September 5, 2008

"I no mean to hurt you."

On my way home today I thought it would be fun to get some hair ripped out of me by the roots. So I went to my little neighborhood Vietnamese salon to see my favorite esthetician, Penny. I was way overdue. For everything.

When I came in, I motioned to my eyebrows and one of the other employees cried, "Penny!"

Penny was washing her hands in a back room and she poked her head around the corner and grinned at me. "You want bikini wax?" she called across the salon. An old man getting a pedicure rolled his head in my direction with mild interest. She didn't wait for my answer, thank God, but wiped her hands on a towel and, flushing, I followed her upstairs.

The little waxing room at the top of the stairs was hot, and she pulled out a fan saying, "Oh, my God. You going to die here."

I laughed and said, "Penny, I think I want to get my legs done today but I don't know the hair's long enough."

She furrowed her brow. "Why you shave?!" she demanded.

"What do you mean?" I asked. "I have to shave."

"Take pants off," she demanded. "I look." And then she continued with her previous thought, "No shave. Make you feel like rubber. And hard."

I didn't really know what she was talking about, but I giggled while I took of my jeans. Penny handed me a Hello Kitty pillow to lay back on, and leaned down to examine my legs. "I don't know. I try. Is baby hairs. I try. Be good girl." Then she set to work. This woman takes her job very seriously. She applied wax, ripped it off, and turned my leg every imaginable angle to examine the thoroughness of her work.

For some reason, I imagined that since the last time I was here I had a bikini wax that I could handle anything. I was wrong.

"Oh, motherfucker!" I cried after a particularly painful strip was pulled off of the inside of my calf.

" good girl. Beautiful girl. I no mean to hurt you. I never mean to hurt you." I couldn't help but collapse into laughter. I admit that with the fan blowing my hair in all directions I felt a bit like a fashion model getting waxing done. Or possibly a porn star. I'm not sure if the Hello Kitty pillow added to or detracted from that mental image.

"You a very good girl," Penny assured me. "You no make no noise. Some girls, they very loud. Ouchy, ouchy, ouchy!" she cried, in a high-pitched voice, imitating these theoretical girls.

"Penny, are you crazy? I'm scream every time you pull it off!" she snickered and I got a glimpse of her sarcastic side as she went at it again, RRRRRIIIIIPPPP!

"Owwww!" I cried, biting down on my hand.

"You know why it hurt?" she asked.

"Why?" I was expecting some interesting piece of waxing trivia.

"Because I pull out hairs," she said simply. This time I couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not, but I burst into laughter anyway.

"No more shave," she admonished again. "You come to me. I make nice. So smooth. So beautiful."

"Is it coming out okay?" I propped myself up on my elbows to have a look. "Are the hairs long enough that they're coming out?"

"Is eighty percent," she said, showing me a strip of used wax. "See? Baby hairs."

"But I don't want to wait four weeks to get the rest out!" I protested. "I go to the pool and I don't want to be all gross with my hairy legs."

"You suck up," she said firmly.

I tried another tactic. "But what if, let's say, I start dating someone and I don't want to wait four weeks to come back?"

She looked at me sternly. "Is another story! Don't make me mad!"

"What?" I asked in confusion.

"Don't make me mad! Date is another story!" she said again. (I have absolutely no idea what this meant, but she didn't seem to want to talk about it.)

Next she did my eyebrows, and while she was applying the wax she scolded me--as usual--for waiting so long to have them done. "Is like bush," she said. After ripping the wax off she sighed with pleasure, "Finally, I can see eyes."

We finished up, and I got up to get dressed again. "No bikini wax?" she asked.

"Noooo....not today. Too much waxing. Maybe next time."

"Next time we go deeper," she reminded me with a smile.

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