Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

or
Wax On, Wax Off

I am not a hirsute man. I will never make the centerfold of Bear Magazine (btw, possibly NSFW, ymmv), but as I grow older, past the point where the phrase “middle-aged” is unavoidable, issues with hair seem to be growing. Or not growing, as the case may be. For the better part of a decade I had been in plausible denial about the widening bald spot on the back of my head. My hairdresser knew better than to show me the trim in the back and I just avoided looking into parallel mirrors. Unfortunately, I recently changed to a less discrete stylist and a recent rash of candid group photos with me facing away from the lens have made the scales fall from eyes. That salad bowl sized display of cranial skin will never get smaller. I can live with that. I wear ball caps in the summer and hoodies in cold weather. I refuse to go the combover route and just take comfort knowing that I still have more hair than my celebrity doppelganger, Ron Howard.

It’s hair in other areas that is my concern. Years ago I was in a meeting next to a goblinesque-looking man with ear hair so long that it could have been braided into a pony tail. I vowed never to become That Guy. After a few painful lessons in the difficulty of plucking nasal hair, I learned that personal hair trimmers are reasonably priced and can be purchased discretely at most BigBoxOfChineseCrap stores. I even find the soft buzz of the spinning blades relaxing.

Unlike Stephen Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, I’m actually fairly proud of my soft dewy mane of chest hair that took several decades to fill in. But a few weeks ago my wife questioned if I would be interested in going to her nail salon to have my back waxed. An inquiry like that is similar to being offered a breath mint. You really shouldn’t refuse even if you don’t think you need it. I made some vague affirmative answer and let it go.

I attributed at least part of her interest in having my back shorn to the marketing skills of the nail tech industry. A decade ago, nobody went to a separate nail salon, but a generation of industrious semi-skilled Vietnamese immigrants have made the stand-alone nail salon as ubiquitous in strip malls as the dry cleaner and the tanning booth place. My wife has latched onto these places as a weekly social activity where she can be pampered and discretely brush up her rusty Vietnamese. As an aside, when the techs at these salons speak in their native tongue and start tittering, they are laughing AT you, not with you, so tip well and don’t be too annoying.

New Years Eve afternoon I was in my man-cave watching the alma mater getting thrashed on the Blue Field of Boise, writing my year end Best Of blogpost, and engaging in other nominally masculine behavior when the phone rang. My wife was at her latest salon (she skips around every few months) and said that there was no waiting for the waxing room. I put my testicles in escrow and went down to join her. Sure enough, the place was nearly empty. My wife was sitting in some sort enormous captains chair that looked it had been lifted from the Hello Kitty themed cockpit of an H. R. Giger spaceship. She had her toes up on blocks getting pedicured and was holding court with the bored techs.

I was led back to the closet sized waxing room by a woman who was a matronly cross between Linda Hunt and Dr. Ruth. She had me take off my shirt and sit in a rolling office chair backwards. The wax was heated nearly to point of scalding and the actually ripping of the wax was done quickly and relatively painlessly. The Velcro separating sound got louder the further down my back she went. I got briefly nervous just how far south she was expected to get me smooth, but to my relief she stopped at the small of my back.

The whole process took just a few minutes. My wife invited me to stick around for more girl talk, but I begged off explaining that I had the second half of an ass-kicking on DVR to get through at home. Truthfully, in my newly denuded state I was just a little self-conscious about hanging around and getting asked to show it off.

My only concern with crossing the hair removal Rubicon is just how quickly and uncomfortably the back fuzz is going to grow back in. I’m hoping to limit the procedure to a semi-annual event like a good dental cleaning. However, I must confess that I find the thought of sitting in a giant barcalounger while young women caress and fondle my feet slightly exciting. Maybe in the spring I’ll go in for a much needed pedicure and get my toes painted a nice manly shade of black or dark green.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Share your personal grooming tale. Go ahead, it’s just us.

Update 1/6/08: The comic strip Zits takes this topic to another level.

11 comments:

Cham said...

Great! Now go out there and convince the rest of your gender to do what you did. It will be well appreciated. Waxing specialists are a good thing.

yellojkt said...

It's a tough sell to men because we never see or touch our backs. And there is a small amount of pain involved. And men don't do pain.

2fs said...

Better be careful with those nail salons.

TBG said...

Your bravest post ever, yello. Good job.

Over Thanksgiving break, I took Son of G for a requested pedicure. There we were... me, my dauther and my son all lined up.

He did love it, but told us in the car later that it bothered him, in a respect-for-others way, to have someone working on his feet. My daughter said, "Not me. I like to pretend they're my servants."

The Mistress of the Dark said...

back hair? Eep! That's all I can really say.

Elizabeth said...

Geeze, I have to nag and argue to get my husband to let the barber trim his eyebrows! I'd love him to but I know there is no way I'd get him to wax his back!

Claude said...

Oof. The best I can do is that GF seems to like working on my feet. I have one of those weird nails on both of my pinky toes where there's a little split-off that starts at the base of the nail. It's usually sharp and catches on socks and whatever--which can really hurt--so I usually trim it back as far as possible.

The other night I noticed it was getting to be about that time, so I asked her to take a look at it since it was late and I was a little bleary-eyed. She spent nearly twenty minutes tsk-tsking over ALL my toes, trimming here and working on cuticles there. My feet came away feeling much the way your gums do after a session with the dental hygienist.

Jeff said...

I would have thought it would hurt more than that, what with the ripping of the hair follicles out by the roots and all. Maybe you just have a high tolerance for pain.

Kiwanda said...

As a certified Hairy Man (who could indeed be in Bear Magazine, if my wife would allow it) I can't imagine getting my back waxed. It's gotta hurt more than you suggested (unless you're not *really* hairy, just getting a touchup for the next twink party). And either way, it's gonna grow back and that's going to provide you with weeks-- if not months --of annoying itching 24/7. You'll stick to the satin sheets!

I can't bear to think about it. No wax for me...hopefully my wife will never find one of these "salons" of which you write.

Impetua said...

Yello, you are the manliest man around. To have your back waxed (as a card carrying heterosexual guy) and then blog about it -- now that's cojones.

When I was in high school my mother convinced me to get my eyebrows waxed. I think it was an attempt to feminize me a bit, as I was showing signs even then of being less than girly.

It's so soothing when they smear that warm, gooey wax on your eyebrows... and then they RIIIIIIIP it off! Gah!

I had it done a few times but no more. My eyebrows are not particularly bushy, and I yank the occasional curly stray with a tweezer. Now, if I had a mongo unibrow maybe I'd consent to something more comprehensive...

Mooselet said...

I recently bought an epilator so I can rip all the hairs out of various parts of my body at home... this way I can numb the pain with vodka shots instead of that wimpy lavender oil the salon used.

My brother swears by his pedicures and regular massages, so I think you should continue.