Wax On, Wax Off

Why I feel I can trust someone with eyebrows drawn in with a pencil to apply hot wax to my face and rip my own eyebrows out, I have no idea. But I do, and it always makes me feel better.

While having it done, I always feel like I’m on some sort of hidden camera show where they laugh at naïve Americans in nail salons. The moment I walk in a smattering of Vietnamese carries throughout the salon and She will appear with a disgusted shake of her head and an, “Ugh. You here for eyebrow wax.”

This is not a question, but rather a statement that makes me feel as if I am there to club baby seals instead of simply shape my brows.

We walk past dozens of Buddha sculptures of every shape and size and back to the chair, an American soap opera playing in the background and the smell of strong fumes in the air.

They will continue to talk amongst themselves, and there is usually laughing at some point, causing me to wonder whether I should join in and pretend like I know what they’re saying or give her a “look” like I know what they’re saying (about me) and don’t find it amusing.

Considering she will soon be approaching my eyes with hot wax and sharp objects, I remain silent.

“How you?” she asks, and before waiting for an answer she will follow with, “Why you wait so long?”

I’m not a hairy person by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve come to realize that anything less than a daily visit will be met with pursed lips and a raised penciled-in brow.

So while she is applying the hot wax to my brows, her face close enough for me to smell garlic and AquaNet,  I tell her I’ve been busy or give some other excuse that will a) not distract her from the job at hand and b) not cause her to talk to me while her face is that close.

She will cluck her tongue and give me a disapproving look. But this look will be replaced by a smile as she happily rip pieces of cloth from my skin, stripping brow hair and a little piece of my soul while continuing the conversation with the others that I’m convinced revolves around my facial hair and lack of bedazzled fingernails.

She follows up with tweezers, a bit of lotion and smug look of satisfaction—an artist admiring her work. A mirror will be placed approximately two inches from my face for approximately two seconds and I am asked, “You like?” 

Again, this is not a question, but rather a statement. Given the fact that she’s never given me either the time or reason to dispute that fact, I will nod my head enthusiastically and throw out an overzealous “Always!” or “Looks good!”*

*I blame my giddiness on the chemical cloud hovering over the stations.

We walk past the Buddhas to the front counter, at which point I assume their continuous chatter has now switched over to discussing my tipping habits and how I am about to walk out in public with bright red skin above my eyes. 

As I hand her the money, she will tilt her head to the side and point to my hideous nails with a perfectly manicured one of her own. It will be declared that I “need manicure,” a statement only slightly less obvious than the fact that the sky is blue.

I fear if I ever exposed her to my feet she would suggest amputation before a pedicure.

But I will not be guilted into additional spa procedures with “Why you no like?” and the eyes of a dozen plastic enlightened spiritual leaders staring at me. She will cluck her tongue and give me a disapproving look, but shrug and move on to her next client waiting in the lobby.

“Ugh. You here for moustache wax,” I hear her say as I head for the door and the chatter starts up once again.

Feeling lighter in brows and in spirit, I walk out confident that they’re no longer talking about me.

This time.

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29 responses to “Wax On, Wax Off

  1. I. Love. This. Post.
    I here for afternoon laughter. Why I wait so long?

  2. This is absolutely fabulous. Best post yet! I need a little inspiration. I can’t seem to bring myself to write anything. It’s always the everyday stories that are the best.

  3. Poor you. The agony! The pain! And some extra garlic, too? My, what a treat. My girlfriend has a word for what some of you ladies go through on a regular basis. She always says she first has to demonkey herself (just like “DE-lete” — only different). But I reckon anything beats looking like this young lady: http://vivatutto.blogspot.com/2011/04/frida-kahlo.html
    Ouch!

  4. Garlic and Aqua Net? Now that is hot! I get my brows threaded instead of waxed but feel like they are talking about me/laughing at me whenever I get my nails done. I don’t know why but I feel so self conscious and kind of want to bring in someone who speaks Vietnamese like when Elaine does on Seinfeld when she brings Frank in.

    • Next time they start laughing, join in and crack up like a lunatic. They’ll either think you understand or they’ll talk about how you’re a lunatic. At least then you’ll know exactly what they’re saying about you…

  5. You’re braver then I am. I do it all at home and have only had my brows waxed once. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’ve reached the point of no return on personal upkeep. If I have a bra on when I leave the house that’s dressing up. But the garlic Aquanet combo does sound appealing.

  6. A long time ago I started doing my own waxing at home- underarm, bikini, and eyebrows. It’s a little scary at first, but once you do it? So easy, and so cheap, and no foreign smells or languages :)

  7. Great post! When I turned 40, my eyebrows turned white. I had to learn to draw them in so I wouldn’t be walking around looking really surprised all the time.

  8. After I got fungus from a Vietnamese nail salon I never went back, that experience turned me off on all Vietnamese owned nail salon’s. It took a years worth of lamasil meds to clear it up. I know they are in it for the business but man, there has to be proper protocol, now I pay out the bum when I go. I forgot the name of a recommended salon in D.C. but I’ll check it out.

  9. Crap I keep thinking you are in D.C.?

    • Nope, Michigan. And I don’t go to the salon that often, but the one I go to is clean for eyebrows. Trust me when I say I make sure of that…

  10. Oh I just have mine done at the place that cuts my Hair now (A Holiday) and they never give me any grief. However, when I used to get regular manis and pedis, I used to have these experiences. I always hated when they’d talk in another language, I am a people pleaser and that would ANNOY me, not knowing what they said. I am known as a BIG TIPPER for exactly that reason, so that everyone likes me. I need Therapy more than an eyebrow wax I think. ;)

  11. I go in for the eyebrows only to have their wiley peer pressure push me into the lip too.
    “You want lip?”
    “No”
    Stares at me like I am sadly misguided and all bad things will fall on me thanks to my stupidity – from which she has valiantly tried to save me.
    “Ok, do the lip, too.”

  12. I think I’m the first guy to post a comment here so I’ll try to represent the husbands who have their faces pressed against the glass or speed up as they walk past these places… Thank you for the glimpse into the misery mystery of the nail salon. I’ve always wondered what was behind all the fumes, masks, mannequins, and giggling…

  13. Great tale. Loved it … the people I go to must be related to the ones you patronize. I am so glad that I am not the only one who wonders what they are saying. :)

  14. You captured my experience in every salon ever, perfectly. I can’t believe I keep paying to be so disapproved of. I got my nails done once. As a nail biter, I particularly needed it. I decided then and there never to go back. I felt like a little asian lady had swallowed my mother. There’s something about the tongue clucking and insistence that she knows what is best for me (all this just through tone) that makes me feel like a bad daughter.
    At least I’m not being chastised at Super Cuts for my split ends again.

  15. I HATE going into those places. I used to also really hate tanning salons because I always felt ugly and frumpy compared to the Barbies behind the counter. But I would take rude Americans any day over rude Vietnamese (or insert-any-other-ethnicity). At least I know what I’m dealing with there!

  16. Ha! I love it. I get my eyebrows threaded and I always get, “You’ve been tweezing?” as if it’s a total crime. Yes, I have. Because I can’t come in every hour/day/week and I’m not willing to walk around looking like a gorilla in the meantime.

  17. LOVE this! I just had a bikini wax yesterday and although I don’t get it done at the nail salon, I can relate to this experience entirely too well. And ditto about the pedicures—if I dared walk into one of those places right now? Everyone would start to scream!

    awesome post!

  18. I just had my first post winter pedi and I know that they were talking about the state of my hound dogs. Bitches.

  19. You really need to try eyebrow threading if they have it up there. At least then it’ll last 4 weeks between berating comments. This post was hysterical! (Stopped by from TRDC)

  20. Yep had some interesting experiences myself. Like Kir I have mine done at my hair salon and I feel safe and secure and I know everything that is being said. Hilarious post. Loved it.

    • I used to have it done at the salon where I get my hair did, but it’s about three times cheaper at this place (plus, it’s right next to my gym, so it’s convenient.) Because I’m cheap and lazy, I endure…

  21. So right on! And they really know how to attempt the up-sell, don’t they? One of these days, I’m investing in Rosetta Stone (Vietnamese version) and learning enough to say, “I can understand you” with my OWN pursed lip look.

  22. Hilarious! You crack me up. I can completely relate.

  23. I love getting my eyebrows waxed, I use to do it regularly. I love when they do one and then ask if you like it. Umm..as long as they both match! What am I going to say now?

  24. I am so glad that I have my friend (who also does my hair) do my eyebrows too. I would die if I had to deal with those disapproving looks and the comments.

  25. Well I think I am the only woman to comment here who has to draw her eyebrows on ala Phyllis Diller (yah, I know, that REALLY dates me now).

    *sigh* be glad you have some facial hair to rip out.

    great post!
    ~cath

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