If women really thought about what we were doing before we went into hair removal appointments, we wouldn’t go. If we remembered the sensation of hair being yanked unceremoniously at root by some fanny mechanic, hell-bent on enacting female revenge born of the time when her best friend in college shrunk her Banana Republic cashmere sweater and then fucked her boyfriend, we WOULD NOT GO. We would stick with Nair or Lady Bics in the shower and call it a day. But somehow, somewhere along the line it begins to sound good again—Oh, I can clean it all up in one fell swoop and in doing so jinx myself into abstinence for the next six months? GREAT! Here’s $50 and the top layer of my most tender skin.
But we still do it. And last week, after a five year sabbatical from waxing, I ventured into Koreatown in the cold November rain to get sugared. By the time I arrived at the imposing tower building that apparently housed Sugaring NYC, I was sopping wet and holding an inside-out umbrella. I stood under the awning, confirming with Google maps that I was in the right place and gaping at the gorgeous man sharing the awning with me. This man, apparently untouched by the wind and rain sported a perfectly coiffed head of hair that I really wanted to touch.
I clicked off my phone and went to open the door, but my future husband beat me to it, opening the door and ushering me in. I was in love. As we both walked to the elevator I pictured our wedding and wondered what lengths I would have to go to make sure he wasn’t more beautiful than me on my big day. I pressed the button and waited. My future husband stood directly behind me and I really, really hoped that my pants weren’t dripping water on to the floor. The door opened and I stepped into the world’s smallest elevator. He pressed 2 with his beautiful, delicate fingers. I jabbed at 6, always the picture of grace and femininity.
Saysomethingfunnysaysomethingfunnysaysomethingfunny, I repeated to myself, knowing I had little time to reel in my prince.
“I do believe this is the world’s smallest elevator.”
Good one Linds.
He gave a polite, cursory chuckle.
“Tis a service elevator.” He lilted in perfect Queens English.
“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!” I brayed inappropriately, unattractively, infinitely American and entire unladylike-ly.
His eyes widened and I swear, sighed in gratitude when the door opened. He walked out into a darkly lit, beautifully ambient room that appeared to be some kind of exclusive club. A young man stood to take his umbrella and coat as he stepped off the elevator, and I thought Fuck! He really IS a prince! as the elevator doors closed on my future husband and wedding dreams.
When I opened the door to Sugaring NYC and stepped into the tiny room, I was 99% sure that Willy Wonka’s wife had decorated the place while high on prescription drugs. Two doors lined one Pepto Bismol-pink wall, and inside women were in various states of undress and kama sutra-esque positions getting sugared.
A young, gazelle-like woman sat in one of the oversized pink poof chairs at the other side of the room and smiled warmly at me, inviting me to sit on the white pleather couch next to her. I still nervously clutched my sopping wet umbrella to my chest, soaking my left boob completely. The gazelle gestured for me to hand her the umbrella and looked at me curiously, clearly thinking “Bless her little ol' heart.” I set my handbag down and went to sit on the couch forgetting that my pants were still wet from my rainy walk. No sooner did my butt hit the pleather couch then it slid right on off and I went tumbling to the ground. Despite the blaring pop music from the UE boom suspended from the ceiling, the room went silent as the gazelle, other fanny mechanic and two clients stared at me as I attempted to collect myself and my dignity.
A few moments of awkward silence passed as I pretended to be entirely engrossed in a compelling Cosmopolitan article before the gazelle confirmed my name and and ushered me into an open waxing room, clearly figuring I’d be safer in a contained space.
“Go on in,” she said holding the door open. “Clothes off from the waist down,” she added. “Then pop up on that table and lay down.”
“Erm, is there a gown or a blanket or any type of cover?” I asked, measuring the space between the table and the door and realizing that when that door opened the entire waiting room would have a front seat view of my hoo-ha.
She smiled. “Nope! Clothes off, hop up!” She commanded with such authority that as soon as the door shut I had my clothes off in record time. I’d barely settled into my humiliation before she rapped once on the door and then opened it without waiting for a response. “My goodness, you’re fast!” she remarked as she closed the door behind her.
“That's what I hear!” I shot back without any consideration for the words coming out of my mouth and realizing too late that I’d just named myself a slut. She looked at me curiously, clearly thinking “Bless her little ol’ heart” and smiled at me, stopping just short of patting me on the head, I imagined.
She lifted my shirt up and peered at my nether regions. This is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done, I thought as a stranger stared at my lady bits. “Butterfly your legs,” she commanded and though I’ve studied and practiced yoga intensively, I lost all ability to comprehend words. She took my legs, bent them at the knees and shoved my feet together so the soles of the feet touched and the remainder of my dignity disappeared.
“Why you’ve hardly got any hair!” she sang in a complimentary tone, still staring intensely at my lady bits. I mentally congratulated myself for being less than hirsute and then quickly wondered if she said that to all the girls.
“Have you ever sugared before?” she asked as she wadded up what looked like a giant ball of molasses silly putty in her gloved hands and walked towards me rolling the ball in her hands. I shook my head no and then gasped as she dumped a boatload of powder onto my bits and, in a move I was not anticipating, began slapping the powder all over my nether regions.
My legs started to quiver and she pressed on my knees, keeping me in the desired position and letting me know who was running this show. Before I knew what was happening she slapped the ball of wax down, and began vigorously rubbing back and forth before grabbing one end of the sugar ball and yanking it and my hair off.
I inhaled sharply and assessed the pain. 4 on a scale of 10. “Hey! That wasn’t so bad,” I remarked as she slapped the ball down again and started the process in a new location. “Oh honey, that was just your leg” she said as she yanked again.
“GAH!” I hollered as she sugared. That pain registered higher on the scale. With her gloved hand she pat, pat, patted the bits she’d just sugared as if to say, “There there, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?” She sugared and sugared and I gritted my teeth, practiced lamaze breathing and prayed that I wouldn’t accidentally on purpose knee her in the face with my butterflied legs.
“Roll over now, hon” she tapped me and gestured to the side of the table. I flipped on to my side and scissored my legs. “Oh you know this position, huh?” She laughed and I wondered if my earlier ease of undressing and sexual admission had vaulted her to the conclusion that I was: a) easy b) prone to being on my back and c) willing to roll over on cue.
As she worked on the single most humiliating part of the lady hair removal process, she prompted me to roll back over again. I exhaled in relief at the process being over and thought, Hey! All told, that wasn’t so bad—but then, without warning she returned, this time with tweezers. “Time for the tweezers!” She sang out and I thought, Well, fuck me sideways and considered just jumping up, grabbing my clothes and getting the hell out of dodge. I never agreed to tweezers.
Without further warning she smashed her face mighty close to my private parts searching for errant hairs. “MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN IT” I screamed to myself as she plunked one of those damn hairs clean out. “FUCKING LLAMAS IN SUMMERTIME” I thought as she found another. I was beginning to sweat and was definitely crying a little as I congratulated myself on another slam-bank personal decision. “GODDAMN DONKEYS OF THE WORLD!” I hollered mentally as she went in for the kill, again.
“YOU ARE SO GOOD!!!” she trilled at me. "So good!" Now I was sweating profusely and crying a lot. “No YOU are!” I sniffled, hoping she would just FUCKING STOP. I didn’t really need a COMPLETE Brazilian, did I?
With a final and ceremonious pat, pat, pat she forbid me to shave for the next month, propped me up like a woman who’d just given birth and encouraged me order to admire her handiwork. “Lovely,” she sighed. “Lovely?” I wondered as we stared at my lady bits together.
I lay back down as she began the clean up process and realized she wasn’t going to exit the room in order for me to clothe myself. I half-hopped, half-fell off the table and then half-nakedly retrieved my clothes while she cleaned the table. Only when I was completely clothed did she leave the room, and as I went to follow her out I glanced at the mirror and gasped. I looked as though I’d mated with a raccoon and wondered if there was ANY mascara left on my eyelashes at all.
I hobbled like a cowboy to the front desk where I handed the fanny mechanic my card. She swiped, I tipped and she asked if I’d like to schedule a future appointment. I thought about my elevator ride with the Prince, my flight off the couch, the sugar balls and her pat, pat, patting. I thought about the beyond awkward conversation, the tweezer-related pain and being half naked in front of a perfect stranger staring at my lady bits. I thought about declining to hand someone my money in exchange for what is quite possibly one of the most uncomfortable experiences a woman can have.
And then I booked the next appointment. Turns out sugar is addictive.