devise a payback plan for Zoe. The solution that eventually triumphs is something akin to cutting her long luxurious hair to the roots while she sleeps so viewers could see the tattoo I would have inked on her back saying (in capital letters) SADO MASOCHIST. The thought gives me a quick oasis of solace.
Numbness in my legs brings me back to the task at hand.
Almost finished. Pony Tail says as if she reads my mind. Either she is psychic or she could feel my legs shaking. I wouldn’t know. As I said, they are numb.
Adeptly and clinically, Pony Tail takes an electric razor and proceeds to trim and shape the few precious hairs that are left in my pubic region, all while admonishing me for the debacle I created down there prior to my visit.
Du nut touch again. Yoo leave for me. One month. Du nut touch!
I nod dumbly. I never said I was a professional and admit there may have been a bald spot here and there in my past. Evidently my ineptitude betrays me. Pony Tail actually has to tweeze – ouch! Would the pain never end? – small pieces of hair that had until now eluded the razor and wax.
I lay spread open under a woman who forty minutes ago was a perfect stranger, but who now I can no longer consider one. For she certainly has a different view of me than nearly anyone else I have ever met before, outside of my aforementioned gyno and husband, who happen to be two different people.
With a satisfied smile, Pony Tail steps back. I am allowed to straighten my legs, a difficult endeavor as they neared atrophy, and get dressed. Wobbly and slightly flushed, I pull my panties up wondering what had happened. Did I just have sex? Maybe not but I believe I’ve earned the right to check off ‘have lesbian experience’ from my bucket list.
Back in the waiting room, I pay Pony Tail my forty two dollars with a brave smile and a stiff lower lip and allow her to coerce me into making another appointment for next month. As I take a step toward the door, I turn around. I have to know.
Excuse me. What is the difference between what I just got and a Brazilian?
Pony Tail looks at me and with a straight face, answers. With a Brazilian, I do inside your lips and your butt. I take away all hair. Yoo try once, yoo love. I promise.
Oh-kay. I can only nod as my brain tries to absorb this incredulous thought. Weak, and with a whole new respect for Zoe, I fall into my car and put the key into the ignition. A quick glance left and right assures me I am alone. I have to…I can’t wait. I unzip my jeans and reach down to feel skin that has not seen the light of day since pre-puberty. It is smooth and soft. And it is mine.
With a smile, I turn into traffic and head home. I look at the sky. The grayness has given way to sun and warm rays filter through the glass, resting on my face. I am looking forward to seeing my husband. And to him seeing me. Twenty minutes of relative torture and the result is nothing I could have imagined. Though I could certainly wait for my next visit, I know I will keep my appointment. Pony Tail knows it too.
Singing with the radio, I think of my husband and possibilities. Tonight, I will leave the light on.