Sunday, 29 September 2013

Adventures in Personal Hygiene

Upon returning home two summers past, I made a startling revelation.
My sisters go to the spa a lot.

Now I mean no disrespect to my beautiful sisters, nor do I aim to embarrass them in any way. It is a simple and plain fact that women must attend the spa with a certain regularity in order to maintain their polished appearance (or so I understand). I suppose in past visits, I had never really noticed that that they popped out of the house so frequently, returning with skin aglow or eyebrows finely sculpted. Indeed, whenever conversation tended towards Latin American countries and their waxing practices, I had quietly excused myself from the room, preferring instead to remain blissfully ignorant. However, for whatever reason, this visit was different and I became increasingly aware that the spa (and I italicize here in order to properly convey the gravitas associated with this sacred institution), was the place to be.

In the days following, I started to question my sisters with some intensity, as to whether a visit to the spa could be appropriate for male clientele as well. Now before I continue, I should probably provide those of you who do not know me on a deeply personal level with some background information.

I happen to be a fairly hirsute man. My dear father passed down many complimentary genes to his son, though the one that compels patches of hair to grow on my back at will, I probably could have done without. Now we're not talking a Steve Carrell in "the 40 Year Old Virgin" level of hair coverage, but I do boast my fair share of raven-black manly trappings.

All things considered, I decided it perhaps wouldn't be such a bad thing if I did away with some of the more unsightly weeds running down my spine. Two weeks previous to this, the little girl to whom I was teaching swimming lessons had asked me why I was so hairy, with such astonishment in her eyes that according to her mother, I visibly blushed. It was time to take some drastic action. And so I found myself on a sunny Vancouver day bouncing off to the spa with great trepidation and tremors of excitement in my belly, mother in tow. (You didn't think I'd go by myself did you?)

My youngest sister had booked the appointment and I was all set for my waxing experience. I entered the glass doors to the oasis of hair removal and was immediately greeted with the gloriously peaceful sound of cascading fountains, the perfumed air gently welcoming me.  A stunningly gorgeous receptionist sat at the marble covered desk and though she appeared not to acknowledge my existence, I was entranced nonetheless. This was a magical place.

My mother checked me in and after various urgent whispers between several more (?!) beautiful women in white, I was ushered into a tiny room about the dimensions of a queen sized bed. A slightly frumpy, broad shouldered aesthetician entered moments afterwards. I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed that I would not be having my back waxed by any of the celestial beings that had graced the lobby.

She introduced herself by name and title (see previous paragraph), busying about with opaque liquids of strange consistencies and what appeared to be a jar of tongue depressors. Calming my palpitating heart, I thought on the encouraging words of the females of my family, who had assured me that although the experience would hurt, I was unlikely to actually pass out from the pain. However, instead of instructing me to remove my garments and lay prone, my stocky friend instead asked me to sit down. I can only describe the expression on her face as one of pity.

"I wanted to have a quick talk with you before we start," she began, a queer little half-smile on her lips. "Have you ever done this before?"

"No," I replied.

"Ok, well the area we're going to be working with is rather sensitive, so I just wanted to be sure you were fully comfortable."

Up until this point, I had been under the impression that the back is one of the least sensitive parts of the body, and I felt panic beginning to rise in my chest.

"Ummm, sure. I'm comfortable..."

"Alright, well, Sofia at the front desk has informed me that you've requested a male bikini wax, so before I begin-"

I nearly leaped off the table in alarm.

"Hold on, I didn't request a BIKINI WAX!" I shrieked.

"You didn't?" she said,  her left eyebrow rising like a stupid, perfectly manicured caterpillar. "But you brought your mom with you for moral support and the ladies at the desk-"

"The ladies at the desk are WRONG. I do not want a male bikini wax. I only want my back waxed."

"Please." I added, my face probably the shade of an heirloom tomato at this point.

"Well, whoever called definitely requested a male bikini!" she said cheerfully, "But no worries. I'd be happy to just do your back today!"

Needless to say the actual hair removal process was nowhere near as painful as the pointed look the receptionist gave me as I walked out those glorious front doors.

"How'd it go?" she asked me, perfectly tanned skin gleaming.

"Fine, thank you." I replied through gritted teeth, trudging off with my mother into the parking lot, making a mental note never to ask my sister to book anything for me again.

I enjoyed the smooth-skinned fruit of this traumatic experience for a grand total of two weeks, before breaking out into a wonderful constellation of red spots that lasted for several months. When asked by curious bystanders at the pool what had attacked my back I would decline to answer, swimming away hurriedly and vowing silently never again to return to the spa. After all, there are worse things in life then a little bit of body hair.

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