In a horror movie, one of the most tired cliches is the image of the sexy, young starlet running tripping and screaming up the stairs screaming towards her certain death. From our couches safe at home, we roll our eyes and scoff in disgust. Because we know better. We know she should run out the front door and straight to the police station. We know that like so many before them, this busty blond will defy reason, logic, and sense, and we will sit and watch, unable to change the course of the fate.
When I walked into Eve Salon on West 8th Street in Manhattan this afternoon for my first Brazilian wax, I could practically feel the audience throwing popcorn on my face and insisting I get out of there.
I understand how eyebrow-raising it is to be a Brazilian virgin. Especially at 33 years old. I mean, if you’re a woman, getting one is basically as inevitable as having to pay your taxes. It felt like I was missing a rite of passage.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been removing my body hair for just about as long as I’ve had it. I’ve got an impressive scar on my right shin to prove how overzealous butcher-like 12-year-old Becca was to join the hairless fold.
But I avoided waxing for two totally embarrassing reasons. First, when I was 14, I had a mole on my lady parts removed. Nothing surpasses the indignity of smelling a dermatologist burn a mole off of your pubis like having to sit at home afterwards with ice on your crotch. Except for learning that post-surgery, I’d be left with a hilarious bald patch on my crotch. My vagina looked like the top of a medieval monk’s head. It was bad enough explaining the bald patch away to people I shared a bed with. I did not want to make small talk with a paid hair removal professional about my unfortunate female pattern baldness.
The other reason is also deeply humiliating. To recount it, let us travel back in time to my 25th birthday. Though I had no romantic prospects on the horizon, I was sure that my b-day party would wield some b-day nookie. I was in a drugstore indulging in some higher-priced (aka a level or two up from Wet ‘n’ Wild) cosmetics when I spotted an at-home waxing kit. It came with a stencil and promised that in a matter of minutes my unruly bush would be transformed into a sassy patch in the shape of a lightning bolt.
Suffice to say, things did not go “well.”
I got home, and though I followed the directions carefully, I made one critical error. I thought maybe because I had never waxed before, that perhaps I should leave the wax on a few minutes longer than the mere seconds suggested on the packaging. When I finally ripped the wax free, the top layer of my skin came with the strip. There was blood everywhere.
I very nearly swooned, but, powered by pure shame, I managed to make myself a makeshift diaper out of overnight pads and took the edge off my pain with a shot of tequila.
Verily, no nookie was got that night.
To make matters worse (because yes, that’s possible), as my pubis healed, the scabs kept the hairs from growing in properly, and three weeks later, I found myself at the dermatologist having each of my hundred infected ingrowns disinfected and corrected.
But that was all in the past!
I am 33 now and ready for grownup things like surprising my boyfriend with naked bits as a mid-summer treat. In spite of my past experience, and every single horror movie I had ever seen before, I marched merrily to my doom thinking Let’s do this then! while deliberately forgetting every single cliche people in film and literature about just how much a Brazilian wax fucking hurts. It wasn’t stupidity propelling me forward. It was the fog of memory and dating a dude I really liked.
I should have known better.
Still, like every scream queen, I went smiling to my doom. It was almost like for seven years, I had not gotten flop sweats when someone said the word “wax.”
Inside the salon, I met Eileen, a blonde, philosophical Russian. The closet where Eileen plied her trade could have been staged by a horror flick set dresser: It was a veritable torture chamber with flickering fluorescent light, dingy walls, and a tray of horrifying substances designed to melt, boil, cool, and rip.
“I’ve never done this before,” I said as Eileen entered the room.
Stupidly, I had worn a romper, which meant upon disrobing, I was the most naked a person could be while getting a wax. Eileen didn’t blink. Instead, she gave me a breathing technique and explained the chemical rush of hormones that came from performing acts of pain upon yourself for beauty’s sake. Eileen was treating my hairy lady bits as a tactical problem she needed to attack full-on.
She then proceeded to used a combination of hard and soft wax. “The soft, we use just strips,” she explained. “The hard goes on by itself, and then, I remove—is much strong.” She sternly told me that my decades of shaving required this, as the hard wax would be needed to fully wrangle my stalwart vagina hairs.
After clearing what once was the forest of my ass hair, Eileen marveled at my strength and cooed “just lovely!”
I could have crowed with pride. Turns out, my greatest fear—revealing that bald spot to a professional like Eileen—was actually NBD. It’s amazing how reassuring it is to have an esthetician tell you that you’ve got a nice-looking vulva!
I left the salon triumphant, the lone survivor of the slasher flick. Like a plucky protagonist, I too was shaking, sweaty, and spotted with blood. Like a Wes Craven film heroine, I would live to fight another day! Only instead of battling a crazy mother seeking revenge for the slaughter of her evil child (you know, from the first movie), my battle will be against those inescapable, nefarious ingrowns.