I’m not an obsessive undercarriage waxer. I believe that private-part landscaping for both men and women is polite and creates an environment of freshness without the full-on necessity of beach-walk-commercial douche products. I’m a trimmer, but several times a year, I procure the services of a professional. I’m far too paunchy and old to care about bikini lines at this stage of my life, but I like the airy freedom of a summer Brazilian.
A few years back, a close friend asked if I’d ever had one. I hadn’t. “Oh it’s so great,” she said, extolling the virtues of commando breezes in sundresses and how appealing it is to husbands. “When you get a Brazilian wax, they get all the hair from everywhere,” she exclaimed, adding in a whispered hush: “even your asshole!” I’d managed to make it nearly half a century on the planet without concerning myself over the appearance of that particular area, and now suddenly I was wondering why the hell evolution lets hair grow there.
I agreed to a wax appointment “at this amazing place and she’s Russian and she knows what she’s doing and has like 20 years of experience.” The cost? Around $75. Ouch. But okay, let’s give it a try, especially if there a restaurant with good martinis next to the salon.
We go. The place is lovely. I’m terrified. When it’s my turn, I try not to act nervous, and once in the stirrups, immediately revert into labor breathing, which obviously comes in handy. “Ze whole thing?” she asks, glancing downward. “Yes,” I say, as a tiny bead of sweat drips down my forehead. During the procedure, I inexplicably and uncontrollably laugh, though absolutely nothing is funny. The laughter is that variety normally reserved for people on buses from whom the other people politely look away. I’m not sure exactly why I started laughing—it was obviously a type of natural body self-defense—but I couldn’t stop. Tears rolled down my face as she spread the warm wax and skillfully removed it.
It wasn’t as painful as I’d imagined. I eventually returned to see her (with friend and lunch and drinks) and do now about quarterly.
But not before my whole Brazilian world fell apart. My friend announced she’d found a “cheaper, just as good, closer to home” place to get our vajayjay cosmetic procedures handled. I blindly trusted her and made an appointment, which happened to fall the same day as a book signing for my second novel. Having experienced no aftereffects from the previous “Full Monty,” I thought nothing of the back-to-back plans. I was distrustful of the “waxing center” right off the bat (a strip mall??). Everything was creepily yet somehow artificially sterile looking: those flowers aren’t real; that cabinet underlighting is unnecessary, why is everything overly white? The people were too friendly, and seemed more concerned about signing me up for the “waxing membership club” than with how my babymaker zone was going to fare in the current situation. The fake-Zen music was annoying.
But I marched forth, soldiering on through the jungle of bush management. I met the woman who’d be doing the waxing. She was American, so I immediately distrusted her. I explained a restroom visit was in order. Unfortunately, underneath my dress was what I refer to as a “Spanx onesie,” one of those one-piece body shaper iron maiden setups designed to minimize evidence of my carb intake; i.e, rolls (the fat, not the bread, though they’re obviously related). I returned to Waxing Room #2, commando. She told me to hop up on the table, lift up my skirt and “make like a butterfly.”
Making like a butterfly to me at that point meant flying the fuck out of there, which I’d have happily done, but this was the point of no return. My torturer-to-be asked how often I get this done and mentioned it may hurt a little. I swallowed and began labor breathing, my butterflied-out knees quivering. She mentioned she’d recently been to a training class. A training class? This is when I should have jumped up, wax on vag, Spanx onesie in purse, and just run to the Panera Bread next door to ask someone to call for help, after ordering a smoothie.
But somehow I was committed to this wax-warrior stance. I didn’t speak. I didn’t laugh. Tears ran down my eyes from the pain of her slow, inexperienced removal of the strips of wax near my tenderest places. I tried to remember labor (especially the back labor where the epidural didn’t work) but women’s brains don’t allow us to remember that level of pain, or the word “sibling” wouldn’t even exist.
The ordeal went on for over a half hour. (The $75 Russian pro version was 10 minutes, tops, and she was powdering your ass and sending you off for “a nice martini” before you could say hoo-ha). I struggled not to vocalize the pain. I wanted to scream “KELLY CLARKSON” like Steve Carrell in the chest wax scene in 40-Year Old Virgin. I wanted to pour the wax vat on her head, dump the bowl of wax removal strips on top of that so she had a bizarre-looking hat/wig, and then run bare-assed to the grocery store a few yards away and buy a bag of ice to sit on for an hour.
Then amidst my near-psychotic revenge fantasies and hyperventilation, she looked at me and issued the following challenge “Butt strip?”
She held up the long strip of paper and looked at me. Was that a smirk? At minimum it was a dare. No way was I going to pussy out and walk away with hair in my poop shoot making me feel like I failed Brazilian class for the rest of the summer.
“Yes, okay,” I managed to sputter out. What was the difference when the entire lower half of your body had already checked out from the pain? You don’t run 26.1 miles of a marathon and then turn around and give up. (Maybe you do. I don’t know. I’ve never even come close to signing up for a 5K much less running a damn marathon).
She slowly applied the hot wax. I labor-breathed. It didn’t hurt as much because apparently my brain had sent some kind of ass-endorphin protection by that point, or had simply checked out. No way was I putting on any shapewear when it finally ended. Putting on my shoes was about what I could handle at that point. When I walked to the car looking a trashed redneck girl-fight rodeo survivor, the wax stuck to itself, folds stuck inside themselves, and my dress. I could barely sit, and drove the car by pulling down on the top of the steering wheel to elevate my shredded taco as much as possible.
And so it came to pass that I went to a book signing full commando, with my bottom perched precariously off the front end of a chair. And I had to laugh about that.