Friday, December 08, 2006

The Brazilian Signifier

I hope you can't tell from my writing, but I once took a bunch of creative writing courses in university. One of the things I learned was this idea of the signifier and the signified. Symbolism.

Okay, so many years later I'm writing a crime novel and in it one of the characters is going to decide if she's willing to take it, "all the way," into a life of crime. I figured I could use something to signify this, some signifier like my profs used to talk about. What should it be? I remembered all the examples they gave us, the yellow sweaters and the going on trips alone and all that stuff. But I wanted something different.

So she goes and gets a Brazilian wax.

I was lucky enough (oh so lucky enough) that my wife went and did this bit of research for me. And she wrote up what happened as a little story. It appears almost word for word in Dirty Sweet, but here it is as my wife, Laurie, wrote it:

Her regular place wouldn’t do it. Regular bikini only. So she checked a couple of places on the internet. One of them had a price for bikini-plus so she phoned.
“Only one of our estheticians does that and she only works on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
So she booked a lunch hour appointment for Thursday.
“And I’d like a half leg wax too.”
“You’ll have to come at 11:30 because the brazilian takes a full hour.”
Gulp. “O.k.” A regular bikini was $20, a brazilian was $50.

The day before, someone phoned to confirm. “11:30 with Maryanna.”

She walked in. It had the typical day spa look, like a doctor’s office had stocked up on make-up and hair care products. She could see a middle aged woman in a white lab coat cutting linen strips at one of the manicure tables. “Maryanna?” only she could see on her name tag that it was spelled Mirjana – definitely eastern European.

Mirjana said, “I’m ready for you.” and lead her back to one of the tiny rooms: a little cart of vials and bottles, a gurney-style cot and beside it a hotplate with a quart paint can of goo sitting on top. This place boasted that it used pine resin instead of wax, all natural except for the green colour. There was paper on the cot instead of the usual sheet and she remembered it would be because of the wax dripping down. Mirjana asked her to undress and get on the cot and she’d be right back. She felt stupid for picking out special underwear when of course she’d just be hanging them on the back of the door. She remembered to take off her socks for the leg wax then climbed up on the paper.

Mirjana came back in and started tsking as she shook baby powder on her pubes. “Is very long. You should have cut.”
“Oh, I thought it would be better a little longer. Get a better grip.”
“No is better shorter. This is much more painful.”
Great.
Mirjana dipped up some wax with the tongue depressor and smeared it in the crease of her leg. “O.k. ma’ dear.”
YEOW.
Dip. Smear. YEOW.
Dip. Smear. YEOW.
Dip. Smear. YEOW.
Dip. Smear. YEOW. YEOW. YEOW.

“How ya doing?”

Mirjana worked her way around to the tip of the pubis and the wax felt extra warm on barer skin. YEOW. She thought of that Madonna movie nobody liked where she and the YEOW guy had sex with hot wax. Man, no wonder everyone YEOW thought it was weird. Maybe if she thought about sex it would YEOW take her mind off it. But what if something YEOW happened down there and Mirjana could tell. Wouldn’t YEOW that make her look really sick, YEOW like this was turning her on?

“You’re going to have to help me. Hold here to pull the skin.”

Man, it was like some YEOW torture scene where they asked YEOW the victim to crank the generator. She noticed that YEOW Marjana was sometimes surreptitiously YEOW wiping away spots of blood.

Mirjana showed her the inch square knots of hair that were sticking to the linen strips. “A lot of hair in a little space.”

She couldn’t help thinking YEOW that this must be easier for the strippers who YEOW could all do the splits and put their feet YEOW behind their heads.

“I can only pull the hair that grows in one direction and this hair grows in all directions.”

Mirjana finished all the upper hair YEOW and started up the crack of her ass. She was holding her legs open YEOW like some insane yoga class when she remembered her meditation technique. Look through YEOW your forehead for the white light. It was better.

Except that every once in a while she’d feel the hot wax on a tender part and think, “This is going to YEOW!” Dip. Smear. And by that time it was too late to say, “You don’t have to do there.” YEOW!

Mirjana seemed to sense that she might not be a repeat customer and started the pep talk. “The first time is the worst.” YEOW
“All my customers who get brazilian are very brave.”

Her palms on top of her chest were sweating right through her shirt. She thought about after, when she’d be done, hairless, smooth. God help her if she liked it and was willing to do this again. Mirjana spritzed a disinfectant spray over the whole thing.

Then she put on some weird headgear that looked like a welding mask only it had jewelers goggles. And she started pulling the stragglers with tweezers. If anything this was worse. The short sharp pain, very fast and steady. No break for the dip and smear. “You should use only natural products to sooth. You have natural products? You must not use chemicals down there.” Pluck, pluck.

My god, she thought, I’ve had lovers who weren’t down there this long.

A final spritz with the disinfectant and Mirjana asked if she wanted powder or oil. Powder. And silk underwear. Mirjana handed her a mirror. She hadn’t seen herself without hair there since she was 12. And boy was it red.

“Now the legs.” The pain in her crotch kept her from minding the pain in her legs. When she flipped over for the back of her legs, she practically fell asleep. Until Mirjana spread her cheeks and did the top of the crack of her ass.

She tipped Mirjana $10 for thoroughness and took her card.

All that afternoon she moved very slowly. Her underwear seemed to stick and everything hurt.

The girls reminded her to exfoliate every day to try and avoid ingrown hairs.

It took two days for the red and soreness to die down. And the hair started growing in within a couple of weeks.

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