Thursday, June 24, 2010

Waxing and waning

I received the following (excerpted) message on Tuesday from my Francophone suitor (in translation):

"Bonjour Heathen,
I would love to spend time with you this weekend if you're free. Either Saturday or Sunday would work well for me. It would be great to hang out on the weekend so we could be more relaxed -- we could go swimming somewhere if it's hot! Happy last day of school tomorrow.
À plus tard,
Le Canadien"

I had suggested a weekday date, and he was proposing we wait and have a more quality date on the weekend. All this was very nice, but the prospect of bathing with my potential suitor sent me into a tizzy. Saturday was a mere four days away, and I was busy on Sunday, therefore I needed to do some -- ahem -- personal grooming very soon. I shot off text messages to several friends asking for waxing recommendations, and within ten minutes my sister, Ms. Swamp, had procured me an appointment to join her that very afternoon.

The first time I became aware of waxing, I was fourteen and a freshman in high school, newly arrived at a private school in the big, cosmopolitan city of Portland, Maine. Everyone seemed about ten years older and ten times more sophisticated than me. One day in science class I was paired up with Pam, a shiny-haired girl who wore tight pants and black high-heeled shoes that did not make my Converse and baggy jeans look very chic by comparison. Midway through the experiment we were doing together, she mentioned casually that she'd like to take her sweater off but couldn't because her tanktop beneath would reveal her armpit hair, grown long in preparation for a waxing appointment that afternoon.

I was flabbergasted. Waxing seemed, to me, the equivalent of getting a nose job or a tummy tuck: completely out of the realm of my experience, and utterly inappropriate for a fellow 14-year-old. Not only did my mom not wax, she didn't even shave ANY of her body hair. I was vaguely aware that some women shaved their legs, but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge, and it seemed like years before I'd be doing something like that myself. I'm sure I blushed beet red and stammered an inane reply.

I like to think I've come a long way since then, but still, I'm not crazy about the idea of waxing. However, if everyone else is doing it, I'm not going to be the lone girl who reminds everyone of Godzilla. Or maybe I will be ten years into marriage, but while I'm shopping for a mate it's probably best to just go with the flow.

At the salon, though, my sister and I were treated to a shocking revelation: 40% of our waxer's clients are now men. This is horrifying on many levels. Didn't everyone see the 40-year-old Virgin?? Remember how awful that was? And that was on his CHEST, which is apparently not where much of this male waxing is occurring. It's occurring in places that are horrifying even to my sister's waxer, who has been in the business for thirty-plus years.

It may not be the whole story, but the way she tells it it's become a battle of the sexes: Men ask their girlfriends to wax. Girlfriends respond, "I'll do it, but only if you do it too." And then the men go out and do just that.

Anybody else vote for a truce??

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