If their eyebrows were so meticulously sculpted, what could one guess regarding the standards for body hair in general?
Clearly I was in need of professional help. Luckily, across the rue is a small salon dedicated to the removal of unwanted hair from all bodily regions. It took me a couple of trips and a consult with my dictionary to ascertain what hair I wanted removed exactly from my body.
Bolstered with my new vocabulary for "brows" and "bikini" I ventured forth and soon found myself lying, spread-eagle on the treatment table. As every woman knows, a bikini wax is a wholly unpleasant and uncomfortably painful process. If we expected men to get waxed, estheticians would be out of business. I am certain that the bikini wax will be viewed as a primitive torture device by future beings in centuries to come.
The saving grace is that it is usually swift and short, even if excruciating. In San Francisco I’d pop into my local nail salon for a quick wax – ten minutes in and out, hair free. The Parisian esthetician takes her work no less seriously than the Boulanger or the Poissoniere. While the baker is careful to bake each baguette with the care and attention his family has boasted for generations, the Poissioniere takes pride in selecting the freshest fish for his customers and giving explicit instructions on how to cook it. Forty seconds on each side, no more and no less.
Likewise, the aesthetician takes pride in her work as an art, as I was soon to find out. Wax and rip, wax and rip. I was accustomed to a few applications of hot wax followed by a few excruciating rips, and then pants back on and out the door. In Paris, after the initial painful rips, I was ready to call it a day, when the aesthetician took my left leg, raised it over my head and proceeded from an entirely different angle. Clearly she meant business. I have not often been in such an intimate position with anyone. I didn’t even know her name.
After several different contortions reminiscent of an Iyengar yoga class, she seemed to be winding down. I looked at my watch. I’d already been there for half an hour! I watched with relief as she turned away towards the side table, only to observe, with horror, that she was returning with a minute set of tweezers and a ruler. She carefully measured and plucked, certain to maintain a symmetric, even line.
Fifteen torturous minutes later she handed me a mirror. I was supposed to inspect this? She was beaming with pride, showing off her artistic creation. Unsure of the proper response, I murmured that it looked like a very nice job. She pointed out the symmetry of my new hairline and asked something in French which I interpreted as an inquiry as to whether I wanted her to continue. Erring on the side of conservatism, I politely declined, assuring her that yes, it was a fine piece of work and perhaps next time she would be given more artistic license.
A few days later, I arrived at the doctor’s office for my appointment, primped, coiffed and coutured. After an in-depth consult and a review of my medical history, the doctor advised that we should wait and schedule the actual exam for the following month. What?! I nodded mutely, filled with dread, not of a return to the doctor but of the excruciating preparation I would have to endure.
I’ve now bought a monthly pass to the Salon. Just like a discount pass for the movies, if I am a frequent customer I get a discount. If I must spend this much effort for a doctor’s appointment, imagine what will be required to prepare for a weekend at the beach?
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