Thursday, January 28, 2010

adult swim. the prep squad.

My grandmother and I were very close. She was a widow times two and, by the time I was a teenager, she needed a companion to accompany her on all of the adventures she wanted to have. Having finished the wife and mother portion of her life, she swung into full Auntie Mame mode and, thankfully, dragged me along with her. We saw all of Europe, every mission in California, every fancy schmancy restaurant in San Francisco and took a cruise around the South China Seas.

She introduced me to the world and all the while she “finished” my education. Her singular goal was to ensure that I would have the confidence to walk into any room and hold my own. “Whether you are in a palace or a mechanic’s garage,” she said, “you will belong.” According to her, the key to confidence was knowledge and she was tireless in her efforts to get my head in the game.

Standing on the bow of the ship as we entered Vietnam (one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen, by the way, and where King Kong probably retired with Jessica Lange) I told her that I didn’t understand the war. Didn’t understand why anyone would want to attack a place so majestic. She went directly to the Captain and arranged for me to have dinner with Sander Vanocur, a journalist who covered the war for NBC, and also happened to be on our ship. He tried his best to get me to see how it all happened but me and war just don’t compute so, he threw up his hands and said, “Another round for my little idealist.” My grandmother gave him a “what can you do?” look and the three of us got totally smashed.

Still, though, my grandmother never stopped trying and I'm grateful that she lived long enough to see me walk into some pretty serious rooms. She told me that I belonged everywhere and, for the most part, she was right, but she forgot about one room and it’s still the only one that makes me bite my lip in fear: nail salons. I avoid them like the plague.

But yesterday, I had no choice. I had to go meet the prep squad that was gonna whip me into shape for my upcoming date. That’s right. I’ve been asked out on a date and while I see this as news on a Lourdes-type miracle level, the truth is that once you decide to put yourself out there again, men do show up. This particular man has showed up in the form of Sam, a beautiful and funny soul who mustered up the courage to ask a complete stranger to dinner. The least I could do was get a wax and throw some polish on my nails. If only it were that simple.

Upon entering the salon, all eyes turned on me as if to say, "What the fuck do you want now?" The American customers looked me up and down with an expression bordering on hostility, like they just couldn't believe I had the nerve to show up. The Vietnamese women spoke to each other in their native tongue while laughing behind their freakishly small hands. 

While still standing on the threshold, I announced why I was there (bikini wax and pedicure) and then stood in silence while the information was processed by everyone. I noticed that one customer rolled her eyes practically out of their sockets, which I thought was particularly harsh considering she was having her entire arm waxed. Eventually, she went back to her article about Pippa Middleton and I went to “pick color," almost reduced to tears.

An employee, no bigger than a 12-year old boy, pointed me toward the hot wax room and pantomimed that I should take off my pants and get on all fours. When I did, she said, "Oh, my God." Humiliated, I buried my head in the pillow and thought, "Look who suddenly knows how to speak English."  

The salon is training a new woman so, once I had assumed the position, I had four hands working with microscopes to clear away the brush. Normally, in a street fight, I could’ve taken both of them at once (Jesus, they're teeny) but here, in their lair, I was powerless to fight. They flipped me over and side to side and only stopped working long enough to tell me that I should wear makeup because then I would be "more pretty."

Working in shifts, another woman was brought in to deal with my eyebrows, mustache and the single, snaeaky hair that grows on my cheek with neither rhyme nor reason. 9am on a Tuesday – not there. 4pm on a Wednesday – long enough to knit. She also told me I should wear makeup because then I would be "more pretty." "We already told her that," the other two chimed in, while re-fueling with Gatorade in the corner.

I’ve been to the gynecologist and I've had sex and I’m still unfamiliar with the positions these women demanded of me. I felt like a circus contortionist laid bare under the unforgiving fluorescent lights and verbal abuse. After the makeup comment, I was told I needed to lose weight and then they started talking in Vietnamese again, interrupting themselves only to laugh. I thought of Sander and suddenly understood the war.

An hour later, barely visible behind a Sears Tower of hairy muslins, they stopped. Exhausted and fresh out of insults, the women patted my vagina and my face and said, “Very nice now.” So, I guess I’m ready for the date. Superficially, at least. As insufferable as these trips to the salon have always been, I suspect this last one may be the easiest part of dating again. We'll see. 

As I left, the prep squad made me promise to come back next week and tell them how it went. They also made me promise I would wear makeup. "Show him how you look," one of them said, and that made up for everything that came before. Who knows what I'll show him and who knows what he'll see but I'm as hairless as a Sphynx and ready to go dutch.

28 comments:

Squidly said...

Just recently despite not date asking decided to revisit the wax-a-rama. Figured if I felt girlie, maybe someone would see me as girlie. Instead of the broken down mess I really am...

In any case, yay for waxing and for the Vietnamese advice on war AND waxing, and for your date with what we can only imagine will be a sweet man named Sam. good luck. forge on.

Squidly...

Tricia said...

OK, I am ROLLING.

Who PATS a vagina!? Did you 'pick color' for that, too, and get some vagazzling done while you were down there?? :)

The Early Girl said...

squidly - feeling girlie is half the battle cause EVERYONE feels like a broken down mess, honey. EVERYONE. thanks for your wishes. sam is, indeed, a sweet man. will keep you posted! xxoo p.s. when oh when are we gonna meet? xx

The Early Girl said...

tricia! so glad you liked it. what is the deal with these women anyway? same story in every salon. they tried to talk me into vagazzling but i'm holding out for the second date! xxoo

Alexandra or Sasja said...

Good luck! (Oh, and don't forget to have fun on that date!)

stagebuilder said...

Yikes! Yet another reason I like being a guy...not visiting the nail salon! Enjoy your first date, so nerve racking and a bit stressful, but maybe making that connection makes it all worth while.

The Early Girl said...

thank you for the reminder, alexandra! xx

The Early Girl said...

hey stage - i think you're right - the connection makes up for the nerves times 1000. how was your gun range date? xx

Chris said...

Man, I had no idea what went on behind those doors, or the lengths that we sometimes go to. Bravo for putting it out there. Hope the effort is appreciated!

stagebuilder said...

Haven't had it yet, she's been out of town traveling, but will let you know when we do!

Strawberry said...

This is the best thing EVER. Pats your vagina?

the early girl said...

thanks, Chris! it's a torture chamber for sure. as for appreciation - we'll see! xx

the early girl said...

thanks, strawberry! yes, they patted it! totally bananas. thanks for reading and thanks for your comment! xx

mary ann said...

i am giggling & grinning ear to ear - great story!

The Early Girl said...

thanks, as always, for reading and for your comment, maryann! soooo glad you liked it. unbelievably, but inevitably, i am headed back there this week for another go. think i'll wear makeup this time!

Anonymous said...

Interesting for me//
/

Erectile Dysfunction said...

I really liked your article.

paige said...

literally, I'm laughing out loud. Brilliant writing. I think I'll just read it again. *AND never brave the prep squad.

Alexandra Castro said...

That was hilarious! I feel your pain both figuratively and literally! I once went to a waxing joint where Pamela Anderson goes. I figured that my vagina might look like hers if I went there. I did the whole down on all fours things too. It was so embarrassing! All those awful positions with someone you don't know going at your hairy parts that have never seen the light of day! The kicker was at the end the waxing lady patted my on the back and said that's all better now. With all the hair you had you could have galloped in here. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Never again! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahaha!!!!

NKZ said...

Ummmm, been there, did that. Hilarious. You have a true gift for articulating with humor and poetry the ins and outs of being the modern woman.

Mira said...

Oh what us women go through. Here's to you putting it out there!

Unknown said...

you totally crack me up....

alrightalready said...

Thanks...You Pretty Now!!!
Last time I had a pedicure the lady patted my vericose vein and gave me a most pitiful look...A story I would have liked to have written but again,...Early girl, you did it for me... Thanks.

PDXMama said...

I had a similar experience -- except that they were inexperienced! I was sent home with WAX everywhere DOWN THERE! took me hours to get it all off! hahhaha!! I can relate :) Big chuckles reading this!!

DD said...

Amidst the forest, I got some good self-discovery and self-esteem tips, ie., yes I too, belong in every room. Thank you! XO, D.

Anonymous said...

Witty and heartfelt. Love it.

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