Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hair today. Waxed Tomorrow.

In the early 1990’s, I performed standup comedy.  I did a good ten minutes on being hairy.  The featured part of that was my hairy back.  Lots of material there, literally.  Just as much material when I got it waxed, figuratively.

A hairy back isn’t something playboy playmates list as a turn-on.  It’s made the turn-off list a few times…I’m told.  However, it’s not a relationship deal breaker.  However, admitting to it early on is.  Providing you avoid early dating beach and pool situations, you should be fine.  Eventually, when your shirt is off, there’s a good chance hers is too, and the coast is clear.  I’d be lying if it didn’t used to make me self-conscious though.  Just that moment at the pool when the shirt comes off and people‘s thoughts go towards the great ape in the swimsuit.  The thing is hair just means more testosterone (that‘s what we hairys say anyway).  Nothing wrong with that.  Yet, a hairy front is considered sexy.  Why was a hairy back so…well, icky?  And to the men who shave their chests…”men” (definite air quotes).

Still, like I’d rather not be bald, I’d rather not have a hairy back.  If simply for easier living.  Having a full head of hair makes it easier in the summer.  A sunburned scalp hurts like a grease splatter during naked cooking.  Mostly kidding, just wanted to give you the visual of hairy, naked cooking.  Back to simplicity, not having back hair just means less shedding.  If I don’t keep up on vacuuming, it’s pretty much guaranteed I can rub my finger a few inches along any part of any floor in any room in my house and pick up a hair.  Not a ‘curly’ hair, just a hair.  I shed.  Less hair, less shedding. It eases this hairy man’s burden.

So I decided to pull the trigger, er…pull the hair, if you will, and get my back waxed.  I had a long weekend at the beach coming up and figured I’d try it out.  Rather than go to some fly-by-night waxing outfit, I made an appointment at a Spa.  A mall spa, but still a spa.

The de-waxer met me at the reception area and took me to the room.  A nice room.  Typical new age music, scents, and dim lights.  I took my shirt off and laid on the table.  Larger than massage table with a high tech crock pot of wax nearby.  It used to have leather straps when waxing was used as a torture method against the Italians in WW2.

The way the process works is a follows…
Step 1: Put warm wax on hairy area.
Step 2: Put a strip of cloth over the waxy area.
Step 3: Rub cloth a bit so it adheres to wax.
Step 4: One, two, three and yank the cloth hard and quickly.

The resulting yank pulls out the hair by the root.  If successful, I should add.  The first yank I experienced can best be considered a false start.  The car engine didn’t turn over.  She pulled and the cloth didn’t budge.  “Sorry,” she said.  Did it hurt?  Think of it this way.  With that yank, my skin made a better effort to be pulled off my body than the hair did.

“Where does my back rank in terms of hairiness?”  I had to know.  If you’re going to have a hairy back, you want to be top 10%.  “You’re up there.”  My bathroom rug-on-the-back badge of honor..

After the initial oops, she…we got into a rhythm.  True confessions, I experimented with some at-home dehairing. Masking tape.  Never limber enough to do more than my shoulders…and all it really did was thin things out.  What it did do was prepare me for the pain.

There are places I would never ever wax.  I also think there are places you can’t wax.  Example, I’ve never heard of anyone waxing his head.  I think your scalp would pull right off.  I’d also never wax my chest.  I had half of it shaved for shoulder surgery and it wasn’t pretty.  Body hair tends to lessen the obvious.  That I’m a quite pasty.

So we conquered the shoulders well enough.  However, as I suspected, as she took the wax down my back…ouch.  The rest of the back didn’t like waxing. At that point, I was ready for the leather straps.

There’s not a spot on a male that should ever, ever…ever get used to waxing.  The closest a man should get to hot wax is when dripping it for placement of the candle in the carved pumpkin

But let’s get back to the horror.  I’ve sugarcoated the experience and aftermath.  It was a donnybrook of the back.  By the time she was done, it looked like she’d had a banner day squirrel hunting and came away with a couple of dozen pelts.  I can only imagine what her garbage can is like after a day of peak man-waxing season.  She probably sells off her results to a Locks-of-Love group from hell.  Perhaps a third world sweater manufacturer.

Hirsutes for the Angoraphobic! -TM

The waxing part was as expected.  It wasn’t going to tickle.  It didn’t.

The aftermath.  Wow.  The awful secret.  Never again.

I wasn’t out of the mall when my back spoke, “You’ve done something weird and now you’ll pay.”  It then screamed with waves of prickly sparks of heat.  Hundreds of hot pins.

It mellowed out after a couple of minutes.  The next lesson was that evening when I showered.  Research shows the average person showers with a water temperature of 105F.  On my naked back, 105F felt like 205F.  I didn’t expect this and when the water hit my back, I screamed.  I’m not a good screamer.  I go from my normal baritone or my rarely-heard teenage girl.

The journey of surprise continued  the shower.  The shower had been surprise-free…hmm…for a long…long time.  Toweling off.  In my younger days, there was never an issue.  And no, I wasn’t born with a hairy back.  I’m not Curious George.  However, once I was waxed, toweling off my back became impossible.  Like using a towel on a wetsuit.

There was so much friction between my towel and back, I had a better chance of pulling my skin off than I did drying off.

Appearance.  I thought it would look normal the next day.  Friend told me it looked like I’d been strung by a hundred bees.  Up close, I noticed that roughly 20% of the hairs weren’t truly removed.  They broke off just above the root.  That meant two things, that some hair would start growing right away, instead of the six months it would normally take.  Also, it looked like a few hundred wood tick heads were stuck in me.  Their little spines sticking out.

So, I tried it, but it was just silly.  Who in their right mind believed it?  I looked like the before photo of a home remodeling job.  My front was 1970’s deep shag carpeting.  My back, linoleum.

*Haven't posted anything in awhile because I'm working on long-term project.  Thought I'd write a little something fun.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Chintzy Sign

The greatest benefit of spending years in the airline business was free flights.  It allowed me to see the world.  I love history, so I’ve seen history face-to-face.  I’ve seen a lot.  However, seeing a place and fathoming what occurred are two different things.

Big Ben, Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum.  Toyko, Sydney, Madrid, Munich.  One of my last overseas freebies was Amsterdam.  Not my first trip there, but it was as good a place as any for a dart match.  My buddy Mark and I have been playing against each other for decades.  Since we both had flight benefits, we threw in the occasional international match.  Yeah, we flew to Amsterdam to play darts.

Granted, we were still tourists.  We hit museums, the North Sea, and a day trip to Arnhem, famous for the World War II, Operation Market Garden (the movie, A Bridge Too Far).  Drank lots of beer, a bit of Jenever, their juniper-flavored, national drink.  Bought tulip bulbs and went to a very interesting outdoor market.  We skipped the Anne Frank house, Red Light District, and the herbal products.  We’d both been there a few times.  Not that we’d ever partaken in the last two, but we’d been in those parts of town.

Our last day, we stumbled on a nameless outdoor market.  Not something designed to attract tourists, but the kind of thing you go to for that very reason.  It’s where the locals go.

We walked around a bit, doing our own thing.  Not looking for anything in particular, I saw a sign for sale.  It was out of my reach, but it looked very interesting.  Bronze, the size of a salad plate, with Dutch phrase on it.  Of course, I had no clue what it said, but it looked cool.

I reached across the table to see how much it cost.  To my disappointment it was very light, not the heavy bronze that I thought, but tin disguised with a bronze color with a weathered, cardboard back.  So now I looked it over more out of curiosity, than as a potential purchase.  Whatever it was, it only cost a couple of dollars.  A man behind me said something in Dutch.

The German language is derived from an ancient people who had very bad sinus infections.  It’s a tongue reminiscent of that guy who sits by you at work who is constantly snorting phlegm from nasal passages.

Dutch is the German language after the superficial relief of a lozenge.

My knowledge of the language is limited to a phrase that I was learned so I could yell it in a crowded Amsterdam bar, “Wanneer is het mijn beurt om te zingen ?”  When is it my turn to sing?

I turned around and now knew he was speaking to me.  “Do you speak English?” I asked.  He was of senior-citizen age, smartly dressed in his leather winter jacket, nice hat, and warm boots.  He was 80 but seemed much younger.  The kind of person who’d be driving, accident-free when he was 100.  In Amsterdam, he’d be riding his bicycle.

George spoke perfect English, which surprised me.  English has been taught in the Netherlands for decades, but I’m sure he was long out of school before it was part of the curriculum.  “I was asking if you knew the meaning of that sign.” he said, pointing to the chintzy disappointment in my hand.

“It’s a traditional sign we hung on our door as a way of welcoming guests.  It means, ‘If you are a friend, come on in.  If you are not, then you must go, go, go!’ That was the version put out during the war.  The Germans came into our homes and took any metal that could be melted into weapons.  People made cheap versions like this to replace what was hidden.”  Of course, they came for people, too.

“You had to be there.”  An expression we’ve all used.  Mostly after telling a story and not getting the reaction you expected.  I also see it as literal.  Things happen in this world that cannot be comprehended unless you bore witness.

I love history.  I’m more drawn to where things happened than where someone lived.  The battlefield over the headquarters, the scene of the crime rather than the arrest location, and yes, where lives were lost over salvation found.

“The area we’re in used to be the Jewish part of town.  It was destroyed during the war, and rather than rebuild it, a market and theater area was created,“ he said.  By reading his face, you knew this was were he grew up and his mind’s eye returned him to those days whenever he visited.  Everything he knew had been gone for over 50 years, but he still saw every brick of it.  As a Jew in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, he’d lost more than buildings.

Mother, Father, brothers and sisters.  Aunts, Uncles, and the like.  George’s entire family was gone.  “I spent the war living in people’s basements,” he said.  “I ate nothing but tulip bulbs.”  He was the non-conformist of his family and chose hiding over obeying.  George hid for five years.  Thousands of others did the same.  Thankfully, one girl wrote in her diary about it.

At war’s end, George emerged from under ground to find everyone and every thing gone.  Before the war, he was a teenager, had a loving family and many friends.  His neighborhood, a comfortable place that he knew inside and out.  No number of history books, documentaries, or guided tours gets me there mentally.

I’ve walked the concentration camp in Dachua, Germany and could not fathom that men, women, and children were murdered here en masse.  I stood on Omaha Beach with no concept of the carnage of a D-Day invasion.  I’ve walked the streets of London, rebuilt from the blitz.

You had to be there.

I cannot grasp the inhumanity of our past by simply being in the place where it occurred.  It’s just a place.  In truth, I feel very little.  Witnesses feel everything, forever.

Now a sign hangs on my door, the same as it would have over 70 years ago.  A great possession that reminds me of a brave man who survived with the help of support people worthy of entering anyone’s house.