It’s Wednesday and hot out. The air is a sticky gray, and I somehow made it to work. I can’t even remember transferring from the 2/3 to the S. I swore when I left my apartment that I was going to find a cab. With the month’s catalogs piled beneath my winged arm, I waited. It was hopeless, and I was in heels. The subway was too crowded to sit, never mind turn pages; I didn’t even have pole space… I leaned against the door with one hand on the ceiling for balance (secretly a little afraid that the doors would open on me and I’d fall out and be train trampled).
So now I’m here at my desk, in a half-sleep, pecking away at a venti-unsweetened-passion fruit-iced-tea, wondering what to do with my day. I didn’t shower today, or change my underwear. My hair is in a bun; my teeth have not been brushed. I’m tired and should still be in bed with Linus. Oh so this is what it’s like when you give up coffee.
I am going to try to get to the gym this afternoon, if for no other reason than to get this personal trainer guy to stop calling me. I’m realizing that I’m in a hairdresser situation. You know, you have a good cut, you go to that same person, religiously, until one day, you hear that someone else just cut Jennifer’s hair, yes, that Jennifer, and you’re ready, on the waitlist, and called. You switch, and get calls from the old hairdresser questioning your loyalty. You are a traitor with a great cut. I hate my personal fitness trainer, his seexist meat-head remarks, his waxed chest and wife-beater tee, the way he says, "you gotta work on yaw hawt…cause that’s the most impawtant pawt of you, ya know?" Still, I feel uneasy calling his boss, saying I don’t agree with his philosophy and would like to train with someone else. I know when I return to the gym, he will be there, glancing at me, maybe do head nod, maybe even tell me if I work out with him again, he’ll do things differently. I don’t want him to look at me. Go away. I’ll just say I’d prefer a woman. Be sexist.
The lies I tell at the gym, though, are somehow appropriate. I tell lies to myself, too, to endure cardio. Only two more minutes, then I can get off the damn machine. I never get off, not unless some impatient, wicked woman, goes around monitoring the data boards of the machines…making certain no one goes past their allotted 30 minutes, so she can have her turn. Women like that are usually short with piggy noses, wearing a leotard, and dare I say, sweatband. I have no idea who these women think they are showing up in the gym wearing a unitard just to ride a stationary bike. I just don’t get it. I’m sorry but leggings should remain in all of our pasts.
Then there is the whole matter of watching these women disrobe. Locker rooms are daunting. Where to put your gaze when these women saunter around, letting their flapjack breasts just hang there white against their wrinkled stomachs. Pubic hair, I have learned is generational. Women in their 40s at the gym have overgrown bushes, letting it all grow into a pile of hair, wild like a jungle woman who picks and grooms her kin. Women in their 30s have well groomed vaginas, a runway strip, a neat pyramid, and it’s a wonder how a woman transitions from her 30s to her 40s. And then there are those women in their 20s sometimes with Brazilian waxes, or jeweled pubic areas. Yes, crystal decals strategically placed to form patterns. This is really a wonder.
Still, it reminds me that I need a wax and an eyebrow threading from the Indian place (dot not feather). Prior to arriving at the salon, I shot down 3 Advil to ward off the inevitable swelling. Helga, that’s right, Helga, tells me to undress in room #5. This is not a porno. In the room, there is a cold doctor’s chair, the metal kind with a short pleather back, that’s hardly a back, more like a strolling stool with a tootsie roll for back support. The chair is sandwiched between a massage table and an overflowing trash pail. This is not Frederic Fekkai; still, it’s also not some hole-in-the-wall nail place that also tampers in waxing and tanning. The “massage table” is also the kind you see in doctor’s exam rooms… with the white translucent paper attached to a roll that covers the table for sanitary reasons. Except today, the paper that is there is flecked with baby powder and stained with oil and yellow wax. The stuffed garbage container is filled with used translucent paper and with cloth strips covered in thick yellow wax with short black hairs poking through the yellow lines. I walk out of the room and tell Helga "um, I don’t think the room is ready."
Helga cleans, tidies up the room somehow. She does a Russian shuffle of sorts, like a housekeeper making her way under the sink for a rag. I’m extended a polite half-smile and told to get undressed and lay down. She leaves the room. There is no robe. I’m torn here. Did she mean take off my underwear completely? Usually, I leave it on, but since today I was going Brazilian, I figured, well, when in Brazil… so I took off my heels, jeans, and underwear. Got on the doctor’s table and waited.
Helga rubbed powder into her hands like a gymnast. With her hands fanned, she rubs the powder into my exposed skin, along my inner thighs, sprinkles on my mound. She proceeds to dip a thick Popsicle stick into hot wax, allows excess to drip off, then blows onto the stick, with the expertise of a daily soup drinker. Spreads it on thick, pushes cloth atop the wax, and smoothes out the fabric with the palm of one hand, then tap tap tap, she slaps the cloth and then rips it off. Okay, this has been done before; this is cliché. Of course it hurts.
We get to the lips. Oh my god, the lips…
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