*Warning: In accordance with self-imposed blogging protocols, I must alert you that the following post contains references to pregnancy, inner thighs, body wax, and violence in the form of savage and sudden hair removal. If you are pregnant, have a heart condition, or suffer acute squeamishness related to discussions of hygiene and grooming procedures, continue at your own risk.*
Ahhh, summer. Sunlight streams in warm rays across the mountains, the waters of Coeur d’Alene Lake lap gently against the sandy shore, and women everywhere pay strangers to rip out their body hair by the roots.
Actually, this summer’s been rather chilly here in Idaho, and thoughts of my bikini line have been distant, preempted by decisions about which jacket to wear and whether or not to stow my collection of winter sweaters for the season. Then, about a week ago, I realized that June was half over, and my long-anticipated girls-only trip to Las Vegas was near at hand.
Suddenly, the need to not look like a yeti in a two-piece was critical.
I’ll never forget my first hot wax adventure. Eight months pregnant and swollen with moodiness, I felt gross, uncomfortable, and less-than-attractive. Most mommies-to-be, caught up in the maelstrom of mutating self-image and determined to make a sweeping change in their appearance, stick with the traditional bad haircut or poorly applied self tanner. Not me. For some reason, in my hormonally-enhanced state, I decided that the part of my body most needing a makeover was the one part I couldn’t see.
How hard could it be, really? I picked up a home waxing kit at the store, waited until Paul left the house, and locked myself in the bathroom, determined to emerge well-groomed and glowing with round-bellied, feminine beauty.
This could be a much longer post if I described to you, in horrific detail, the two hours that followed. I still cringe to remember my ungraceful contortions as I tried to reach past the giant beachball of my torso, the yelp of pain I emitted when I yanked up that first wax strip only to discover most of the hair still firmly attached to my skin, the pitiful tears I shed when I realized that I still had to do the other side.
In the end, all my effort was for naught. Far from evincing the clean and well-kept image I had hoped for, I limped out of the bathroom looking as if I had mange.
I vowed, then and there, never again to attempt a home waxing…of anything.
Yesterday, I called Lynn, my spa lady and Wax Wielder Extraordinaire. This woman is an expert in the art of waxing, and can keep up a steady stream of banter so interesting that you almost forget she’s simultaneously torturing you. I see her every summer and we have a friendship of sorts, though I don’t think she knows what I look like without a grimace of pain on my face.
“I’m sorry, darlin’,” she lilted, “but I’m booked up for two weeks solid!” It was disappointing news, but she recommended another salon in town, and I had no choice but to call up and make an appointment for Saturday.
This morning I pulled into the parking lot of the Zi Spa, feeling a lot like an L.A. socialite as I walked up to the sleek building and made my way through the tropical paradise of the lobby. Up three floors and through the glass doors, I stepped into a garden of Zen delight. From the artfully placed running water features to the warm, soft lighting, everything in the Zi Spa seemed designed to elicit relaxation. I signed in, and a smiling receptionist asked me if I would like something to drink. The water came iced, in a crystal goblet, with a wedge of lemon and a little straw. I thought about moving in.
After only a few minutes wait, during which I nearly fell asleep to the serene strains of Celtic harp music, a friendly aesthetician introduced herself as Starr and ushered me back into a clean room with subdued lighting, candles everywhere, and a towel-draped massage table in the center. The harp music followed us. For a moment, I wished fervently that I was there in that beautiful, soothing room for something nice, like a massage or a pedicure.
For those of you who haven’t experienced a bikini wax, it generally goes like this: The aesthetician leaves you alone in the room for a few minutes with a little paper pair of disposable underwear and a clean towel. You doff your bloomers, put on the paper ones, and lay down on the table with the towel across your lap. The sense of awkwardness and impending doom you feel is similar to the one that accompanies your annual visit to the OB/GYN.
The waxer returns and sprinkles the area about to be waxed with talc, to prevent the wax from sticking to the skin. She then proceeds, one small area at a time, to remove unwanted hair from the small but sensitive strip of skin where your thigh meets your torso. First she applies hot wax. This part actually feels good, and, if it’s your first time, lulls you into a false sense of calm, wherein you find yourself thinking, “This isn’t so bad, actually.” Then, while the wax is still warm, she presses a gauze strip on top of it, allowing the wax to cool slightly, forming a strong grip on both the hair and the gauze. Finally, holding your skin taut with one hand, she uses the other to quickly rip the gauze away–wax, hair and all.
Hmmm…how can I describe the pain? It’s not most excruciating pain in the world, but if you waxed an unwilling P.O.W., you would certainly have the ACLU breathing down your neck for violating the Geneva Convention. It’s worse than getting a tattoo, but not as bad as pushing out a baby. On the sliding scale of pain, it falls somewhere in that nebulous middle area: the pain we accept as the cost of getting something that we want. After each side is waxed, strays are plucked with tweezers and a soothing lotion is applied to pacify the angry, now hairless skin before it riots and decides to leave the body altogether.
In all, it only took about fifteen minutes, and Starr was an excellent Lynn replacement. We talked about kids, about Las Vegas, about waxing (“A few men do come in here, but do you know I’ve never had one single repeat back waxing customer?”) I grit my teeth and gasped a little bit here and there, but didn’t allow a single shriek to break the mystical spell of the Celtic harp and waterfalls.
When it was over, I dressed, paid the receptionist, left a tip, and took one last look around the spa. Returning my empty water goblet at the desk, I took in the plush terrycloth robes and slippers, the sound of splashing, and the smell of lavender.
Next time, I decided, I’ll definitely go for the pedicure.
A Bikini Wax Haiku
Hot wax, inner thigh
I have paid in agony
Glabrous joy is mine!