“Wax, honey or sugar? Muslin strips or hemp?” I wondered, as the baby yanked various bottles and instruments of terror off the shelf at Sally’s Beauty Supply. “How do I know?” I looked around for someone to help me, but the only visible adult didn’t look like he knew much about waxing. For that matter, he didn’t look much like an adult, and I certainly wasn’t going to get into a how-to discussion with Howdy Dowdy gone metro. Pierced nose aside, I didn’t think he could help me figure out which hair removal solution would work best for that sensitive inner thigh region. I wasn’t sure he even knew what a female inner thigh was, let alone how to make it all sexy for my big trip to Hawaii. So I was left on my own. Well, not on my own. I had The 4-year-old and the baby to help. The baby ran up and down the aisle with her hand stuck out, testing the velocity at which she could catapult creams and gels from the shelf. The 4-year-old asked really loud questions about why I had hair on my legs since she doesn’t, and did I want to buy the special wax to get rid of the hair on my face?
I reverted back to my childhood and chose a box the best way I knew. I closed my eyes and grabbed a kit from the shelf. I threw in an overpriced nail file, hoping to disguise my true motive for stopping by, but I think Charlie Brown was on to me. I swear he actually smirked as he bagged my purchases. I pried the nose hair clippers from the baby’s fingers and ran out of there. What are they doing, hiring a man to work at a place like that? It’s as stupid as getting a mammogram by an auto mechanic. I’m all for equal rights, as long as it doesn’t get all up in my goodies.
At home, I plotted the demise of my leg hair carefully. I decided to test my arm pits first, thinking that such a small area, relatively desensitized, would be the best bet. So the next morning, I carefully wiped the area with the Preparatory Cleansing Solution (read: alcohol). I heated the sugar solution to “warm but not hot”, stirred with the stick so thoughtfully provided in the kit, and with minimal mess, applied it to my pits. I immediately applied the muslin strips and waited a few seconds. Hal assisted me in the operation—he acted as the “rip ‘er off” man, a dream come true for him. Or not. Whatever. Someone had to do it, and since pulling the muslin strips off by myself seemed as unlikely as giving myself a tattoo, Hal got the assignment. He pulled, the hair tore out, I pressed my now-sticky fingers to the area and voile, smooth as a baby’s tookus.
I smiled. This was going to be easy. The pain was, well, non-existent. And once I figured out that the included Extra Wax Removal Solution didn’t work worth squat, but that plain old Vaseline did the trick, I felt quite smug. No fancy schmancy salon for me, thank you.
But my legs would have to wait. Hal had to go to work (at least, that’s what he claimed as he grabbed his laptop and sped away before I could start on my legs).
So that night, after putting the girls to bed and threatening them with various child-like nightmares if they didn’t stay in bed, I prepared to do the vast expanse of my legs. I decided I’d save the nether-regions for the next night, wanting to give Hal time to acclimate to this brave new world we’d found.
I admit I felt a bit of pride as I slopped goop on my legs but good. I slathered that rose-petal smelling sugar all over the lower half of both legs, hanging them over the edge of the bathtub just in case.
I put the muslin strips on the sauce, careful not to overlap, and waited. Hal came in, grabbed hold and…
Nothing. He yanked harder. One corner sort of freed itself. I screamed. He apologized and let go. I yelled at him. The corner of muslin that had come free was now reattached to my leg.
Risking his life, Hal said, “I can’t pull it off. It won’t come off.”
With a maniacal laugh I told Hal to try again. He did. He grabbed the corner with both hands, leveraged his body against the toilet and pulled up. In slow motion, the muslin strip began to rise. The clouds moved from the North, through the bread basket, across Houston and out to sea. Mountains crumbled one rock after another. The sun rose, set, rose again. And still Hal pulled. I pictured a boat bobbing on the water, a cool breeze blowing over a wheat field. I breathed in long and slow through my nose “one two three four five” and out through my mouth in short puffs. “He he he he he”
Hal staggered back as the strip popped free. I opened one eye to look at the damage, first at the strip. After that gargantuan effort, I expected to see follicle roots, maybe a vein or two. And I did see some hair. Three or four pieces, mingled with a few splotches of pink sugar.
And then, like witnesses to a car wreck, Hal and I looked at my legs. Still covered in muslin strips. Except one streak, glowing like a “Girls! Girls! Girls!” sign in Vegas. What had gone wrong? I tested the corner of another strip. It pulled up, taking some sugar with it but leaving most on my legs. And then I understood. More is not better. More is worse. More sugar means the strip can’t attach to the hair. It means that the hair and most of the nasty, sticky, smelly sugar, stay on the leg even after superhuman effort is spent to dislodge the strip.
Hal wisely held back his laughter. “What can I do to help?”
I looked at the mostly-gone jar of Vaseline. I looked at my legs. I looked at the clock. “Get more Vaseline,” I demanded. “Quick. A couple of jars.”
Hal dashed off, and I heard giggles coming from him as he left the scene.
There was only one thing left to do. I closed my eyes. I pulled. Strip after strip came off, leaving behind a trail of sugar. When the strips were off, I reached into the jar of petroleum jelly and began mixing it with the tar on my leg. Twenty minutes and the rest of the jelly later, a quarter of one leg had come relatively clean. The bathtub, however, looked like Jeffrey Dauhmer’s kitchen. I reached across the toilet to get a tissue, spreading guts across the floor, on the toilet, around the paper holder.
Hal came in long enough to drop off the bag of tools and say he was going to bed.
Fast forward an hour later. All the pink stuff has migrated from my legs to the tub. Twenty minutes after that, hot water has cleaned out the tub and surrounding areas. I have abrasions all down my legs where my nails aided me in scraping off the jelly-sugar mixture. I’m still hairy, and I know it’ll be a good week before I can shave. Abrasions, you know. On the flip side, I’ve got legs like butter. Hairy butter, but butter anyway. And boy, do I have a story to tell my dermatologist when I see her in the morning. Her, and her aid and the intern. But that’s another story.