I am staring at the drop ceiling and listening to her heels clacking on the laminate flooring. Out of the corner of my eye I can see her fidgeting with something but I don’t dare look, afraid of what might be revealed to me.
Lying on a table with my bare legs splayed makes relaxation near impossible. I feel particularly vulnerable considering I met this woman two minutes ago and know nothing about her other than that her name is Olga. And yet, she is getting the close-up reserved solely for my husband and my gyno.
My cheeks redden and burn with embarrassment, the same feeling I get when I bury my panties under all of my clothes before a pap smear. The awkwardness I am feeling gives way to anxiety when she asks if I am ready. I can still back out. I can get up, put my pants back on and walk out of here. It’s not too late.
Beauty trends have always intrigued me. As a regular reader of glossy magazines I find that sometimes I am eager to try the new “in-thing”. Like the time I cropped my hair Demi Moore short a la Ghost. Other times, I am content to watch someone else take the plunge.
Remember hair scrunchies and fanned bangs? In grade school spiral perms, a mouth-full of metal and frosted lipstick were all the rage in the cafeteria. At night I would unravel paperclips in the privacy of my bedroom and wrap them on my teeth to see how cool I would look if only I needed braces. I begged my mother for curls of my own but wisely she wouldn’t give her consent. Also a member of the thick hair club, she knew from her own unfortunate experience that our hair texture and perm solution equaled a whole lot of frizz and many more tears.
Instead, with my babysitting money in my pocket, I rode my bike to the nearest drug store and bought Wash ‘N Curl shampoo. Back home in the bathroom I shared with my brother, I painstakingly followed the directions that promised to bring a head-full of curls. After washing with the bright pink mixture, I slowly unraveled the towel-turban covering my hair. Disappointment. There were no springy spirals. No tight ringlets. Not even bouncy waves. My hair was exactly the same except for the strong chemical smell that itched my scalp and took three washes to remedy.
Olga has moved to the side of the room and like a mad scientist is mixing potions, flicking switches and pulling on white latex gloves. I am assuming her starched white lab coat is meant to portray professionalism and competence, like a doctor. But it’s not working for me. Don’t butchers wear white coats too? Maybe this Brazilian wax is a mistake. Maybe I have fallen victim, yet again, to another Sex and The City cliché, like cosmos and designer shoes.
I am starting to sweat. I realize I am terrified and can fully relate to my little boys when they were nervous to get into the pool at their first swimming lesson. I am reminded of what I tell them when they are hesitant to try something new: “You do not like it so you say. Try it! Try it! Try it and you may, I say!” Forget Dr. Sears! That Dr. Seuss knows what he’s talking about. Besides, it will always grow back.
I watch as Olga dips the sterilized wand into the wax and instructs me to hold my leg in a position that my husband will be entirely grateful to know is possible. I have one last flicker of doubt. I see her eyes focusing while she applies the hot, sticky goop. I wonder when she last had her eyes checked. A fair question, I think. Sensing my hesitation she makes what I guess is an attempt to soothe me. “Don’t worry, I make you look sexy.” Sexy is not what I am going for. Leaving here with every body part that I came in with is good enough for me.
“Okay, go ahead. I’ll be fine.”