This is the true story of my hairy guy friend, who at the recommendation of his fiancé, had his back waxed. He lived to tell the tale. Barely.
In his own words, this is his story:
Adventures in Hair Removal!
by the Hairiest Dude in… well let’s be real, this is Astoria…
It was a dark and stormy night… Well it was dark and the snow was falling… it seemed worse as all things do when you are dreading your inevitable impending death, or in my case impending epidermal extraction. Which is like death in a way.
At the suggestion of my roommate, Kate, I tried to drink away the anxieties before I left. Which I found out later would have been a terrible idea for blood thinning purposes, and therefore bleeding, but I also decided to walk to the center which counteracted the effects. As I hobbled up to the European Wax Center on Steinway in Astoria, I could feel my body tensing up and sweating, and it took me around ten minutes to develop the emotional fortitude to enter.
EWC is a place I’d been a number of times with my fiancé, who after trying a new service they offer, ends up putting it into her regular rotation, so each prospective trip becomes a longer and more costly endeavor, but she always comes out smiling. And why shouldn’t she? It’s a spotless facility, and the technicians and receptionists all look like nurses. I dare you to look at a nurse and be intimidated. Its like staring at a staff of excitable puppies in scrubs! You have to smile. But therein lies the trickery. No one would ever expect what lies on the other side of that frosted glass door, in the same way no one would expect to see Patrick Bateman chasing them with a chainsaw. Check out his business cards for godssake!
My gal went first. This evening she would do her legs, which left me sitting in the lobby for thirty minutes or so. Pretty routine I would say. Same as always, she came out smiling. Which meant one thing, the moment of truth had arrived. It was my turn to go in, to Myth Bust the 40 Year Old Virgin, and once and for all prove if male hair removal did in fact yield a resounding “Kelly Clarkson!!!!”
Let me back up just one moment. The reason for this whole endeavor in the first place was a new waxer came to town. I don’t know what the procedure is elsewhere, but at European Wax Center before they let their waxers wax paying customers, they first wax each other, then wax people for free, and only then can they successfully join the ranks of the many women waxers before them. Tell me that wouldn’t be the most terrible job ever; at least driving instructors have the secondary instructor brake pedal to stop the car in the event of a close call; a wax instructor has no brake pedal, but hopefully she has lady bits when it’s over. So suffice it to say, she had gotten passed the “waxing the instructor” round, which meant for me this was a free service. And I’m a sucker for a sale (ask my roommates, we nearly had a groupon intervention).
I’m led back into the second room deep on the right side of the hall. The facility is not enormous, but large enough to have four or five doctor’s office sized rooms, complete with doctor’s tables, though the walls have framed scantily clad ladies instead of crappy sailboat paintings. My waxer seemed young but not high-school-dropout-young, more like young professional, which was a step up from the Russian ogress i was picturing in my mind’s eye. She was very polite as she ushered me to strip down and lay on the table: the back would go first. Having never been waxed at all, she gave me the run down. There are two pre-wax solutions she rubbed into my follicles and skin, one was to clean the skin itself and the other was to help the wax stick to just the hair. She would proceed in a “cross” direction, mowing the lawn straight down my spine and then across the center, proceeding to clip my wings thereafter. It seemed straight forward and I was nervous but dammit! I’m a man! Let’s do this!
She started coating the exact center of my back with hot goo. Of course one can’t see one’s own back, but one has seen the re-asphalting of NYC streets, and I imagine it’s the same procedure. Now for european style waxing, so I’m told, the wax adheres to just the hairs and once properly cooled, is extracted in one waxy clump without paper strips, as opposed to conventional and therefore cheaper waxing wherein the wax sticks to the whole of the area in question and rips out your outermost layer of skin as the paper strip is pulled. Sound classy? You’re correct. Again, I must reiterate “I’m a man!” And when I say that, it’s not me explaining my anatomy, that is my rallying cry I like to tell myself when things are tough. The hot wax begins to cool, she pats it down to check the texture of it. This is where the fun begins…
Now I’m sure the best thing is to not know when she’s about to extract, because nerves are a biatch, but I had no clue the wax was ready when she pulled. There aren’t many words to describe hair removal. It… it’s pretty… man, let’s be real, it’s a bloody awful thing. She ripped the crap out of that hair. Remember she said she was going to make a cross and clear the remaining quadrants after. There is no going back from Whoopi Goldberg’s Center Square being the initial target. From the very first instant, you’re past the point of no return.
Two more, and the agony is starting to set in. My breathing becomes elevated, I start to sweat… but dammit I’m a man!!! She sees my woe and anxiety and realizing that I’ve not yet bought into the waxing way of life, hands me a mirror so I can see the difference in pre and post procedure. And you know what, it was different. Was it amazing? Look, I’ve somehow enlisted a number of people into shaving my back over the years, I’ve seen a manscaping in my day. To be fair, it was a large gradient in topography, the difference being that I couldn’t throw in the towel now and buzz the rest because the center bloody square would not grow back the same way the rest would. It’d be a hair-window into my lack of follow through. Rule number one of Man Club, you never show people your lack of follow through. You bite your lip and proceed no matter the cost. An example of this is Steve-O’s tattoo of his own face on his back. There is no retreating.
I climb back on the table and she keeps tearing and tearing, and I try to stifle my reactions as best as I can, and she puts pressure on each acre she clears — surprisingly helpful tactic, thank you lady. I asked how many women (as I’d never seen another man there) scream or emote when they’re waxed, and she said most don’t, but some do get sailor-mouthed. I figured if I could avoid the profanities, at least I did okay. So she ripped and each rip hurt more than the last, because now I knew what was coming. My nerves were catching on that maybe that scalding goo was not the start of a beautiful friendship.
After what feels like an hour, she tells me…. we’re half done! Holy crap! What the what!!!!! I THOUGHT WE HAD FINISHED! She told me my look of relief was the best she’d ever seen before she finished her sentence about the amount remaining. Sweet merciful crap! This is when my muscles began twitching. As I lay on the table, I started to feel chills and my arms began spasming uncontrollably. She assured me I just needed to breathe, and so I did, and it subsided. But with each proceeding RIIIIIIIPPPPPPPP, they came back again. I started jumping up every pass or two to look in the mirror, partially so I could get the blood back in my head since it had all gone to my skin to heal the mild abrasions.
I started hobbling back from the mirror when we noticed I had sweat straight through the paper coating on the table. She pulled a new sheet and I laid down again. The tearing continued. I told her this was a procedure fit for Guantanamo. RIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPP! I started hyperventilating, I was sweating profusely. She’d put wax on and tap it and I would shake like Sonny’s sister in The Godfather. At one point my spasms were becoming so bad, she told me several things: 1) the back is one of the most painful places to get waxed — the two worse places being the chest and worse still the bikini area, 2) she wouldn’t be doing the chest today, because baby steps…., 3) we would be wrapping up soon because it looked like I was about to pass out on the table. I told her if I passed out, she better do my chest while I’m unconscious and she chuckled nervously. “We’ll just even out the top and we’ll see for next time.”
She rounded the top. Then saw several spots she wanted to clean, and “dammit!” say it with me now, “I’m a man!” “Do it, let’s go for it, take em down…” She targeted those little spots and then bam! “You’re all done for tonight.”
I’m done? Are you sure this isn’t a trick?
You’re all done! Just in time to go to Mexico, you can even get a tan now!
Little known detail… though my skin’s seeing the light of day now, as Russell Crowe’s Noah might say, “THERE WILL BE NO TANS!” I’m a pasty Irish/Italian/German/French/English kid from Chicago: I sunburn while sledding.
I get dressed and feel cotton on my back and it’s a strange sensation, because usually I can’t, too much insulation. Shaking, I walk into the lobby, where I’m greeted by my loving fiancé who informs me that she could hear me screaming out here… for the last forty minutes.
“When would you like to set up your follow up appointment, sir?” I’m asked by the receptionist, optimistic I’ll be booking immediately.
“You know, we’ll have to see.”
Highlights from this little adventure:
- Now I know what lies beyond the frosted glass door
- Theoretically my back hair will grow back thinner henceforth
- they say your first waxing is the worst, and I’ve survived it
- I now understand the levels to which the female body are able to withstand pain… because again, she always came out smiling… what does that mean about baby having in general? what else don’t I know? I’ve crossed the rubicon. I don’t even like hot tubs! They’re so hot! This must be what the fourth dimension looks like…
- Let’s cut to the chase, if you’ve read thus far, you know the lowlights, I didn’t shut up about em.
And truthfully, this waxer lady is very nice and charming and did her best to alleviate the pain, and now that we’ve gone to war together I can probably tell her things I wouldn’t tell many other people. Hopefully she gets the gig. I was her first full-back waxee — I will live in her memory forever. #Immortality. Maybe not the way I expected, but Achilles didn’t expect to become the guy that went down from ankle troubles. Maybe the name Mikey will become synonymous with back fluff… or lack thereof!