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memoir: wax on, wax off


There is a woman applying hot wax to my arsehole. I’m on a massage table, lying on my side facing a stark white wall. And there is a woman applying hot wax to my arsehole. She’s asked me to bring my knees to my chest and ‘pull up’ with a hand on my right buttocks. This was a euphemism. She wanted me to spread my butt cheeks. But I appreciated her sense of decorum.  I stare at the wall while she rips wax and hair away from my body, screws it into a ball and throws it into a small wastebasket at her feet. Absurdly, it looks like playdough – bright yellow and squishy – and I find this highly inappropriate. It reminds me of being five and having ‘craft time’ at school. The memory and the situation are an uncomfortable juxtaposition.

I try to pretend I can’t see her getting on with business down in my nether-regions, but I have excellent peripheral vision and the whole thing is a bit like the proverbial car-crash – I can’t look away. To her credit, she pretends not to notice that I’m only pretending to stare at the wall. She also chatters incessantly, which I suppose is intended to put me at ease, but having to calibrate responses to her questions while she is applying hot wax to my arsehole is (un)surprisingly demanding. I begin to sweat when she asks me about I’m doing with the rest of my day. I don’t know. What am I doing for the rest of the day? I have no plans whatsoever, but all of a sudden, I feel like I need some. Quick, what could I be doing tonight that justifies having her apply hot wax to my arsehole?!

But I’ve got nothing.

Eventually, I mumble something vague about a friend visiting from Brisbane. So now she thinks I’m having sex tonight. This distresses me. I’m twenty-two years old, getting a Brazilian wax and I’m distressed over the fact that my wax-ist knows I have sex.

For about the tenth time in the last five minutes, I ask myself why I’m doing this. This is a good question, and one that I keep coming back to because I don’t have a good answer. It’s not for a boy (although, that would not be a good answer), it’s not for my own sense of aesthetics (I genuinely don’t look at my vagina enough to have formed any kind of aesthetic opinion of it, to be honest). It’s not a hygiene thing; it’s not a dare; it’s not because my friends are doing it; it’s not because they aren’t. I want to say that it’s a result of the misogynistic and patriarchal society that we live in, which has instilled in me the burning need to be hair-free (read: innocent, pure, virginal, childlike). But I don’t really think it’s that either. Then again, the patriarchy is a sneaky motherfucker, and I could very well have been intercepted on this front, without realising.

But honestly, no real reason comes to mind. And in that case, why the fuck am I paying $44.95 to have a very blonde and very tan beautician apply hot wax to my arsehole?

I’ve still got nothing.

She finishes up with the back door and asks me to lie on my back again. I do so, trying to be casual about it, but slipping on the talcum powder and paper liner, and almost sliding right off the massage table. Her discretion knows no bounds and she doesn’t bat an eyelash. Bless her.

For the next five minutes I lie supine, with my legs wide and her blonde head bopping between them as she plucks any particularly resilient hairs from my smarting skin. It is the most uncomfortable five minutes of my life, and compares unfavourably with my first sexual encounter – which was heinously embarrassing. This is worse. But at least she’s no longer applying hot wax to my arsehole.

When she’s done with her tweezers, she applies some kind of moisturiser to the area, pats me on the stomach and says she’ll just pop outside while I put my clothes back on. To me this seems ridiculous given everything she’s just seen, but I don’t say anything. I nod, smile and pull the towel across my lower half as she exists the room.

I pull myself up gingerly and wipe away excess baby powder (my butt is covered in it) and moisturising cream, pull on my knickers and jeans and then tackle my shoes. Within two minutes, I’ve left the room, paid for my wax and wandered out of the beautician’s in a daze. I have no good reason why, but today someone applied hot wax to my arsehole.

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