In a big city like Chicago, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a great salon. When you finally do, you wrestle with wanting to tell every woman you know and wanting to keep your delicious little secret forever and ever. The rest of the time you’re just hoping they won’t go out of business.
I found a killer waxing spot two years ago. It’s the place. They do unbelievable work, you can always get an appointment, they’re open from 8am to 8pm, and the prices are fair. I’m clearly a devoted customer, but only now does the receptionist call me by name. You gotta earn it over there. They know what they’ve got.
When I went in yesterday for detailing I was told I’d be with Julianna and I did a little mental air-guitar. Julianna is the best of the whole crew. A 50-something Polish lady who I swear wears a girdle, Julianna could rip every last hair off your body in under 10 minutes. It wouldn’t hurt any less, but it would be over quickly, and that is the mercy of Julianna. But she doesn’t come without strings. Julianna likes to visit while you’re on her slab, and there’s only one thing she’ll talk about: Jesus Christ.
“You know, sveetie, I say to all ze girls: you must open yoor heart, give to Christ Jeezoos. He is way to happiness, He is way to evverlasting trooth. We are all seeners; I am seener, you are seener. Dis is truth.”
“We must believe in ze Bible as true word of God. So many people, so, so many people lost in ze world and they don’t care! They say, ‘Oh, I am fine, I am leader of my own life, dis and dat, whatever.’ But when they burn in evverlasting fire, they see the error of their wayz. Eet’s too late. That’s it.”
It’s possible to reach an ecstatic state over the course of a bikini wax. The whole thing is absurd, for one thing. You’re putting hot wax where? On purpose? And then ripping the — oh, sweet mother! You’re naked from the waist down — also absurd. And it hurts so much. There you are, staring up at the ceiling, waiting for the next strip of agony, and you go into a happy headspace where nothing can harm you. There are bunnies and stars there. Add to all this a large, 50-something Polish woman delivering a constant stream of Catholic admonishment and salvation, and I’m telling you, it’s downright trippy. Six minutes into my appointment yesterday, I connected to victims of the Spanish Inquisition on a kind of time warp mental plane:
INQUISITOR: Is there a God?
INQUISITOR: Hot wax!
(Rip, rip, rip. MARY hollers, thrashes.)
INQUISITOR: Will that be cash or check?
MARY: (pause.) What?
INQUISITOR: It’s $85 today. Cash or check?
MARY: Oh, sorry. Cash.
Julianna, we have ideological differences. But we’re good. We both agree on the importance of grooming. You like tips, I like to give tips. You call me “sveetie,” you usually tell me you like my hair, and you always make time to do my eyebrows, even if you’ve got an appointment right after me. In the city, these are true gifts.