Below is the last piece I read for my writing class.
Obviously everything isn’t totally accurate here, but I’m putting down what will help make the piece work. I’m not a reporter, I’m trying to get published. I’ve learned that my writing is severely lacking details…so I actually withstood my second brazilian at the same nail salon so I could capture the pain again and what happened. That’s dedication!
Right before I turned 30, I decided that every week I would do something I had never done before. I started with pain. While I think I’ve experienced a great deal of emotional pain—my boyfriend admitting he wasn’t in love with me, the love of my life declaring he would never marry me—I’ve never endured much physical pain: no broken bones as a kid, no overnight stays in the hospital, no car accidents. I’d had only one trip to the emergency room, driving myself half-blind in the middle of night because a spider bite over my right eyelid had swollen it shut. The swelling wasn’t painful except that the upper right-side quadrant of my face felt like it was running a 110 degree fever. But no pain.
Years later, I hadn’t made any other trips to the ER. I was healthy and accident-free. Plus, I was still getting carded at bars and restaurants. Few could guess my age. Once while at Sunday mass, the middle-aged woman next to me who stood with her hands behind her back as if she were handcuffed and swayed while she sang commented, “It’s just lovely to see you elementary school children here at c hurch without your parents.”
My eyes ballooned. “I graduated from the high school…over ten years ago!”
She gasped, took a step back, looked me up and down, and cried, “Oh my!”
After being told I looked young—young enough to watch cartoons and play hopscotch, I made the same cry myself when I discovered my first gray hair. “O_MY_GOD,” I muttered one syllable at a time, pausing after each syllable as I absorbed the emotional shock. “WHAT_THE_FUCK?” More syllables, more pauses. I was steaming up the bathroom as hot water splashed behind me in the shower. I stared down intently at a single strand of gray pubic hair. What was it doing there? Who gets gray hair down there? This was my first sign of aging. Not forgetfulness, not a wrinkle, but gray hair below my waist.
So that first week of my third decade birthday, I decided to get a brazilian and completely wax everything off. I would have never come up with the notion on my own. I would have simply plucked away the single gray hair. But what prompted the idea was a conversation I struck up with three men—co-workers from a Boston limousine company. I met them during happy hour at the bar of the Ritz Carlton during a finance conference in Orlando, Florida. Thirty-eight drinks, four appetizers, three main courses, one dessert, and five hours later, we had worn ourselves out with work dialogue and transitioned into more meaningful topics.
The oldest and most senior of the three was short—not too much taller than me—and balding. He wore a distinctly purple tie. Not aubergine or eggplant, but bright purple—like the color of one of the Teletubbies.
Approaching midnight, he breathed, “I love Brazilians.”
I coughed out, “Yeah, Brazilian women are really hot.” The strong smell of whiskey on his breath caught me by surprise.
No, no. All three men shook their heads.
The same guy who seemed to become the spokesperson explained, “It’s when your cooch is bald! You know your cooter. You get all that hair taken off down there.”
Oh, now I understood. They insisted it was the only way to go—as if they had gotten the procedure done themselves—when really they were merely benefiting from it.
As it was almost my birthday, I decided it would be my birthday treat—not only to shed the gray hair and return to youthfulness, but now there was an allure to it—like wearing sexy lingerie. Men all around the world were talking about how they loved Brazilians.
Excitedly, I called several friends and told them my plans. “Guess what. I’m going to get a brazilian!” Laughing, they walked me through the process and what to expect, noting that it would be painful. I didn’t realize it was going to be painfully unbearable.
I went to my regular nail salon in the Marina. As I walked in that sunny Saturday afternoon, five Vietnamese women looked up at me from their respective stations. All five were engaged in various stages of nail care, working on four blondes and one brunette who were talking on their cell phones or reading the celebrity gossip magazines. One of the Vietnamese women called out, “Manicure / pedicure? You pick color.”
I took a few steps closer to her and bent my head. “Waxing,” I murmured.
She pointed at the stairs.
Upstairs, I passed two more blondes also getting their nails done, reading fashion magazines. Upstairs customers are spillover from when the chairs downstairs are occupied. The Vietnamese woman upstairs in charge of waxing ushered me to the back, past the washer / dryer toward a small room. She looked young, probably my age. Tall and thin, she wore jeans, a simple white t-shirt, and a matching jean jacket. Her long straight black hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
As soon as I stepped into the back room, my pink rubber sandals began sticking to the floor. I looked down. Short curly pubic hairs were strewn about. Aghast, I refused to set my purse down—my vintage purse I had purchased for a small fortune from a high-end consignment boutique. I opted, instead, to set it on the black plastic chair, but noticed remnants of wax splattered on the chair. I almost walked out, but refrained. I hung my purse by its handles on the top corner of the chair, let out a sigh, and persevered, comforting myself that it would all be over very soon.
The wax woman, named Twee, seemed nice. She was smiling every time I looked at her. I told her this was my first time. She continued to smile, but didn’t say anything. I undressed from the waist down and got on top of the table. She started by trimming my hair. Snip, snip. I tried to concentrate on my breathing while staring at the white ceiling above me. Could any wax be splattered up there, too?
I then felt a warm sensation below as Twee layered a film of wax with a paintbrush. I looked up to see her smiling face, but she wasn’t smiling anymore. I wondered if she saw my gray hair. Then she proceeded to bind strips of thick gauze to that place where the sun don’t shine and strip them off with a vengeance.
I screamed. My body jerked up with the intensity of the pain. Horrified, I looked down quickly, certain she had ripped off a layer of my skin along with the gauze.
“So sorry,” Twee consoled. It was the first time she had said anything. She patted me on the stomach then continued.
Aggghhhh!! I was sweating. I wiped my forehead, then returned my hands in prayer directly over my tummy.
Tears began streaking down the corners of my eyes. I clutched my hands tightly.
“Ugh!” I grunted like a quarterback who’d just been pummeled.
This rips continued. The pain never subsided.
“You turn round now,” Twee ordered. I was now on all fours, doggy-style. She positioned the palms of my hands on my butt. “Like this,” she continued, pulling my palms outward.
I’d had enough. No more. I was about to tell her to stop. I didn’t want to continue. I’d had my brazilian experience and I wanted it to stop right there.
She called from behind, “Oh, good. You no hair back there.” She gave me a pat on the butt like a proud coach with one of his athletes. I let out a sigh of relief.
I wiped the rest of my tears away, got dressed, and paid my cash. A Cash Only establishment, I couldn’t help wondering if I had just sacrificed comfort for the price of $20. The professional beauty salons—the ones that take Visa and Mastercard and even American Express—charge at least three times that.
The birthday treat had turned into a birthday trick. But in the end, I was proud of myself for trying something new and braving the physical pain. Now that I had done it, I could cross it off my list and never do it again.