Its always seemed to me that having a sense of humor was a blessing. I enjoy life more because I find so many things amusing. An apropos joke can help at a party or family gathering. Women seem to appreciate men with a sense of humor.
But every now and then, I find my sense of humor spins out of control. One of the more disastrous occasions, when my humor got the best of me, was when I had my back and chest waxed as a gift for my wife for Mother's Day.
First a bit about me. I'm no spring chicken, I am a man in my early fifties and my abdominal six-pack became a keg a long time ago. My wife claims that she can't actually remember when I HAD a six-pack! My pec's have been buried under the fruits of thirty years of eating and drinking too well. To make matters worse, I am no narcissist — I don't spend my days and nights working out on exercise machines intended to preserve the illusion of youth. In other words, I more or less look my age. Aging is a bitch, and is preferable only to the alternative.
I am also a rather hairy sort. The good news is that I still have a fine head of hair for my wife to run her fingers through. Alas, I also have a fair amount of body hair. In fact, as I have aged, I found myself getting hair in all sorts of places that I might prefer not to have it. As with many men, I now have to trim hair from my ears; my eyebrows would become long wild branches going everywhich direction if I didn't keep them clipped, and my back, virtually bare when I was married, has become moderately hirsute. Sigh.
The result has been a certain amount of grief from my wife and twenty-something daughter, who have both teased and taunted me about getting my back waxed for several years. Needless to say, this has been a notion that I never considered seriously, a complete non-starter. To be honest, I have always considered my hairy chest to be a manly attribute. My wife tells me that she enjoys my chest hair, and her only complaint is that when she rests her face on my bare chest, it tickles her nose.
So what, you might ask, led me to the idea of getting my chest waxed?
The proximate cause was an episode of 'Dancing with the Stars.' My wife LOVES the show and faithfully watches it every night when it is on. During one season, Heather Mills (the former Mrs. Paul M. of Beatles fame, ) was one of the "stars" — celebrities really — dancing on the show. In that particular episode, Ms. Mills had her male dance partner get his chest waxed in order to wear a costume that was open in the front from his neck to his waist.
My wife was really impressed when he had his chest waxed, and mentioned it to me once as I passed through the room while she was watching the show. I didn't realize at the time, was what impressed her so much was how painful she thought it must have been! But for me, a seed was planted. Getting my chest waxed bare — a return to my pre-nubile days. It somehow struck me as funny at the time.
Its difficult to understand the degree to which males of the species are blissfully ignorant of the details of what women do to look beautiful for men. We think that those shapely eyebrows simply grow that way, and naively imagine that the hair stylist who gives us a buzz cut does about the same thing to our wives hair. HA! What do we know?
Women know better than to rely on 'mother nature.' Men are of the opinion that our mates think of us as "fixer-upper" projects, but we what we've missed is, that their desire to improve us is a natural outgrowth of the fact that our spouses and girlfriends are ALWAYS trying to fix themselves up as well. Women are fixing us up so that she doesn't have a slovenly male making the living room look shabby. Women are making a statement when they make their grand entrance with permed, colored, layered hair displaying elegantly manicured and painted nails, and exquisitely applied make-up. Shape up, boys!
Having made the decision to get my chest waxed, the first obstacle to overcome was: where the heck do you go to get your chest waxed?
I asked my hair stylist. He thought about it for a couple of seconds, and, being yet another ignorant man, he called his wife over (she works in the same shop) to plumb her knowledge. She, in turn, gave me the name of a local place, where in addition to cutting and styling hair, they had a 'day salon.'
On my way home I stopped in at the shop and set up an appointment for the Friday before Mother's Day.
I can't say that I was entirely discouraged by the response that I got from the women at the shop when I was setting up the appointment. They kind of cooed and said things like, "Oh, how sweet!", and "Oh, what a wonderful idea!" "Your wife will love it!"
I suspect there is some kind of conspiracy amongst women to encourage men to prove their love by getting us to do stupid, painful things. Look at any teenage male and consider what foolishness he will undertake to impress the girls. I just didn't get it: 50 plus years old and I was walking into the same trap! "Oh please honey, could you just walk over hot coals in your bare feet to show me you love me!"
The receptionist set me up for a one hour appointment starting at 10:00 AM. Shortly afterwords the "aesthetic specialist" came out and took a quick look at my chest and back, and asked if perhaps I could come in at 9:00 A.M., an hour earlier instead, and set aside at least two hours. Hmmmm ... I wasn't sure that I considered that to be an entirely positive sign.
I had a week to think about it, but before I knew it, the time had arrived, and I walked into the salon informing the young lady at the desk that I had an appointment with Helena (not her real name — I protect the guilty as well as the innocent). The young lady at the reception desk had a big grin on her face, and a certain knowing look. She told me that I could wait in the "spa" room while she let Helena know that her 9:00 Appointment was there.
I sat waiting, trying to read my Wall Street Journal, keeping up a manly facade and hoping the tittering from the next room was not the receptionist telling all the women about me, "Yes, he's the one. He's having both his back AND chest done. What a complete idiot!"
Helena arrived and took me into what looked suspiciously like a sound proofed private room.
Now, a word about Helena. Helena is in her mid-twenties, blond, petite, cute as a button, a wonderful smile, with a good sense of humor (boy, do you need one in that job) and a great deal of empathy.
I wasn't sure how I felt about having a nice young woman like Helena doing this wax job. When she asked me to take off my shirt, I was afraid that she might faint from the mere sight of my 50-year-old upper torso in its natural unclothed condition. I just hoped that my wit, charm, and solid character would keep her from running out of the room screaming!
You may have noted earlier that I said that I had HEARD about the guy on 'Dancing with the Stars' getting his chest waxed. I didn't actually SEE the process. When Helena closed the door to her little soundproof torture chamber the first thing she did was turn to me and ask,
"Did you ever see movie the 'The Forty Year-Old Virgin', when he goes to get his chest waxed?"
"No," I responded, "I recognize the name — it's been out on DVD for awhile now, hasn't it? Why do you ask?"
"Oh, nothing. Don't pay any attention to me," she replied evasively, with a little laugh. I naively accepted this bland assurance.
At this point in the story, I should probably explain my major philosophical error regarding the use of wax in performing hair removal.
I was of the impression that the wax was put onto the skin of the subject (victim) where, by some miracle, it either softened the skin or the hair, or opened the hair follicle, or something like that, thus allowing the hair to be removed in a less onerous, and less painful manner than, say, pulling the hairs out by their roots. Go ahead, ye worldly wise — laugh, cackle, taunt me for my ignorance. I deserve your derision.
No, no, no. My painful discovery was that the wax is NOT a method for easing the pain of hair removal. It is merely a tool to make it more EFFICIENT, by which I mean, allowing some sadist to rip out HUGE amounts of your hair, by the roots, AT ONE TIME! Good Lord — why hadn't this little detail come up before I was in too deep to back out!
I knew how painful having my chest hairs pulled out by the roots could be. When my children were infants, I would sometimes hold the little tykes up to my chest, and there was nothing quite so excruciating as when one of my little angels would grab a handful of chest hairs and give it a lusty pull. Just try to pry an infant's hand loose from its grip on your hair. They are incorrigible. I still hold it against my children, even though they are adults now.
I still didn't understand what I had gotten myself into. Yet.
Here we were, Helena and I, alone in her little office. And what a charming office it was. Lovely pictures of family on the wall, scenes from vacations, and scenic vistas. Helena turned on some easy listening music, that might have put me to sleep under other circumstances, and lit a bit of incense to relax me. I didn't quite get the need for 'relaxation' at the time. I was completely relaxed, because I didn't have a clue about what was coming.
Soon, that bewitching young woman was using an electronic pot to heat the wax. In retrospect, I think of it as something of a mini-cauldron. I didn't actually hear it, but I'm sure that she was muttering over the brew — "Boil, bubble, toil and trouble."
She announced that the wax was ready. Helena would start with my back.
"That way," she told me. "if you want to stop, we can just do your back, and not go on to the chest."
I'm sure that the quizzical look on my face would have told her I couldn't fathom why we wouldn't do the entire thing. Wise beyond her years, Helena didn't try to enlighten me further.
I finally asked about what she put on to soften the skin make the hairs come out more easily.
"Nothing." came her curt reply. What did she mean, nothing?
Honestly, the back wasn't that bad. My back really isn't as hairy as many men's, and Helena was being careful.
First, she would apply the wax, which I observed, was only applied to the TOPS of the hairs. Then, before the wax cooled completely, Helena would slap on a piece of cloth, about an inch-and-one-half wide by about six inches long. As soon as Helena judged the wax to have dried enough to adhere the hairs to the cloth, there was a quick "rip" as she pulled the cloth off, along with several thousand hairs. OK, I exaggerate. It only felt like a couple thousand hairs. How many in reality? Dunno.
Nevertheless, the pain of having my back waxed was manageable. This isn't so bad, I thought. Additionally, Helena was heaping praise on me for my fortitude and stoicism.
"I tried to do this to my boyfriend," she told me, "and after I pulled off the cloth the first couple of times, he ran screaming from the room. You are doing really well."
God knows, I am a sucker for praise, especially from comely young women. If I had any biceps worth talking about, I might have flexed them at that point.