Zapped! (A Strange Tale…With Lasers.)

posted in: Day In The Life 9
Advertisement for depilatory cream, c. 1915. Image: Wikipedia.
Advertisement for depilatory cream, c. 1915. Image: Wikipedia.


As my appointment with my dermatologist drew to a close on Tuesday, I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Well, I could have refused it, but I didn’t.

“We got a new hair-removal laser,” Dr. B. said, re-clipping my chart to her clipboard and gesturing to an enormous box in the corner of the room. “It’s state-of-the-art, really the best on the market. We’re doing a training session with the staff on Friday and there’s one slot left open for volunteers.”

What she meant was “volunteers willing to be zapped with literal laser beams on their bodies — but for free instead of paying for it!”

Now, I’m not a person who really obsesses over body hair — you people know who you are — but I have been curious about this laser business. I looked at the pamphlet Dr. B. gave me; that laser was fancy. That it wouldn’t cost me anything was the selling point, as it were, proof that laser hair-removal just doesn’t mean that much to me: I’ll try it if I don’t have to pay for it. Lo and behold, here was my chance.

“Okay,” I said, and hopped off the chair. My appointment was set by the girls for today at 2 p.m.

I almost cancelled. It was Friday afternoon, it seemed like a low-commitment appointment, and who wants to get zapped by a literal laser beam just for fun? Well, me, apparently. Besides, I like Dr. B. and the office staff a lot and didn’t want to flake out on them, even for a no-big-deal, free appointment like this one.

Little did I know what a huge deal this actually was, this training session — and little did I know that I would soon have six people looking at my armpit.

When I arrived promptly at two, they were all waiting for me, all the girls and Dr. B., plus the guy in charge of the training. It turns out Dr. B.’s office isn’t even open on Fridays, but the entire staff was there all day today to learn this equipment. There was a decidedly serious look on everyone’s face which I would come to understand was because the guy doing the training — call him Laser Guy — was super intense about this laser training. Which is a good thing, I suppose, but you could’ve cut the air with a knife — or a, you know, laser.

“Come in,” said Dr. B. with a tight smile; Veronica ushered me back into the exam room.

“So what area are we doing?” Veronica asked me in a low voice as she opened up packets of alcohol swabs.

I had been thinking about this and decided that I would like to never have to shave my knees. Shaving my legs is no big deal, but man! Shaving the knees is annoying. The Marie Antoinette-ness of the situation not being lost on me, I told Veronica, ever-so-slightly stressing the “eee’s” in the last two words:

“I’d like to do my knees, please.”

She jerked her head up. “Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t tell you. It’s just the upper lip, chin, or armpits.”

I have big rabbit teeth. One of my eyes is sizably smaller than the other and remember my lipoma? I’ve got plenty of “unique” physical characteristics, but upper lip hair and chin hair, not yet. I’m sure my day will come. Standing there with Victoria today, I was grateful anew for this: I don’t know if I would be okay with a laser, especially a free one, was going to be laser-ing my face.

“I guess arm…pits,” I said, and Veronica gave me a paper shirt to put on as she went to get the rest of the staff, Dr. B., and Laser Guy. I didn’t even have time to feel sad about having to shave my knees for the rest of my days before everyone was filing into the room.

Dr. B. gave me a pair of leaded goggles that made me look like a character from Bladerunner. I was instructed to lay back and put my arm up. Laser Guy barked orders and talked about me like I wasn’t there, like, “Now, you would want to ask the client, ‘Do you have any other questions before we get started?’ and if she asks about pain, you would want to say what?”

“She would like to ask about pain, actually,” I said, totally blind at this point because of the goggles and aware of a fan blowing somewhere. Dr. B. told me the pain would be about a 4-5 out of 10 and that I’d be fine. Okay, I said, and Laser Guy talked a little more and then they went for it. They zapped my armpits.

It was really weird. It didn’t hurt that much, but remember that our armpits are not supposed to be seeing much action. Really, they’re not supposed to see any action of any kind, ever. That’s a tender spot that isn’t good for much. My point is that if there’s a laser in there, it’s not going to feel good. And you smell burnt hair, kinda. I mentioned that I smelled it and Veronica said,

“That’s the smell of success!”

“Don’t say that,” Laser Guy said. “That’s not for the clients to hear, just our little joke. Seriously, don’t say that.”

When I had changed and walked out of the room, they all sort of role-played with me about after-care follow-up appointments while Laser Guy watched and took notes. The whole thing was surreal, like an alien had body-snatched Dr. B. and the gals for the afternoon to train them to use a world-domination laser beam. I thanked them and made a beeline for the elevator.

Outside, the sun was shining and my armpits were tingling in a pleasant way. All in a day’s work.